Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rutgers "Wins the Big East." Whoopee.

The football team at Rutgers University is the Champion of the Big East Conference.

Don't everybody get up and applaud at once.
The Scarlet Knights never make it easy on their fans.  Even when they win a game in blowout fashion, there's complications.  Sometimes they only lead 3-0 at the half before winning 31-0.  Or, sometimes, they lead 31-0 at the half, and they hang on to win 34-19 or something like that.  Or they win despite a bunch of turnovers, winning only because the other team did the same.  Or they win but sustain an injury that helps wreck the season.
In true Scarlet fashion, with a chance to win the title outright on Saturday, Rutgers backed into a share of the title.  They played away to the University of Pittsburgh, a team they almost never beat outside Piscataway, and lost, 27-6.  They did not look like champions at all, against a team that usually does compete for the Big East title (both teams soon moving to different leagues being, for the moment, irrelevant), but has not been very good this season: They advanced to just 5-6, 2-4 in the Big East.
Nevertheless, the University of Louisville, the other main contender for the title, lost to the University of Connecticut.  As a result, Rutgers can do no worse than finish in a tie for the title.  They are, at the very least, Co-Champions.
So Rutgers falls to 9-2 overall, and 5-1 in the Conference.  Syracuse University has creeped back into the mix, at 5-2.  (I know, the grammatically correct word is "crept," but I like thinking of Sorry-excuse as creepy, so I'm making it "creeped.") Louisville and the University of Cincinnati are both 4-2.  Pitt, as stated, is 2-4.  So is UConn.  Temple University is 2-5.  The University of South Florida is 1-5.
There are 3 Big East Conference games remaining this season.  On Thursday night, Rutgers hosts Louisville in what was already presumed to be the title decider.  On Saturday afternoon, Cincy visits UConn, in a game that suddenly has implications.  And on Saturday night, Pitt goes to USF in a game that is meaningless to everyone but Pitt: A Pitt win makes them 6-6 overall, and thus bowl-eligible.
Here's the scenarios.  Scenarioes? Scenarii?
* Rutgers beats Louisville: RU finishes 6-1 in the league, and wins the title outright.  What happens between Cincinnati and Connecticut doesn't matter at all, at least not as far as the title is concerned.
* Rutgers loses to Louisville, and Connecticut beats Cincinnati: RU, UL and Syracuse all finish 5-2.  RU beat 'Cuse and Cincy, UL beat RU and Cincy, 'Cuse beat UL but lost the other 2.  That means 'Cuse finishes 3rd in this tiebreaker, so it becomes head-to-head between RU and UL, so UL is "the real champion" and gets the Big East's Bowl Championship Series berth.
* Rutgers loses to Louisville, and Cincinnati beats Connecticut: RU, UL, 'Cuse and Cincy all finish 5-2, a 4-way tie.  (This has happened before, in the Big Ten in 1990, between Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, and the team that was awarded their Rose Bowl berth, Iowa.) So against each of the other 3: RU beat 'Cuse and Cincy but lost to UL, UL beat RU and 'Cuse but lost to Cincy, 'Cuse beat UL but lost to RU and Cincy, and Cincy beat 'Cuse but lost to RU and UL.  So RU and UL are 2-1, while 'Cuse and Cincy are 1-2.  So, again, Louisville is "the real champion" and gets the BCS berth.
Bottom line: The winner on Thursday night is the Big East Champion.
It is, literally, the biggest football game in Rutgers history.  A history longer than any other school's, except that of Princeton University, the nearby former rival against whom RU played the first 2 college football games ever, on November 6 and 13, 1869, 143 years ago this month.
The 2006 Rutgers-Louisville game, previously considered the biggest RU game ever, is still important in the program's development.  But this Thursday night's game is much more important.  It will determine whether Rutgers is a true champion, or a champion with a big honking asterisk.
*

Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 1, tomorrow, away to Everton, at Goodison Park in Liverpool.  After fantastic wins over North London arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur (a.k.a. "Spurs" or "The Scum") the preceding Saturday and over defending French champions Montpellier on Wednesday, Arsenal went up to Birmingham (the name of a Southern city in America but of a Northern city in England) and played a turgid 0-0 draw against Aston Villa in a continuous pouring rain.  Hopefully, they'll shake it off and beat the Toffees on Wednesday.

Days until the Devils play again: Who knows.  All NHL games have been cancelled through December 14.  Also cancelled, originally to be held after that date, are the Winter Classic, set to be played on New Year's Day between Detroit and Toronto at the University of Michigan's 111,000-seat stadium; and the 2013 NHL All-Star Game, set for Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  As in 2004-05, we may not have a season at all.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: Who knows.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 2, this Thursday night, home to Louisville.  The Big East title decider.

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 71, on February 6, 2013, away to Honduras, in the last, "Hexagonal" round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, for the region that encompasses North America, Central America, and the Caribbean nations.  A little over 10 weeks.  If they finish 1st or 2nd in this group of 6 -- and they definitely should win, certainly should finish no worse than 2nd behind Mexico -- they qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Days until the next North London Derby: 95on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at White Hart Lane.  (This is corrected, I had it too low by 20 days.) A little over 3 months.  That March 2 date presumes that Arsenal are not paired up with Spurs in either the FA Cup or the League Cup.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: Unknown for sure, since the 2013 MLS schedule has not yet been released.  But, if the pattern holds, it will be on the 3rd weekend in March.  If it is on the Saturday of that weekend, March 16, then that would be 120 days.  Just 4 months.  This year's MLS Cup Final will be a rematch of last year's, when the L.A. Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo, and it'll be at L.A.'s home field, the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.  Which means the Gals' Robbie Keane will have won as many league titles in a little over a year as his former club, Tottenham, have won in their entire 130 years.
Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby," against either the New England Revolution, the Philadelphia Union or D.C. United: Also unknown, until the schedule is released.  Most likely, the season opener will not be against one of those teams.
Days until the Yankees play again: 125, on Monday, April 1, at 1:05 PM, at home at Yankee Stadium II, against the Boston Red Sox.  A little over 4 months.  Beat The Scum!
Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: See the previous answer.
Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 278 (estimated around September 1, 2013).  A little over 9 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Uncertain, since the 2013 schedule has not been released.  But if the usual pattern holds, it will be on the 2nd Friday in September... which, next year, just so happens to be a Friday the 13th.  Oy vey.  Anyway, if that's the way it works out, then it's 290 days.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 366.  Next year's Thanksgiving Day is November 28, so it's slightly more than one full year until our next annual Turkey Day beatdown by the Purple Bastards.  This past Thursday, they beat us 34-0.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 432 (February 2, 2014).  Under 14 months.  Of course, we have no idea who the opposing teams will be.  The possibility exists that either the Giants or the Jets could be in it -- or both.  To this day, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its own stadium -- in spite of multiple hostings by Miami, New Orleans and various California teams.  Only 2 have done so in their home metro area: The 1979-80 Los Angeles Rams, whose home field was then the L.A. Coliseum, and they lost to Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, whose home field, then as now, was Candlestick Park, and they beat Miami at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, which had a much larger capacity than Candlestick.
Days until the 2014 Winter Olympics: 437 (February 7, 2014).
Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 562 (June 12, 2014).  Under 19 months.
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 627 (estimated, around September 15, 2014).  About 22 months.
Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,347 (August 5, 2016).  Under 4 years.
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,403 (estimated -- I'm guessing around the end of 2016, around September 30).
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,615 (estimated -- estimating 28 home runs a year, taking his recent injury into account, I'm guessing around April 30, 2017, at age 41).  Under 4 1/2 years -- if he can.  And even if he does, will he still be a Yankee when he does it? Your guess is as good as mine -- and his.

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