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Rutgers & B1G Attendance: And so it begins

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The first week was a mix of numbers

NCAA Football: Washington at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get the serious stuff out of the way first. This fellow does some sort of sports radio down in Tampa and on Tuesday tweeted this:

It apparently was done somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The largest/strongest hurricane on record is heading somewhere westward towards possibly Florida and beyond. Texas and Louisiana are still recovering from Harvey and Florida EMS folks are concerned because the emergency personnel they sent to Texas haven’t gotten home yet. Let’s just keep everyone in the southeast in our thoughts and prayers. Yeah, it’s SEC country and all that hoopla, but in this case football really doesn’t matter.

Now, the less important stuff

It was the first full week of college football, and with games stretching from Thursday to Monday, it almost was a full week. There were a few neutral site games with special sponsors (this is P5 football after all) and they drew pretty well. One in Texas involved our own Wolverines (did you ever think you’d read that here?) but we’ll wait on that til we get to the Big Ten attendance figures.

Neutral site games

In no particular order, we’ll start off with the Chik-fil-a sponsored game between Virginia Tech and West Virginia. It was won by Tech, 31-24. The game, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD just outside DC, seats 82,00. The game drew 67,489. Now, that’s more than either the Hokies’ Lane Stadium or the Mountaineers’ place holds, so it was a good deal, even if it only peaked at an 82.3% capacity.

The two games in Atlanta reaffirmed my belief that the ownership of the Jets and Giants are idiots for what they built in the Meadowlands. The erector set that is MetLife Stadium is a dump when compared to the new and stunningly attractive Mercedes Benz Stadium...which has a retractable roof! Alabama manhandled Florida State 24-7 in front of 76,330 in a stadium that they say seats 71,000 but is “expandable to 83,000”. Guess so.

Rutgers and the Big Ten

I know there were other neutral site games but let’s move on.

First, the neutral site and the off campus games. Michigan clobbered Florida in Jerry World in Arlington, TX by a 33-17 count, and it wasn’t that close. Both schools travel well - although this was a first game, not a bowl - yet the crowd was a healthy 75,802.

Purdue moved its game from Ross-Ade Stadium to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, about a 72 mile trek door-to-door. Might not have been worth the effort despite playing against a reigning Heisman Trophy winner. They just cleared the 50% mark.

Say what you will about the folks in Nebraska, but not only are they nice, they support their Huskers. And Indiana, with new coach Tom Allen at the helm, sold out the place. They were, of course, also playing Ohio State, so there’s no telling how many were wearing scarlet as opposed to crimson.

And while the first few games are usually against “pad the schedule” opponents, the B1G saw six of the ten home venues at over 90% capacity. And the announced crowd of 46,093 at High Point Solutions Stadium put RU at almost 88%. The PJ Fleck Show may not be as advertised. Yes, it was a Thursday and most places didn’t have students back yet, but Minnesota....hmmm.

About Rutgers and its fans

Those who stayed at the Rose Bowl, and apparently it was a lot, saw the Bruins charge back to win. If that had happened in Piscataway, the comeback would have been in front of the band and the players’ parents. Rutgers just isn’t there yet. Even with this game, it was still potentially winnable in the fourth, yet people baled. The game was only 3:11 long, not too bad by TV standards.

In his game week press conference, Ash thanked the fans.

I did not do this Friday night and apologize, but just wanted to thank our fans and students for showing up and creating a very good environment in the stadium Friday night with the students not being back in school yet, it was a great sign of support and excitement for our program to have that many students show up. I thought it was a very well attended. The Scarlet Walk before the game was one of the best attended Scarlet Walks that we've had since we've been here, so very excited about that. It did create a lot of energy outside the stadium, inside the stadium, and tremendous enthusiasm from our players for that kind of support. So I just want to make sure that I thank those students and fans who came to spout our football team Friday night.

What I’d like him to be able to say, though, is, “Thanks to the fans for another sellout.” Not to mention staying til the end.

And because I can’t help myself....

Yes, we’re in the Big Ten and that is who we should be comparing ourselves to (ending the sentence non-grammatically). But it is somewhat rewarding to know that we do deserve to be here. So a look at former conference-mates and regional opponents.

UConn drew 24,435 to Pratt & Whitney Stadium as they had to come back in the fourth quarter to beat FCS, 27 Holy Cross 27-20. Wonder how many were there at the end?

The blimp hangar up north had 30,273 as Syracuse easily topped FCS Central Connecticut State, 50-7.

There’s a reason why the Panthers are three touchdown dogs to Penn State this week. Pitt edged Youngstown State in overtime, 28-21. Heinz Field was about two-thirds full with a crowd of 40,012.

And Army, always a great venue (really, it is glorious) hosted Fordham in front of 22,333. The Knights won, 64-6.