Rutgers is not in a bowl, but since college football is so great; inevitably while tuning in with family around the holidays I will be asked who I am rooting for. Or if you need to convince your spouse why you absolutely can’t run errands, wrap gifts, or cuddle by the fire because of an important football game, here is your ammunition. There won’t be any “Upstream Maroon team” chants when B1G foe Minnesota takes on Washington State in the Holiday Bowl but that doesn’t mean you or I can’t have a rooting interest.
Just so we have *general* rules like the college football playoff committee:
- Root for your conference, the B1G! Or 1B, other teams on this year’s schedule.
- Root against A. geographic B. recruiting and C. former conference rivals.
- Always root against PSU, Maryland, USC, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
- Root for schools that also have high academic standards.
- Root against the Big 12 so they continue to be the black sheep of the power 5.
Here’s a list of who I will be rooting for and why, ranked in order of the most difficult ones to choose because in college football, somebody has to win! And remember, these are not who I think will win, but who I am pulling for to do so! And why not relive some of RU’s greatest moments through the links below, Happy Holidays!
1. Quick Lane: Maryland v Boston College. Regional bowl games are great and in this case rule 1 beats out rule 3. RU and Maryland will always be linked and the rivalry will be settled on the field again in 2017, so might as well have them win. BC we will see again soon, too. THE VERDICT: Maryland.
2. Rose: Penn State v USC. See Rule #3, competing prime directives. On the plus side, at least neither made the college football playoff. I know officially you should always root for your conference in rule 1, but this is the exception as rules 2, 3, and 4 tip the scale. There is absolutely no scenario I could ever root for PSU unless it directly benefited Rutgers in the standings. THE VERDICT: USC.
3. Cotton: Wisconsin v Western Michigan. Another tough pick because we want to see PJ Fleck, succeed, I think?! But the Ash-Wisconsin connection and Corey Clement push the needle just enough to validate Rule 1 unless losing would get Jonathan Taylor recommitted to the Knights. THE VERDICT: Wisconsin.
4. Foster Farms: Indiana v Utah. Rutgers needs to finish above IU in the standings, period. This year they did not (two out of three ain’t bad!), but for the same reason as Maryland, we need to pull for the Hoosiers here and beat them on the field in 2017. THE VERDICT: Indiana.
5. Holiday: Minnesota v Washington State. This is tough because I have close friends from WSU and the two games RU played against them the previous two seasons were classics. RU’s best game of the season was a near win in the Gopher State, rule #1. THE VERDICT: Minnesota.
7. Fiesta: Ohio State v Clemson and hopefully again in the National Title game winner of Washington (Rule 1) over Alabama. Ash’s former team to show what his players with a former RU coach can do. THE VERDICT: Ohio State (2X) Washington (1X).
8. Orange: Michigan v FSU. I respect Bobby Bowden but he doesn’t coach in Tallahassee anymore. Rule 1 > Rule 3. And the Knights beat the Wolverines two years ago, still amazing. Of course no one outside of New Jersey remembers. THE VERDICT: Michigan.
9. Music City: Nebraska v Tennessee. This is an easy one because Nebraska is in the B1G, yet Tennessee is more likely to compete with RU for recruits. THE VERDICT: Nebraska. A red team victory here won’t quite be on the level of RU’s greatest victory all-time which happened to be against the Volunteers or my joy courtesy of Nate Jones in ‘02.
10. Pinstripe: Northwestern v Pitt. For sure the easiest pick of the day (rules 1, 2, and 4). Pitt’s only saving grace was beating PSU preventing them from reaching the playoff. Remember RU’s first signature win in the Big East? The field storm in 2005? And I’m all for schools with good academics. THE VERDICT: Northwestern.
- New Mexico over UTSA. Rule 1: The New Mexico win will show how tough the B1G really was this season. They are happy UTSA does not have Janarion Grant.
- Houston over SDSU. Need to break rule 2, because Houston success shows RU recruiting prospects the power spread they should be looking forward to. (Maybe not quite as much with Herman gone from Houston and Mehringer gone from RU).
- Miami over West Virginia. Rule 2A: This is a tough one even though it’s comparing apples to apples as in Big East play RU never beat either squad. Rule 2B: For some reason many Jerseyans feel at home at West Virginia. But Miami gave us Schiano and WVU gave us, nothing? Rule 5 trumps any uncertainty.
- Arkansas over Virginia Tech. The Arkansas series was equally exciting, with a win and another win! Rule 2A; Virginia Tech produced the greatest, most competitive game in RU football history (seriously, I watch this once a year) and also the most embarrassing bowl performance for each club, but someone had to win. The edge is for Ash’s stop in the Natural State & SEC >>> ACC.
- App State v Toledo. Only rule 2 applies here and it’s a push. This is super tough for me because my HS teammate and lifelong friend, the youngest coach in 1-AA played against Toledo and needs to recruit! On the other hand I love reliving App State’s win over Michigan with my friend Bobby Bozzo as a true freshman tackling Heisman candidate Mike Hart. THE VERDICT:
Consensus picks based on the “rules”. Consider the links stocking stuffers for long-time fans and history lessons for the newer ones.
Arkansas St over UCF. Tulsa over Central Michigan. Western Kentucky over Memphis. Eastern Michigan over Old Dominion. Louisiana Tech over Navy. Troy over Ohio. Hawaii over Middle Tennessee. Mississippi State over Miami, OH. Vanderbilt over NC State. North Texas over Army. Wake Forest over Temple. Boise State over Baylor. Texas A & M over Kansas ... State. South Carolina over South Florida. Colorado over Oklahoma State. Georgia over TCU. Stanford over North Carolina. LSU over Louisville. Kentucky over Georgia Tech. Auburn over Oklahoma.
No preference for RU, links a little extreme.