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Having Defied Odds In Year 1 In Big Ten, Rutgers Looks Forward To Bowl

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — While the bowl announcement won't be made until this weekend, Rutgers seemingly will be headed to one of five cities when the postseason games are announced.

Among the likely options: Detroit, Dallas, Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee or Santa Clara, California.

The Scarlet Knights (7-5, 3-5) will hand the Big Ten Conference a list of their top three preferences this weekend but the decisions will be made by bowl committees of the host cities.

The options are the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit (Dec. 26 vs. ACC), Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26 vs. C-USA) and the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. (Dec. 30 vs. Pac-12).

The last option is an either-or choice since as the Big Ten Conference and the ACC have a shared agreement with the Music City and TaxSlayer bowls. Each conference provides an opponent for an SEC opponent.

The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. will be played on Dec. 30, while the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Will be held on Jan. 2.

The Heart of Dallas bowl would be the only one against a non-Power Five opponent.

Some players have preferences. Left guard Kaleb Johnson would love to return home to Jacksonville for a game at EverBank Field in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

However, there is consensus among players hoping for favorable weather.

"Warm weather. That's it. I don't care about anything else," receiver Leonte Carroo said. "We've been playing in this cold weather for the last some-odd weeks and I want to go somewhere warm."

Rutgers played in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in 2011 and last season, so it is used to playing outdoors in cooler temperatures.

Detroit probably would be cold. However, unlike the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium last season that would be indoors at Ford Field and "won't be so bad," quarterback Gary Nova said.

Going to a bowl is something few expected from Rutgers in its first season in the Big Ten. Most experts predicted only a couple of wins and some felt the Scarlet Knights would finish last in the league.

After rallying from a 25-point deficit to beat Maryland 41-38 in the regular-season finale, offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen had a simple message for the team.

Win the postseason game and the perception of Rutgers is only going to get better.

"This wins tells us what we can be.You got a chance to win a bowl game and be 8-5. Not just somebody that's average, somebody that's good," Friedgen said. "That's what we got to build on."

The message resonated with the players.

"At the beginning of the season people said we were only going to win two or three games," Carroo said. "So being 8-5 that would definitely be great in my eyes."

Nova, who earned his second Big Ten offensive player of the week award, wants to finish his up-and-down career on a high note.

"I think definitely (8-5 has a nice ring to it) especially with what were projected to do at the beginning of the year," Nova said. "Obviously we wanted to be undefeated, but 8-5 is a solid season, especially in this conference with the great teams, great players, so it would be a great way to end the season."

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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