Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: Rutgers, Virginia Tech and the Difficulty of Scoring

USA TODAY Sports

Both of these teams are at least solid on defense. When it comes to scoring on their own, however ... well, it's harder than it looks

Russell Athletic Bowl, Friday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: Because Champs Sports ran out of money, apparently.

The Teams: Rutgers and Virginia Tech

How Rutgers got here: Remarkable consistency. The Scarlet Knights scored 23-28 points in half of their games, with only one of those ending up in the loss column. But the reason why Rutgers isn't in the Sugar Bowl instead of Louisville comes down to an offensive collapse in the last three games of the season. Rutgers scored 17 or fewer points in each of those games after not having scored fewer than 19 in other game. The Scarlet Knights went 1-2 in that stretch, losing their last two games. What hasn't let Rutgers down too often is its defense, which ranks fifth in the nation in scoring (14.3 ppg) and total yardage (321.3 ypg). So if the offense can score more than it did in the last few weeks of the season, advantage Knights. But that's a sketchy proposition with this offense.

How Virginia Tech got here: Who knows? Most people thought the Hokies were done when they lost to an 0-2 Pittsburgh team that had been defeated by Youngstown State. Or when they lost at Cincinnati and UNC. But like the Black Knight in Monty Python, Virginia Tech just wouldn't let it go. With a 4-6 record, Tech faced a trip to BC and a home game against intrastate rival Virginia -- and one both, though both by the skin of their teeth. The Hokies have a Top 25 or 40 defense in most of the major statistical categories, but they just aren't very good on offense. In seven of its games, Virginia Tech scored 24 or fewer points, and its average of 391.8 yards per game of total offense is mediocre at best.

College football fans care because: It sounds like an interesting game, even if it really isn't.

SEC fans care because: We'll have a ready response the next time someone talks about how terrible SEC offenses are.

Watch this game if...: You think scoring is overrated.

The result: Virginia Tech 13, Rutgers 10

Line: Virginia Tech by 2

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