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This is an 11am bowl and it is going to be fun as hell to watch because it will undoubtedly be a points explosion. The two teams have insane passing games and do not have much interest in playing defense. Virginia is 22nd in the country in scoring at just under 35 points per game … which is a ton… but SMU is equally as impressive with over 38 points in each contest.
SMU is going to be heading into this contest without Sonny Dykes as its head coach since he dipped out for the same post at TCU. I am not a big believer in his replacement — defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is acting as head coach in this game even though offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was named the new head coach. On the flip side, Bronco Mendenhall is coaching his last game for Virginia and I do believe in a “win one for the Gipper” to send him out in a big spot.
Brennan Armstrong will be the key to this game. The Virginia quarterback threw for 4,444 yards this year — good for third in the entire country — and he will have to continue that pace because the Cavaliers defense is leaky (at best). The good news is that SMU gave up the seventh most passing years in the nation, which means receivers will be running all over the field, probably wide open.
One other potential advantage for Virginia is that it is statistically better in the redzone on both sides of the ball, both cashing in touchdowns when it has the ball and keeping teams out, bending but not breaking. If Virginia can limit big plays — which it has struggled to do — and makes SMU earn those last couple of yards it could swing the day.