Friday College Football Betting Odds, Picks for Wake Forest vs. Rutgers: Fade Scarlet Knights in Gator Bowl

Friday College Football Betting Odds, Picks for Wake Forest vs. Rutgers: Fade Scarlet Knights in Gator Bowl article feature image

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Hartman.

  • The Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Gator Bowl to kick off Friday's college football bowl action.
  • Wake enters as 16.5-point favorites, according to updated odds, while the over/under sits at 63 points.
  • Check out BJ Cunningham's top betting pick below for this early bowl game.

Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Odds

Friday, Dec. 31
11 a.m. ET
Wake Forest Odds
-110o / -110u
Rutgers Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Wake Forest looks to finish its season strong against last-minute replacement Rutgers in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Do you hear that? Yes, that's Greg Schiano's music. Rutgers thought its season was over after finishing 5-7, but after Texas A&M didn't have enough players to field a roster, the Scarlet Knights stepped in for their first bowl appearance since 2014.

Wake Forest may have ended its regular season in disappointing fashion by losing to Pitt in the ACC Championship. However, the Demon Deacons have one of the most explosive offenses in college football with Sam Hartman under center.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Wake to get to 11 wins for only the second time in school history.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Demon Deacons Offense

The main reason why Wake Forest is 10-3 is because of its offense, which is gaining 5.8 yards per play and ranks 22nd in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play.

Hartman has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt with an 89.1 passing grade, per PFF. The biggest thing for him in this matchup is he's one of the best deep-ball throwers in the country with a 94.1 pass grade on throws 20 or more yards in the air.

Hartman should be able to air it out all day long because Rutgers is the worst team in college football at allowing explosive passing.

Most 20+ yard completions among P5 QBs:

1. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest: 39
2. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh: 35
2. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia:

— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 23, 2021

Unfortunately for the Deacs, wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson has decided to skip the bowl game and declare for the NFL Draft, which obviously hurts Wake Forest's passing attack. However, Hartman has plenty of other weapons to torch one of the worst secondaries among Power Five schools.

The Wake Forest rushing attack hasn't really gotten going this season, as it's gaining only 4.1 yards per rush. The Demon Deacons also rank 56th in Rushing Success Rate, 65th in Offensive Line Yards, and 57th in EPA per play.

To beat Rutgers, though, Wake simply needs to put the ball in Hartman's hands early and often.

Demon Deacons Defense

Wake Forest has struggled defensively for most of the season, allowing 5.8 yards per play and ranking 104th in Success Rate Allowed.

Most of Wake Forest's issues have come from its front seven trying to defend the run. The Demon Deacons are allowing 5.0 yards per carry and are outside the top 100 in rushing Success Rate Allowed, Defensive Line Yards and Rushing Explosiveness allowed.

Rutgers does run the ball 56.6% of the time, but it's not very successful in doing so.

The secondary has been much better than the front seven, allowing only 7.4 yards per attempt and ranking 46th in terms of a coverage grade, per PFF.

The Deacs obviously struggled against Kenny Pickett in the ACC title game, but Noah Vedral, who has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the Big Ten, will be a breath of fresh air.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Scarlet Knights Offense

The Rutgers offense was pathetic this season and is the main reason why it couldn't get to six wins.

The Scarlet Knights averaged only 4.2 yards per play, which was 124th in college football. They also ranked 128th in EPA per play and 97th in Success Rate.

Vedral was one of the least efficient quarterbacks in the Power Five this season, averaging only 6.0 yards per attempt with a 55.5 PFF passing grade. That led Rutgers to ranking 124th in Passing Success Rate and 126th in EPA per pass. What's even more concerning is that Vedral is really reliant on play-action to be successful.

On non-play-action dropbacks this season, Vedral averaged just 4.6 yards per attempt, per PFF. I have a hard time seeing how Rutgers is going to throw the ball with any success on Friday, especially with so little time to prepare.

Rutgers will need to establish a consistent rushing attack to have any chance of keeping up with Wake Forest's offense, but I'm not so sure it'll be able to do so. The Scarlet Knights averaged only 3.6 yards per rush attempt and finished outside the top 80 in both Rushing Success Rate and EPA per rush this season.

Scarlet Knights Defense

Rutgers was pretty stout defensively this season, which is not surprising with a Schiano-coached team. The Scarlet Knights were 29th in Success Rate Allowed, but they had some big-time issues allowing explosive plays.

Rutgers finished the season ranking 113th in explosiveness allowed, and a lot of that came against the pass. Rutgers allowed opposing quarterbacks to average 8.7 yards per attempt and was the worst team in college football at allowing explosive passing.

Facing Hartman and the Wake Forest passing attack, which is 24th in Passing Success Rate, is a nightmare matchup.

Rutgers was pretty solid against the run this season, ranking inside the top 40 in Rushing Success Rate allowed and EPA per rush allowed.

However, this game is going to come down to whether or not its secondary can limit explosive plays in the passing game — which it won't be able to do.

Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Wake Forest and Rutgers match up statistically:

Wake Forest Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
Rush Success5629
Line Yards6559
Pass Success1238
Pass Blocking**1520
Big Play6641
Finishing Drives533
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Rutgers Offense vs. Wake Forest Defense
Rush Success81112
Line Yards63106
Pass Success12492
Pass Blocking**6562
Big Play127115
Finishing Drives9694
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling7472
Middle 826104
SP+ Special Teams2173
Plays per Minute466
Rush Rate52.4% (83)56.6% (54)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Betting Pick

With Rutgers taking this game on such short notice in what will be a horrific defensive mismatch for it, I have a really hard time seeing how its offense, which was one of the worst in college football by EPA per play, is going to keep up with Hartman and the Demon Deacons.

I have Wake Forest projected at -24.5, so I love the Demon Deacons at -14.5 and would play it up to -17.

Pick: Wake Forest -14.5 (Play to -17)

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