DETROIT - Josh Hicks ran for 202 yards and a touchdown and Rutgers beat North Carolina, 40-21, on Friday night in the inaugural Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field.
Gary Nova threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert Martin ran for 100 yards and two scores to help the Scarlet Knights (8-5) cap their first Big Ten season.
Hicks was selected the player of the game.
Owned and operated by the NFL's Detroit Lions, the bowl replaced the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, which had been played in Detroit under various names since 1997. The new bowl had hoped to make a bigger impact with a Big Ten vs. ACC matchup, but drew a disappointing crowd. The announced attendance was 23,876 - smaller than all but one Pizza Bowl - and the actual crowd appeared to be less than half of that.
Rutgers led, 40-7, before the Tar Heels (6-7) scored twice in the final 7 minutes. North Carolina also had two second-half touchdown passes taken away because of interference penalties.
North Carolina beat Rutgers in three recent regular-season meetings, but was outplayed from the first snap Friday. Marquise Williams was never able to get going, although he did throw for one score and run for another.
The Scarlet Knights lost the coin toss, but got the ball when North Carolina deferred. They needed only 2 minutes, 17 seconds to take the lead, with Nova hitting a wide-open Andre Patton for a 34-yard touchdown strike.
North Carolina got into Rutgers territory its first two drives, but turned the ball over on the first and punted on the second. The Tar Heels blocked a punt to take over at the 30, but the drive stalled at the 5 and a fake field goal was buried for a 4-yard loss.
The Scarlet Knights answered with a 91-yard drive that ended with Hicks' 21-yard run that made it 14-0 early in the second. Rutgers then turned another Tar Heels fumble into a quick touchdown - Martin's 8-yard run - but missed the extra point, leaving it 20-0.