With a healthy Jawan Jamison ready for action, Rutgers (9-3) will take on Virginia Tech (6-6) today in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Which team has the edge? We asked our resident experts!
Rutgers offense hasn't been the strength of this year's
team. The offensive line has been very good, but points
have been tough to come by. Quarterback Gary Nova has had
his share of ups and downs but Virginia tech's Logan
Thomas has had a bit of a rocky year himself. The Hokie
offense still is able to generate more consistent offense
and has a slight edge in this one.
Which team has the
more potent offense?
Tech's offense has been anything but potent. Against Duke,
the Hokies looked like a juggernaut, but other than that,
it's been hard to come by. I know Gary Nova has had his
struggles, but Jawan Jamison gives the Scarlet Knights the
Jamison. As Jamison goes, so does the Rutgers offense.
That was abundantly clear in the final two games as
Rutgers dropped its last two contests while Jamison was
nursing a a sprained ankle. Jamison claims to be back to
100 percent and his effectiveness could take Rutgers a
long way against Virginia Tech.
Who is the
Offensive 'X Factor,' and why?
on Virginia Tech's offense centers around Logan Thomas at
QB. He'll have to run quite a bit, but he also can't make
the mistakes he's made throughout this season. If he can
get going through the air, the Hokies' chances improve.
The Scarlet Knights own the nation's No.14 defense and it
has been the backbone of this team all season. The unit is
at its best when it creates turnovers and has 29 takeaways
to its credit through 12 games. The Hokie defense has also
been good but hasn't been able to carry the team to
victory the way Rutgers has this season. Rutgers is also
fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only
14.25 points per game.
Which team has the
Tech. The defense is the main reason the Hokies have
gotten to this point. That's good and bad. In losses to
North Carolina and Pittsburgh, the defense was the
problem. But the Hokies seem to have settled down of late
and the defense has been a huge reason for the late wins.
Rutgers defensive line. The unit has struggled to get
sacks all season, only producing 11 of the team's 22 total
sacks. To keep Virginia Tech Logan Thomas contained,
Rutgers will need to find a way to get more production
from its offensive level. Defensive tackle Scott Vallone
is playing at a very high level but will need some help.
Expect a big game in the 51st straight start for Vallone,
but he will need some help in the trenches.
Who is the
defensive 'X Factor,' and why?
Tyler/Bruce Taylor. These guys have been tackling machines
this season. If they can get their normal of about 10
tackles apiece as well as get pressure on Nova, VT is
looking good on defense.
has excelled in blocking kicks yet again this season with
a total of eight on the season. It has been the strength
of its special teams while Justin Doerner has struggled in
the punting game. Kickoff returns have been few and far
between for the Scarlet Knights this season with an
overwhelming amount of touchbacks. RU has only returned 21
kickoffs on the year. On the opposite side of things,
Rutgers has only 10 touchbacks on 45 kickoffs. Virginia
Tech has also had its share of struggles in the punting
game but boasts the nation's No.7 punt returner in Kyshoen
Jarrett. I'll call this one an even draw.
Who has the edge
on special teams?
one's close. Kicker Cody Journell has had a pair of
game-winners at the end of the game, but he's also missed
a few as well. AJ Hughes can be a big X-factor at punter,
but that's no guarantee. There's some capable guys at
returner, but they're not consistent either. I'll say it's
Rutgers came up short
in its season finale when it needed a score in the final
two minutes against Louisville. There were instances when
the RU offense covered a lot of ground in a hurry this
year, but it was a different story with the game on the
line. Gary Nova failed to lead RU to what would have been
one of its biggest wins in school history. Virginia Tech
quarterback Logan Thomas has an NFL-arm and although he
may have had a bit of a down season, he could stretch
defenses if needed. Thomas has the edge over Nova and in a
two-minute situation, Tech has the advantage.
If the game comes down to a final
drive, which team drives the length of the field?
It's just hard to say
with the VT offense. I think Rutgers is more than capable
as are the Hokies. But there's just been so many
inconsistencies. It's a hell of a chore to predict which
VT team will show up. If I had to go with one or the
other, I say Rutgers' offense is more likely to get the
This looks to be a
hard-fought defense battle where points may be at a
minimum. Rutgers finally has its top offensive weapon back
in Jawan Jamison and will lean on the strength of his
running. Having a full month to soak in a 3-point loss to
Louisville that cost the team a BCS bid, Rutgers will be
looking to avenge that bitter defeat. There could be a
little rust to start things off but Rutgers will prevail
in a close one. Rutgers 20 Virginia Tech 17.
Which team will win?
offense is spectacular and both defenses are stellar.
Virginia Tech has been to 20 straight bowls now, but each
have ended in winning seasons. A loss here would break
that streak and this VT team doesn't want to be that team.
They're plenty motivated. This one will come down to the
end and there will be just enough offense. I think a score
on either side, maybe both will come from defense or
special teams. But the Hokies will do just enough and I
predict will win 27-24.