Game to be played at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
1. Rutgers survived its first season in the Big Ten and took two of its last three games to earn its fourth straight postseason appearance at the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. North Carolina did its own bit of scrambling with wins in four of the last six games to become bowl eligible for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Scarlet Knights and the Tar Heels did not make the postseason on the strength of their defenses and will be looking to outscore each other.
2. Rutgers surrendered an average of 40.2 points in its last six games but managed to get more than 40 points on offense in wins over Indiana and Maryland to go 2-4 over that stretch. The Scarlet Knights were down by 25 at Maryland before pulling off the largest comeback in school history in a 41-38 triumph. North Carolina’s 38.9 points allowed on the season placed it 116th out of 125 FBS teams in scoring defense, though the Tar Heels held each of their last three opponents to 35 points or fewer.
3. Gary Nova threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Michigan on Oct. 4 but had five interceptions and three TDs while guiding the Scarlet Knights to four losses in five games. Nova found it again in the finale, going 28-of-42 for 347 yards and four TDs without an INT. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams is coming off his worst performance – an 11-of-22 effort for 97 yards in a 35-7 season-ending loss to North Carolina State.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Neither the line or the total have moved since they opened at UNC -3, 66.5
INJURY REPORT: Rutgers – DL Daryl Stephenson (Ques-Upper Body), OL J.J. Denman (Ques-Lower Body), WR Andrew Turzilli (Ques-Hamstring), DB Nadir Barnwell (Ques-Upper Body) North Carolina – WR Ryan Switzer (Prob-Head)
ABOUT RUTGERS (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS, 7-5 O/U): The Scarlet Knights allowed an average of 211.8 yards on the ground and surrendered 281 in the finale against Maryland after letting Michigan State roll up 242 in a 45-3 loss the previous game. Rutgers’ own rushing attack ranked 10th in the 14-team Big Ten and freshman Josh Hicks was getting majority of the reps in the last two games due to injury. Nova sat out the Pinstripe Bowl last season but started the Russell Athletic Bowl against Virginia Tech in 2012 and went 17-of-40 for 129 yards in a 13-10 overtime loss.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS, 5-6 O/U): Williams takes care of both the rushing and the passing for the Tar Heels, leading the team with 20 passing TDs and 12 rushing scores. Williams scored at least one rushing TD in six straight games before the debacle against N.C. State and totaled eight TDs in the two previous games. The junior star left the finale with a leg injury but x-rays came back negative and he was moving around under his power later in the game and is expected to play in the bowl game.
*Scarlet Knights are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 bowl games.
*Tar Heels are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. loss.
*Under is 4-0 in Scarlet Knights last 4 neutral site games.
*Over is 4-1 in Tar Heels last 5 games following a ATS loss.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 65.62 percent of Covers users are backing UNC -3, 54.37 percent on the under.