Rutgers looks to cap season with bowl victory

Rutgers accomplished one major goal this season, earning a share

of the Big East title for the first time in school history.

Though a 20-17 loss to Louisville in the finale dashed the

Scarlet Knights’ hopes for the program’s first BCS berth, the

consolation prize of the Russell Athletic Bowl presents coach Kyle

Flood and his players with an opportunity to add another

accomplishment.

A victory over Virginia Tech on Friday would clinch a 10-win

season, just the third since the program was credited with playing

the first college football game against Princeton in 1869. It would

also mark Rutgers’ sixth straight bowl win dating to 2006.

”You got to move forward in life,” Flood said. ”That

(Louisville) game happened and we’re not happy about it, but it

happened. And now that’s in the past. That game is a part of

history and it is what it is. Now we move forward and we try to

make more history. We have tremendous goals left for us to

accomplish, and that’s really where our focus is.”

The Scarlet Knights (9-3) lost their last two games, but they’re

still playing in the most prestigious postseason game in school

history.

”The game on Friday, for me, is going to mean everything,”

said Khaseem Greene, a fifth-year senior linebacker who earlier

this month earned AP All-America third-team honors. ”It is going

to be a legacy, another chapter for me being closed and another

chapter for this program, this family, being closed. It will

definitely set us apart from everybody. It’s going to determine if

we’re a good team or a great team.”

For Flood, it marks his first bowl game as head coach. He served

as an assistant in Rutgers’ six bowl games under his predecessor,

Greg Schiano. Flood took over after Schiano left for the Tampa Bay

Buccaneers in late January.

With a win over the Hokies, Flood would become the only

first-year coach to win 10 games in Rutgers history. Virginia Tech

(6-6) is playing in its 20th straight bowl game.

There’s a chance the Russell Athletic Bowl will be Rutgers’

final game as a member of the Big East. The Scarlet Knights

announced their plans to defect from the conference – of which they

have been a member since 1991 – to join the Big Ten on Nov. 20. And

while school officials are targeting 2014 as the arrival date,

other developments could expedite Rutgers’ departure.

If the Knights do remain in the Big East for the 2013 season,

they should be one of top contenders to win the league’s BCS bid in

its final season as an automatic-qualifying conference. Rutgers

graduates several defensive mainstays – including Greene, the

two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year – but could welcome

back as many as 14 starters, including sophomore quarterback Gary

Nova, leading rusher Jawan Jamison and leading receiver Brandon

Coleman.

A victory this week in Orlando could set the tone for an

important offseason.

”That will send the seniors off the right way and get the

younger guys and guys in recruiting, just send a good vibe for next

year,” said Nova, who has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for

2,566 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. ”We’ve got a lot

of talent coming back.”