Tech (8-4) is slated to make a bowl appearance for a 21st consecutive season, which is the second-longest such streak in the nation behind
"We had a lot of things, I think, go against this team injury-wise and so forth, but in the big picture I think we did well and finished up well and finished up in a good bowl against a super opponent," said Tech coach
UCLA (9-3), which is led by second-year coach Jim Mora, finished second this season in the Pac-12's South Division. UCLA is headed to a bowl for a third consecutive season.
Though Tech is an infrequent visitor to west Texas, and points farther west, it's the second time Tech has played in the Sun Bowl. In 1947, Tech lost 18-6 to Cincinnati in the Sun Bowl, which is played in 51,500-seat Sun Bowl Stadium.
The last time Tech ventured as far west was in '03, when it lost 52-49 to California in Phoenix in the
Beamer said his team will begin practice Saturday for the bowl. His team will travel Dec. 26 to El Paso, which is 1,710 miles from Blacksburg.
"There is a distance issue (for fans), but I would hope the matchup with a team such as UCLA, that's attractive," said Beamer, who mentioned he was 3 months old the last time Tech played in the Sun Bowl.
UCLA is the first opponent from the
Tech finished tied for second this season in the
Tech is third in the nation out of 123 Bowl Subdivision programs in passing defense (165.8 yards per game), fourth in total defense (269.6 yards per game), eighth in rushing defense (103.8 yards per game) and eighth in scoring defense (17.4 points per game).
UCLA sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley was considered a
Tech hasn't been nearly as efficient on offense as it has been on defense. Tech is 54th in the nation in passing offense (241.3 yards per game), 95th in scoring offense (23.4 points per game), 98th in total offense (359.1 yards per game) and 110th in rushing offense (117.8 yards per game).
UCLA climbed as high as No. 9 in The Associated Press rankings after opening the season 5-0. Back-to-back road losses in October to Stanford and
Mora, who coached former Tech and Warwick High quarterback
UCLA is 23rd in the nation in scoring offense (36.5 points per game), 37th in total offense (448.2 yards per game), 38th in rushing offense (196.6 yards per game) and 44th in passing offense (251.6 yards per game) under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
On the other side of the ball, UCLA is 39th in scoring defense (24.1 points per game), 44th in passing defense (221.1 yards per game), 56th in total defense (392.8 yards per game) and 73rd in rushing defense (171.7 yards per game) under defensive coordinator Lou Spanos.
UCLA freshman Myles Jack, who has 269 yards rushing and seven touchdowns out of the backfield and 70 tackles at linebacker, earned Pac 12 offensive and defensive freshman of the year honors.
"(Virginia Tech) has one of the finest coaches in the history of this game in coach Beamer, someone I've looked up to for a long, long time and have a tremendous amount of respect for," Mora said Sunday. "I've been on that campus a number of times when I was in the NFL. I've had the chance to coach (former Tech players) Jim Druckenmiller, Michael Vick,