Kickoff: Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Forecast: Sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s.
Spread: Virginia Tech by 3
Watchability: High. The former Big East foes will meet for the first time since Virginia Tech left for the ACC in 2004. Rutgers looks to end an 11-game losing streak to the Hokies. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally in total defense. The Scarlet Knights are tied with Mississippi State for the nation's longest bowl winning streak with five. Virginia Tech has lost two straight season-ending bowls, but both came in BCS bowl games.
Shining stars: Virginia Tech -- QB Logan Thomas. At 6-6, 260, Thomas has drawn comparisons with Cam Newton for his strong arm and ability to make plays with his legs. Thomas leads all ACC quarterbacks in rushing yards with 557 and is fifth in total offense with 3,311. Thomas has filed paperwork with the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Last week, though, he said it would be tough to leave Virginia Tech early even if he receives a first-round grade. Rutgers -- LB Khaseem Greene. The postseason recognitions have poured in for the Big East Defensive Player of the Year over the last several weeks. Greene, a third-team AP All-American linebacker, was the only player from the Big East to be named to an All-American team in 2012. The former safety could be used in a spy role against Thomas when the scrambling quarterback takes off on designed runs. Greene currently ranks fifth in school history in tackles with 376.
Who could steal the show: Virginia Tech -- DB Antone Exum. The physical corner leads a talented secondary that ranks 23rd in FBS in pass efficiency defense. Exum, an All-ACC second-team performer, has also petitioned Draft advisory board for an evaluation. Exum has four interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 2012. The one-on-one matchup between Exum and Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman will be one to watch. Rutgers -- RB Jawan Jamison. Although the Scarlet Knights' sophomore became just the third back at Rutgers to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since 2006, Jamison has been slowed by a nagging ankle injury late in the season. Jamison will have more than 25 days, though, to rest the ankle before facing the Hokies. The 5-8, 200-pound running back can take a pounding, as his 41-carry performance against USF illustrates.
Magic number for Rutgers: 3. QB Gary Nova tossed nine interceptions in the Scarlet Knights' three losses. In Rutgers' nine wins, Nova only had six interceptions combined.
Magic number for Virginia Tech: 34.3. In six losses, the Hokies allowed an average of 34.3 points per game. In six wins, Virginia Tech has surrendered just 13.5 points per game.
3 keys to a Rutgers win
• Shred the Hokies' secondary: Nova would be wise to closely study the game films from the Hokies' defeats to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Pitt QB Tino Sunseri and Cincinnati QB Munchie Legaux combined for nearly 700 passing yards and six TDs.
• Force turnovers: If the Scarlet Knights hope to become the third team from the conference to defeat the Hokies, they could benefit from winning the takeaway game, as the Panthers and Bearcats did. The two teams forced seven Hokies turnovers combined, five on interceptions. Rutgers opponents lost nine fumbles in a four-game stretch in the middle of the season. In the last three games, though, the Scarlet Knights recovered just one fumble.
• Pound the ball with Jamison: The Scarlet Knights' sophomore was considered for Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors before suffering the ankle injury on Nov. 10 vs. Army. Until that point, Jamison had averaged 105.7 yards per game as Rutgers opened 8-1. Following the injury, Jamison had just 34.3 rushing yards per contest in the Scarlet Knights' last three games. Rutgers went 1-2 during the stretch.
3 keys to a Virginia Tech win
• Consistency from Thomas: When the Hokies quarterback has been on his game this season, he has looked like one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. He nearly threw for 300 yards against a stingy Florida State defense and torched North Carolina for 354 in an October loss. When Thomas has struggled, he has been inaccurate and turnover-prone.
• Contain Jamison: The Hokies have been stifling with their run defense to close the season. In two of its last three games, Virginia Tech has allowed 30 yards or less. Despite the win, Florida State finished with 25 carries for a season-low minus-15 yards. At other times this year, the Hokies' run defense has been porous. In a pair of defeats to North Carolina and Pitt, Virginia Tech allowed more than 550 rushing yards combined.
• Spread the field with Davis: Yards on the ground could be tough to come by against one of the nation's top run defenses. The Hokies must look to WR Marcus Davis on deep routes downfield. The senior wideout has four 100-yard receiving games this season.
Prediction: Rutgers 23, Virginia Tech 21
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