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Rutgers Football To Host Liberty In 2019

Update: The game is now confirmed by the athletic department.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Southern Methodist Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 football schedule for Rutgers has gone through several changes of late. Last summer, we covered how Michigan and Notre Dame resuming their rivalry altered the Rutgers schedule. Instead of the Scarlet Knights traveling to the Big House on October 26th, the game was moved up to September 28th. After the Big Ten already scheduled a road game at Iowa that September, Rutgers was now looking at two conference road games in the opening month of the season.

This past January, Rutgers confirmed that they were resuming play against former Big East rival Boston College. The two schools are slated to go head to head four times in the next decade, beginning with Rutgers hosting BC on September 21st, 2019. You may remember that Rutgers was previously scheduled to play another former Big East foe, the Miami Hurricanes, on the same date. However, the series was cancelled by Rutgers and will pay a $100,000 penalty to Miami, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media.

With two conference road games and a matchup against an ACC opponent, all in the opening month of the 2019 season, questions remained on how Rutgers would complete the rest of their non-conference schedule.

According to a report on Thursday from alumni/fan site A Sea Of Red, Rutgers is set to host Liberty during the 2019 season. The school is set to formally announce their 2018 schedule, as well as other games in future seasons that are finalized on Saturday at their commencement ceremony, per the article. Liberty currently plays in the FCS, but is set join the FBS as a provisional member for the 2018 season and as as a full member in 2019. They will play as an independent and are currently coached by former Nebraska star Turner Gill, who previously coached at Buffalo and Kansas.

The Big Ten outlawed their members from playing FCS schools, beginning in the 2018 season. Rutgers traditionally has played one FCS school, but in 2018 has scheduled Kansas, Buffalo, and Texas State, which was reported last summer.

As for the 2019 season, it’s not clear which current open date the Liberty game will be scheduled.

UPDATE: Rutgers officially announced the Liberty game and it will take place on October 26, 2019.

Here is the current schedule as of now:

August 31st: Open

September 7th: At Iowa

September 14th: Open

September 21st: Boston College

September 28th: At Michigan

October 5th: Maryland

October 12th: At Indiana

October 19th: Minnesota

October 26th: Liberty

November 2nd: At Illinois

November 9th: Open

November 16th: Ohio State

November 23rd: Michigan State

November 30th: At Penn State

The Big Ten dates were confirmed by the conference back in 2013 and the schedules for all the schools can be viewed here. As for when the Liberty will visit Piscataway, it’s likely Rutgers prefers opening the season on August 31st against the Flames. Playing a lower level FBS school ahead of the gauntlet that is the rest of the September schedule seems like a logical choice. However, with Liberty playing an independent schedule, this game could take place later on in the season as well. Update, the latter was the case.

One intriguing note on the 2019 schedule for Rutgers is that November 9th is currently an open date. That weekend will mark the 150th anniversary of the first college football game ever played, a contest in which Rutgers defeated Princeton. Our own Bob Cancro has campaigned for the game in the past here. In a poll from the article over two years ago on whether Rutgers fans wanted the game to occur, 79% of the 564 votes registered said yes. Bob covered the topic again this past winter and despite fan support, it doesn’t appear that this game will be scheduled.

I have heard from sources that a Rutgers - Princeton game is unlikely at this point. For one, the Big Ten would need to allow an exemption for Rutgers to play a FCS school. It’s likely that despite the great history that this game would represent, at least several other conference members would strongly object to Rutgers being allowed to play a non-FBS game.

With the November 9th date still open, unless Liberty is slated for then, nothing is official. How Rutgers handles the anniversary celebration and who they play remains to be seen. Of course, the date could also end being a bye week for the program as well. It would be a lot of fun to see Rutgers take on Princeton for the anniversary. While injury concerns have been mentioned in the past by some, Rutgers has played an FCS school annually for a long time and many other FBS schools do the same. With an open date on the anniversary weekend, I hope Rutgers does everything they can to try and make this happen. Imagine ESPN Gameday on campus and all of the positve media attention it could bring.

For now, Rutgers has one more non-conference opponent to add to the 2019 schedule, along with Boston College and Liberty.


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