The early Russell Athletic Bowl odds listed the Hokies, who just managed to extend their bowl streak to 20 seasons, as 2.5-point favorites over the Scarlet Knights, who were 9-1 but lost their last two games to miss out on the Big East championship. Sportsbooks have the Hokies pegged as 1.5-point favorites in this matchup Friday afternoon. The total, meanwhile, was a low 41.5.
How They Match Up:
Offensively, the game matches up Virginia Tech's No. 80-ranked offense (26.1 PPG) against a Scarlet Knights defense that ranks No. 4 at 14.2 PPG. The Hokies passing attack has averaged 234.1 yards per game, more than the Scarlet Knights give up through the air (216.2 YPG on average).
In comparing defenses, the Scarlet Knights own the league's No. 4-rated front 7 in terms of stopping the run, allowing 87.2 yards per game when on the road. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, rates No. 60 this week in generating rushing yards at home.
But in a game dominated by defense, the Hokies awoke from the dead just in time, defeating Rutgers, 13-10, in overtime to win the Russell Athletic Bowl and avoid their first losing season since 1992.
In a fitting conclusion to the lowest scoring game in this bowl’s history, the winning points came when the Hokies were forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal by place kicker Cody Journell during their first overtime possession. His counterpart, Rutgers redshirt freshman Nick Borgese missed wide right on a 42-yard field goal to end the contest. It was Journell’s third game-winning field goal of the season.
Virginia Tech’s defense was its lone saving grace considering its offense finished with a season-low 196 yards. The Hokies (7-6) kept Rutgers’s offense out of the end zone the entire game, the Scarlet Knights’ lone touchdown coming off a bad snap to Logan Thomas on the second play of the night. Thomas recovered it and appeared to have a knee down in the end zone before the ball was jarred loose and recovered by Rutgers linebacker and two-time Big East defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene.
In what could be his final game in a Virginia Tech uniform, Thomas finished 15 of 39 for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The redshirt junior is considering declaring for the NFL draft, but looked shaky most of the night behind an offensive line that allowed four sacks.
“I still have a big decision in front of me, and either way it goes, I’m glad to be a Hokie,” Thomas said after the game.
Luckily for the Hokies, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova was even worse. He completed just 17 of his 40 passes for 130 yards as the two teams combined for a Russell Athletic Bowl-record 21 punts. Rutgers (9-4) ended the game with just 197 yards.
Virginia Tech Bowl History:
|Year||Bowl||Team1||Score||Team2||Score||Team2 Line||ATS win|
|1995||Sugar Bowl||Virginia Tech||28||Texas||10||-2||VTECH|
|1996||Orange Bowl||Virginia Tech||21||Nebraska||41||-15.5||NEBR|
|1997||Gator Bowl||Virginia Tech||3||North Carolina||42||-9||UNC|
|1998||Music City Bowl||Virginia Tech||38||Alabama||7||5||VTECH|
|1999||Sugar Bowl||Virginia Tech||29||Florida State||46||-6||FLAST|
|2000||Gator Bowl||Clemson||20||Virginia Tech||41||-6.5||VTECH|
|2001||Gator Bowl||Virginia Tech||17||Florida State||30||0||FLAST|
|2002||Emerald Bowl||Air Force||13||Virginia Tech||20||-11||AIRFOR|
|2003||Insight Bowl||Virginia Tech||49||California||52||3||CAL|
|2004||Sugar Bowl||Virginia Tech||13||Auburn||16||-6||VTECH|
|2005||Gator Bowl||Louisville||24||Virginia Tech||35||-9.5||VTECH|
|2006||Chick-Fil-A Bowl||Virginia Tech||24||Georgia||31||3||GEORGI|
|2007||Orange Bowl||Kansas||24||Virginia Tech||21||-3||KANSAS|
|2008||Orange Bowl||Virginia Tech||20||Cincinnati||7||-2.5||VTECH|
|2009||Chick-Fil-A Bowl||Tennessee||14||Virginia Tech||37||-5||VTECH|
|2010||Orange Bowl||Virginia Tech||12||Stanford||40||-3.5||STANFO|
|2011||Sugar Bowl||Michigan||23||Virginia Tech||20||3||Push|
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