Rutgers’ fame lies in playing his first college football game, which the Scarlet Knights – then known as Queensmen – won since first scorigami ever, 6-4.
It’s been a while before pétanque games became a thing, but pétanque has still been around for more than a century, and Rutgers hit a total of 10 of them – the Garden State Bowl of 1978, then every year but one from 2005 -14.
Even during Rutgers’ “glory years” under the return of Greg Schiano and Kyle Flood, the Scarlet Knights never came close to a game of bowls with anything matching their story. Rutgers has been to the Pinstripe Bowl twice, as well as the Insight Bowl, the Texas Bowl, the International Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, and most recently the Quick Lane Bowl. of 2014.
For most of the last century, the only way to picture Rutgers in a top-tier bowling match was going to be some kind of doomsday event in which only New Jersey was spared. That’s still true, but there’s another level of boules between the College Football Playoff / New Year’s Six boules group and the mid-December weekday afternoon fill-up boules that represent the usual Rutgers ceiling. It’s those bowls that have been around for a long time, but have always been a kind of second tier of bowls: the Sun, the Citrus, the Liberty … the Gator Bowl.
It’s the Gator Bowl, 43 years later Ohio State manager Woody Hayes punched Clemson defensive lineman Charlie Bauman, where Rutgers will reach his maximum postseason height, because while we’re not enduring the apocalypse anywhere but New Jersey, we’re in the midst of a pandemic. global which is on the rise at the moment, and has hit Texas A&M so hard that the Aggies had to retire of their meeting with Wake Forest.
It sucks for Texas A&M, and when the match happens, it will probably suck for Rutgers, because Wake Forest is really good, and the Scarlet Knights will have a week of prep after thinking their season was over. But it’s also great for Rutgers.
When the regular season ended, the Scarlet Knights believed their bowl drought was continuing, right along with Rice, whose last post-season trip was 2014’s Hawaii Bowl. The only Power 5 school that was off the bowl scene longest than Rutgers is Kansas, which hasn’t been to a post-season show since the 2008 Insight Bowl. Louisiana-Monroe (2012 Independence Bowl) is the only other FBS school with a drought in longest course, while UNLV played the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, and UMass and Texas State never went to bowls.
But now? Rutgers will have been to a bowl game more recently than historical sports titans Texas (2020 Alamo Bowl), USC (2019 Holiday Bowl), and Nebraska (2016 Music City Bowl). This is a nice result for a team that not only haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in any of their last eight games, but haven’t had a 100-yard pass in any of their last four. After beating Temple, Syracuse and Delaware to start the season, Rutgers went 2-7 in the Big Ten game, his only victories coming in dying Illinois and winless Indiana.
Wake Forest has quarterback Sam Hartman who needs just 76 yards pass to reach 4,000 for the season and three running backs with at least five touchdowns each to go with Hartman’s 11 scores on the ground.
It could easily be argued that 3-9 Nebraska, who went 1-8 in the conference but had a zero score differential due to all his close losses and the Northwestern outbreak, would be a better choice to give at least one. game at Wake Forest. But Nebraska, even with its drought, would probably have the common sense to avoid … wait, no they wouldn’t.
But hey, congratulations to Rutgers, because their trip to the bowl is, in fact, earned. The Crimson Knights were better in class than in the field, like them APR score got them the right of first refusal to the Gator Bowl. Not only do they now celebrate New Years in Florida, but an everlasting boast of Princeton, which not only lost its first football game, but never earned such prestige as the Gator Bowl in recognition of their academics.