DETROIT, MI–Rutgers University's football team is bowl-bound for the fourth consecutive year, as the Scarlet Knights will face the University of North Carolina in the first-ever Quick Lane Bowl on December 26.
In their first year since making the switch to the Big Ten athletic conference, Rutgers will once again be playing in a postseason bowl game.
While the stakes are not particularly high in this year's final matchup, the game does provide the team's graduating seniors one more chance to play football on national television.
Some say that Rutgers is again getting the short end of the stick this postseason, a frequent complaint after many years in the Big East conference, which tends to send its teams to less prestigious bowls than the Big Ten.
The Quick Lane Bowl is a brand-new bowl game, with hardly anytradition or name recognition. It is the de facto replacement for the replacement for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, traditionally played in Detroit the day after Christmas.
After playing the first-ever college football game in 1869, Rutgers did not play a post-season bowl game until 1978 when it lost the short-lived Garden State Bowl to Arizona State.
Since then, Rutgers has struggled to achieve a spot in one of the more popular bowl games, which typically take closer to New Year's Day.
Still, some say the new game in Detroit is a good fit for the Scarlet Knights, who went 7-5 in their first season in the Big Ten.
Their opponent, North Carolina, went 6-6 and hails from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Since 2005, Rutgers has played in games that are named after corporate sponsors and websites between Christmas and New Year's Day, including the Insight.com Bowl, the Texas Bowl, the International Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl, the Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, and twice in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Aside from the two trips to Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl, Rutgers has typically had trouble selling its allotment of tickets to the bowl games, sufferring a six-figure financial hit each time.
One perk of joining the Big Ten is that the conference will absorb the financial hit from any of the university's unsold tickets. Rutgers has been allotted 8,000 tickets.
The conference will also absorb the $1.2 million payment that would have otherwise gone to Rutgers for playing in the game.