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A Brief Suggestion for Fixing Rutgers’ 2019 (Non-Conference) Schedule

Boston College? Too tough! Liberty? ICK! We’ve got more sensible ideas for who the Scarlet Knights can play.

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Yesterday we announced that we will continue to do the bare minimum shamelessly piggyback The Mothership for content help you, the Reader, do your own research into your schools’ non-conference schedules by enjoying the work of SBNation’s Bill Connelly.

Over the discussion of the various schools’ schedules, though—and we’ve already helped out by showing you the best road trips to see Big Ten games this fall—it was called to my attention just how bad the Rutgers Scarlet Knights’ 2019 non-conference schedule is. If you will humor me (2019 S&P+, 2018 Sagarin):

Now, it would be piling on to note that the Scarlet Knights, at 108th, are the lowest-rated team in the Big Ten by S&P+. We here at Off Tackle Empire dot com are not, as the kids say, about that life. Instead, we’d like to suggest a few basic swaps and switches to improve Rutgers’ schedule and make them more competitive in 2019.

As you can see from any one of those articles, there’s a lot out there for Rutgers, historically, to be proud of! We feel like a team’s football schedule should reflect those historic rivalries, rather than bad pay-for-play games and half-baked “competitive” matchups. Our suggestions:

OUT: Boston College (72, 38)
IN: Army Black Knights (80, 44)

This would be a like-for-like swap! It allows Army to drop its game with FCS Morgan State on September 21, giving the Black Knights a classic New York rivalry showdown with a team that’s basically a glorified FCS school itself.

Either way, a good showing here would demonstrate Rutgers’ ability to punch above its weight class with superior programs on the East Coast.

OUT: Liberty Flames (112, 139)
IN: Princeton Tigers (FCS, 89)

I mean, this one is so obvious it hurts. You lose a game with a morally-bankrupt school masquerading as a real athletics program, you gain a showdown with an historic regional rival who would no doubt welcome the game.

Add to the equation that Princeton’s almost certainly a better team than the Flames, and you’ve got a match made in heaven here.

OUT: UMass Minutemen (125, 138)
IN: Lafayette Leopards (FCS, 238)

There doesn’t seem to be a good, compelling reason for the Knights to play two FBS schools in the non-conference of one season. Are they going to be bowl eligible? Seems improbable. Will losing to UMass do anything for their program, especially if it’s not a pay game (I don’t know why UMass would pay to come to Piscataway)? I doubt it.

Sure, the Leopards are some of the dregs of the FCS—they’re rebuilding under John Garrett after firing longtime coach Frank Tavani—but they could present the Knights with a good chance to right the ship early in the season.

You’re thinking—but MNW, that’s a problem for the schedule-makers! Not at all. This would allow Lafayette to get out of their non-conference game with Sacred Heart on September 14, filling Rutgers’ bye on the schedule that weekend. Plus, a win for the Knights would have them looking more and more like a playoff-bound team.

[/record scratch]

You know, I kind of like what we’re doing here. Let’s see if we can’t keep it up.

OUT: Ohio State Buckeyes
IN: Colgate Raiders

We’ve got another like-for-like trade here—the Raiders reached #8 in the country in 2018 and acquitted themselves nicely before falling, 35-0, to North Dakota State in the FCS Playoffs. Would I take Rutgers to beat Colgate? Probably not, but it would give the Knights a good idea of where they stand and what they’re building towards.

OUT: Iowa Hawkeyes
IN: Lehigh Mountain Hawks

The Iowa-Rutgers crossover was a joke when it was first announced, and it’s a joke now. This would be a win-win for both programs:

  • Iowa would have a chance to add another Power-5 program to its non-conference schedule—you’re out of excuses, Gary Barta! Play TCU or something!
  • Rutgers would restore yet another rivalry game with an historic regional powerhouse. Plus, if we’re counting Lafayette and Princeton as should-wins, this would get the Knights to a grand total of three (3) on the season!

Remember how great that Nebraska-Colorado game was? Throwback former conference matchups are all the rage these days as fans long for when regional superiority meant something. With both Lehigh AND Lafayette on the slate, Rutgers is reuniting the whole Middle Three Conference of 1929-1975!

For the 150th season of Rutgers Football, reviving a classic tradition would be sublime.

OUT: Illinois Fighting Illini
IN: Bucknell Bison

Blue and orange for blue and orange. Worst in its conference for worst in its conference.

I see no difference here, and think this is a major step up for the Knights. Plus, having never been to Lewisburg, PA, I assume it’s basically as remote and shitty as Urbana-Champaign, with the added benefit of saving money on travel expenses (but just you wait until that BTN revenue kicks in).

OUT: Minnesota Golden Gophers
IN: Holy Cross Crusaders

Hot young coach that’s got the fanbase excited? Check.
Historic power that polled high in the late 30s/early 40s? Check.

Point is, Minnesota is basically FBS Holy Cross, and there’s no need to drag this comparison out further.

This is looking...really good, actually! I’ve got Rutgers dropping games to Army and Colgate, but going 5-0 in the others! Let’s see what that would do to the standings...

I like the look of that juuuuust fine. You’re welcome, Rutgers.


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