This was my first time attending a game in Piscataway. A steady rain greeted me as I strolled up to High Point Solutions Stadium. The fourth/ranked Michigan Wolverines were in town to take on the Scarlet Knights. The tailgating scene was vibrant, there many lots adjacent to the stadium, where the fans have easy access to setup and party before kickoff. Despite the dreary conditions, the lots were full of excited fans. Many of the Michigan fans who made the trip, were welcomed by the home faithful. Rutgers had billed this game as “Stripe the Stadium” night. That turned into a colossal failure, when as estimated 20,000 yellow clad Wolverine fans showed up.
Rutgers is considered the birthplace of college football. in 1869 Rutgers, then known as “Queensmen” defeated Princeton 6-4. The game resembled more of a rugby style, players were able to kick and punch at the ball. A week later, Princeton got revenge with an 8-0 victory. Both teams finished at 1-1 and it was declared they were to share a National Championship. William A. Reynolds, served as the Rutgers coach in that first game, and went on to coach the team for 25 years. He had an all-time record of 49-80-9. A monument outside the stadium, declares it to be the birthplace to college football.
Rutgers basically played as an independent for most of its football history. They had a brief four-year run in the Middle Atlantic Conference, and had competed in something called the Middle Three. They joined the Big East Conference in 1991. Rutgers was in stayed in the Big East until it became the American Athletic Conference where it remained for one season. The Scarlet Knights joined the Big 10 in 2014.
FUN FACTS ABOUT SCARLET KNIGHTS FOOTBALL
- Frank R. Burns is the winningest coach in Rutgers history. He compiled a 78-43-1 record. He led the Knights to their first ever bowl game in 1978.
- In 1955 the Scarlet Knight was officially adopted as the teams mascot. The Scarlet Knight, riding a white stallion, leads the team out of the locker room before kickoff.
- In 2012 head coach Kyle Flood led the Knights to their first ever Big East Conference title.
- The 2006 season is widely considered the best in program history. They achieved the highest ranking on the polls, topping out at No. 3 in the AP Poll, finishing with a 11-2 record and their first ever bowl victory, defeating Kansas State 37-10.
- Eric LeGrand is the only Rutgers football player to have his jersey retired. The 52 will always be in the hearts of many, as he was paralyzed in a game in 2010 while making a tackle. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Legrand to a symbolic contract in 2012 honoring the one-time defensive tackle.
- The 1961 season was the first undefeated season in history. The Knights went 9-0. The team was lead by QB Sam Mudie and Fullback Steve Simms. Center Alex Kroll was an All-American and later played for the New York Jets.
The joining of the Big 10 Conference restarted a heated rivalry with Penn State. The first game played between the two schools was back in 1918. The Knights thumped the Lions 26-3. Since then the Lions have gone 24-1 against the Knights, including a perfect 2-0 since the Knights have joined the Big 10.
The oldest rivalry is with Navy, which dates back to 1891. The schools have met 25 times, with Rutgers leading the series 13-11-1.
I’ve seen literally a few hundred college football games in my lifetime, but nothing compares to what I witnessed Saturday night. The fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines completely dominated the game in every aspect from start to finish. The Wolverines jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first possession. Ty Isaac found paydirt on a four-yard run. Later in the quarter Quarterback Wilton Speight found Jehu Chesson in the corner of the endzone for a 30-yard TD toss. It was all over at that point, as the Wolverines went onto win 78-0 in record breaking fashion.
- Rutgers was 0-17 on third downs.
- Rutgers was held to two first downs, the first coming with 9:06 left in the game!
- It was Michigan’s largest victory since an 85-0 win over Chicago University in 1939.
- Rutgers was held to 39 total yards
- Punter Michael Cintron punted 16 times.
- Michigan tied a school record with nine rushing TDs. Five different ball carriers had rushing scores.
- It was the biggest margin of victory ever in a Big 10 game.
Thanks to Erek Chemicky for providing pictures .