After a year plus of living in a global pandemic, things are starting to get closer to the way they were before there was COVID-19 in the United States. With approximately half of the country’s population vaccinated and that percentage increasing daily, the CDC’s recent change in guidance has led to most states dropping most mask mandates. While adjustments back to true normalcy will be a process, one source of comfort is the idea of a traditional fall upcoming.
A clear sign that it is in fact approaching came this week when the Big Ten and Rutgers announced kickoff times for six games for the 2021 football season, as well as three television assignments.
The first half of the schedule is as follows with all times ET:
September 2 – Temple at Rutgers
6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
September 11 – Rutgers at Syracuse
2 p.m. on the ACC Network
September 18 – Delaware at Rutgers
3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network
September 25 – Rutgers at Michigan
3:30 p.m. with TV TBD
October 9 – Michigan State at Rutgers
12 p.m. with TV TBD (Homecoming)
Oct. 16 – Rutgers at Northwestern
12 p.m. with TV TBD
The times and network assignments for the second half of the schedule will be announced during the season either one or two weeks out from each game. The remaining home games that fall into that group include Ohio State, Wisconsin and Maryland along with road games against Illinois, Indiana and Penn State.
While Rutgers has yet to announce its attendance policy in regard to capacity for the 2021 season, things are trending in a very positive direction for either near or full sellout crowds to be a reality at SHI Stadium in the fall. No word on tailgating either, but one thing that is certain is the food and beverage served when they do return will taste better than ever.
We were all grateful that football was played last season, as well as all of the other sports, with most limited to a Big Ten only schedule. While not having fans for most of the academic year was understandable due to the pandemic, it also resulted in playing without a critical part of what makes college sports so special. The atmosphere, the fans, the traditions. The cannon will sound to silence no more.
Rutgers will play Thursday night against Temple to open the season, which will mark the first time that’s happened since 2014 when they beat Washington State on the road. The last time RU hosted a Thursday night game was the stomach punch defeat to Louisville. Regardless of that painful memory, playing on Thursday night is something that Rutgers did fairly often during head coach Greg Schiano’s first tenure. Another familiar occurrence returns.
The Scarlet Knights will also open the season with back to back games against former Big East foes. Aside from facing Temple for the 37th time (20-16), they’ll take on Syracuse for the 44th time (12-30-1). Playing longtime opponents to start the season is a fun and familiar way for fans to get back into the rhythm after last year’s stop and go pace.
Homecoming games are back after a year without due to the pandemic. Rutgers will have plenty of opportunity to soak up the pomp and circumstance of the event as they’ll play in three different homecoming contests. They’ll be the visitor against Michigan and Northwestern for their respective Homecoming games while hosting Michigan State on the banks. All three games should produce tremendous college game day experiences after every fan base missed out last year.
As an added bonus, Rutgers fans complaining about a noon kickoff on Homecoming will bring a sense of comfort that normalcy is returning as well. After having our daily lives altered so drastically over the past year plus, the idea of tailgating at any hour seems like a pleasant time. Regardless, it’s clear that football in the fall will have a familiar look to it and I think we can all toast to that.