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2012 Russell - Va Tech 13, Rutgers 10 OT

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 28, 2012


2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 Russell Athletic

2012 Russell Athletic Bowl

Va Tech 13, Rutgers 10 OT

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central
- CFN Thoughts and Analysis on the Russell Athletic Bowl 

National Rankings
R V
100th Total Offense 71st
14th Total Defense 24th
94th Scoring Offense 78th
5th Scoring Defense 38th
100th Rushing Offense 63rd
11th Run Defense 35th
83rd Passing Offense 61st
40th Passing Defense 30th
21st Turnover Margin 79th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
R   V
2.5 Quarterbacks 4
3 RBs 3
3 Receivers 2
3 O Line 3
3 D Line 4
4 Linebackers 3.5
4 Secondary 4
2 Spec Teams 4
3.5 Coaching 5
(AP) ORLANDO, Fla. -- After one of its most unfulfilling seasons in recent memory, Virginia Tech desperately wanted to avoid its first losing season since 1992.

Mission accomplished.

Cody Journell kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime to help the Hokies beat Rutgers 13-10 in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday night.

Virginia Tech won its final three games to finish 7-6.

"Not everything in life is real smooth," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "These players worked hard and how they reacted to adversity and to disappointment and when all of them wanted to do better -- they kept together."

Rutgers (9-4) had a chance to tie it in overtime, but Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field goal attempt to the right.

The loss ended a run of five straight bowl victories for the Scarlet Knights and kept them from recording their first double-digit win season since 2006.

The win also was the Hokies' 12th straight victory against their former Big East Conference rival.

Virginia Tech trailed 10-0 at the half, then rallied in the final 30 minutes thanks to some timely turnovers and offense. Quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in the first half and finished with a pair of interceptions, but also had 192 yards passing and the game's only passing touchdown.

"I can't commend the defense more," Thomas said. "The entire season that's kind of how it's been. I have to give a shout out to (linebacker) Bruce Taylor because he played his tail off the entire game. It felt like he was in the backfield making a tackle on every play."

Taylor finished the night with a team-high 11 tackles to lead a defense that held Rutgers to 67 yards in the second half.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum, selected the most valuable player of the game, picked off Gary Nova's pass early in the fourth quarter to set up the tying score.

He said even though the offense took its lumps early, he was never down on its effort.

"That's just the way the game panned out," Exum said. "We never lose hope with the guys on the other side of the ball. Our job, honestly, is just to go out there and get as many three-and-outs as possible and give the most opportunities as we can to put points on the board.

"We did a good job of that tonight."

Rutgers seemed to be in command until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, when turnovers and a sudden surge from the Hokies' offense quickly turned the momentum.

Down 10-0, Virginia Tech took over after Rutgers missed a field goal and moved into Scarlet Knights' territory for the first time in the game on a 32-yard pass from Thomas to Dyrell Roberts.

Thomas then found Corey Fuller for a 25-yard strike on the next play before the drive stalled on the 8. It forced the Hokies to settle for Journell's 25-yard field goal.

Exum intercepted Nova's pass on the ensuing drive, giving the Hokies a first down on the Rutgers 21.

The Hokies found the end zone three plays later on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Fuller with 10:56 left as steady rain began to fall.

"We finally caught them off balance," Thomas said. "We finally got them uncomfortable. ... I just had to put the ball out there for him."

Virginia Tech defensive end Tyrel Wilson then came up with the defense's second turnover of the night, recovering a fumble inside the Scarlet Knights 40 after Nova dropped a snap while lined up in the shotgun.

An intentional grounding penalty on Thomas forced a punt, though, with less than 7 minutes to play.

They got another chance a few series later, only to see Journell's 51-yard field goal come up short with 2:20 showing on the clock. Rutgers punted, b

ut got it back just a play later when Thomas' pass was intercepted by Brandon Jones.

"Two tremendous defensive performances, and one of the better defensive performances I've seen from Rutgers players this season," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "It's unfortunate that we came out on the wrong side of the game, and squander that kind of performance as a result."

It was defense on both sides that controlled the action in the first half as Rutgers took a 10-0 halftime lead.

The Scarlet Knights were the most effective offensively, managing a modest seven first downs and a field goal. But the Scarlet Knights came up empty on their best drive of the half, failing to convert on a fourth-down pass play inside the Hokies 35.

Virginia Tech struggled throughout, though, tallying only 73 yards total in the first two quarters. Thomas was also sacked twice and intercepted late in the half, which severely hampered an offense that never made it into Rutgers' territory.

Penalties also bent in Rutgers' favor. Virginia Tech was penalized eight times for 60 yards. The Scarlet Knights weren't whistled for any penalties in the half.

A miscue by Virginia Tech on the opening drive of the game produced the game's first score.

Hokies center Caleb Farris sent his second snap of the night sailing past Thomas and into the end zone.

Thomas scrambled back to pick it up, and tried to run it out, but he was instantly swarmed and lost the ball as he was tackled. It was eventually recovered by Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene for the touchdown.

Beamer said the challenge was not to let any shortcomings from this season cloud the offseason.

"I couldn't be more proud of this team," he said. "We've won some more games in other years, but I think this group is special."

Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)
Dec. 28, 5:30, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … Russell Athletic Bowl officials might want to include a sample pack of Zoloft in each team’s swag basket. Virginia Tech and Rutgers are a little bummed about being at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium for this game.

The Hokies and the Scarlet Knights both had visions of concluding this season in a BCS bowl game, the latter right up until the second half of the regular-season finale. Rutgers was in the Big East driver’s seat, needing a win in either of its final two games to secure its first-ever major bowl game bid. It never happened. The Knights got blown out by Pitt, and then blew a second-half lead at home to Louisville, which is headed to the Sugar Bowl.

While this destination isn’t much different than any of Rutgers’ previous six bowl games, the last five of which were wins, there’s still a subdued feeling around Piscataway as the team prepares for its 2012 finale. Everything set up perfectly for the program to finally achieve a new level of success, especially with a move to the much tougher Big Ten on the horizon in 2014. But it wasn’t meant to be. Rookie head coach Kyle Flood desperately wants to cop a win in Orlando to avoid taking a three-game losing streak into the offseason.

Virginia Tech is in the throes of its worst season since 1992, ironically the same year it joined Rutgers as a member of the Big East. Although there appeared to be enough talent in Blacksburg to cobble together a ninth straight 10-win season, the Hokies quickly devolved into the ACC’s biggest disappointment of 2012. They went 0-2 in non-conference games with Pitt and Cincinnati of the Big East, and couldn’t get by the better teams in their own league. In the end, Tech needed to defeat rival Virginia on the final weekend just to become bowl-eligible for the 20th straight year.

The Hokies have beaten the Scarlet Knights 11 consecutive times, back from when the two participated in the Big East. However, since their last meeting in 2003, Rutgers has really grown up, while Virginia Tech is struggling. Those disparate paths now lead to the Russell Athletic Bowl, with the roles somewhat reversed, and the one-time aggressor in need of a win just to avoid a losing season.

Players to Watch: No player has personified Virginia Tech’s abysmal 6-6 campaign more than junior QB Logan Thomas.

A Heisman candidate and safe pick to jet to the NFL after this season, Thomas regressed in his second year as a starter. The 6-6, 260-pounder still looks the part, but ranks 85th nationally in passing efficiency. He made a ton of poor decisions this fall, throwing nearly as many picks as touchdowns. A strong finish for the quarterback is not likely against a tough Rutgers secondary.

The Scarlet Knights start three seasoned veterans, including All-Big East First Team picks Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon. Ryan versus 6-4, 232-pound Hokies WR Marcus Davis will be one of the more interesting matchups of this game.

No player will enjoy the four-week hiatus from contact than Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison.

Jamison was running like an All-American earlier in the year, going over 100 yards in six of his first seven games. However, an injured ankle limited his potential and mobility in November. Promising to be back at full-strength for the Hokies, Jamison is eager to remind everyone of the player he was in September and October. He’ll face a stiff challenge from an improving Virginia Tech run defense that’ll to tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, and linebackers Bruce Taylor and Jack Tyler for leadership and sure-tackling.

Virginia Tech hasn’t run the ball consistently all year. And it’s not going to start in Orlando.

The Hokies have always seemed to be able to overcome the graduation of a feature back to the NFL, but finding a successor to David Wilson is going to take more time. Thomas will again be forced to carry the weight of the offense in the face of a Rutgers D allowing 105 yards rushing a game and less than three yards per carry.

The Scarlet Knights are fundamentally sound and very strong up the middle, with DT Scott Vallone and linebackers Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais and Jamal Merrell. Greene has been a beast the last two seasons worthy of a much wider lens nationally.

Virginia Tech will win if … Thomas throws more touchdowns than interceptions.

The Hokies would prefer that it not be the case, but they’ll need No. 3 to have a positive game Friday evening. The results from the regular season don’t lie. When Thomas was in plus-territory, touchdowns to picks, Tech went 6-1. When the flipside was true, the team dropped all five of its games. Now, the junior doesn’t have to perform like the second-coming of Michael Vick to engineer a win. But he will need to avoid the mistakes and errant throws that derailed his season, and pilot enough drives to at least give PK Cody Journell a shot at putting points on the board.

Rutgers will win if … QB Gary Nova doesn’t blow it.

After peaking with four touchdown passes against Temple on Oct. 20, the sophomore has been on a steady decline. He’s thrown 12 picks over the last five games, three of which were losses. Nova is well-protected by an offensive line that’s yielded just eight sacks all season. And his receivers present enormous, gifted targets, such as 6-6 deep threat Brandon Coleman, 6-4 Tim Wright and 6-3 Mark Harrison. It’ll be up to the young quarterback to shake his erratic finish, and exploit the Hokies when they stack the box to slow down Jamison.

What Will Happen: History is not Rutgers’ side. Or is it?

Historically, the Scarlet Knights have not fared well against the Hokies. However, the program has won five straight bowl games. Anything other than a defensive scrum between these two offensively-challenged programs would qualify as a huge surprise. Tech needs Thomas to be a reliable playmaker, but Rutgers won’t allow it to happen. Led by Greene, the Knights will suffocate a Hokies offense light on sure-things surrounding its inconsistent quarterback. The kickers and special teams, in general, will be instrumental. So, too, will Jamison, who’ll recapture his first-half form by leading the charge with 100 tough yards on the ground.

CFN Prediction: Rutgers 23 … Virginia Tech 16
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Virginia Tech -2.5 O/U: 41.5

Russell Athletic Bowl History
2011 Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14
2010 NC State 23, West Virginia 7
2009 Wisconsin 20, Miami 14
2008 Florida State 42, Wisconsin 13
2007 Boston College 24, Michigan State 21
2006 Maryland 24, Purdue 7
2005 Clemson 19, Colorado 10
2004 Georgia Tech 51, Syracuse 14
2003 NC State 56, Kansas 26
2002 Texas Tech 55, Clemson 15
2001 Pittsburgh 34, NC State 19
2000 NC State 38, Minnesota 30
1999 Illinois 63, Virginia 21
1998 Miami 46, NC State 23
1997 Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 30
1996 Miami 31, Virginia 21
1995 South Carolina 24, West Virginia 21
1994 Boston College 31, Virginia 13
1993 Stanford 24, Penn State 3
1991 Alabama 30, Colorado 25
1990 Florida State 24, Penn State 17