Rutgers Ends Postseason Drought With NYE Gator Bowl Invite

Written By David Danzis on December 23, 2021

Rutgers (5-7) will play on New Year’s Eve in the Gator Bowl against No. 17 Wake Forest (10-3).

The Scarlet Knights are a last-minute replacement for No. 25 Texas A&M (8-4), who pulled out last week because of COVID-19 and injuries.

Rutgers owns the highest Academic Progress Rate (ARP) of all the 5-7 schools in the country. The Scarlet Knights received, and accepted, an invitation to a date with the Demon Deacons in Jacksonville, Florida on Dec. 31.

With a Gator Bowl appearance, Rutgers will end the second-longest bowl game drought among Power Five conference teams. RU’s last appearance was the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl, a 40-21 win over the University of North Carolina.

The Scarlet Knights missed a traditional bowl bid in 2021 after losing the final game of the season.

The upcoming Gator Bowl is the highest-profile postseason game in the program’s history.

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Recapping Rutgers 2021 season

Rutgers had a less-than-impressive season. Besides having an overall losing record, the Knights were 2-7 in Big Ten Conference play.

The team jumped out to 3-0 start by beating up on lesser opponents (Temple, Syracuse, Delaware). Rutgers then lost three straight games to Big Ten heavyweights (Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State).

An inexcusable loss to Northwestern was the low point of the season.

Rutgers won two of its next three against Illinois and Indiana. In between was a 52-3 beatdown at the hands of Wisconsin.

Coach Greg Schiano’s team was overmatched in the final two games of the year against Penn State and Maryland.

RU finished the year in sixth place of the seven-team East Division.

What are the (figurative) odds of a Gator Bowl win?

What are the chances Rutgers is actually competitive in a bowl game against a ranked team?

Well, New Jersey sportsbooks are prohibited from offering odds on Rutgers, or any in-state school for that matter. So, there are no lines at any of the myriad NJ online sports betting apps.

But, the odds aren’t in the Scarlet Knights’ favor.

For one, Rutgers will be playing without several of its best players. Olakunle Fatukasi (LB), Bo Melton (WR), Isaih Pacheco (RB), Julius Turner (DL) and Mike Tverdov (DL) are all gone.

None of that really matters, though.

Wake Forest is no slouch.

The Demon Deacons are the 11th ranked offense in the country. Sophomore QB Sam Hartman has 47 total TDs this season (36 passing, 11 rushing) and 14 INTs.

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting and online gambling. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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