The Russell Athletic Bowl will be played this Friday evening (5:30pm ET) at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, FL with the Virginia Tech Hikes (6-6) out of the ACC taking on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (9-3) out of the Big East. The two teams were once conference rivals in the Big East, but have not played each other since 2004 when Virginia Tech left for the ACC. Rutgers is 7-5 ATS this season, and comes into this game with an 11-game losing streak to the Hokies but have won their last 5 bowl games. Virginia Tech is 3-9 ATS this season and the Hokies have lost their last two bowl games.
The Rutgers offense ranks 96th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 22.4 points per game scored and 102nd in the nation in total offense with 341.1 yards per game. The Scarlet Knights have been carried by their defense this season, led by linebacker Khaseem Greene, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Rutgers ranks 5th in the nation in scoring defense with 14.2 PPG allowed and 14th overall in total defense with 321.2 YPG allowed.
Virginia Tech has averaged 26.1 PPG to rank 81st among FBS teams in scoring offense and has put up 391.8 YPG to rank 71st in the country in total offense. Quarterback Logan Thomas (2,783 yards passing, 531 yards rushing with 9 TDs) is a dual-threat who has been compared favorably to Cam Newton, but has struggled somewhat this season with only a 52.6 % completion percentage and 14 interceptions to go along with his 17 TD passes.
Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Rutgers Scarlet Knights +2.5
@ Virginia Tech Hokies -2.5
Over 41 (-110)
Under 41 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech Pick:
Rutgers has a 5-0-1 record ATS in their last 6 bowl games, a 6-1-1 record ATS in their last 8 neutral site game and a 7-3 record ATS in their last 10 games overall. The Hokies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 December games, 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games and 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 games overall. The under is 4-0 in Rutgers’ last 4 games against ACC teams, 15-5 in their last 20 non-conference games and 16-5 in their last 21 games overall. The over is 7-2 I their last 9 December games. The under is 4-1 in Virginia Tech’s last 5 bowl games, 6-2 in their last 8 non-conference games and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game. The over is 502 in their last 7 December games and 4-1 in their last 5 games against teams with a winning record. In head-to-head play, the favorite is 502 ATS in the last 7 meetings between the two teams, and Rutgers is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
Both teams have struggled offensively at times this season, and the quarterback play of both Gary Nova for Rutgers and Thomas of Virginia Tech has been sloppy with a tendency to turn the ball over. Rutgers should be able to attack the Hokies’ defense with running back Jawan Jamison and attack a secondary that allowed two Big East teams, in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, to shred them for nearly 700 yards and 6 TDs through the air as both were able to post victories against Virginia Tech. Thomas can attack a defense with his arm and his legs, and if his game is on he can put points on the board against even the best defenses in the country. Look for both teams to open up the playbook, especially Virginia Tech and Coach Frank Beamer who is not afraid to call trick plays, fake punts etc. in big games. Take the over here in what should be a very close game all the way through.
PICK = Over 41