Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5, 41)
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL STORYLINES
1. The two participants in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, come into the game via different paths. The Scarlet Knights had a shot at the Big East crown and a BCS berth but lost their last game to Louisville, allowing the Cardinals to tie for the league title and take the BCS berth. Meanwhile, the Hokies are just happy to be in a bowl, needing wins in their last two contests to climb to 6-6 on the season and become bowl eligible.
2. These two teams aren't exactly strangers. Before Virginia Tech made the move to the ACC, both schools were in the Big East, where they met 12 times. The Hokies dominated the series 11-1, with the Scarlet Knights' victory coming in the first meeting in 1992.
3. Both teams run very balanced offenses, with Rutgers getting 63.1 percent of its yardage through the air, compared to Virginia Tech's 59.7 percent. The biggest difference is the Scarlet Knights had only six rushing touchdowns on the season compared to the 18 scores on the ground for the Hokies.TV:
5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE:
Virginia Tech opened as low as -2 and has been moved to -2.5. The total opened 40.5 and fell as low as 39.5 before coming back up to 41.CONSENSUS:
52 percent of Covers Consensus plays are on Rutgers while the over/under consensus is split 50/50.WEATHER:
The forecast in Orlando is calling for cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s. Winds are expected to blow ESE at 6 mph.TRENDS:
* Favorite is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Scarlet Knights are 2-5 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in Hokies' last five Bowl games.
* Under is 15-5 in Scarlet Knights' last 20 non-conference games.
ABOUT RUTGERS (9-3, 5-2 Big East, 7-5 ATS):
The Scarlet Knights have won five straight bowl games, tied with Mississippi State for the nation's longest current streak. Coach Kyle Flood is looking to become the third Rutgers coach - and only first-year coach - in school history to win 10 or more games in a season. The Knights have been stingy on defense all year long, ranking fourth in the nation in scoring defense (14.3 points) and 14th in total defense (321.3 yards per game). Offensively, look for a lot of sophomore running back Jawan Jamison, who rushed for 1,054 yards and can help set up the Rutgers' passing game. Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova is solid, throwing for 2,566 yards in his first full season as a starter.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (6-6, 4-4 ACC, 3-9 ATS):
The Hokies struggled this year after a trip to the Sugar Bowl last season. Quarterback Logan Thomas is a big key for Virginia Tech's success as he ranks as the team's top passer (2,783 yards, 17 touchdowns) and rusher (526, nine). The Virginia Tech defense has been solid against the pass, allowing 204.9 yards per contest. Linebacker Jack Tyler has been a force this year, leading the team in total tackles (112) and tackles for loss (11) while recording 2.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Getting off to a fast start is important for the Hokies, but it hasn't been easy this year, with the team leading at halftime in only three of its contests.