Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano leads his team onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College,Pa.,Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Rutgers has replaced Texas A&M in the 2021 Gator Bowl against Wake Forest
The Scarlet Knights have opened as heavy underdogs against the Demon Deacons
Read below for Rutgers vs Wake Forest opening odds, spread, and projected line movement
Rutgers (5-7) has received an an unexpected invitation to the 2021 Gator Bowl after Texas A&M was forced to withdraw due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Scarlet Knights will face Wake Forest (10-3) on December 31st at TIAA Bank Field.
Rutgers has opened as 11.5-point underdogs in the Gator Bowl odds. The game total is set at 61.5 with oddsmakers projecting a high-scoring affair in Jacksonville.
Let’s take a look at the opening odds for Rutgers vs Wake Forest and analyze which direction the line is likely to move.
Rutgers vs Wake Forest Opening Odds (Gator Bowl)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
O 61.5 (-110)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
U 61.5 (-110)
Odds as of December 23rd at William Hill
2021 College Football Bowl Game Opt Outs Tracker – See All Players Sitting Out of Their Bowls
Knights Earn Surprising Bowl Invite
Rutgers has accepted a Gator Bowl invitation following a COVID-19 outbreak at Texas A&M. The Aggies are unable to field a team for the matchup against Wake Forest on New Years Eve. Rutgers had the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) score among all available 5-7 teams.
Better late than never 😃
The Scarlet Knights are going BOWLING 🎳 🪓 pic.twitter.com/cJw3mrqsCu
— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) December 23, 2021
The Scarlet Knights missed out on an initial bowl invitation after losing their season finale to Maryland on Nov. 27. Greg Schiano’s team was favored by two points but went on to lose by a 40-16 score. Terrapins QB Taulia Tagovailoa torched the Rutgers secondary for 312 yards.
The bad news for Rutgers is several of their most important players have declared for the NFL Draft. Leading rusher Isaih Pacheco, defensive end Mike Tverdov and linebacker Drew Singleton have turned professional and won’t be available for the bowl game.
Rutgers has one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the Big Ten this season, but their defense is decent. The Scarlet Knights are only allowing 24.6 points per game entering the Gator Bowl. The issue is they’ve been dominated by elite offensive teams such as Ohio State and Michigan State.
Demon Deacons Boast Electric Offense
Wake Forest has opened as such heavy favorites over Rutgers in the Gator Bowl odds primarily due to their offense. The Demon Deacons are averaging 469 yards and 41.2 points per game. QB Sam Hartman has played a huge role in that success, passing for almost 4,000 yards and 36 TDs.
Only ACC QBs with more total touchdowns in a single season than @sam_hartman10:
▪️ Lamar Jackson – 51 (2016)
▪️ Deshaun Watson – 50 (2016)
▪️ Hartman – 47 (2021) pic.twitter.com/viZxJ8vfnw
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) December 12, 2021
Hartman has great arm strength, but he threw four interceptions the last time he took the field in the ACC Championship against Pittsburgh. Wake Forest managed just 295 total yards of offense in a 45-21 blowout loss. Dave Clawson’s team failed to cover the spread as 3.5-point underdogs.
For all the praise Wake Forest’s offense get, there are some notable weakness on defense. The Demon Deacons are giving up over 400 yards of offense and 30 points per game. When facing the top offenses in the ACC this season (Clemson, UNC, Pitt), the Wake Forest defense has had no answer.
Rutgers vs Wake Forest Expected Line Movement
The Rutgers vs Wake Forest odds could certainly shift given the unexpected nature in which this matchup came to be. On paper, both these offenses should be able to move the ball on each others leaky defenses. That’s why the game total appears likely to be hit the hardest by bettors.
Wake Forest is 9-6 all-time in bowl games, while Rutgers is 6-4. The Demon Deacons most recent bowl appearance was the 2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl, where they lost 42-28 to Wisconsin. The last time the Scarlet Knights made a bowl was in 2014 when they beat UNC 40-21 in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Sam Hartman is the biggest name in this game, so you can also expect some public money to come in on the favorite. The Demon Deacons have been preparing for a bowl game since the season ended, while the Scarlet Knights have been in offseason mode. That gives WFU a huge edge.
These two teams haven’t played since 1997, so there isn’t any recent history to shift the odds. Wake’s offense is the headliner, so expect this betting line to tick up in Wake’s direction and the total to rise leading up kickoff.