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Monday, November 13, 2006

 

A Rutgers-ology

From Football Pool Doormat TB:

On November 9, 2006, something occurred in the sports world that once again proved why sports are better than movies. You just can't make some of these things up. Rutgers University pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time as they came back to knock Louisville out of the National Championship picture. Let me explain before you start yelling out the USA over Russia in hockey in 1980 that prompted the movie miracle, Chaminade over Virginia in 1982, Villanova over Georgetown in 1985, or whatever else you have on your mind. This game ranks right up there with any of them. Look at the bigger picture and hopefully you'll understand a bit more.

Now to the naked eye, #15 in the country defeating #3 in the country doesn't seem like a big upset at all. I mean, after all #15 was playing in their own stadium. And after all, Auburn, Cal, and Texas got their hopes dashed by unranked teams. But to understand the significance of this victory, one must look into the history of Rutgers University football. After playing in the first College Football game ever, the football program at Rutgers University was the punch line of any joke involving football in the state of New Jersey for approximately...ever. They were downright pathetic. This team became synonymous with losing. Forget the fact that before last year they hadn't made a bowl since 1976 (which was the Garden State Bowl, essentially tailored to have the host school play in it). I could go on for hours discussing the sad past of Rutgers football, but instead I'll jump to 2001.

If you know anything about college football, you know that the current laughingstock of DI football is Temple University who just broke some losing streak that went back to the Clinton administration or something. Did you also know that in 2001, this same Temple University defeated Rutgers University 30-5? Yes thats right, Rutgers scored 5 points against Temple, and I believe it was Geoff Billet scoring all 5 points on 2 jump shots. Rutgers also lost 61-0 to Miami that year, and 80-7 to West Virginia. I wonder how they got the 7? The next year they started off their season by losing 37-19 to D1AA Villanova! And the game wasn't even close.

Lets just travel back to last year, where Rutgers lost 56-5 to the same Lousiville team that they defeated last Thursday. Take it from a lifelong Rutgers fan, there was not a moment during their 2nd half comeback that I thought they would actually win. When Jeremy "the Judge" Ito missed the 33 yard field goal at the end of the game, I wasn't surprised at all. Misery was what I came to expect with Rutgers football. I believe the phrase "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" was probably uttered for the first time by someone watching a Rutgers game. Then it happened. Offsides, on Louisville, second chance at the kick, boom, 137 years ofsuffering right down the drain.

Once you look into the past of this program, you begin to understand why I chose to rank this as one of the biggest upsets in sports history...okay maybe I got a little carried away by comparing it to some other great upsets but if you're from New Jersey you understand the disbelief that is still running through my mind, even on Monday morning. Words cannot describe it.

Now this morning, I go on SI.com (praying to God I wouldn't see a Bears over Giants headline- God failed to answer my prayers), and I see a poll on the website entitled "Which one loss team has the best shot at making the BCS title game?" It then lists 8 one loss teams with opportuinites to vote. After checking once or twice through, I noticed they did not include Rutgers in this poll AT ALL (but they included Wake Forest who is ranked about 17th and who plays in the oh so competetive ACC...yes that is sarcasm). This same belief was shared by my buddy Lee Corso, who was so strongly against Rutgers playing in the National Championship game,I would have thought he was a derranged Louisville fan. Oh what is that you say? Corso coached Lousiville from 1969 to 1972? Shocker!

Look I'm not calling for Rutgers to play in the national championship game or trying to say they are better than Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, USC, etc. Hell, I'm not even convinced they will beat West Virginia later in the season (typical thought process of a Rutgers fan). All I'm saying is give the Scarlet Knights some credit for what they have done. When is the last time #6 in the BCS standings was given such little respect? Run it over in your mind before you hate on Rutgers. It's time to given the State University of New Jersey the props it rightfully deserves. That's all, just had to vent a little bit. By the way, if R U goes undefeated and Ohio State doesn't play in the Nat'l Championship, Ray Rice may be the most deserving Heisman candidate.

Note from the Choke Artist:

If the following unlikely circumstances occur, Rutgers REALISTICALLY has a chance to play for the title:

1. Cal Beats USC
2. USC Beats Notre Dame
3. RU Beats WVU
4. Florida loses the SEC Championship game or @ FSU
5. Michigan/Ohio State gets blown out or finishes w/2 losses.

That's it, 5 things and Rutgers is in! Almost as improbable as a 9-0 start....

Comments:
You forgot Arkansas has to lose.
 
Agree that Rutgers has a realistic shot. One thing to add and one to correct:

Addition - you neglect Arkansas - if they win out (Miss St, LSU, then Florida in SEC Championship), they're probably ahead of Rutgers in at least the human polls. But yes, within the realm of possibility that RU would be ahead of them in BCS because of Rutgers strong Computer rankings (which won't drop if they don't lose).

Correction - OSU and Michigan only have the one game left against each other, so neither team will lose again. I'm guessing if the game is close (less than a TD), that team stays ahead of Rutgers in human polling as well.
 
I guess the whole "no respect" thing worked well enough to get them fired up to beat Louiville, so go with it if you want to, but um...why would SI include them in a poll about one-loss teams?

(They do have a shot, though...and if their defense against Louisville was any indication, they deserve it).
 
How disturbing it is that my Cuse is now the speed bump to Rutgers' bowl chances. The good times are fleeting, Knights. Enjoy it. Pretty soon UConn will be kicking both our asses.
 
"Rutgers University pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time.."

I realize it was a great win for an historically down-trodden football team, but it was clearly barely an upset. Louisville was only favored by 6, it was at Rutgers, they were ranked #15 (as you pointed out), and a significant percentage of real football fans thought they could win. That does not make for one of the greatest upsets of all time.

Great game, I was rooting for them, but I hate it when things are put so far out of perspective. Let's hope they can get into the BCS Championship like they deserve (if they win out).
 
Being from Michigan and a life long Wolverine Fan, I was getting a bit weary about Rutgers and their win over Louisville, a team that would probably get blown out by Michigan on a par with Big Blues thrashing of Notre Dame. But you are right. This is big for Rutgers and they deserve to get more respect. Unfortunately, with all the media hype and Lee Corso's of the world, that ain't gonna happen unless and until Rutgers beats someone like Michigan or Ohio State in as big a spot as the Louisville game.
 
It not as if anyone tries to hide the bias, either. At halftime, the question was posed to Lou Holtz whether an "undefeated Big East team should be able to play for the BCS championship." Holtz answered yes, yada, yada, and near the end summed up by saying, "so that's why Louisville deserves to play in it if they win out." Wait, I though it was a question about "an undefeated Big East team," not Louisville?!?!?

Louisville's tough non-conference schedule included Temple (only the worst team, per the earlier comment, especially now that Stanford actually won a game), Middle Tennessee State, Miami (#17 at the time, but now 5-5), and Kansas State (bump for beating Texas, but still not a powerhouse).

Rutgers played UNC, Illinois, Ohio, and Howard. (While West Virginia had gems like East Carolina, Eastern Washington, and Marshall -- from 2006, not 2002)

Point is, they all had crappy non-conf. teams. So why would Louisville or WVU have made it while Rutgers may not? The preseason human polls, which are still skewing the BCS rankings. The computers have them at #2, while the polls still can't overcome the preseason.

What's an answer? It'll never happen, but how about no human polls until October 15, just like there are no BCS rankings until then. In the first BCS rankings this year, Rutgers was 15th, with a computer ranking of 9th. WVU and Louisville had computer rankings of 14th and 10th respectively, but were ranked 5th and 7th due to the human polls having them so high in the preseason.

In the computer rankings, Rutgers has been 9,7,8,9,2.

Anyway, the main point is that if Louisville or WVU would have gone if they went undefeated over the other 1 loss teams, Rutgers should as well.

{end of rant}
 
Wow, those are some of the best comments we've ever had. Just a couple things to clarify:

1. The biggest upset was not the game but the game as a microcosm of the entire turnaround of the football program (possibly icorrectly compared to specific games). It would have been like the Clippers beating the Spurs to go to the finals last year or something along those lines I guess.

2. Arkansas could jump RU, but it remains to be seen. The possible W over West Virginia would be weighted heavily, but not as heavily as Ark over Fla or something along those lines.
 
I too am baffled why Rutgers isn't on a poll titled "Which one loss team has the best shot at making the BCS title game?"

I think it might have something to do with rutgers not yet having "one loss", but I'm still getting over the shock of them not being included, so I'm not really sure.
 
You aren't understanding the meaning of the poll. The poll was intended for who deserved to be in the National Championship game as a 1 loss team. In other words, it overlooked Rutgers as an undefeated team and only focused on the one loss teams that "deserved" to be in the National Championship game.
 
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