Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

December 28, 2012

Russell Athletic Bowl Preview Capsule

ORLANDO, Fla. — Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6), 5:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)

Line: Virginia Tech by 2

Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 11-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Rutgers has won five consecutive bowl games and is making its eight bowl appearance in school history. The Scarlet Knights are looking to shake off the disappointment of missing out on a BCS berth, and are also hoping to notch their first 10-win season since 2006. Virginia Tech is looking to end its 2012 season on a high note after stumbling to their first single-digit win season since 2003. Still, the Hokies are making their 20th consecutive bowl appearance, joining only Florida State and Florida as teams to do that over the past two seasons.

KEY MATCHUP

Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas had his ups and down this season, throwing for 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, after losing top targets Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale to graduation. He’s still a big threat in the air or on the ground, though, where he led the team in rushing yards (526) and touchdowns (nine). He’ll matchup with a stout Rutgers’ defense that features the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in senior LB Khaseem Greene. The Scarlet Knights also ranked 14th in the nation in total defense, surrendering 321.25 yards per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights will need a big boost from a pair of sophomores to contend with a Hokies’ defense that was third in the ACC in total defense (allowing 344.6 yards per game). RB Jawan Jamison became came just the third Rutgers player since 1976 to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and said he’s comfortable again on the ankle he injured in mid-November. QB Gary Nova is also a threat to post big numbers after becoming the second player in school history with 22 touchdown passes in a season.

Virginia Tech: While Thomas led the Hokies offense this season, junior DB Antone Exum clearly was the standout defensively. He floated between the rover and free safety spots on defense last season before making a move to cornerback this year. It didn’t slow him down on the ACC’s second-rated passing defense, though, with Exum snaring four interceptions to tie him for the third-most in the ACC.

FACTS & FIGURES

Thirteen players that started for Virginia Tech in last season’s Sugar Bowl overtime loss to Michigan are on this year’s roster. ... The Hokies are 1-1 all-time in games played in Citrus Bowl Stadium. Losing to Florida State 33-20 in 1991 and beating Central Florida 44-21 in 2000. This is the Hokies’ 10th visit to the state of Florida for a bowl (five Gator Bowls and four Orange Bowls). ...Virginia Tech is 18-33 all-time in games played in the state of Florida and 149-128-19 all-time in neutral site games. ... Rutgers and Mississippi State own the nation’s longest active bowl winning streak at five games. ... The Scarlet Knights are 1-0 all-time vs. ACC opponents in a bowl game, having beaten N.C. State 29-23 in the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl. ... With the matchup against Virginia Tech, this marks the seventh consecutive season Rutgers has played against an ACC opponent. Since 2006, the Scarlet Knights are 3-3 in those games.

 

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