Welcome to the Rutgers Football “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” Tour!
One down, eight more to play in the Big Ten. As Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T… find out what it means to me…. Just a little bit.” RU has the college football world’s attention. Yes, they really do!
Well, RU just went into the Big House and demonstrated on national television, ABC = All Believers CHOP, that they are not the same old Scarlet Knights. After going down 20-3 on some questionable late half play calling, including the 4th and 10 on the UM 45 (still scratching my head), to bring the game within a score. Quite frankly, RU should have had the ball on the 1-yard line after an obvious holding penalty in the end zone, late in the 4th quarter. If I counted right, the UM Cornerback held Aron Cruickshank not once, not twice, but three times on the same pass route. If you are grabbing that much shirt you might has well own a dry cleaner store. The way the Scarlet Knights were running the ball in the second half the score would have been tied 20-20.
Rutgers held Michigan to only 112 yards (2.9 yards per carry), FOR THE GAME, after Michigan came in with the nations #1 rushing offense averaging 335 yards per game, with their highly touted three headed rushing machine. RU out rushed UM 197 -112 yds. had more first downs 21-15, more total offense 352-275 yds., and held Michigan scoreless at home in the second half. Pacheco almost outrushed the Maize and Blue by himself with a game high 107 rushing yards. In fact, UM did not register a first down, in the second half, until there was only 4:15 mins left in the game. Over 106,000 fans were chanting “WOAH Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, WOAH Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh!” after every Michigan score in the first half. In the second half they were going “OH Oh Oh Oh NO, OH Oh Oh Oh NO!”
As Coach Schiano so aptly put it, there are no moral victories and close losses are still losses. Even with that said, RU has put Big Ten teams on notice that they belong in the conference and that they are talented.
The big knock on RU in the past has been on the offensive line (the RU not so big fatties) and the defensive line (the RU undersized and under nourished). Well, that was not the case last weekend in Michigan. You have to love how they battle in the trenches. They just need to start games the way they dominated in the second half against UM. RU looked the part, played the part, and was winning in most every category, except on the scoreboard. Yes, the final score is what matters most! As Coach Harbaugh said after the game, “he’s not concerned about a win that wasn’t pretty — until they actually add style points to the scoreboard.” An ugly win is still a win, I can buy that. Coach Harbaugh has his own problems as his seat is red hot, more now than ever, as the maize and blue faithful are definitely worried after the close call with RU at home. They have Big Ten games ahead against Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State.
8 games are left and a monumental task is ahead of RU with The Ohio State University coming to Piscataway this weekend. The 2021 season is the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” Campaign Tour. I picked RU to win last weekend, and they probably should have after reflecting back on the game. Even Aaron, our own OTB’s editor, may be drinking a little more of the RU Football Kool-Aid! They let that game get away, but they proved they belong.
Now it is on to OSU. This game is not a gimme for Buckeyes, but hard to believe RU will pull it out or dare we say that is even possible. I will save my prediction for Friday, with the rest of the staff. After watching how well RU played at UM, every game is winnable in the remaining eight, it is just about likelihood to victory.
Some will say if RU wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T they need to continue to dominate in the trenches, continue to rush for over 150 yards per game, Vedral needs to take care of the ball and lead the team to better red zone efficiency, limit penalties and win the turnover game, consistently. Basically, keep games close.
All the above is certainly required, but getting some R-E-S-P-E-C-T will require RU winning a signature game against a ranked Big Ten team like OSU, PSU, MSU, and anyone else that may slide into the top 25 this season. Also in this question would be beating teams they haven’t yet in the Big Ten like Northwestern and Wisconsin. Getting to 4 to 5 wins in the Big Ten. If Rutgers can do any or even all three of the above, they will gain R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Welcome to the Rutgers “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” Tour! It is time to make it happen!
Bring on the Dogs and share your thoughts…….See you in the Blue Lot!