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Rutgers Football: Schedules & Celebrations on the Docket

History is the subject of the day. Rutgers, at 250 years old, is full of history, and we have two points to raise on history and football.


September 27, 1969.

I attended my first college football game. Not first Rutgers game (although it was), but my first college football game ever. It was the college football Centennial game. Rutgers won the first game in 1869 and we did it again in 1969. Same opponent, same result.

And during my four years “on the banks”, I went 3-1 versus the Tigers. One of the best records for a student in any four year period.

There was a tie and a loss the two years after graduation, and then, over the next five seasons, Rutgers went 5-0 versus Old Nassau, outscoring them 133-33. And Princeton said, “no mas!”

The last game in 1980 was a blowout. QB Ed McMichael three four TD passes, the offense racked up 378 yards vs. 211 for PU (only 71 on the ground). With a five game losing streak, Princeton saw the writing on the wall as Rutgers was moving “bigger time”. The series ended after 71 meetings.

But there are those who would like to rekindle the rivalry, if for no other reason than to celebrate the 150th anniversary, in 2019, of the first game. I even got into the conversation a year ago, asking why not? But now, I think not.

Celebrating 150 years of college football

The message boards have gotten into the act, with people seeing both sides of the issue.

One of the stumbling blocks is the point that the Big Ten wants schools to avoid FCS schools. But for historic reasons (this is the conference of the Legends and Leaders Divisions, remember), one game could be plugged in. And the 2019 schedule already has some holes in it.

And even outside the RU-PU Twitterverse, people think it has potential.

And there is the idea that Princeton was the first real rival that Rutgers ever had.

Yeah....we-e-e-ell it ain’t gonna happen.

History aside, look at the teams

I love history and tradition. It’s one of the reasons I love the Big Ten. And love the Rutgers-Princeton football game. The Rutgers-Princeton game circa 1969. The small liberal arts college (that’s us) against the hoity-toity Ivy league school from down Route 27. Scholar-athletes playing for the “love of the game”. That was then, this is now.

It’s really simple math. Try comparing the size of Rutgers’ line vs. the size of Princeton’s line. I did. Go back to the starting lineup from last year’s final games, Rutgers-Maryland and Princeton-Dartmouth. The Tigers put out an interior offensive line that average 6’4” and 289. Rutgers middle five was 22 pounds and four inches taller on average (6’8”, 311). Think the Princeton coaching staff wants that dynamic on the field?

But...but...tradition....history...lest we forget!

Absolutely right. What I wrote last year about RU not commemorating things properly still hasn’t been proven completely wrong. And the 2019 season must...must, I say!...honor the 1869 first game. We are The Birthplace. Live it! Remember it! How it’s done is up for discussion, but don’t ever, ever forget it! And don’t let anyone else.

Speaking of History....

It’s happened twice in Rutgers’ history.

On November 21, 1961, Rutgers beat Columbia, 32-19 in Piscataway to wrap up the first undefeated season in school history. The 9-0 record included three Ivies and just one school that currently is in FBS. But then, that was who we were in 1961.

And it happened again in 1976 on Thanksgiving night at Giants Stadium. Rutgers topped the Colgate Red Raiders, 17-9, completing an 11-0 undefeated season. In an eclectic schedule, the Knights played five current-FBS schools (giving a great deal of credit to UMass). Yes, forty years ago....

Forty years ago? Wait. That sounds like a great opportunity to celebrate. Yes! A 40th Anniversary celebration of the last undefeated football team at Rutgers. Just like RU celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 Final Four team. Which also was undefeated in the regular season and undefeated up to the Final Four.

We are going to celebrate that, aren’t we?

Now, this team didn’t win a national title; in 1976 it was a “mythical” title awarded to a team based on the polls (Pitt won it that year). But, it should get recognition, just like Indiana’s 1976 basketball team - the “other” undefeated team in that Final Four - is being honored all season long this football season.

So, along with Homecoming, what else does RU have planned for special events this season? I’m curious to know.