Last Updated Jan 04, 2022, 2:46 PM

Gator Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Wake Forest vs. Rutgers

Dec. 31, 2021
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Gator Bowl after Texas A&M was unable to play, and withdrew. Kick off is set for 11:00 a.m. ET and will air on ESPN from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Score Prediction

Wake Forest 34, Rutgers 20

Best Bets

Rutgers +16.5 (-110) at More OddsWestgate SuperBook

Gator Bowl Predictions

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the only 5-7 team in bowl season. Rutgers replaced the Texas A&M Aggies in the Gator Bowl after the Aggies bowed out of the bowl game due to an outbreak of COVID. The Scarlet Knights are big underdogs against the 10-3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but Wake Forest ended the year with three losses in its last five games.

It’s hard to imagine Rutgers upsetting Wake Forest. The Scarlet Knights only replaced Texas A&M in this game a little more than a week ago, and they haven’t had as much practice as the Demon Deacons. However, Wake Forest is only 39th in SP+, and this team isn’t as good as it record indicates. The Demon Deacons should be a double-digit favorite, but they shouldn’t be more than that in the Gator Bowl.

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Gator Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: ACC vs. Big 10
  • Date: Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Venue: TIAA Bank Field
  • Location: Jacksonville, Florida
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 11:00 a.m. ET

Wake Forest Demon Deacons Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 10-3
  • ATS: 6-7
  • O/U: 6-7

Sam Hartman had a great season as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback. He wasn’t able to lead the Demon Deacons to their second ACC Championship Game win, but he did lead them to a double-digit win season. Hartman does a great job running the slow mesh offense, although he isn’t extremely accurate as a passer.

Wake Forest had two 1,000-yard receivers in 2021. A.T. Perry was the big play threat with 61 receptions for 1,166 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Jaquarii Roberson had 71 catches for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. Taylor Morin and Keshawn Williams are averaging at least 14.0 YPR too.

This ground game isn’t great, but Wake Forest can stay ahead of down and distance for the most part. The Demon Deacons had four players run for at least 340 yards, and they averaged 4.0 YPC as a team. Christian Beal-Smith, Justice Ellison, and Christian Turner have split carries in the backfield.

The Demon Deacons rank 95th in Defensive SP+. Their front seven has left a lot to be desired, giving up 5.0 YPC and 207.5 YPG on the ground. Miles Fox and Traveon Redd were both Second Team All-ACC selections.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 5-7
  • ATS: 6-6
  • O/U: 5-7

Noah Vedral is extremely happy to be playing in the Gator Bowl. Vedral has indicated as much throughout the last week, but the two-time transfer hasn’t been great under center for Rutgers. Over his two years as the primary starter for the Scarlet Knights, he has completed just over 60% of his passes for 2,979 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Isaih Pacheco is the leading rusher for Rutgers. He ran for 647 yards and five touchdowns this season, but he averaged just 3.9 YPC. The Scarlet Knights have struggled to run the ball this year, and their four leading rushers are all averaging less than 4.0 YPC.

Rutgers only has one receiver with more than 330 yards. Bo Melton has 55 receptions for 618 yards and three touchdowns. Aron Cruickshank had some big games but was lost for the season in early November, and he has been missed in this offense.

The Scarlet Knights are great at getting off the field on third and fourth down. Rutgers ranks 13th in third-down defense and 9th in fourth-down defense nationally. They do a decent job stopping the run, but this secondary is allowing 8.7 YPA. Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi was the leading tackler on Rutgers, and he was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection.

Inside the Stats - Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • Record: 10-3
  • VI Ranking: 20
  • Points Scored: 536
  • Points Allowed: 394
  • PS/G: 41.2 (5th)
  • PA/G: 303. (95th)

Inside the Stats - Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Record: 5-7
  • VI Ranking: 65
  • Points Scored: 246
  • Points Allowed: 295
  • PS/G: 20.5 (113th)
  • PA/G: 24.6 (50th)

Key Players to Watch

  • WF: Sam Hartman - QB (276/469, 3,924 yards, 47 Total TDs, 14 INT)
  • WF: Jaquarii Roberson - WR (71 catches, 1,078 yards, 8 TD)
  • RUT: Noah Vendral - QB (173/291, 1,737 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT)
  • RUT: Bo Melton - WR (55 catches, 618 yards, 3 TD)

Gator Bowl Betting Conclusion

Neither defense is that good, but the offenses will have a hard time getting in a groove. That will help Rutgers stay within the number in Jacksonville.

Gator Bowl Betting Trends

  • Rutgers has failed to cover the spread in four of its last six game when playing as the underdog.
  • Rutgers has failed to cover the spread in two straight games.
  • Wake Forest has won 10 of its last 13 games.

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