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The History: Did you know the Russell Athletic Bowl was originally the Blockbuster Bowl and first played in Miami in 1990? In 2001, however, the game was moved to Orlando and renamed the Tangerine Bowl. In 2004, it became the Champs Sports Bowl and early in 2012, Russell Athletic signed an agreement with Florida Citrus Sports to become the game’s sponsor through 2015. The game features the top non-BCS selection from the Big East and the top non-BCS selection from the ACC.
Rutgers Scouting Report: Rutgers comes into this game with a 9-3 record including wins over Cincinnati & Syracuse and losses to Louisville & Pittsburgh. The key for the Scarlet Knights’ offense will be the play of quarterback Gary Nova and running back Jawan Jamison. In the team’s three losses, Nova threw nine interceptions. In their nine wins, he threw only six combined. As for Jamison, before suffering an ankle injury on November 10th agains Army, he was in contention for Big East Player of the Year. Before his injury, he averaged 105.7 yards per game, leading his team to an 8-1 record before going 1-2 in their last three games in which he averaged just 34.3 yards per game.
Buckeye Connection: The Buckeyes and the Scarlet Knights have never faced off on the football field. That will soon change when Rutgers makes its move to the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
Virginia Tech Scouting Report: The Hokies come into this game with a 6-6 record including wins over Georgia Tech & Boston College and losses to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Clemson, & Florida State. Quarterback Logan Thomas has been compared to Cam Newton at 6’6, 260. He leads ACC quarterbacks in rushing yards with 557 and has 3,311 total yards of offense on the season. His play will be a key for the Hokies in this game. In games against Florida State & North Carolina, he threw for 300 and 354 yards, respectively. In his team’s losses, however, he was very inconsistent and turnover-prone. Look for Thomas to target WR Marcus Davis on deep downfield routes. Davis has had four 100 yard games this season. Yards in the air will be particularly important since Rutgers has the 11th-ranked run defense in the nation.
Buckeye Connection: The Buckeyes have never played the Hokies on the gridiron, but that will soon change, as the two teams are set to meet in 2014 & 2015.
Prediction: In a game of good run defenses, I think this comes down to quarterback play and whoever wins the turnover battle. Even though Rutgers’ RB Jawan Jamison says his ankle is much better, I still feel he won’t be back to performing where he was before his injury. With that said, it’ll be up to Scarlet Knights’ QB Gary Nova to make things happen for their offense. I see him turning the ball over to swing things in the Hokies’ favor in a close game. Virginia Tech 24 Rutgers 21