The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were favored to finish dead last in the Big Ten East — including predictions by this very site — during the program’s first season in the conference.
Kyle Flood and his team exceeded expectations with an 8-5 record and a 40-21 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Quick Lane Bowl held in Detroit, Michigan.
Strong finish for Kyle Flood to a good debut season in the Big Ten for #Rutgers. Win 8 games despite losing standout RB Paul James in Sept.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 27, 2014
With the bowl victory, Rutgers will finish fourth in the Big Ten East with the potential to own the fifth-best overall record in the entire conference.
The narrative was simple earlier this year: Rutgers was only added to the Big Ten Conference because of its footprint in New York City and New Jersey.
It just so happens that its a pretty good football program, too.
The victory over North Carolina also established early bragging rights for the Big Ten over the ACC.
The North Carolina Tar Heels dropped to 6-7 overall during a disappointing season. Larry Fedora‘s squad was a chic pick to be a Top 25 team this season and potentially steal an ACC Coastal Crown. Instead, the program finished third overall in one of the weakest divisions among the Power Five conferences.
After three straight seasons of diminishing win totals, Fedora will likely enter next season on the hot seat.
Rutgers was simply more physical at the point of attack than North Carolina. The Scarlet Knights ran for a whopping 340 yards. Freshman running back Josh Hicks amassed 202 yards on the ground.
North Carolina’s offense was dynamic at times, but the team’s defense simply didn’t show up and that falls directly on the head coach.
Flood, meanwhile, will enjoy the momentum his program built during its first year in the Big Ten both in recruiting and preparation for next season.