Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh, Yes, There Was a Rutgers Win

Thank you, Iowa, for beating Ratface Paterno and his Nittany Lions, and ending the National Championship dreams of his Kool-Aid drinkers for another season!

Oh, yes, Rutgers played football on Saturday, and I was there to see it.

It was my 1st-ever Rutgers road game. I always figured it would be against Army at West Point, or in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse, or in Pittsburgh against, well, Pitt. But it was at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland, inside Washington's Capital Beltway, against the University of Maryland, a Big East-Atlantic Coast Conference crossover.

(UPDATE: Rutgers and Maryland later joined the Big Ten, so now, it's an intraconference game.)

Tom Savage did not start, due to a head injury in the Florida International game. So it was Dominic Natale. Help...

Byrd Stadium looks nice. Maybe someday, I'll see it when it's dry. We got drenched.

And they stuck the bulk of the Rutgers fans in the upper deck. This was high. Really high. Higher than the upper deck at Giants Stadium, I think. I'm talking old Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium height. That, plus the wet steps and slippery railings, made it a perilous climb, especially to get back down to get food and use the restroom.

Speaking of which, there was a roof leak in the restroom. Somebody suggested there was another restroom right above us. At least it wasn't as bad as the late, somewhat-lamented Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, where I once saw evidence of a guy who couldn't wait on line any longer, and used the trash can, and missed.

On the 1st play from scrimmage, Rutgers returned an interception for a touchdown. 7-0 RU. Great! But the rest of the 1st half was a washout, and we trailed at the half, 13-10. It should have been more like 24-13 us, because Maryland -- an ACC power in the Eighties, pretty good not that long ago, and conquerors of Rutgers in Piscataway just 2 years ago -- is not good right now.

Maryland coughed up the ball 5 times, and Rutgers won it, 34-13. I tell you this: With a healthy Savage at the controls, we could have hung at least 50 on them. And a great job by the Rutgers defense.

Still, 4 games into the season, a 3-1 record, and I don't think we really know anything about Rutgers yet. The Scarlet Knights remain a mystery, going into a bye week.

The next game is Saturday, October 10, Homecoming against Texas Southern. Not Texas, not Texas A&M, not Texas Tech, not Texas-El Paso... Texas Southern.

In other words, we really won't know much about this team until close to midnight on October 16, when their home game against Pittsburgh is over.

Harry "Curley" Byrd, for whom the stadium was named, was a football coach at Maryland, and later president of the University. The stadium's capacity is listed as 54,000, making it slightly more than the newly-expanded capacity of Rutgers Stadium. But it looks a lot bigger, because it's so much taller.

The attendance was announced as 43,800 or so. Oh really? If it was half of that, I'd be surprised. The rain, the ineptitude of Maryland, and the fact that Rutgers still doesn't travel all that well, kept the actual attendance down pretty low.

However, the people who did show up, Scarlet Knights fans and Terrapins fans alike, were really into it, and clean. Good job by both sets of fans who cared enough, or were crazy enough, to sit through this lousy game in lousier weather.

I should have expected that. Maryland fans, depeding on what part of the State they're from, either love their Redskins, or loved their Colts and now love their Ravens, and the Terps are one thing that unites them.

Speaking of the Ravens, there were a few Ravens jerseys with Ray Rice's name and Number 27 on them. I wonder how many RU fans stayed overnight and went up to Baltimore to "See Ray Run" against the Cleveland Browns? He did score his first NFL touchdown against the Browns, but then, the Browns are coached by Eric Mangini. Can you believe this guy was once called "Mangenius"? Final score of that one: Ravens 34, Browns 3. I'm guessing that did not go over well in Northern Ohio, where the Ravens will always be Art Modell's team.

As I was riding the train down from Washington to Williamsburg, I read the Washington Post, which has one of the best sports sections in existence, and Post columnist/ESPN Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon called it: He said the Redskins would lose to the Detroit Lions, ending the Lions' 19-game losing streak, and they did, 19-14.

Wilbon, you want some DAP for that? Here is some DAP! For the last 10 years or so, it has taken quite a bit of guts to pick the Lions under any circumstances. You did, and it worked.

Class move by the Lions to come back out onto the gridiron at Ford Field and salute their fans, who've suffered so much -- with the Lions' half a century of ineptitude, and falling short even when they have been good, being the least of their problems.


Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 2, Friday night, at home, against Piscataway. That's Piss... cataway, whom we haven't beaten since 1990, for several reasons: Bad weather, bad officiating, bad luck, and, of course, very often, bad football. It should again be the Home News Tribune Game of the Week, and it should be every bit as intense as the thriller last Friday against Monroe. And then another Game of the Week next week against Sayreville. This is the second of three straight weeks which should tell whether EB has what it takes, and can win the Conference Championship.

Days until the Major League Baseball Playoffs begin (for the Yankees, anyway): 7, next Wednesday night, at Yankee Stadium II, against the American League Central Division Champions, either the Detroit Tigers or the Minnesota Twins.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 3, this Saturday night, against the hated Philadelphia Flyers. Let's get ready to rumble!

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 5, next Monday night, against the hated Rangers, who SUCK!

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 10.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 57. 8 weeks.

Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 135.

Days until Opening Day of the 2010 baseball season (yes, the schedules are out already): 187. The Yankees open on Monday, April 5, against the Red Scum at Fenway Park.

Days until the Yankees' 2010 home opener: 195. It's on Tuesday, April 13, against the team known, for the moment, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 255.

Days until the World Cup Final: 286.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (as yet unnamed) opens: 310 (presuming that the NFL season does, in fact, open that day, and that either the Giants or the Jets will be at home every week).

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 591 (projected).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 773.

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