Rutgers plays Cincinnati on Monday in the biggest season-opening game in recent memory. If the Scarlet Knights lose, it's going to be ugly.
How could anyone put this much into one regular season game? Simple.
1) Up for Grabs: In a Big East Conference with no clear cut favorite (prognosticators have picked any of 4-5 teams to win the league this year....and I think one of them may have selected Don Bosco Prep in error), Rutgers needs to set the tone early and avoid a first half like it experienced last season. Which brings me to point #2....
2) Ugly start, Ugly end: There's nothing like a dismal 1-5 start to have the fans turn against you. Last season, Mike Teel and Kenny Britt proved to be two of the keys to the turnaround. Now with both of them collecting paychecks to play on Sunday (as opposed to many other college players collecting paychecks to play on Saturday....oooooh, did I write that? Whoops!), there aren't many proven go-to players to turn the tide in 2009. Their top offensive player is an offensive lineman. That isn't going to help score TDs, unless Greg Schiano petitions the NCAA to legalize the fumblerooski. Plus, fans want a BCS bowl or something close to it this season. Yes, Rutgers is only 7 years removed from football purgatory, but no more obscure pizza bowls in obscure locations. A 7-win season isn't going to get anyone that excited...especially when two of the wins are against mediocre I-AA teams.
3) If you build it, it should come: Tons of dollars have been put into this program and fans want a winner. More seats were added and the coach is getting enough money to feed those in Third World Countries and create a new problem...obesity. With the addition of new seats and the AD completely in Schiano's pocket, it's time for Rutgers to do better than 3rd in the conference. A sold out crowd will be watching along with other Rutgers fans and critics...it's a must win baby.
Prediction: Rutgers is dealing with some issues at the skill positions....there's no clear cut go-to WRs or RBs and the QB is inexperienced. When all things are even and in this case, it's close...Rutgers is more sound defensively than the Bearcats, which is looking to fill 10 vacancies (that's more openings than the coaching will make a difference. Cincy 24-20. Yes, it pains me to write that...and that's because I think I may have tweaked my ankle on a run this evening.
Florida International W
at Maryland L
Texas Southern W
at Army W
at Connecticut L
South Florida W
at Syracuse W
at Louisville W
West Virginia L
Rutgers finishes 8-4. I was tempted to give Rutgers a loss to Syracuse. The Orange looked decent today and could be a tough play on the road late in the season. Still, my hatred for Eric Devendorf was too great and I had to stick a "W" up there. With almost no non-conference powerhouses and a down year for the Big East, this is quite a cupcake schedule.
- Since when did country music become the soundtrack for college football? I know plenty of teams in the SEC have been dominant but everywhere you look there's another dude with a banjo and tall hat belting out tunes on ESPN and ABC. I'm sure sales of Skoal skyrocket every Saturday.
- I went to Washington D.C. for a White House tour this week. You know the saying, "A few rotten apples spoil the whole bunch"? Well, that's definitely true for Obama's residence. The tour was ok but thanks to those who try to attack this country for everything great that we have to offer, there were more restrictions than the security line at Newark Liberty Airport. No weapons (makes sense), no pens (huh?), no cameras (are you kidding me?). Since 9/11 it's almost like we're prisoners in our own country. It was great to see history and I am grateful for it, but with most of the rooms roped off like the multiplex on the other side of town, I just wish I could have had a closer look at history. Maybe I should just run for president and get better access (and take about 30 years off my life).
- On the subject of president, when did a speech about education create such an uproar? President Obama is planning on speaking to the students of this country and reinforce the message of the importance of an education and staying in school. His opponents and plenty of outraged parents are speaking out against the speech, threatening to keep students home if the speech is broadcast in their schools. Are you serious? The flu bug, a bomb threat, a religious holiday, heck even the release of a Spike Lee movie might be better reasons to prevent a child from going to school. I think the idea of an Obama speech would be a welcome presentation for many of those students who hold Obama in high regard and don't consider school a priority in their lives. If he reaches even one kid, then the speech has done it's job. Regardless of how you feel about Obama's policies, his message could really resonate with the youth who have felt as though they have a connection with him.
- Random unless scheduling item: George Washington University's men's basketball team hosts Oregon State 2 days after Thanksgiving. Oregon State is coached by Obama's brother in law, Craig Robinson. You think the OSU team will be invited for the holiday meal or will it be only the family at the White House? Roeland Schaftenaar wants to know.
Happy Labor Day, which is a nice way of saying, "Summer's over, days get shorter, time to get depressed!"