Here are three keys for Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Virginia Tech.
1. Establish the run. This is the whole key to the Rutgers offense, and, well, it has been missing of late. In its two losses to end the season, Rutgers managed 104 TOTAL yards in the ground. In each of its three losses this year, Rutgers failed to rush for more than 100 yards. So that must change for the Scarlet Knights to have any chance at winning. What should help is having Jawan Jamison completely healthy. The Rutgers run game started stalling when he hurt his ankle late in the season. He was not quite the same running back we saw in the first half of the year, averaging 33.7 yards in the final three games. But he says now he is totally fine for the bowl game. Rutgers needs a big game from him.
2. Get after Logan Thomas. No-brainer, right? Virginia Tech has struggled when the junior quarterback is pressured into making mistakes. Of his 14 interceptions this season, Thomas threw 12 of them in six losses. That includes five total against Pitt and Cincinnati. So you can bet that is exactly what the aggressive Scarlet Knights' defense is going to do in this game. Rutgers has 16 interceptions this season and one of the better defensive backfields in the Big East. Watch for junior corner Logan Ryan, who could be playing his final game for the Scarlet Knights. Ryan said he will decide whether to leave for the NFL draft after the bowl game.
3. Take some risks. I think it is safe to say that Rutgers fans want to see the Scarlet Knights get a little more creative with their play calling. This is the perfect time to do it. Obviously Rutgers wants to win to get to 10 wins for only the third time in school history, but this game also is a springboard into 2013. If the coaches show a little more confidence in Gary Nova, and he can make some plays to get the ball to his talented receivers, you can imagine what that would do for him and for Rutgers heading into the offseason.