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Sun Bowl: Just how good is UCLA, and will we find out against Virginia Tech?

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Hyundai Sun Bowl
UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
El Paso, Tx.
Dec. 31, 2013

Is it a stretch to say that UCLA is underrated at No. 19?

The Bruins played a brutal schedule thanks to some good nonconference scheduling and the gauntlet that was the Pac-12. The nonconference opponent resulted in a win, as UCLA went on the road to Nebraska and won in a game we'll never forget because of the Nebraska fan meltdown and Bo Pelini tape release that resulted. (Side note: Do you think that some Nebraska fans would take back their panic after the game now that they know how good the Bruins are?)

But the Pac-12 scheduling got them. However, can you really nitpick a team whose three losses came against teams that are now ranked No. 5, No. 10 and No. 14? And two of them were on the road?

That's why it may not be a big reach to say that the Bruins are undervalued. A multi-faceted offense can run or throw the ball on opponents depending on what's available, and the defense features Anthony Barr, a player who some think could challenge Jadeveon Clowney to be the first defensive player drafted in May.

Does that spell trouble for a Virginia Tech team that's sputtered this season? The Hokies' signature win was in a downpour against a Duke Johnson-less Miami team a week after the Hurricanes were battered by Florida State and Tech lost at home to Duke and Maryland and also lost on the road to Boston College.

VT gets credit for playing Alabama, but it also avoided Florida State and Clemson. And by the same token, had it played those two teams, that Miami win would have been simply for bowl eligibility. Will we see a blowout in El Paso?

MASCOT FIGHT

Hokies don't exist, and if they do they look like a turkey. A bruin is a bear and we all know how a bear against a turkey is going to go, right?

PREDICTIONS

Graham: UCLA 31, Virginia Tech 17. UCLA might not have had the season it wanted, but it is bidding for its best finish since 2005 and that's worth something. Virginia Tech is one of the nation's best rush defenses, but I think quarterback Brett Hundley and freshman-all-everything player Myles Jack have a great day. I don't see this being a contest for the Bruins.

Nick: UCLA 38, Virginia Tech 17. Beamer ball is going to have to be in full effect if Virginia Tech wants to stay in the game. Remember when Logan Thomas was a hot draft commodity? UCLA's Brett Hundley apparently has a chance to be a first round pick if he enters the draft, and can you blame him for looking across the sideline and making his decision to capitalize now?

Sam: UCLA 30, Virginia Tech 16. Virginia Tech is a confusing team. They lost games they should have won and won games they should have lost. On paper, they don’t match up very well with UCLA, a team with a bevy of athleticism on both sides of the ball. Even though Tech’s defense is its strength, Brett Hundley will make enough plays for UCLA to put up points. A defensive score for the Bruins on a Logan Thomas interception wouldn’t surprise me either.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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