From now through September 3rd, I am posting a daily reason why it is great to be a fan of Rutgers football. There are a lot more than thirty, but I picked my thirty reasons, and hope you like them. If not, be sure to let me know. For the next couple of days, I am going to focus on the schools we face in the Eastern Division of the Big Ten. Today we look at Penn State and Maryland.
Part I: Penn State and Maryland
Ah, Penn State. We have played them so many times, and yet we can not honestly consider them a rival, merely because most of those games were considered to be “tune-up” games for the Nittany Lion season. It would be like saying that Howard or Norfolk State considers Rutgers to be a rival. I know, Penn State fans, I get it. When your all-time win/loss record is 24-2, and you’re holding a nine game winning streak going back to 1989, it doesn’t look much like a rivalry. From our side, realize that this is what Rutgers has aspired to be, a team that is comparable to the elite of the Big Ten. Even though Penn State really can’t be considered an elite team these days, four national championships, and a lead in almost every category (look for yourself) means at this point it ain’t a rivalry. But, despite all of the “bad blood” that was talked about in 2014, most of the interactions were very positive.
And Maryland, the Terrible Turtles, with whom we have split our games since our entry into the Big Ten. We are far more evenly matched with the Terrapins, with the Terps holding a 6-5 edge all time, thanks to a fourth quarter collapse last November (I was there, ugh!) But, since our last two games have resulted in a fourth quarter collapse by the home team, I guess we’re even on that score.
These are the two schools that make the most sense to have a rivalry. Distance, recruiting footprint, and type of population makes the schools natural fit.
A couple of years ago, when Maryland and Rutgers first joined the conference, there was talk among fans of a “Trivalry,” that is, a rivalry between the three schools. Kind of a mini-conference championship. Our friend Ray Ransom and a couple of others at Off Tackle Empire had a great article, and suggested “The Battle for Delaware” as a trophy name. Since we play each year, whomever wins the most wins the trivalry. In 2014, it was a 3-way tie, as each team won one and lost one. Last season, Penn State won, beating both Maryland and Rutgers. Maryland split, and Rutgers lost both.
However, to date the concept of a trophy game, though discussed a lot, has not yet come to be. Perhaps as time goes along, a fan-inspired trophy (which is the best kind) will happen organically. In the meantime, the schools will continue to play, and fans will bicker, and hopefully a rivalry, or trivalry will develop.
In any case, having Maryland and Penn State as rivals and fellow teams in the Big Ten East is another reason why it is great to be a fan of Rutgers football!