Russell Athletic Bowl Odds
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-3) and the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6) are all set to do battle Friday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 PM ET in the Russell Athletic Bowl, which will take place inside Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Florida. You can catch the game on ESPN. Oddsmakers have listed Virginia Tech as a 2.5-point favorite and have set the total at 41.5.
Why Virginia Tech Covers
Virginia Tech should have a lot better attitude than Rutgers heading into this game. After all, it is happy to be playing in a bowl. The Hokies had to beat Boston College and Virginia in their final two regular-season contests just to become bowl eligible.
While the Hokies have to be excited about the opportunity to play postseason football, Rutgers might not share the same excitement considering it blew a golden opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game.
The Scarlet Knights won a share of the Big East Championship but didn’t receive the league’s automatic BCS bid. Rutgers blew a 14-3 lead to the Louisville Cardinals and lost 20-17 in the regular-season finale. It lost its BCS shot along with it. Now Louisville will get the opportunity to play fourth-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Both teams boast solid defenses, but Virginia Tech boasts the better offense. The Hokies rank 71st in the nation in total offense with 391.8 yards per game while the Scarlet Knights rank 102nd with 341.1 yards per game. Virginia Tech ranks 81st in scoring with 26.1 points per game while Rutgers ranks 96th with 22.4 points per game.
Virginia Tech has completely dominated Rutgers. The Hokies have won each of the past 11 meetings with these wins coming by an average of 29.3 points.
Why Rutgers Covers
The Scarlet Knights would like to be playing in a BCS bowl, but perhaps the team can still rally around an opportunity to become just the third 10-win team in school history. They should also want to fight hard to keep their bowl winning streak alive.
Rutgers will be making its seventh bowl appearance in eight years and hasn’t lost a bowl game since 2005. It has won its last five bowl games. This streak is tied with Mississippi State for the longest in the country. It is also worth noting that the Scarlet Knights are 5-0-1 against the number in their last six bowl games.
Virginia Tech has been a poor play outside Blacksburg. It is just 1-5 straight up and 0-6 against the spread when playing away from home this season. Rutgers, on the other hand, is 5-1 straight up and 4-2 against the spread when playing away from home this year.
It is also worth noting that the Hokies are on a 0-6 against the spread slide in road/neutral field games against non-conference opponents. They have lost these contests by an average score of 25.4 to 21.4.
Virginia Tech has also been a poor investment when laying points in recent seasons. In fact, it is on a 6-16 against the spread slide in the favorite role.
I have picked Virginia Tech to win this game, and you can check out the rest of my bowl predictions here. Be sure to check out who Vegas Top Cappers, Jack Jones, Brandon Lee and Carolina Sports have selected in the Russell Athletic Bowl as well.