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.
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?
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