Under then and now current Rutgers Football head coach Greg Schiano, the Scarlet Knights had some of their most memorable moments in their 150 year history.
Don’t forget, there has to be some bad with the good, so let’s take a look back at the best wins and worst losses of Schiano’s first stint as Rutgers head coach.
Best Win: 28-25 over No. 3 Louisville (November 9, 2006)
It’s pretty easy to lead off this post with the best win in school history. Did you really think it would be anything else? This is the Thursday night game that put Rutgers on the map. Coming in at No. 15, Rutgers was 8-0 and rolling in their best season under Schiano. In comes Brian Brohm and the Louisville Cardinals offense that had National Championship dreams. The Scarlet Knights trailed 25-7 in the 2nd quarter but stormed back with a ferocious running attack featuring Brian Leonard and Ray Rice. Of course, it was capped off with a Jeremy Ito field goal and then a sack to finish off “Pandemonium in Piscataway.”
Worst Loss: 30-11 to Cincinnati (November 18, 2006)
I’ll set aside some bad blowout losses and other disappointing losses for this one. The week immediately after knocking off Louisville, Rutgers sky-rocketed to No. 7 in the country as they hit the road to take on the Bearcats.
Call me insane, but I will always maintain if this Rutgers squad was 12-0 with a Big East Championship, that 13th game would have been the National Championship. Louisville finished 6th while West Virginia finished 10th, and of course, Rutgers 12th. This shocking defeat sent the Scarlet Knights right back down to No. 15 and they still had a chance to win the conference (but we’ll get to that later). This was a funky road game that was obviously a trap game. But here was a chance for Rutgers to show that the upset over Louisville was not a total fluke (it wasn’t but here we are). Fun fact, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio was coaching Cincinnati at this time. Not the last time he tortured Rutgers.
Other Big Wins:
30-27 over No. 2 South Florida (October 18, 2007)
-South Florida was a surprising undefeated squad coming into New Jersey about halfway through the season. Well, Rutgers went into giant killer mode, including blocking some kicks (I think that might be a repeating pattern). To this day, it remains the highest ranked victory for the Scarlet Knights.
19-14 over Michigan State (September 4, 2004)
-The first monumental win under Schiano came during opening weekend in Piscataway 15 years ago. Although Rutgers finished 4-7 that year, this was the first big name opponent to fall to the Scarlet Knights. It gave Rutgers a bit of legitimacy. Of course, until the next week (See Bad Losses below).
37-10 over Kansas State (December 28, 2006)
-The great cap to the 2006 season came in the inaugural Texas Bowl. This one wasn’t even a contest as Ray Rice ran for 170 yards and a touchdown and Tim Brown caught two TD. This was the first bowl win in program history and it showed Rutgers was here to stay under Schiano.
54-34 over No. 17 Pittsburgh (October 25, 2008)
-I include this one simply because Rutgers took out a ranked conference opponent on the road and this was during the winning streak of ‘08. The Scarlet Knights had gotten off to a 1-5 start, with their only win coming over Morgan State. After losing to Cincinnati, Rutgers reeled off seven straight wins and this was the second. It sparked them all the way to their third straight bowl win.
27-13 over Iowa State (December 30, 2011)
-We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the game and win for the Schiano era...until now of course. A bittersweet memory as Schiano would bolt for the Tampa Bay Bucs shortly before signing day. But hey, Gary Nova, Mohamed Sanu, and more! Take a look back. Even Chris Fowler was on the call on television!
Other Bad Losses:
80-7 to West Virginia (November 3, 2001)
-This one is pretty self explanatory. Schiano’s first season at the helm was a bare cupboard and it was on full display in this runaway loss to the Mountaineers.
35-24 to New Hampshire (September 11, 2004)
-Losing to an FCS opponent (then 1-AA) is never a good sign when you’re a division one program in the Big East or now in the Big 10. Maybe the only excuse(s) to losing to this team at home after beating Michigan State were: the emotional let down, trap game, and...Chip Kelly. Yes that Chip Kelly was New Hampshire’s offensive coordinator at the time. Offensive revolution!
41-39 in 3OT to No. 15 West Virginia (December 2, 2006)
-You thought the blowout loss was bad? How about this one. Besides the win over Louisville, the game most vividly remembered from 2006 was the 3OT loss to West Virginia on the road. The game for the conference title. Oh man how is this one painful. It’s only a bad loss considering what might have been. Rutgers wasn’t National Championship bound with a win, but they would’ve had clinched a then BCS Bowl berth due to winning the Big East.
40-22 to UConn (November 28, 2011)
-Rutgers would have earned a share of the Big East title in 2011 if they managed to beat a what became a 5-7 UConn football team. It seemed destined that the Scarlet Knights were headed into a trap game in East Hartford. The Scarlet Knights would finish 9-4 with a victory in the pinstripe bowl, but who knows where they could’ve gone if they had this one extra win, a share of a conference title, despite losing two close games to Louisville and West Virginia, and, with a bowl victory: 10 wins. In fact, some might say, besides 2006, this was of Rutgers’ best chances to win the conference outright. I won’t mention 2012 under Kyle Flood...whoops.
How About You?
What’s your favorite? What’s your least favorite? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section!