Rutgers football has completed their 2019 schedule by announcing today that they will open the season, which will be the 150th all-time for the program, at home against UMass. The move officially ends speculation of Rutgers playing Princeton to honor the anniversary of the first college football game, which took place on November 6th, 1869. Instead, Rutgers will enjoy their second bye week of the season the weekend of November 9th. From a pure football perspective, taking that week off ahead of a season ending stretch against Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State, seems to makes a lot of sense.
Here is the 2019 season schedule:
August 31st: UMass
September 7th: At Iowa
September 14th: BYE
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: BYE
November 16th: Ohio State
November 23rd: Michigan State
November 30th: At Penn State
The non-conference game against Liberty was officially announced this past weekend by President Trump at the schools commencement ceremony. Liberty becomes a preliminary FBS member in 2018 and is set to be a full member in the 2019 season. The Flames will play road games against Baylor, Virginia, Auburn, BYU and Rutgers in the next three seasons.
UMass is the fourth oldest college football program and have played Rutgers four times, with the series tied at two wins apiece. They last met during the season that Rutgers went to it’s first bowl in program history in 1978, with the Scarlet Knights taking down the Minutemen 21-11. UMass have played fellow Big Ten members Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Penn State since becoming an FBS program in 2012. They have also scheduled Northwestern in 2019. UMass have also played against Florida and Notre Dame, among others, and have compiled a combined 10-50 record since making the jump from the FCS level.
Boston College is the third non-conference game that Rutgers will play in 2019. The former Big East rivals will meet for the 27th time ever, with BC holding a 19-6-1 advantage. However, the Scarlet Knights defeated the Eagles 20-13 at old Rutgers Stadium in the first ever Big East game back in 1991. I was in attendance that day and the atmosphere was quite festive on the banks. It was Tom Coughlin’s first game as head coach for BC. He, of course, ended up winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. The two schools will play each other on four separate occasions through 2027. For more details, click here.
As for the 150th anniversary of Rutgers and Princeton playing the first college football game ever, its unclear how the university will acknowledge the occasion. The poll from last week saw overwhelming support from our readers, as 76% of the 389 votes taken supported the matchup. However, the idea seems to have been dismissed by Rutgers long ago per this article from Keith Sargeant of NJ Advance Media.
His colleague, Ryan Dunleavy, wrote an article recently in which he proposed ten ideas of how Rutgers could honor the anniversary. You can read them all here. Personally, I liked the suggestion to schedule a rubgy match versus the two schools to be played at Rutgers. Both schools have rubgy club teams and the reality is that sport is closer to the original football from 1869 versus the version that is played today. Regardless, something should be done to celebrate the birthplace of college football. Rutgers will likely announce something formal at some point soon. One valid argument against Rutgers playing Princeton is that even if the Big Ten did make an exemption for them to play the FCS school, a win would not count towards bowl eligibility, as the Tigers are non-scholarship players.
While the 2019 non-conference schedule will leave a lot of fans yearning for more, the reality is life in the Big Ten East is brutal and it’s hard for the program in it’s current state to add many challenging games on top of the annual gauntlet through the division. Chris Ash will be entering his fourth season on the job and expectations will be high. However, the program has locked down dates against other power five programs in future seasons. Here are the non-conference games scheduled so far for the future:
2017: Washington, Eastern Michigan, Morgan State
2018: At Kansas, Texas State, Buffalo
2019: Boston College, UMass, Liberty
2020: At UCLA, Temple
2021: UCLA, At Temple
2022: At Boston College, Temple
2023: Virginia Tech, At Temple, Ohio
2024: At Virginia Tech
2026: At Boston College
2027: Boston College
2030: At Kansas State
2031: Kansas State