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TaxSlayers Gator Bowl Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-3, 7-1) vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-7, 2-7)

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Wake Forest’s goal remains the same despite the opponent change up.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 ACC Championship Game - Pitt v Wake Forest Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Uniforms: Gold Helmets, White Jerseys, White Pants

Spread: Wake -16.5

Over/Under: 63

ESPN Matchup Predictor: 76% chance to win

Previous Matchup: Wake 17—Rutgers 10 (1999)

Opponent’s Last: 40-16 loss to Maryland

Weather Forecast: 72 degrees and mostly cloudy

Spread and Odds are a courtesy of DraftKings*

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

Wake Forest

Passing: Sam Hartman - 276-for-469, 58.8%, 3,924 yards, 36 touchdowns, 14 interceptions

Rushing: Christian Beal-Smith - 581 yards on 123 carries, 4.7 ypc, 7 touchdowns

Receiving: A.T. Perry - 61 catches for 1,166 yards, 19.1 ypc, 14 touchdown

Defense: Ryan Smenda Jr. - 77 tackles, Luiji Vilain - 9 sacks, Travel Redd- 3 interception

Rutgers

Passing: Noah Vedral - 172-for-290, 59.3%, 1,726 yards, 7 touchdowns, 6 interceptions

Rushing: Isaih Pacheco - 647 yards on 167 carries, 3.9 ypc, 5 touchdowns

Receiving: Bo Melton - 55 catches for 618 yards, 11.2 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Max Melton - 1 interception

When Wake Forest has the ball

It all starts with Sam Hartman in the unorthodox offense. Hartman is less than 100 yards away from 4,000 for the season and comes in with 36 TDs. Wake averaged over 40 points per game and despite missing WR Roberson as he prepares for the NFL Draft, the Deacs will still have A.T. Perry who actually led the team with 1,166 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

The slow-read option needs a running threat and the Deacs have relied on a committee approach. In Rutgers last game, the Scarlet Knight defense gave up 40 points to Maryland. Wake Forest should be able to move the ball and hopefully capitalize on a “weaker” opponent on paper.

When Rutgers has the ball

Rutgers averaged just under 21 points per game this season which isn’t much. Granted, the Deacs defense has had their up and downs for the season. Coming into the game, it looks like Rutgers will be shorthanded with potentially four of their top playmakers missing due to injury.

If Wake Forest is able to get a lead, the defense should be able to play much more comfortably and pin their ears.

Final thoughts

Wake Forest had a great season. Let’s make sure that’s established with double digit victories and a chance at winning the ACC Championship. Even though not playing against a bigger program in Texas A&M due to the pandemic may be tough to swallow for the bowl game, the Deacs still have a chance to get to 11 wins and a strong finish to a great season.