PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The concern about Rutgers getting shut out of the bowl picture with seven wins was unfounded.
The Scarlet Knights (7-5) on Sunday accepted a bid to play North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26.
Not only will Rutgers be heading to a bowl game for the fourth year in a row and for the ninth time in 10 seasons, but they are getting a chance to play a school from one of the top five power conferences, the Tar Heels (6-6) of the ACC.
“We’re thrilled to participate in the Quick Lane Bowl at a world-class venue against a power five opponent in North Carolina,” Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann said in a statement. “This is a tremendous reward for our program following a successful first season in the Big Ten.”
There was concern that one of the Big Ten Conference’s 10 bowl-eligible teams would be left out when the bowl pairings were announced because they league only had nine guaranteed bowl agreements.
“I felt very confident when the selections came out that we would have a seat at the table,” said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, who now has taken his team to a bowl game in each of his three seasons.
Most of his captains said they never worried about being shut out of a bowl.
“You can focus on it all you want, but it’s out of your control,” quarterback Gary Nova said.
Getting the bid is something few experts predicted for the Scarlet Knights in their debut season in the Big Ten. They were picked to finish last in many preseason polls.
North Carolina finished its season with a loss to North Carolina State, but beat Georgia Tech, Virginia and Duke during the season. It beat at Rutgers 24-22 in their last meeting in 2011.
“That was my first thought,” senior safety Lorenzo Waters said of the ’11 game. “I remember the defense, we didn’t play that well that game, and a lot of missed tackles.”
Rutgers is 5-4 in bowl games, but it has lost its last two postseason games.
“I haven’t won a bowl game since I’ve been here so I am excited for the opportunity to get mine,” junior defensive lineman Darius Hamilton said. Senior defensive lineman Dave Milewski is just thankful for the chance to play.
“Being a senior and this being my last game, I don’t want it to end any other way than lifting up a trophy,” Milewski said.
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