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 -2.5
ABOUT RUTGERS (9-3, 5-2 Big
East): 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): 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.
PREDICTION: Rutgers 24, Virginia