Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Gator Bowl December 31, 2021

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons found an opponent for the Gator Bowl. Originally scheduled to play the Texas A&M, the Aggies dropped out because of Covid cases.

Texas A&M didn’t have enough bodies to field a team, so it looked like Wake Forest’s season was going to end on a loss against Pitt in the ACC Championship.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights sitting at home with nothing to do received the call, and they’re up as a replacement. Rutgers isn’t technically eligible to play in a bowl game.

They went 5-7 and fell short of the six-win minimum. In recent years, we’ve seen five-win teams play in bowl games when there haven’t been enough programs with six wins, even before Covid, so this isn’t anything new.

Coming off the couch and playing in a respectable bowl game like the Gator Bowl at 5-7 is something different, though. Rutgers had a tough schedule in the Big Ten.

They gave Michigan a run for their money. This isn’t the doormat Rutgers team they’ve known for over the last decade.

Greg Schiano, the head coach the last time Rutgers was good, accepted a job to rebuild the Scarlet Knights. Back then, Rutgers was in the Big East.

Schiano has more work to do to make Rutgers a competitive program in a stacked Big Ten. This assignment right in front of him in the Gator Bowl has Schiano in expedite prep mode.

The Scarlet Knights are going from thinking no bowl to taking on a good Demon Deacons team. Preparing for quarterback Sam Hartman on short notice will be tough, really tough.

Wake Forest is one of the most dangerous RPO in the country. Hartman and the Wake Forest offense can keep defenses guessing, never mind a defense with little prep time.

The Demon Deacons were left disappointed after a 45-21 loss in the ACC Championship. They scored quickly with 21 points in the 1st quarter and then went to sleep. Pitt didn’t allow another point.

Disappointment was all over the face of Hartman in the final minutes of that one. He gets another chance this year to lead Wake Forest to 11 wins. Head below for our free Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Gator Bowl pick on December 31, 2021.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Gator Bowl Betting Odds and Team Statistics:

The following odds are courtesy of BetUS:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Wake Forest Demon Deacons -15 (-110) -650 Over 62.5 (-110)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights +15 (-110) +475 Under 62.5 (-110)
Team Data Wake Forest Demon Deacons Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Overall Record 10-3 5-7
ATS Record 6-6-0 5-7-0
Points Per Game 41.2 20.5
Points Against Per Game 30.3 24.6
Passing Yards Per Game 307.6 172.8
Rushing Yards Per Game 161.5 140.7

Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Prediction:

Wake Forest has to be tough to prepare for, even with extra time. On short notice, the Scarlet Knights are at an obvious disadvantage in the Gator Bowl.

They are just happy to be playing in this game, though. We’ll see if that translates to success and effort on Friday morning and afternoon. It’s just not going to be easy containing Sam Hartman.

Hartman is an RPO specialist and takes what the defense gives him. Some offenses would need time to prepare for Rutgers, but the Wake Forest offense is predicated around Hartman freelancing during the play.

The Demon Deacons shouldn’t be bothered facing Rutgers on short notice. Hartman passed for 3,924 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions on 58.5% completions. Rutgers will be guessing all game in this one.

Hartman can hand the ball off or take it himself. He’s gained 342 yards and 11 touchdowns on 3.1 yards per carry. Overall, Wake Forest is 12th in the FBS with 469.2 yards per game.

They scored an average of 41.2 points a game this season, good for fifth in the FBS. The Scarlet Knights’ defense was decent in the Big Ten, with 393.6 yards allowed per game for 79th.

I don’t know what kind of rhythm the Scarlet Knights can be in after not practicing for weeks, so it’s going to be up to the defense to make this one a competitive game.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Betting Trends:

Wake Forest

  • 4-0 ATS in their previous four games as a betting favorite
  • 4-1 ATS in their previous five games after a loss
  • 8-3-2 ATS in their previous 13 games versus a team with a losing record
  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five games versus the Big Ten
  • OVER is 5-1 in their previous six games after a loss


  • 2-6 ATS in their previous eight games
  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five games as an underdog
  • 0-4 ATS in their previous four games versus a team with a winning record
  • 2-5 ATS in their previous seven games after a loss by more than 20 points
  • 4-0 ATS in their previous four games versus a non-conference team

Rutgers is coming off a 40-16 loss versus Maryland. After losing to Penn State the week before, 28-0, beating Maryland was their last chance to become automatically bowl eligible. That went horribly.

Evan Simon and Noah Verdal shared the starting duties, going 7-14 passing. Simon had 86 yards, while Verdal passed for 55 yards and an interception.

Running back Isaih Pacheco is the heart and soul of the Rutgers’ offense. However, he declared for the NFL long ago and won’t be on the field for the Scarlet Knights.

That hurts an offense that is predicated around Pacheco running the ball. A team that isn’t going to do much passing the ball in this one will need a reliable running attack.

Rutgers will get yards running the ball, but not enough to keep up with Hartman and the Deacons. In a game where Rutgers is treating this as a free trip to Florida for some sunshine, look for Wake Forest to make this look easy.

I’m backing Wake Forest to win and cover in a final score of 41-17 or 43-21 in the Gator Bowl at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.


Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Pick
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.