We have a new feature during football season - hope ya like it!
Rutgers opens at home on September 1 versus Washington. So what happened this week in RU football history?
Last year: The Knights traveled to the west coast for a meeting with No. 14/18 Washington. Seattle was anything but hospitable for Rutgers as the Huskies thumped the visitors, 48-13. It was 24-0 before a 38 yard field goal by junior David Bonagura got the Knights on the board. The squads closed out the half as Washington took a 34-3 lead into the locker room. Bonagura added another field goal and Janarion Grant scored on a “wildcat” direct snap ten yard run. Moving on....quickly.
2007: August 30 - En route to an 8-5 record and a win in the International Bowl over Ball State, the No. 16 Knights opened the season hosting Buffalo, dominating the Bulls, 35-3 in front of 43,091 fans. Ray Rice rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while junior Tiquan Underwood caught 10 passes for a school-record 248 yards.
1997: August 30 - Just like ten years later, this was a rout, but on the wrong side of the ledger. Virginia Tech came to Piscataway and put a hurtin’ on RU, 59-19. It was the nadir of the Terry Shea era as Rutgers finished ‘97 at 0-11.
1977: September 2 - And we’re at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford to face No. 13 Penn State. Rutgers was coming off its undefeated season and was on an 18-game win streak. Not 18 wins, like over three or four years, 18 in a row! It was the long-awaited renewal of a series that had ended after the 1955 game. Not pretty, boys and girls. Rutgers would not score until the fourth quarter in a 45-7 drubbing before the largest crowd to ever watch a Rutgers team at the time, 64,790. RU would finish the season 8-3.
1967: There was no game this week in 1967. The first game of the season wasn’t until September 30!
And that’s pretty much how it went in the “olden days”. It meant that most years, football games didn’t start happening until late September. And most years, the opener was on the road at Princeton. With the exception of 1957 when it was the second game of the season, RU-PU was first out of the box for 13 consecutive years from 1954 - 1967.
Today we have a twelve game schedule, but that only began in 2002. Eleven games were standard beginning in 1971, running through ‘01. And a ten game schedule was the norm from 1962; before that the number varied between eight or nine....and even ten in 1956. With the larger number of games and the desire to have a bye week (or two), the season has been moved up to late August, in some cases.
Next week: Eastern Michigan comes to Piscataway and we’ll be looking at what happened that week in Rutgers Football history. (Man, I wish I had an echo chamber effect for that line)