CHARLOTTE-- What better way to end 2019 than on the gridiron?
Well, you're in luck today, as the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) take on the Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) in the Belk Bowl. Tech and Kentucky had relatively similar endings to the season, both winning at least three of their final four games.
The Hokies, however, are coming off the emotional loss to UVa on Nov. 29. They get a chance to win one more final game for defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who announced his retirement during fall camp.
The Wildcats are coming into this one winners of their last three regular season games, including a 45-13 beat down over in state rival Louisville.
The ACC and the SEC are about to square off. Don't go anywhere!
Final: Kentucky 37, Virginia Tech 30.
Q4, 0:00: Kentucky forces a fumble and is brought back for the touchdown! Jordan Wright returns it. Final will be 37-30.
Q4, 0:04: Hooker's pass is incomplete to Hazelton. 3rd and 10. This will most likely be the final play.
Q4, 0:09: Hooker's pass is incomplete. 2nd and 10 from the 25.
Q4, 0:15: Bowden throws a clutch fade to Josh Ali for the touchdown! Wow! Time for the extra point to see if Kentucky can take the lead.
Ruffolo got it! Kentucky takes their 1st lead of the game, 31-30 over the Hokies. The drive: 18 plays for 85 yards in 8:10.
Ruffolo's kick goes into the endzone and Tech will have it from their own 25.
Q4, 0:19: Bowden gets 9 yards to the 13. 1st down Kentucky. We're down to the wire folks!
Virginia Tech will call their 2nd timeout of the half.
Q4, 0:40: It'll be 2nd and 8 from the 22.
Q4, 0:53: Bowden gets the 1st down off the 2-yard rush. Big play by the Wildcats!
Q4, 1:01: Kentucky will go for it on 4th and 2 from the 27. They have called their 2nd timeout of the half.
This is a huge moment in the game!
Q4, 1:36: It'll be 3rd and 2 on the 27 for Kentucky. Big play here!
Q4, 2:47: Bowden gets 10 yards on the rush to the 35 of VT for a 1st down. Let's see if Tech's defense can tighten up.
Q4, 3:37: Bowden's throw is caught by a leaping Ali for 9 yards. 1st down on the Tech 48.
Q4, 3:46: The Wildcats will go for it on 4th and 7 from their 43.
Q4, 5:48: Kentucky gets another 1st down from the 5-yard rush by Kavosiey Smoke. Ball is on the 40.
Q4, 7:00: Bowden gets the 1st down at the 28 for a rush of 4 yards.
Q4, 8:25: Bradburn's punt of 40 yards is fair caught at the 15. Kentucky will have the ball from there to start.
Q4, 8:32: The Hokies could not take advantage of the turnover and will send Oscar Bradburn out there to punt from their 45.
Q4, 9:56: Bowden throws a bad pass and is intercepted by Brion Murray! Tech gets it back from their 39.
What a big play by the Tech defense!
Q4, 12:41: Kentucky will start from their own 33 after the 22-yard return by Zach Jonson.
Q4, 12:47: The kick is good, and Virginia Tech now leads Kentucky 30-24. The drive: 6 plays for 30 yards in 2:46.
Q4, 13:22: Hooker rushes for 9 yards, but is short of the 1st down. Brian Johnson will attempt the 27-yard field goal.
Q4, 14:33: McClease gets the 12-yard rush to the 16 for a Tech 1st down.
End of third quarter: Virginia Tech 27, Kentucky 24. This is quite the game in Charlotte. Tech will look to make this a 2-score game.
Q3, 0:26: Deshawn McClease gets the 11-yard rush for the 1st down on the Kentucky 28. That'll do it for the 3rd quarter.
Q3, 0:33: Rose fumbles, and Jarrod Hewitt forces the fumble! Jaylen Griffin gets the ball back, and the Hokies recover and have the ball on the Kentucky 39. Wow! The play is under review.
The call stands, Tech will get the football!
Q3, 1:45: On 3rd and 5, A.J. Rose gets the 6-yard rush for the 1st down on the Kentucky 36.
Q3, 3:13: Brian Johnson's kick is good, and Virginia Tech takes the 27-24 lead. The drive: 12 plays for 53 yards in 4:44.
Romo's kick bounces into the endzone for the touchback. The Wildcats will start from their 25.
Q3, 3:16: The Hokies will attempt the 40-yard field goal from the 22.
Q3, 4:12: Hooker finds Tayvion Robinson for 12 yards and a Tech 1st down on the 22. Yusuf Corker is called for targeting on the tackle for the Wildcats. This will be reviewed.
No confirmed targeting. 1st down on the 22.
Q3, 4:19: The Hokies will go for it on 4th and 8 from the Kentucky 34.
Q3, 5:04: Virginia Tech calls their 1st timeout of the half. It'll be 2nd and 4 from the Kentucky 30.
Q3, 6:08: Hooker finds James Mitchell down the middle for 21 yards and a 1st down. Ball is on Kentucky's 36.
Q3, 7:16: Keshawn King gets 10 yards from Hooker for a 1st down on the 39.
Q3, 7:57: Wow! Lynn Bowden takes it 61 yards to the house for a Kentucky touchdown! Ruffolo''s extra point is good, and we're back to being tied, 24-24.
The drive: 5 plays 75 yards in 2:00. Ruffalo's kick goes into the endzone and Virginia Tech will get the ball back on their own 25.
Q3, 9:02: Chamarri Conner looked to have an interception, but Armani Chatman was called for pass interference. Kentucky has a new set of downs from their 37.
Q3, 9:11: Kentucky calls their 1st timeout of the half. It'll be 3rd and 8 from their 27.
Q3, 9:57: Deshawn McClease takes it 43 yards to the house! Touchdown Hokies, and after the extra point by Brian Johnson, Virginia Tech has the 24-17 lead.
The drive: 4 plays for 76 yards in 1:26. The rush put McClease over 100 yards on the day, as he has 7 carries for 104 yards and the touchdown.
Romo's kick goes into the endzone and Kentucky will start on offense from their own 25.
Q3, 10:19: Hooker keeps it for 12 yards to the Kentucky 43. 1st down Hokies.
Q3, 10:48: Hooker finds Tre Turner for 11 yards on the next play and a 1st down to their 45.
Q3, 11:14: Hendon Hooker takes the 1st play of the drive for 10 yards and a 1st down to the 34.
Q3, 11:23: Keshawn King takes the kick off from the 3 to the 24 for the 21-yard kick return. Tech will start from there.
Q3, 11:29: Matt Ruffolo's kick is good, and we're tied at 17! The drive: 7 plays for 43 yards in 3:31.
Q3, 11:32: The Wildcats will attempt the 40-yard field goal from the 22.
Q3, 13:26: A.J. Rose gets the 34-yard rush and Kentucky now has it on the Tech 24.
Q3, 14:31: After the 5-yard rush by Bowden, Chamarri Conner was being reviewed for potential targeting. They did not rule a target call on that after the review. 2nd and 5 from the 40.
Q3, 15:00: Romo's kick goes out of bounds, and Kentucky will start the second half from their 35 as a result.
Halftime: Virginia Tech 17, Kentucky 14. As our Aaron McFarling would say, who likes "juice?'
Well, that 1st half had plenty of it, between the pushing and shoving and the points scored. That was an entertaining 1st half.
Hendon Hooker has been efficient for the Hokies, going 7 of 11 for 53 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 33 rushing yards. Deshawn McClease has 7 carries for 77 yards.
Kentucky has done a lot on the ground, with quarterback Lynn Bowden putting in 12 rushes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Kentucky is leading in total yards with 181 to Tech's 161 yards.
Come back for more second half 'juice.'
Q2, 0:09: Hooker takes a big sack by Calvin Taylor. That'll do it for this half of football.
Q2, 0:17: Hendon Hooker rushes out of bounds for 14 yards to the Kentucky 49. Maybe they do want to try at least a field goal here.
Kentucky has called their 1st timeout of the half.
Q2, 0:25: Deshawn McClease takes the rush for 7 yards. Tech seems to be okay with running some clock here to go to the half.
Q2, 0:53: Christopher Rodriguez takes it 2 yards for the Kentucky touchdown! Matt Ruffolo's extra point is good, and Virginia Tech now has a 17-14 lead.
The drive: 8 plays for 64 yards in 4:09.
Ruffolo's kick bounces into the endzone for the touchback. Virginia Tech will start from their own 25.
Q2, 2:00: Bowden keeps it for 3 yards and now it's 1st and goal from the 2.
Q2, 2:05: Virginia Tech calls their 1st timeout of the half. It'll be 3rd and 3 for Kentucky on the VT 5.
Q2, 3:49: Lynn Bowden finds Justin Rigg for 15 yards and a 1st down to the Tech 12.
Q2, 4:55: A.J. Rose takes the handoff for 31 yards to the Tech 33. 1st down Wildcats.
Q2, 5:02: Bradburn's 43-yard punt is returned 10 yards by Josh Ali. Kentucky will start from their own 36.
Q2, 5:38: The Hokies will go 3-and-out on that possession and Oscar Bradburn is out to punt.
Q2, 7:02: Max Duffy's 35-yard punt is returned 11 yards by Tayvion Robinson. The Hokies will start the drive from their 28.
Q2, 7:42: Kentucky's drive will stall from their 48 and are forced to punt. Rayshard Ashby gets the sack on 3rd down.
Q2, 9:28: Bowden with the 10-yard gain and another 1st down to their 47.
Q2, 10:01: Bowden keeps it for 19 yards and the 1st down to their 37.
Q2, 10:13: Romo's kick in the endzone is returned by Zach Johnson for 18 yards. Kentucky will start from their own 18.
Q2, 10:20: Hooker connects with Dalton Keene for the 6-yard touchdown pass! Johnson's extra point is good, and Virginia Tech has extended their lead 17-7. The Hokies are moving the ball pretty well in this one to start.
The drive: 9 plays for 60 yards in 4:40.
Q2, 12:24: Hendon Hooker keeps it for 13 yards and its now 1st and goal from the 8.
Q2, 13:27: Keshawn King gets in on the action with the 14-yard rush. 1st down Tech on the 26.
Q2, 13:56: Hooker finds McClease on the screen for 17 yards on 3rd and long for the 1st down. Ball is now on Kentucky's 40.
End of first quarter: Virginia Tech 10, Kentucky 7. Tech will have the ball from their 36 after the Max Duffy 38-yard punt is returned for 1-yard by Hezekiah Grimsley. Zach Johnson absolutely lays out Grimsley on that return.
Q1, 0:37: Kentucky goes three and out and will bring out the punt team from their 22.
Q1, 2:04: Hooker finds Damon Hazelton on the near side for the 18-yard touchdown! What a beautiful catch by Hazelton!
Brian Johnson's extra point is good, and Virginia Tech now leads 10-7. The drive: 5 plays for 75 yards in 2:16.
John Parker Romo's kick is downed in the endzone. Kentucky will start the drive on their 25.
Q1, 3:32: Hendon Hooker finds James Mitchell for 19 yards. 1st down Hokies on the opposing 19.
Q1, 4:10: Deshawn McClease with the 37-yard burst on the first play of the drive. Ball is now on Kentucky's 37.
Q1, 4:20: Lynn Bowden takes the keeper to the house for a 25-yard touchdown! Kentucky takes the 7-3 lead off the extra point from kicker Matt Ruffolo.
The drive: 12 plays for 80 yards in 6:48.
The kickoff from Kentucky bounced into the endzone for a touchback. 1st down Hokies from their own 25.
Q1, 5:25: Quarterback Lynn Bowden gets the 1st down off the 15-yard rush. Kentucky is back on the 29.
Q1, 6:02: The Wildcats get the 1st down, but is called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play for a loss of 15 yards. Kentucky will have 1st and 10 from the Tech 44.
These two teams do no like each other.
Q1, 6:22: Kentucky will go for it on 4th and 1 from the 33.
Q1, 8:45: Josh Ali takes the jet sweep for Kentucky for 25 yards to the Tech 42. 1st down Wildcats.
Q1, 9:30: Well, A.J. Rose looked to have a 78-yard touchdown rush on 3rd and long, but this will be called back thanks to a holding penalty by Kentucky.
However, Virginia Tech's Armani Chatman was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty. It'll now by 1st down Kentucky from their own 27 off the offsetting penalties that netted Kentucky 5 yards.
Q1, 11:08: John Parker Romo's kick is returned from the endzone by Lynn Bowden for 20 yards to the 20. Kentucky will start from there.
Q1, 11:15: Johnson's kick is good! He gets the career-long 54-yarder. Virginia Tech leads 3-0.
The drive: 10 plays for 39 yards in 3:45.
Q1, 11:20: The drive is stalled after two lost rushes and an incomplete pass. Brian Johnson is out to attempt the 54-yard field goal attempt from the 36.
Q1, 12:38: Deshawn McClease gets the 1st down off the 9-yard rush. Ball is on the 33.
Q1, 13:32: Another 15-yard penalty goes against the Wildcats. Tech will have another free 15 yards and a new set of downs. Ball is on the Kentucky 43.
Q1, 14:42: Kentucky is called for a roughing the passer on third and long. 15-yard penalty gives Tech a new set of downs.
Q1, 15:00: The kick goes into the endzone as Tech will start from their 25.
12:00 p.m: Both teams are on the field and we're ready to go. Kentucky won the coin toss and chose to defer. The Hokies will start with the football.
11:45 a.m.: Both the Tech and Kentucky bands have come onto the field for the pregame. The Wildcats' group went first, followed by Tech's.
Crowd update: pretty evenly split amount of Tech and Kentucky fans. Stadium won't be anywhere close to full today with lots of seats open on the upper deck.
11:30 a.m.: Time for the last uniform update of the season.
Tech will wear their normal away jersey's with maroon pants, while Kentucky goes with all blue uniforms and chrome helmets.
11:00 a.m.: Well, the trash talking seemed to continue at Bank of America Stadium as both teams had to be separated during on field warmups. Check out our exclusive video here.
10:30 a.m.: Happy New Year, everyone! Before we head into 2020, lets close out the year playing some football, shall we?
Virginia Tech and Kentucky will go at it in Charlotte today for the Belk Bowl. Coming into the stadium today, you can definitely feel a little extra sizzle in the air between the two well represented fanbases and the two teams.
Yesterday, the trash talking began early at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, per our Mike Niziolek.
Now, you may be asking yourself: who has the edge?
Luckily, we took care of that for you early this morning, as we break down the matchup between the Hokies and Wildcats.
Some of you may be sad that football is coming to a close today for Virginia Tech, while some might actually be glad it's over. Regardless of how you feel going into today's game, our Aaron McFarling leaves Tech fans some hope for the program going into 2020 and beyond.