Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Gator Bowl Picks and Betting Insights

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Sam Hartman #10 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Logan Whitton/Getty Images/AFP

The 10-3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons are one of the most unique teams in the country thanks to their one-of-a-kind offense and ability to score points quickly. They finished just 6-7 against the spread because their defense is one of the worst in the country. But they’re undefeated in providing us entertainment.

Their new opponent, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, took Texas A&M’s spot due to Covid concerns. Rutgers received approval to play in this despite a 5-7 record, making them the weakest bowl team to participate this year if we’re just counting wins.

Its possible Wake will underrate Rutgers and we’ll get a bowl game shocker. We’ll break down this matchup and provide two great NCAAF picks for you to play.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 

Friday, December 31, 2021 – 11:00 AM EST at TIAA Bank Field

Wake’s Mystique

It's important to point out just how effective the Demon Deacons are at moving the ball. Sam Hartman is an elite collegiate passer, boasting almost 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns despite playing in the ACC. Most of Rutgers' foes opted to pulverize their defense on the ground, as they surrendered 164 yards per game. 

Wake may choose to utilize rusher Christian Beal-Smith more often than Hartman if they can simply get what they want on the ground. Beal had 581 yards on 4.7 yards-per-carry, so he's more of a complementary piece than a star.

Rutgers' passing defense allowed under 56% completion throughout the year, so maybe they can muck up a passing game that was low on completion rate (59%) but big on chunk gains.

I think Wake can mirror what Ohio State did to the defense with their spread passing. Wake's delayed RPO attack is hard to defend without premier athletes and the feisty but young Scarlet Knights aren't ready for it yet. Watch for Wake to find explosive plays but struggle a bit to sustain drives.

Rutgers’ Questionable Offense

The bigger question is how well can the Scarlet Knights score against Wake's 87th-ranked scoring defense. We've seen them use trick plays to advance the ball and score against better teams. I expect that to continue in the bowl game.

The problem is they're 122nd in scoring and 123rd in pass defense. Their offense went four weeks without scoring more than 13 at one point, and there's no consistency to speak of. Truly, they are reliant on defense turnovers and deceptive play designs that buy them free yards.

I simply can't put faith into that working against a focused Wake team. For my best bets, I'll take Wake to cover and the total to be under the optimistic 61.5 number.

NCAAF Pick: Wake Forest -14.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Wake Forest -14.5 (-108)
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NCAAF Pick: Under 61.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports

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Under 61.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.