Va. Tech aims to send Foster off with Belk Bowl win vs. Kentucky

NCAA Football

One of college football’s most recognized assistant coaches is working the sideline for the final time on Tuesday.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is riding off into the retirement sunset after the Hokies meet Kentucky in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Foster followed head coach Frank Beamer from Murray State before the 1987 season and has been in Blacksburg ever since.

That includes the last 24 years running the defense under Beamer and Justin Fuente, who replaced Beamer after the 2015 season. Foster’s defenses have posted 36 shutouts and have collected the most sacks (893) and second-most interceptions (393) in the FBS since 1996. The Hokies’ 27 consecutive bowl berths is the longest active streak in the nation.

But Foster doesn’t want to make the last game of his career about himself.

“It’s obviously about sending people off the right way and then it’s about the future,” he said. “Let’s grow and build on what we’ve done this year. To take another step, we don’t need to wait until the next semester. We need to go do it now.”

It wasn’t a sure thing in early October that Tech (8-4) would send Foster into retirement with its 27th straight bowl game. It was 2-2 after a 45-10 blowout loss at home to Duke but won six of seven before a season-ending loss to Virginia cost it the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division title.

The big challenge in Foster’s final game is stopping quarterback Lynn Bowden, a converted wide receiver who has turned the Wildcats (7-5) into one of the nation’s best running teams since taking over late in the season’s fifth game following injuries to starter Terry Wilson and backup Sawyer Smith.

Bowden has completed just 29 of 62 passes for 330 yards, but has rushed for 1,235 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging more than eight yards per carry. He rolled up 284 yards and four scores in a season-ending 45-13 rout of in-state rival Louisville.

“Our team fought through a lot of adversity this season and I’m proud of our players for earning another bowl bid,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

The Wildcats also boast the nation’s 12th-ranked scoring defense, which has permitted just 18.4 points per game. Calvin Taylor is one of the ringleaders, registering a team-high 7.5 sacks.

This will be the 20th all-time meeting of the teams, but their first since a 14-7 win by Kentucky in 1987. The Wildcats lead the series 11-6-2.

–Field Level Media

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