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Rutgers to meet Va. Tech in Russell Athletic Bowl
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The Russell Athletic Bowl will feature a pair of former Big East Conference rivals when Rutgers and Virginia Tech meet on Dec. 28.
They were Big East foes before the Hokies left for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. Virginia Tech holds an 11-3 all-time edge.
The Scarlet Knights (9-3), representing the Big East, will be making their first appearance in an Orlando bowl. The co-Big East champions have a five-game bowl win streak, tied for the nation's longest.
The Hokies (6-6) lost twice to Big East teams this season. They fell 35-17 to Pittsburgh and 27-24 to Cincinnati.
Rutgers is also looking for its first double-digit win season since 2006. Next season will be its last in the Big East, after announcing plans to join the Big Ten in 2014.
Scarlet Knights' coach Kyle Flood said for the most part his team has shaken off missing out on a BCS berth following its loss to Louisville in its regular-season finale.
"I think the excitement level for this game is very high. We certainly were disappointed on the outcome last Thursday. And it certainly was not an outcome we prepared for," Flood said. "In our minds the regular season is compete...but now as we enter bowl season we have another opportunity ahead of us."
The Scarlet Knights boast a pair of sophomores that figure to play a big role in this year's matchup.
Though it's been a down season by Virginia Tech standards, coach Frank Beamer said he likes how his team ended the season to get to the postseason.
"It does say something about the consistency of our programs. I think it's been two other teams that have gone to 20 straight bowl games. There's not many out there," Beamer said. "And we're eager. I think it's a team that's eager to improve our program here. We were able to win our last two games to get bowl eligible. I think we definitely have a team that wants to get better in this bowl game, for sure."
Virginia Tech had the ACC's second-ranked scoring defense (23.9 ppg) and the conference's third-best total defense (344.6 yards per game). Junior DB Antone Exum leads the league's second-rated passing defense with four interceptions, tying him for third-most in the ACC.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower .
Updated December 2, 2012