Rutgers to fill Texas A&M’s spot in Gator Bowl after COVID-19 issues force Aggies to withdraw, per report

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No. 25 Texas A&M won’t have enough players to compete in the Gator Bowl because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the program that has reportedly left the Aggies with only 38 healthy players. As a result, Rutgers is expected to take Texas A&M’s place for Dec. 31 matchup against No. 17 Wake Forest, according to NJ.com.

“We are disappointed that Texas A&M University and the Aggie fans will be unable to represent the Southeastern Conference in Jacksonville at this year’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game,” said TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Chairman John Duce in a statement. “However, the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our primary concern.”

Rutgers earned the right of first refusal because it has the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) among the football teams that finished 5-7. The NCAA’s oversight committee will meet Thursday, at which time it is expected to formally approve the Scarlet Knights for bowl eligibility once administrative details such as player safety protocols are finalized.

The Scarlet Knights have not appeared in a bowl game since the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl. 

An uptick in COVID-19 cases nationally due to a combination of the Delta and Omicron variants has proved disruptive to the sports world. Dozens of college basketball games have been canceled in recent weeks amid the spread and it now appears college football’s bowl season will not make it through unscathed by the ongoing pandemic. 

Texas A&M’s sudden withdrawal left the Gator Bowl scrambling to find an opponent…

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