The real football season began this past weekend -- college football.
I haven't really ever had a favorite team, although I guess Notre Dame is the team I follow most closely year in and year out. Growing up in Teaneck meant the closest thing to a local team (that was ever any good) was Penn State, so I also like them. But now, finally, those of us who grew up anywhere from Delaware ("Hi. I'm in Delaware." Little known fact: this "state" doesn't actually exist!) to Connecticut have a team. A damn good one, too.
After years and years of going 1-10, 2-9, 0-11 and basically turning into a statewide joke, the Rutgers football program is now something more than just respectable -- they're a team to be feared. One of the top two or three best games all of last year was the Rutgers-Louisville Thursday night special in November. Had Rutgers not pulled off that ridiculous last-second field goal, Louisville might have found themselves in the National Championship game (where Florida probably would've stomped them worse than they did Ohio State, but nevertheless...). This year, mark your calendars for October 27th. That's when West Virginia -- currently ranked 3rd in the country -- makes the trip to Piscataway. Rutgers will have another chance to foil a top-5 team's national title hopes. I can only hope it's as good a game as last year's vs Louisville. Speaking of which, Rutgers' final game of the season, November 29, is the rematch with the Cardinals, this time down on their turf. Sure to be another great one, hopefully again with championship implications.
Oh, and one more thing: The Scarlet Knights' first "real" game this season is Sept. 29 against Maryland, a game which I'll be attending. For some reason, I've never been to a Division I college football game, so I want to soak it all up --
the sea of red shirts:
(No idea who this person is or why I chose this pic. But what a fox!)
Everything. So let's all arrange to go down there together, okay? Good.
I'm not going to get to into the Michigan/Appalachian St. game, as there's already been loads written on that, but what I will say is that I hope people stop overrating the Big Ten now. Last year, Ohio State got demolished by the SEC champ Florida in the title game. The SEC -- now that is clearly the best conference in football. LSU, currently ranked no. 2, opened the season last Thursday, and if you saw any of that game, you know that team is goddamn tremendous. (Incidentally, the best game of this weekend is LSU vs. Virginia Tech -- call it the "Whose Recent Tragedy Was Worse?" Bowl, or something.) But the Big Ten can eat a fat dick, and if that Michigan loss opens people's eyes to that fact, then great. The Big East is a far superior conference -- two legitimate National Title contenders in Louisville and West Virginia, with one dark horse possibility (R.U.), and four first-tier candidates for the Heisman Trophy in Steve Slaton (WVa), Pat White (WVa), Brian Brohm (Lou.), and Ray Rice (pictured, above). I don't know if there are any Big East-Big Ten matchups this year, but if there are, my money's on the Beasts of the East. (For a much better and deeper analysis of this check out Lozo's blog. He's really good, and he actually posts every day! What a concept!)
I suppose I could write a bit more about how the BCS sucks and how stupid it is to have polls ranking the teams before they even set foot on the field (polls shouldn't come out until at least 6 or 7 weeks into the season), but I'll save that for a later post. I guess I prefer to keep the focus on the Scarlet Knights for the time being.
And keep in mind: tomorrow night at 7, it's Rutgers vs. Navy. I'm sure it's on TV somewhere, so WATCH IT. Get to know them. Hop on the bandwagon like I did.
I promise, you'll see -- it's nice to finally have a team.