After a wild week, the new Gator Bowl matchup is officially set. Rutgers, which finished its season at 5–7, has been invited to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl, where it will face 10–3 Wake Forest.
The Scarlet Knights became the first option for the game, after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Aggies program. The outbreak, combined with season-ending injuries, left the team without enough scholarship players to safely compete.
All bowl eligible teams at 6–6 or better were already selected for games, which put Rutgers at the top of the list for 5–7 programs when sorted by academic progress rate (APR). Rutgers's 979 score placed it ahead of other Power Five programs in Cal, Texas, Illinois and Syracuse among others.
Rutgers has now been cleared to participate in the game, and has accepted the invitation to head down to Jacksonville to face the Demon Deacons in just over a week. On Thursday morning, NJ.com's James Kratch reported that the team was expected to accept an invitation if invited.
The Scarlet Knights put up an appropriate bowling-themed video on Thursday. “Better late than never,” the program said in its tweet.
Rutgers last went to a bowl game in 2014, when the program beat North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl. That was the last of four straight bowl games for the program, including a 2011 trip to the Pinstripe Bowl under Greg Schiano during his first run with the team.
Schiano took the Scarlet Knights to their second-ever bowl appearance in 2005, an Insight Bowl loss to Arizona State. The team then made the postseason every year except for 2010, before Schiano left to take the Buccaneers job ahead of the '12 season.
Wake Forest is 2–0 all-time against Rutgers, winning both legs of a home-and-home series in 1997 and '99.
The Gator Bowl will be held on Dec. 31. Kickoff from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville is slated for 11 a.m. ET.
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