Friday, December 28, 2012
Pregame: Russell Athletic Bowl
By Heather Dinich
Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) versus Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC):
WHO TO WATCH: The quarterbacks. Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas has accounted for 72 percent of the team’s total offensive output this season, leading the Hokies in both passing (2,783 yards, 17 touchdowns) and rushing (528 yards, nine touchdowns). He’s tough to tackle but has been inconsistent and at times has forced some things. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova is second in Rutgers single-season history with 22 touchdown passes this year, but he threw a total of three interceptions in the final two losses of the regular season.
WHAT TO WATCH: Virginia Tech’s running game against Rutgers’ front seven. The Hokies have struggled to develop a consistent running game and whittle down their running back rotation this season. Coach Frank Beamer said working on the ground game would be a priority during the bowl practices. Rutgers’ rushing defense has been one of the best in the Big East and the country, as the Scarlet Knights are allowing only 105 rushing yards per game, good for No. 11 in the country.
WHY WATCH: Virginia Tech is trying to avoid its first losing season since 1992, and it's already 0-2 this season against the Big East. Rutgers, co-Big East champ, has won five straight bowl games. A win for Rutgers would make Kyle Flood the only coach in school history to win 10 games in his first season.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 10, Rutgers 7. The Hokies have too much to lose in this game, as the critics have been out in full force this season looking for staff changes and anyone to blame. With the defenses being the strength for both teams, it should be a low-scoring game, but Thomas will make a few plays in the clutch, and the Hokies will win the turnover battle.