A fall to remember is edging towards even more history making moments on the bans. The first weekend of November 2021 could be one for the ages for Rutgers Athletics.
The women’s soccer team, who tied a program best No. 4 national ranking in this week’s coaches poll, is the top seed and hosting the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Thursday. They’ll face the Big Ten Tournament defending champions in Iowa at 1:30 p.m. airing live on the Big Ten Network. If they advance, they’ll play in the championship game on its homefield, two weeks removed from clinching the program and school’s first ever Big Ten title. After an undefeated run through the conference regular season and a win over Wisconsin in the quarterfinals, Rutgers enters Thursday’s semifinal winners of 12 straight games.
Field Hockey is ranked No. 3 nationally again this week in the coaches poll and are hosting the Big Ten Tournament at Bauer Track & Field Complex beginning Thursday as well. The No. 2 seeded Scarlet Knights will face No. 7 seeded Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday at 2 p.m airing live on BTN+. If they win, they advance to Friday’s semifinal against the winner of No. 3 Penn State and No. 6 Maryland. Both lost to Rutgers in the regular season. If the Scarlet Knights were able to advance even further, they’d play on Sunday for the Big Ten title on its home turf as well.
Football hosts Wisconsin, listed at No. 21 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, on Saturday. It’s not only an opportunity to solidify its bowl chances, but also to earn the best win for the program since joining the Big Ten.
Men’s soccer is the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and travels to Bloomington on Sunday to face No. 3 seed Indiana. After stunning the Hoosiers on their home field earlier this season, the Scarlet Knights will need to do it again to advance to its second even Big Ten semifinals ever and keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
While Rutgers volleyball is in a far different developmental stage and have struggled in the Big Ten this season after a program best finish in non-conference play, they could earn it’s first league win this fall against Michigan State on Friday. They beat the Spartans twice to end last season’s best ever finish in Big Ten play.
Wrestling also opens its season Sunday at Jersey Mike’s Arena in a quad meet with NJCU, Cleveland State, and Binghamton.
Obviously, it would be an historic weekend if either women’s soccer or field hockey won their first ever Big Ten Tournament titles. And if they both were able to win less than a mile apart from each other in the same afternoon, well that would be something. If the Fighting Schiano’s can upset the Badgers and deliver the signature win of the Big Ten era for Rutgers football, well that would be something. If men’s soccer can win twice in Bloomington against Indiana in the same season after the Hoosiers hadn’t lost a Big Ten home game in five years, well that would be something.
Even if none of it actually happens, just the fact that the possibility is real is progress for Rutgers athletics. But also based on how this fall has gone, it would be unrealistic to think wins aren’t coming in shape or form this weekend. And that’s the beauty of the current state of Rutgers sports right now. And next week, both basketball teams open up their seasons to repeat trips to the NCAA Tournament. And then in the spring both lacrosse teams will attempt to do the same. And rowing will look to become a legitimate top 5 program nationally after a meteoric rise in recent years.
This is what we have been waiting for. Legitimacy within the Big Ten across all sports. There is still a ways to go, but weekend’s like the one ahead were a pipe dream just a few years ago. Now they are a reality. The opportunity to produce some of the biggest wins in Rutgers history is on the table. And pretty soon, it might actually be considered just another weekend in Rutgers sports.