2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
77th Gator Bowl
1234 Total
Wake Forest 146315 38
Rutgers 7300 10
DateDecember 31, 2021
StadiumTIAA Bank Field
LocationJacksonville, Florida
MVPSam Hartman (QB, Wake Forest)[1] & Johnny Langan (QB, Rutgers)[2]
FavoriteWake Forest by 17
RefereeKevin Mar (Big 12)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersTaylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst), and Alyssa Lang (sideline)
Gator Bowl
 < 2021 (Jan.) 2022

The 2021 Gator Bowl was a college football bowl game played on December 31, 2021, with kickoff at 11:00 a.m. EST and televised on ESPN.[3] It was the 77th edition of the Gator Bowl, and was one of the 2021–22 bowl games concluding the 2021 FBS football season. Sponsored by financial technology company TaxSlayer, the game was officially known as the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.

On December 22, Texas A&M withdrew from the bowl, citing a breakout of positive COVID-19 cases and season-ending injuries limiting them to few players.[4] The bowl committee then worked to secure another participant.[5]

On December 23, the NCAA football oversight committee approved Rutgers as the first bowl alternate, under rules whereby five-win teams are ranked by Academic Progress Rate (APR) calculations. Rutgers finished first in APR among the five-win schools and was given the option to accept the bid. The NCAA also allowed the game to be postponed as late as January 10, if needed, by a replacement team.[6] Rutgers accepted the bid, and the game date was not altered.[7]


The bowl has tie-ins with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The initially planned matchup of Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M was consistent with those ties-ins,[8] until Texas A&M had to withdraw from the bowl due to an insufficient number of players being available.[9] Rutgers of the Big Ten was subsequently named as a replacement team due to having the highest APR amongst candidates.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Main article: 2021 Wake Forest Demon Deacons football team

Wake Forest enters the bowl with a 10–3 record (7–1 in ACC play). The Demon Deacons won their first eight games, then went 2–3 over their final five games. Wake Forest played two ranked teams, defeating NC State and losing to Pittsburgh.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Main article: 2021 Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team

Rutgers finished their season with a 5–7 record (2–7 in Big Ten play). The Scarlet Knights won their first three games, then lost four in a row, and finished the season by going 2–3 in their final five games. Four of their losses came against ranked teams in FBS.

See also: Bowl eligibility § Bowl teams with losing records

Game summary

2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Period 1 2 34Total
No. 17 Wake Forest 14 6 31538
Rutgers 7 3 0010

at TIAA Bank FieldJacksonville, Florida

  • Date: Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Game time: 11:00 a.m. EST
  • Game weather: Cloudy • Temperature: 74 °F (23 °C)
  • Game attendance: 28,508
  • Referee: Kevin Mar
  • TV announcers (ESPN): Taylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst), and Alyssa Lang (sideline)
  • Box score
Game information
First quarter
  • 11:34 WF – Brandon Chapman 4-yard pass from Sam Hartman, Nick Sciba kick good. Drive: 9 plays, 84 yards, 3:26. Wake Forest 7–0
  • 5:11 RU – Aaron Young 12-yard rush, Valentino Ambrosio kick good. Drive: 12 plays, 75 yards, 6:23. tied 7–7
  • 2:16 WF – A. T. Perry 29-yard pass from Sam Hartman, Nick Sciba kick good. Drive: 10 plays, 75 yards, 2:55. Wake Forest 14–7
Second quarter
  • 12:02 RU – Valentino Ambrosio 28-yard field goal. Drive: 9 plays, 66 yards, 5:14. Wake Forest 14–10
  • 8:21 WF – Nick Sciba 37-yard field goal. Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards, 3:41. Wake Forest 17–10
  • 0:00 WF – Nick Sciba 29-yard field goal. Drive: 10 plays, 87 yards, 1:42. Wake Forest 20–10
Third quarter
  • 6:37 WF – Nick Sciba 23-yard field goal. Drive: 13 plays, 62 yards, 3:57. Wake Forest 23–10
Fourth quarter
  • 12:24 WF – Brandon Chapman 1-yard pass from Sam Hartman, A. T. Perry conversion pass from Hartman. Drive: 7 plays, 62 yards, 3:30. Wake Forest 31–10
  • 4:15 WF – Justice Ellison 27-yard run, Nick Sciba kick good. Drive: 11 plays, 69 yards, 6:59. Wake Forest 38–10


Statistics WF RU
First downs 28 17
Plays–yards 60–452 47–276
Rushes–yards 37–148 29–111
Passing yards 304 165
Passing: comp–att–int 23–29–0 18–33–2
Time of possession 30:05 29:55
Team Category Player Statistics
Wake Forest Passing Sam Hartman 23/39, 304 yards, 3 TD
Rushing Justice Ellison 9 rushes, 59 yards, TD
Receiving A. T. Perry 10 receptions, 127 yards, TD
Rutgers Passing Noah Vedral 8/13, 87 yards, INT
Rushing Gavin Wimsatt 4 rushes, 39 yards
Receiving Johnny Langan 6 rushes, 57 yards


  1. ^ @jaxdotcom (December 31, 2021). "A pregame meeting with former @BollesSchool and @WakeFB star Riley Skinner might have inspired Sam Hartman to TaxSlayer Gator Bowl MVP honors on Friday" (Tweet). Retrieved December 31, 2021 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ @BCpresident0718 (December 31, 2021). "Congratulations to our Johnny Langan for being named the Rutgers MVP for the Gator Bowl game" (Tweet). Retrieved December 31, 2021 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ "2021 College Football Bowl Schedule". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  4. ^ Li, David K. (December 22, 2021). "Texas A&M backs out of Gator Bowl after Covid outbreak leaves team without enough players". NBC News. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  5. ^ @taxslayerbowl (December 23, 2021). "Ticket Update" (Tweet). Retrieved December 23, 2021 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Russo, Ralph. "NCAA clears way for Rutgers to replace (Texas) A&M in Gator Bowl". AP. The Associated Press. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  7. ^ "Rutgers receives Gator Bowl bid". Chicago Sun-Times. AP. December 23, 2021. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  8. ^ Brown, Travis L. (December 5, 2021). "No. 25 Texas A&M to face No. 17 Wake Forest in Gator Bowl on Dec. 31". theeagle.com. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  9. ^ Smits, Garry (December 22, 2021). "Texas A&M opts out of TaxSlayer Gator Bowl; speculation centers on Rutgers, Illinois, Northern Illinois". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 23, 2021 – via Yahoo! Sports.