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Rutgers Record Predictions 2021: When Taffy Meets Beer?

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Can Rutgers actually make an East Coast-Big Ten hybrid WORK in 2021?

I saw this image, so you have to, too.
Twitter | Greg Schiano?!

My goodness, these Rutgers people.

Hit all those links in the sidebar for all your Rutgers content and previews for the 2021 football season—Coray, RU in VA, and ringleader Zuzu have been absolutely tireless (and probably sleepless, if Zu messaging me at 4:30am CT is any indication) in getting you some hot, fresh, Rutgers content.

Thank them, won’t you?

Now let’s get back to relentlessly making fun of Rutgers.

The Food: Stop trying to make lactose beer happen.

As I stumbled through the thought process of “Aw, fuck—another Rutgers Week potluck where I just can’t think of anything and don’t care,” until it hit me:

Saltwater taffy.

Zu last hit the subject of Jersey Shore taffy back in 2016, asking when we’d acknowledge Rutgers as anything more than the birthplace of college football.

Five years later we’re still watching Rutgers stumble toward relevance, and I don’t think I’d update my response at all—stop trying to make “legitimate Big Ten team Rutgers or Big Ten state New Jersey happen.”

I feel the same way about beer that uses lactose.

Yeah, it’s MNW on a beer soapbox. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Lactose does not belong in beer. It is dumb, gives us the “creamy mouthfeel” shit that Bud Light loves to make fun of, leads middling breweries to create IPAs that are basically fruit ales masquerading as IPAs so they can feel “hip”, and has prompted Drekker and Junkyard—the two bitchin’-est breweries in Fargo-Moorhead, respectively, to ruin half their shit trying to make the bane of my existence: the “smoothie sour”.

The lactose craze is Making Beer Bad, Actually.

...unless it actually works?

Remember our saltwater taffy concept?

If you’re going for a niche beer—and I don’t mean “look at me, a key lime pie sour! how innovative!”—it oughta have some meaning, and a saltwater taffy beer is just that.

Flying Dog—yes, Don, a Maryland beer on this, the day of your Rutgers predictions—has come out with a saltwater taffy beer using lemon, vanilla, and lactose. But let’s keep it in-state and celebrate Ship Bottom Brewing (Beach Haven, NJ) and their Sticky Fingers IPA, a saltwater taffy-themed beer brewed, the can claims, with taffy, sea salt, lactose, and natural fruit flavors.

Ship Bottom Brewery

THAT’S what I’m talking about. Make it a “Sticky Fingers Series”: I want watermelon and grape taffy beer, I want peppermint taffy beer, actual taste be damned. Give me more of this, please, Ship Bottom, and even my anti-lactose self will applaud your resilience at this New Jersey treat a viable beer.

So, writers:
1. You may assess my lactose-in-beer take.

2. Would you drink a saltwater taffy beer, or have we taken this conceit too damn far, just like the fat sandwich?

3. Regale me with a quaint story of seven-year-old you walking on a Jersey boardwalk, fingers sticky from saltwater taffy, as the sea softly crashed upon the score. Then tell me where it all went wrong, much like it did between 1869 and now.

4. Or just tell me about a New Jersey beer I oughta try.

BRT: This beer does not sound good, and frankly, I'm disappointed in your support of this, MNW. Would I taste one? Sure. Would I pay for one? I very much doubt it.

WSR: No. No thank you. I’ll pass, unless it’s already open and paid for. And I don’t tend to venture outside of Great Plains beers very frequently, so I have no idea about any New Jersey beers. Is Yuengling from New Jersey?

Kind of...: 1) Look. People like to argue, posture, and pretend to be outraged. Craft brewing is basically in the Lay’s “fuck-it-let’s-try-ninety-different-chip-flavors-no-press-is-bad-press” zone at this point. Cool. Gotta try something. It’s hard to stand out when the market is oversaturated and everybody has caught on to cartoonish, attention-grabbing labels.

2) I’m with BRT. If you buy it, I’ll try it, but hell no will I fork over money.

3) In keeping with my grumpy old man take, let me recommend a brewery that, relatively, is long in the tooth and probably looked down on by those hipper and more au courant than I am: Flying Fish. I actually went to XPN Fest a few (ugh, almost ten?) years ago and thought each beer of theirs I tried was unfussy yet reasonably tasty. They make several perfectly cromulent beers, including the Abbey Dubbel. Hurry, though, they’re into ciders and who knows what trend will be next.

RU in VA: I JUST had a lactose beer last week. Horrible decision. If I want to drink Orange Juice with Pulp, I’ll buy it for 4 bucks a gallon. Not 16 bucks a four pack. You need a hand blender to mix it appropriately and not feel like chunks of curdled milk in your beer. Hard pass - one of the dumber brewing trends... ever. Right next to dessert food stouts. GTFO.

2. All that said above, I would drink it.

3. Since I grew up on the shore (Ocean City NJ / LBI) every summer, my best memory was probably boogie boarding all day out in the waves then coming home and shooting off cap guns from the deck at passing cars. Man, those were the days. Now taking the family to Ocean City every summer it’s loading the beach cart full of crap, kids crying, dealing with sunburn, counting down the hours until that first beer, etc. etc. Still fun tho.

4. https://www.flyingfish.com/abbey-dubbel/ or the Blueberry Braggot if you can find it.

Coray: I find the concept of lactose beer just...weird. Beer is refreshing and carbonated not...whatever milk is. However, any time I try something in this family of beers I’m always delighted and surprised. Might be a combination of low expectations and just liking beer in general, but its a thing!

Zuzu: I do tend to like dairy-ful drinks, like white Russians and boozy milkshakes. Maybe. Would at least try. But I've said it before, not a big fan of carbonated drinks regardless.

Wildwood has been my family's go-to beach. We'd stay in Wildwood Crest (superior) at a motel called the Sand Castle Motel. Then we'd make it to Wildwood where the boardwalk starts. Morey's Piers may be the best beach and pier-based attractions in the world. Would get food from a place called Hot Spot and amazing soft serve ice cream from Kohr Bros.... God this week made me miss Jersey.

Also, thank you for the kind words, mnw! It's a curse that I do my best moat efficient writing between about 11:30 and 3:30am. Gonna be rough when it's dissertation write up time.

Stew: I generally agree with MNW on his lactose in beer stance. It’s mostly overused and results in a beer that has a creamy mouthfeel that lingers makes you feel like you’ve got cotton mouth and need to drink some water. However, I have had a few outliers that have been quite good, not-coincidentally, by the same, excellent brewery, Pulpit Rock . An orange and cream variant of their flagship hazy IPA, Saftig. They have also made a few pastry sours with some lactose that was really well balanced between creamy, sweet, and sour. A light touch of lactose gives just a hint of the creaminess that overwhelms in many other beers.

I have it on good authority that New Jersey beers, true to the state itself, are bad. I would still try that beer. It is beer.

Poll

Lactose in beer?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Yes
    (14 votes)
  • 87%
    No
    (99 votes)
113 votes total Vote Now

Poll

But on the other hand...saltwater taffy beer?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Unequivocally yes.
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    If someone’s buying it for me, sure.
    (17 votes)
  • 37%
    I’ll try anything once, but it’s not looking good.
    (43 votes)
  • 40%
    Hell no.
    (47 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now

The Football: Could we finally make Rutgers happen?

Leaning heavy into its East Coast quasi-rivalries, Rutgers has put together what I think is damn near the ideal non-conference schedule for a middle-to-low-tier Big Ten team:

  • Home-and-home with a P5 school (the Syracuse Orange)
  • Home-and-home [preferably a 2-for-1, I’d say] with a reputable G5 school (the Temple Owls)
  • MACrifice or adjacent regional competitor (here, the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens play the role of MACtion off their FCS Playoffs Semifinal appearance)

Get into the season and, as usual for a Big Ten East also-ran’s schedule, there’s no good time to run into Ohio State, and certainly sandwiched between bruising games against Michigan and Michigan State is no exception.

But the real test for the Scarlet Knights, I’ll put to you, comes in that run following their October 23 bye.

Because, look: this is a schedule that could (!!!) see the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to a bowl game.

A run-in that pits the Knights against always-grinding wisconsin, followed by road dates with a new heavyweight in Indiana and an old one in Penn State, could see Rutgers approaching the year-end Maryland Terrapins rivalry game with a real sense of desperation—and a 5-6 record.

So tell me, writers:
1. How does Rutgers finish in 2021? Give me the odds—toss in a percentage—that they go bowling with this schedule.

2. Has Rutgers, in your mind, established a “rivalry” in the Big Ten sense yet? (I’m not talking about internet rivalries—no one gives a shit.) Who’s a likely source here?

MNW: I think in my kind-of perfect world, Rutgers really goes all-in on reestablishing some of those East Coast rivalries like Temple, Army, Syracuse, etc. Then, when—again, in this fiction I’m creating—college football implodes in 2025 or whatever and conferences realign, it’s easy enough to jetsons Rutgers (and maybe Maryland, their only real hope at a “Big Ten” rivalry, which it isn’t) gently out into a G5 East Coast conference or the ACC or whatever.

That said, I wanna reemphasize how much I love that non-conference schedule for Rutgers—and how it shows me that I’m taking them serious under Greg Schiano.

They’re still bad, mind you, but I’m taking them seriously now.

Now, Temple could be tricky. Rod Carey brings the kind of Wisconsin-y mentality to the Owls’ Temple Tuff schtick that is going to grind this game down with Rutgers—complete now with Illinois RB transfer Ra’Von Bonner, Florida RB transfer Iverson Clement, and a veteran offensive line. Add to that 6’6” (!!!) Georgia QB transfer D’Wan Mathis, and Carey could have a little stew cookin’. But this is why I say I’m taking Rutgers more seriously—I look at that and think “That’s the kind of inexperience a Schiano defense will feast on.”

Schiano is at least a proven commodity—one who’s earned his reputation in Piscataway.

So I’ll give Rutgers a W against Temple, though perhaps a 19-15 kind of “What the fuck?” finish, and Delaware, of course. And then there’s no reason to fear a cratering Syracuse that brings back a bad offensive line and a QB controversy, so...

Dear God.

3-0 Rutgers enters Big Ten play.

From there, I mean, the calculus is easier. Two of Michigan State, Northwestern, and Illinois will set up a must-win against Maryland Terrapins.

But the West crossovers—at Northwestern, at Illinois, vs. wisconsin—are just tough enough. Maryland is a dead rubber, but we’re talking about a resurgent Rutgers in 2022. 5-7 (2-7), but I’d give them a 25% shot at bowling. Give or take.

BRT: 6-6. I said what I said. I think they'll find a way to do it. Or, they'll fall one game short, which would be funny too.

My team sucks, so basically I'm here to watch funny things happen to your teams too.

WSR: That is a Glen Mason classic schedule right there. 3 winnable non-conference games, including one that’s mediocre but kinda sounds impressive (I really thought Dino Babers was going to be a great coach), and then a handful of games in conference they might be able to squeak out (Sparty, Northwestern, Illinois, and Maryland) with some absolute assbeatings in there as well.

Maybe it’s the dog I saw at the golf course this morning, maybe it’s the way the sun is shining on a beautiful Minnesota morning, and maybe I’m just in a good mood for once, but I don’t feel like shitting all over Rutgers for once. 6-6. Enjoy Detroit, Rutgers fans.

And no, I don’t think that there’s anyone in the B1G that’s established themselves as a rival of our mighty Scarlet Knights. One could say that they’re unrivaled, if they were feeling like it.

Kind of...: Holy shit MNW! Look at the quality Temple Owls content you’re bringing!!

The more I stare at the Rutgers @ Illinois game, the more intrigued I get. When was the last time there was such a “pointless aggro” matchup in CFB as when “guy who has Buccaneers charge into the line during kneel down” and “the card said go for 2” are on opposing sidelines? Is Champaign-Urbana ready for dangerously elevated level of pheromones that is headed their way on October 30. Mix in the typical Halloween revelry in a college town and something unholy is definitely going to happen.

I’ll say Rutgers wins that showdown, puts Maryland away with a Cruickshank KO return in the 4th and goes bowling at 6-6/3-6 (50.5% probability). They’ll look like crap against Syracuse and UW will look like crap against them, but the record will be made up of predictable results overall.

RU in VA: There’s a path to 7 wins - first 3 + MSU, NW, IL, and MD. I’d say that’s the ceiling, but I also wouldn’t count out close games at MI and PSU. 7 Is the ceiling, but if I had to gamble some crypto on it, I’d take the under of 6 wins.

2. No. PSU doesn’t care, and MD is too dumb to grab a rivalry.

RockyMtnBlue: As always, we shall break it down scientifically:

Rutgers Win Chances

Where Who What Why
Where Who What Why
vs Temple 80 MNW hit the nail on the head. Rutgers will win an ugly game with an ugly score.
@ Syracuse 80 That's right, Orangemen. I gave you one chance in five to beat Rutgers. What are you doing over there?
vs Delaware 90 The 10% is purely the chance that Rutgers freaks out when they see those helmets.
@ Michigan 40 Michigan has won the last 6 by an average score of 51-13, and yet I might be underestimating Rutgers' chances here.
vs OSU 0 Is it possible to have a negative win likelyhood?
vs MSU 50 This was a fun, entertaining game last year. Let's hope for the same and the same outcome in 2021.
@ NW 30 Odd year bodes well for playing against NW. But Rutgers is exactly the kind of team Fitzy makes his living on.
@ Illinois 50 Illinutgers is must-see TV. This has not changed.
vs wisconsin 10 Exactly the kind of team wiscy chews up.
@ Indiana 30 Bummer for Rutgers that just as they're getting it together, so are Indiana and Maryland.
@ Penn State 10 See wisconsin comment above.
vs Maryland 40 See Indiana comment above.

So the non-con is 2.5 wins. We’ll round that up to 3.
Big ten is 2.6 wins. We’ll round that up to 3.
Science says Rutgers goes bowling!!!

Rutgers won’t have a rival until someone cares about them. Start beating people and they’ll start to care, Rutgers.

Zuzu: I think we get 5 wins. 4 wins is the bottom, 6 is the ceiling. Potentially 7 if we have that big upset we're due for. I genuinely think we have a great team. Solid and well-rounded with genuine playmakers. Me not thinking higher of us isn't for that, it's that... well we're in the Big Ten East.

I think rivalry-wise we don't have an official one yet, but the two current contenders are Indiana and Maryland.

Also I know this sounds stupid, but once we beat Penn State that rivalry will be catalyzed. Rutgers fans want it, Penn State doesn't. That's opposites attract that will 100% get more obnoxious when we beat them because you'll have Penn State fans yelling and going out of their way to explicitly express that we're not rivals, and Rutgers fans doing the opposite. That interaction makes us rivals.

Also, we have a potential cross-conference rivalry in Purdue because we are 2-0 against them and they mad.

Coray: I’m enjoying the hopeium, as is tradition. I say lock in 6 wins and a bowl this year. Rutgers has one of the most experienced team in all of the FBS, including key performers at the most critical positions (QB, WR, P).

The schedule breaks favorably, the coaches are locked in, and the Jersey faithful are going to be ready to provide a little bit of that home field advantage.

Stew: That is a whole lot of words for a team that will never belong and is bad. Let’s go 2-1 out of conference, I still like Dino Babers. But man, it is tough to see more than 2-3 wins in conference. Really it’s Maryland, MSU, Illinois, and a bunch of losses. To go bowling they gotta win 4 total tossups and 2 pretty big upsets. It ain’t happening, 4-8, 2-7.

Poll

How does Rutgers finish in the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0-9
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    1-8
    (9 votes)
  • 21%
    2-7
    (42 votes)
  • 45%
    3-6
    (88 votes)
  • 13%
    4-5
    (26 votes)
  • 12%
    5-4 or better?!
    (25 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How does Rutgers finish overall?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    2-10 or worse
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    3-9
    (8 votes)
  • 11%
    4-8
    (22 votes)
  • 31%
    5-7
    (60 votes)
  • 41%
    6-6
    (80 votes)
  • 9%
    7-5 or better
    (19 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now