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. Yesterday we focused upon our closest rivals in the Big Ten East. Today, we will focus upon the one who are the furthest from Piscataway, Indiana and Michigan State.
Part II: Michigan State and Indiana
Michigan State entered the conference as a full member in 1953, and promptly won a conference championship that year, and won the Rose Bowl against UCLA. They have won six national championships (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966), and seven additional conference championships following their initial year in the Big Ten.
Rutgers’ all-time record against the Spartans is 3-4, with the Scarlet Knights last win against Michigan State coming in 2004 under Greg Schiano, with the Scarlet Knights winning the game 19-14. Since entering the conference, it has not gone as well. Rutgers has lost both games, with last year’s game ending in confusion as QB Chris Laviano spiked the football on 4th down, losing 31-24.
Michigan State’s Spartans program is one that Rutgers aspires to emulate. Through head coach Mark D’Antonio, the school has created a very successful program with recruiting the types of players Rutgers needs to focus upon. That is not the top national recruits, but those commonly known as ‘under-recruited’ players, who have higher potential than some schools realize. It has been very successful in Lansing, Michigan, home of the Spartans.
Indiana is also not one of the charter members of the conference, and did not participate in the initial meetings in 1895, but they were close. When Indiana and Iowa joined in 1899, the group previously called the Western Conference began to be called the Big Nine. It remained as the Big Nine for almost 20 years, until Michigan rejoined the conference (it was kicked out for not following conference rules) and it became known as the Big Ten.
Since their entry, they have won only two Big Ten titles in football, the last one in 1967, or 49 years ago. If you look up how our record matches up against Indiana, we are not that different. We have each gone to 10 bowl games, and relatively the same number of NFL draft picks as well as how long we have been in the AP poll over the years.
While we have a 2-0 edge over the Hoosiers, last year was as a result of a historic collapse. Our 55-52 victory came about after Indiana led 52-27 late in the 3rd quarter.
The coming year will see how we do against the Hoosiers. As the only team in the conference against which we are unbeaten, it is a challenging record. Let’s hope that record continues.
We should continually pinch ourselves to be sure we are awake and still members of the Big Ten. This has been one of the best things to ever happen to Rutgers, and having Michigan State and Indiana are additional reasons why it is great to be a Rutgers football fan!