Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (-3, 66.5 o/u)
This Friday, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) will meet the North Carolina Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4 ACC) in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit (4:30 p.m. Eastern).
Rutgers started the season strong in non-conference play, but struggled within the Big Ten, especially late in the year, losing four of its last six. The Scarlet Knights did manage to end the regular season on a positive note, though, beating Maryland 41-38.
Rutgers is currently a three-point dog to the ACC’s Tar Heels, but coach Kyle Floyd has his team preparing meticulously.
“Bowl prep has definitely slowed things down, ” said RB Robert Martin, who’s part of an offensive unit that average 147.8 rushing yards per game. “I think I gained more leadership and hunger and humbleness so far, just trying to learn my assignments, the game-plan and just trying to do what I can do to help the team. … I’m just trying to stay ahead of the game, keep working hard so it can lead into next season.”
After winning two in a row to start the year, North Carolina lost four straight. The defense was almost entirely to blame, as the Heels gave up an average of 51 points in the four-game slide. The unit didn’t get much better over the course of the season, surrendering 38.9 points per game for the year; however, the offense was able to lead North Carolina to four victories in ACC play. (North Carolina averaged 34.3 points per game for the season, but just over 40 in its four ACC wins.)
The Tar Heels are 13-16 in bowl games, wining two of the last three, including last year’s Belk Bowl over Cincinnati, 39-17. Rutgers is 5-4 in bowl games, losing its last two appearances in 2012 and 2013. Last year, they faced Notre Dame in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, falling 29-16 to the Irish.