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Friday, November 10, 2006

Sometimes the Slipper Fits

Unless you're a Louisville fan, how could you not have been jumping out of your seat as Rutgers -- RUTGERS, people! -- stormed back from being down 25-7 in the first half to beat the #3 team in the country, 28-25 last night?

Wow.

This was the first time in the history of Rutgers football that a ranked Scarlet Knight team had even played another ranked team. Ever. And that's a long "ever" as Rutgers played in college football's very first game in 1869!

This was a game where, facing third down deep in their own end, New Jersey's finest converted on a pass play to 5th year senior fullback Brian Leonard who - as a freshman played on a team that was 1-11, who was now overshadowed by running back Ray Rice - scampered 26 yards down the sideline, deep into Cardinal territory.

This was a crazy finish where -- with the Empire State Building lit up in the background with your school colors (how fucking cool is that?!) -- Rutgers' usually realiable field goal kicker misses a chip shot field with only 21 seconds left that would have won the game, making it look like the dream had died...but wait! Louisville jumped offsides, giving the kid another crack and, well, you know the rest.

Wow.

Yes, I know it sounds like some really bad "inspirational" Disney moving starring Johnny Depp as Greg Schiano

But it's no movie. It's Rutgers. Which just might be the same thing.

So, how does this impact the national championship race? You know what? Who cares tonight. That's a discussion for another time. Tonight is a night to sit back and enjoy it. To call friends and say, "Did you see that?!" Even if the Scarlet Knights aren't your team.

Because what played out - is playing out in New Jersey - is the reason we all watch and love college football. For nights like this.

When sometimes, Cinderella wins.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

"How could you not be rooting for Rutgers?"

Well, I'll try my best. I'm from New Jersey and nobody cared about RU football. All of a sudden tonight, everyone within the tri-state area was a life-long Scarlet Knight fan, nevermind that this game sold out only a few days ago. Nobody likes a bandwagon ("Whose Mike McMahon?"). Now I've been getting calls for the last 2 hours from fat gumbas telling me my college sucks. Suddenly, Greg Schiano is the greatest college football coach to have ever lived. Nevermind the years of absolute shit records he produced against quality opponents and the fact that he can't pull any good players from Jersey. Or the fact that Rutgers prides itself on declining an invitation to the Ivy Leagues and being the "state university of NJ", yet the best thing the school is known for is STD's. I could go on about the program, fans, and coaches but I've sufficiently bitched.

Hey, maybe I'm a bitter out-of-stater, who hates RU, hoping my coach's leg re-attaches for the MSU game; so I'll give props to RU for winning their biggest game ever (I've heard their main campus is going wild from friends). But in a couple years when the stadium is empty and they're losing by 50, I'll get to laugh. Thanks for blowing the game, Louisville

matsut said...

Yost, you're right on the money - this was a fantastic, thrilling game, and it was everything that pro football (and all pro sports - except hockey) isn't, and it's why I love this game, fuck you, Tagliabue successor/David Stern/Bud Selig.

I started out being excited about the possibility of Ohio State scoring around 50 on the Cardinals in Glendale, and ended up rooting like a freshman for the Scarlet Knights, just because of the spirit and atmosphere of the thing.

~Segue~

Which brings me to Nov. 18: this is going to be the biggest thing ever, and not only that, it's going to be the BEST thing ever. Even if the game itself doesn't "live up to expectations", it'll still be a matchup of the undisputed two best teams in their (119-team!) division. Let any pro league, in ANY sport, try to claim that sort of match.

Here's to us, Wolverines and Buckeyes - we're about to become a part of history.

beast in 'bama said...

Just imagine how it feels to be a student at Rutgers today.

Those of us who most frequently visit this blog - Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, USC, Notre Dame fans, etc. - will never know how the Rutgers students are feeling today, because all of our teams had "that game" long before we were born.

That game where everyone was paying attention and you won for the first time.

That game where you were down by 18 and came storming back to win against a ranked opponent for the first time.

It must be like getting your first driver's license or a first kiss.

Of course, what happens from here is up to Rutgers. They might turn out to be a national power out of nowhere like Miami, or they might slip back into football obscurity. But there will never be another game like last night's in Rutgers history.

Imagine being a student at Rutgers today. Must be a great feeling.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was caught up in the excitement. But like matsut, I was torn by the events I watched.

On the one hand, it was everything that is exciting about college football - just as you said. On the other hand, I was salivating that the UM/OSU winner would play Louisville in Glendale.

Until last night, the UM/OSU game was going to be THE national championship game - because either team would have PUMMELLED Louisville (and that's being kind, Louisville fans). Now we will play for a place in the NC game - and that game will be a real test of the winner.

Anonymous said...

What does this mean now for Michigan incase the gods are unhappy Nov 18th and the Wolverines lose it in a close one? Are we not the best 1 loss team at that point?

richard Cranium said...

Anon @5:53, Don't worry you'll lose by more than 7 on the 18th.

Anonymous said...

Gotta Give it up for Rutgers! Coach Schiano needs to stay in Jersey and not help those thugs in South Fla. Seeing Tony Soprano on the sideline always makes you feel comfortable rooting for the Scarlet Knights. Nov 18th all the better now, no joke L-Ville playing in Glendale

Andy said...

Anon 11:10: Your rant on Rutgers reminds me of how I feel about the NY Mets each time they cycle out of the depths of hell to make the playoffs. Suddenly everyone in the tri-state area is a HUGE Mets fan and Shea stadium is a hot spot. Barf.

It was a great win for RU, but a part of me is disappointed last night because I wanted to see Louisville "get rolled" by the M/OSU winner. Now the door is opening for Texas/USC/Florida/Fillintheblank -- which will make the NC game watchable.

No matter what happens on Nov 18th I do not want to see a rematch. My heart can not take playing them twice in a row.

Schiano for President! said...

im a rutgers fan. and this was a great feeling. what a great comeback on espn primetime. and schiano wouldnt even smile after winning...

i felt great all last night and all day today. and im not even a rutgers alum.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching Inside Rutgers football all year and it shows the behind the scenes stuff that they have been doing to build up that team. 2 Things that I really noticed was that they built a state of the art weight training center and their strength and conditioning coach has been stepping it up big time. The other thing is that they focus on basics, doing the fundamentals right, especially tackling and blocking and that my friends was clear last night. When in position they made tackles and the line was really blocking especially in the second half.

As for the NC game, write it down if USC wins out they will play the winner of the November 18th game. Ohio State and Michigan didn't play strong enough out of conference schedules and that will drop either team that loses. Where as USC played Arkansas at Arkansas, Nebraska and Notre Dame.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:53, a one-loss tOSU or Michigan must get in the back of the line of the 1-loss powers behind you after Nov 18. A loss late in the season like that is difficult to overcome. A loss that late convinces all the middle of the pack folks that the year-long doubters and haters were right. A loss in the early part of the season (read Texas, Cal (*gasp*) or Arkansas if they survice SEC play) means a team has overcome and has become one of the best teams in the country. Still my money rides a Michigan - Florida MNC game.

A2saint said...

This is exactly why college football is so great! The love of the game, baby...

IC said...

My favorite part was the excellent use of the blimp, which provided hilarious shots of onrushing Rutgers fans in the final seconds (shown in the post's photo.) Those fans made a remarkably quick retreat as the refs determined there were still time left on the clock, keeping Rutgers from suffering a possibly-critical 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

Did anyone else wonder why the hell Rutgers kicked deep after their go-ahead field goal to a guy who had already returned a 100-yarder? Why not squib it or pull a Bret Bielima and run off time with offsides penalties?

The King said...

Greg Schiano should walk away with Coach of the Year. What he's done there is nothing short of remarkable.

And though it is basically already mathematically impossible, if Rutgers goes undefeated, it should play in the title game. It's just too good a story, and honesltly, REALLY? Why not? Soft conference? Whatever. Who cares. Give them the shot. The only reason they don't have a shot is because of the utterly asinine tradition of preseason polls that started them out too far back to make a real charge.

I only wish i had actually seen the second half instead of having to get voicemails from Yost with score updates...

Anonymous said...

IC asked, "Did anyone else wonder why the hell Rutgers kicked deep after their go-ahead field goal to a guy who had already returned a 100-yarder? ... or pull a Bret Bielima and run off time with offsides penalties?"

I assume it has something to do with class.

Benny Friedman said...

I don't see the logic in saying West Virginia deserved to go to the championship game if undefeated, but not Rutgers. They play in the same conference and have essentially the same schedule. The reason is largely reputation and history. No one takes Rutgers seriously. One more reason why the polls, and the championship that depends on them, are a joke.

IC said...

Anon:

Is there something lacking in class about squibbing the kick, which I metioned before the Bielima strategy (Bielategy?)

Though I agree that the intentional offsides penalties has weasely qualities, it is legal and it is far wiser than kicking off to a guy who had already returned a 100-yarder!

And doing so would have maximized Rutgers' chances to win the game. Isn't that the job of the coach?

Benny Friedman said...

Anon 8:44, how does "pulling a Bielema" show a lack of class? When a QB throws it out of bounds to get away from the rush is that a lack of class? Is spiking a ball to save time a lack of class? Schiano is rightfully called a genius today for what he's done at Rutgers. He would have been a super-genius for exlpoiting that ridiculous clock rule last night.

Anonymous said...

I think now we can actually start taking the Big East somewhat seriously again, because now they have 3 good teams.

That was a great game. It was nothing short of magical. And I'm a Michigan fan (and student)! Sure, all the fans there were fairweathers, but who could blame them? What use is it cheering for a team that you can usually expect to go 0-11, unless you just want to have fun. It really had Disney movie written all over it, because this was where college football was born but had not really succeeded...until now. Way to go Rutgers for giving us all a reason to believe. (Yeah, it's really corny.)

Anonymous said...

...which brings me to my next comment.

A few important points: that's what a lack of defense will do. Louisville could do nothing to stop the Rutgers offense, although it put up a good effort and deserves slightly more credit than it deserves. But you see what a good defense will do? That's why I actually expected Rutgers to win; they have one of the top defenses in the country, although they had only used it against weak teams until last night. And they have a great running attack. Now who does that remind you all of? Rutgers is kind of a weaker version of Michigan, I guess in terms of playing style.

And here's the kicker. Once Blue is done with Indiana, I hope that the defense is thinking, if Rutgers's defense can shut down one of the country's tough offenses, then why shouldn't we be able to shut down the Buckeye's offense? Sure, Michigan will be playing away in one of the most hostile environments in college football. But our defense is better than that of Rutgers! All the more so!

I almost had tears in my eyes at the end of the Rutgers game. It was beautiful. And then I thought about how badly I want that feeling on November 18th. I want to see students crowd the streets celebrating and chanting about how great is to be a Wolverine.

Believe!

Anonymous said...

I was damn excited watching the game last night. It was the best Big East game I've seen in awhile (better by far than last weeks WVU v. UL shoot out, not that I don't like one now and again). And in addition to being a good game, it accomplished two things:

1) Even if they win out, Rutgers will not make the NC game. They are too far back to make up that much ground, unless a slew of 1-lossers lose again. The Big East doesn't have a team that deserves to go and this will hammer that home, particularly when their champ loses in the Fiesta or Sugar bowl.

2) If they don't win out, we could end up with as many as 11 1-loss teams (7 at a minimum), undefeated UM/OSU and undefeated Boise State. Not only will that be the biggest wrench in the BCS yet, you'll have some people screaming for BSU to play the UM/OSU winner.

3. We'll end up with a real NC game, rather than 4 quarters of UM/OSU making the Big East champ cry. Should the Big Ten champ be the (heavy?) favorite going into the game? Sure. But it will still be a lot closer.

Go Blue!
-Mat

Yost said...

I agree with others in that Schiano should have "pulled a Bielema" on the last quick.

Had it been run back, well, thankfully it wasn't.

Jim said...

"When a QB throws it out of bounds to get away from the rush is that a lack of class? Is spiking a ball to save time a lack of class?"

Those are allowed by the rules in most situations. Exploiting a rule (albeit a very stupid rule) by intentionally committing a penalty is unsportsmanlike conduct. It's different than a cornerback yanking a WR before he catches the ball to save a touchdown. There's a penalty for that. There should have been an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on WI and there wasn't. Damn right Joe was pissed. If WI has to exploit a bad rule to secure a victory against PSU, then they sure as hell shouldn't be ranked because they obviously didn't have the talent to secure the win with playing football, but with intentionally going offsides to burn the clock. That's great confidence you have in your special teams and defense coach- and just wtf are you teaching youth watching the game?

Anonymous said...

Florida playing in the NC, I don't see it Florida has to play someone Arkansas, Auburn or whoever in the SEC championship, but first they have to beat Florida State at Florida State and that game may become very interesting. Bobby Bowden has quitely been stepping it up since the fire the Bowdens on slaught and with Xavier Lee quarter backing they have looked pretty good expect them to beat Wake Forest this weekend.

Did anybody else notice when they were showing the BCS last night that Auburn is like number 6, Arkansas who beat Auburn is not in the top 10 and USC who beat Arkansas at home, who beat Auburn is behind Auburn?? WTH

BaggyPantsDevil said...

That was a fantastic football game! I'm a complete sucker for an underdog and Rutgers has certainly been that. Plus, it's always a joy to watch kids play their hearts out and win. College football is just the greatest sport ever.

Some of the atypical highlights of that game for me:

Jeremy Ito—no doubt still high on the adrenaline rush after just tying the game—booming the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone.

Brian Leonard—who has suffered though Rutgers bad years and has dutifully and admirably accepted his role as a blocker for Ray Rice—catching a pass and taking it 26 yards to put Rutgers in position for a long field goal.

Which was immediately followed by Rice—who is such a huge part of Rutgers' offense—rushing for 20 yards to put them in relatively easy field goal range.

Jeremy Ito—who had been so tentative and thoroughly depantsed on JuJaun Spillman's earlier 100 yard kickoff return—hurling himself into Spillman to ensure his lead taking field goal didn't go for naught.

Rutgers defense—who had so aggressively stifled Brian Brohm throughout the second half—getting the sack on the final play of the game.

The aerial view of Rutgers fans rushing out onto the field.

And—of course—Ray Rice, on the verge of tears, hugging his momma.

Screenwriters can't write stuff that good.

I can remember when Greg Schiano was mocked for leaving "gangsta football powerhouse" Miami for "exercise in football futility" Rutgers. He definitely doesn't look so stupid now.

Also, anyone else notice that last night's game featured the last two undefeated teams of a conference, one, a team that has struggled in previous seasons but has an aggressive defense and a grinding rushing attack, the other, a team with a potent offense and experienced, highly regarded quarterback? Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

Arky has really only played Southern Cal and Auburn, and they are 1-1 at that. If Arky runs the table in successive tough games (Tenn, LSU SEC championship game - with MSU in there as a bye week) after winning in Columbia against the Cocks, then I'm guessing they'll move up in the BCS considerably and rectify the BCS slight.

Schiano for President! said...

the fairweather fans statement is a fair comment. ive only been a fan for 2 years. i went to RU two years ago to see them beat MSU in a close game. at the time, it was the biggest win in RU history. ive been a fan ever since. btw Ito won that game as a freshman solely on his foot. i think it was 18-13.

another thing- i studied schiano's reaction to every big play, fuck up, and bad call. this guy is STONE FUCKING COLD. he should be in the military calling the shots. i trust him with anything.

GO RU!!! im even driving 7 hrs to go to morgantown dec2!!!

Anonymous said...

If an undefeated Rutgers team that beat 2 teams that were once ranked as high as #3 (WV & Louisville, including one on the road) isn't good enough for the NC game, why even have a regular season? Why not have the NC game in September between pre-season #1 and #2?

beast in 'bama said...

I was VERY impressed with Schiano. It was the first time I had seen him in action, and I really liked the way he managed the game and handled his players. He could be a very big star one day. The choppin' wood thing is an oldie, but a goodie.

In stark contrast was the Louisville sideline, where Brohm the elder was eating Brohm the younger's face off every time he came off the field. Didn't he have enough to worry about with those Rutgers linemen jailbreaking him every time he turned around? No quarterback wants someone screaming in his face every time he comes off the field - especially not his brother!

Schiano for President! said...

i dunno i just see Schiano and the way he handles that team and the university- the guy brought 50 pizzas out to fans camping for tix- how could you not buy into it?

thats why they keep saying he's selling RU and good recruits are coming in. look at that abreu kid he is a blue chipper.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this will produce one good thing: Playoffs. 8 teams, play a few extra games and actually find out who the best is. The current system is obviously garbage, in terms of actually producing the correct championship game.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Detroit metro area. Michigan has serious economic issues and only when the people pull together can the problems be overcome. It’s going to take everyone not just democrat or republican A great place to find out Michigan and Detroit is MICHIGAN AND DETROIT