Get to Know the Big Ten: Rutgers

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Matt Mika

The First College Football Game:

On November 6, 1869 cross-town rivals Princeton and Rutgers played in the first ever college football game. It was a shootout in which Rutgers came out victorious 6-4. It was on that day when college football – what we know – was born. Granted back then, the game was played very much like rugby. After a little tweaking however, a billion dollar industry grew from the playing field in the chilly fall air.

Not so Strong in Postseason

The modern day Rutgers program has been a little less historic. The Scarlet Knights missed the postseason 27 years in a row, stretching from 1978 to 2005. Rutgers finally ended the drought playing in the Insight Bowl against Arizona State. Ironically, Rutgers played the Sun Devils in 1978 as well, and both times, loses ensued.

Since its loss in 2005, Rutgers is 6-2 in bowl games. The Scarlet Knights’ last bowl victory came in 2014, when they defeated North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl 40-21. Overall – Rutgers is 6-4 in bowl appearances.

Rutgers’ greatest year came in 2006, when the Scarlet Knights notched their first bowl victory in school history. Jumping to an 8-0 record, Rutgers became a national story. The fast start was a perfect setup for the nationally televised game between the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals and the No. 15 Scarlet Knights. Rutgers ended up winning on a field goal with 13 seconds left. It was the first time Rutgers defeated a ranked opponent since 1988. The following year, they did it again beating the No.2-ranked USF, 30-27.  

Rutgers finished No. 12 in the polls that year with an 11-2 record.

Notable Alumni

Leading the charge was arguably the greatest player to come out of Rutgers – Ray Rice.

Rice ended his collegiate career gaining 4,926 yards on the ground with 49 touchdowns. He was the face of the Greg Schiano era, and “The Chop” which caught fire throughout the country. He set a Big East and Rutgers single-season record with 1,794 yards rushing in 2006. The following year, the big tailback destroyed that record, rushing for 2,000-yards.

From Big East to Big Ten        

Before moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2014, Rutgers hailed from the Big East Conference from 1991 to 2013.  

In 2012 Rutgers finished in a four-way tie along with Louisville, Cincinnati, and Syracuse for the Big East crown. Louisville was eventually awarded the conference title and given the automatic invitation to the BCS Bowl Game due to their higher ranking in the final BCS poll.

Before their shared title in 2012, Rutgers failed to achieve a conference trophy since 1961. Apart of the Middle Atlantic Conference University Division Champions, Rutgers were a dynasty capturing titles in 58’, and 60’ as well.