Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shake-up week

Only Nebraska, at number 25, didn't change position in the AP poll out this afternoon. Everybody else in the poll changed position, and the Big East was at least as shaken up as any conference, with Rutgers (21 AP/21 Coaches) & West Virginia (13/12) moving down and South Florida (6/9) & Cincinnati (20/24) moving up (and Louisville still missing in action). So the new poll in the Beat Visitor sidebar asks you "Which Big East team will end 2007 with the highest AP ranking?" Vote between now and November 1.
With the Scarlet Knights playing all three of the teams ranked ahead of them in Rutgers Stadium in October, they have their fate in their own hands.
Go Knights!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

It was not a good weekend to be a top ten team

This Beat Visitor poll has, of course, been removed from the sidebar now that its question has been answered by tonight's loss to the Terrapins. Of the 85 people who answered the question "The current Rutgers Stadium home win streak, which began in 2005, will end..." only one respondent had the correct answer.

With Florida, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, and Rutgers all losing, and even USC only squeaking by, this was an awful week to be ranked in the top ten.
The question of where (if anywhere) the Scarlet Knights end up in the national rankings will be answered tomorrow afternoon, but it seems clear that the next two visitors to Rutgers Stadium (Cincinnati & South Florida) will now be ranked higher than the Knights, who will now need to see what they are truly made of.

Rutgers' streaks entering today's game

Key Streaks entering today's game against the Maryland Terrapins

17 -- Rutgers (#10 AP/ #10 Coaches) has now been nationally ranked in 17 consecutive polls, a school record.
10 -- The home winning streak, at ten games, is now the 7th longest in the country (after only USC, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, BC, & Oklahoma).
6 -- Six straight games scoring 30 points or more.
6-- Six straight games in which the offensive line has not allowed a sack.
2-- Two straight years with the Scarlet Knights hitting the top ten in both major polls.

I'll see you at the Stadium this afternoon.
Remember to bring your signs and face paint!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Brian Leonard starting against the Cowboys next Sunday

Steven Jackson is out for at least a week with a partial groin tear, so Brian Leonard is getting his first start for the 0-3 St. Louis Rams on Sunday versus the very hot 3-0 Dallas Cowboys.

Brian played his last game wearing Scarlet in the Lone Star State and helped give the Knights a victory. Maybe he can do the same thing in Dallas for his new team.

Give "America's Team" hell Brian! Go Rams!

Other Sources, Other Teams

First of all, you may want to bone up on Saturday's competition with this "Tracking the Terps" blog from the Baltimore Sun, or the official Terrapins Football page from the University of Maryland.

Next
,
you might want to check out the sidebar where today I added a new "Big East Blogs" box, with links to classics like Mountainlair, Orange::44 (legendary home of the happy & crying children), and Pitt Blather. I have listed only one blog for each of the other seven football teams in the conference. Have you seen (or do you write) a better blog for the Yukon Huskies or the Cincy Bearcats or Florida's best new team of SEC slayers? If you do, let me know in the Comments. I want to provide the best links I can before the 2007 Big East conference competition begins in earnest.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Scarlet Knights hit the Top Ten for the 2nd straight year


Add another streak to the 10 straight Rutgers Stadium home wins, the 17 straight polls in the national rankings, the 6 straight games scoring 30+ points, and the 6 straight games without allowing a sack. It is now 2 straight years with the Scarlet Knights making an appearance in the top ten. They are now number 10 in both the AP and the Coaches polls out this afternoon.

I know it's early in the season and a lot will change from this point in the season (e.g., Syracuse & Connecticut are currently sharing the Big East lead after their victories over Louisville & Pittsburgh yesterday, but they probably won't be there in December), but let's hope that the Knights continue their upward climb in the rankings and that it's not another one-week appearance at these rarified heights, like it was between the Louisville and Cincinnati games last November. And speaking of Louisville and Cincinnati, Louisville has dropped out of the top 25 in both polls out today, but Cincinnati has entered the AP poll at #24 and is first among the "others receiving votes" in the Coaches poll (in other Big East rankings, West Virginia is still 5/5 and South Florida is up to 18/18.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

With Louisville's loss to Syracuse today at the Pizza Palace . . .

. . . Rutgers' 10-game home winning streak is now the longest in the Big East and the 5th longest in D1 football (behind only USC, Florida, LSU, and BC).

CORRECTION & UPDATE 9/26/07:
I got some bad information somewhere. I just found this list on the Rutgers website showing that the Scarlet Knights' current home win streak is only the 7th longest in D1 football. Here's the current rundown: 1)USC 34, 2)Florida 18, 3)LSU 16, 4)Ohio State 15, 5)Boston College 14, 6)Oklahoma 13, and 7)Rutgers 10. It's interesting that 6 of these 7 teams are in the top ten, and that BC is lurking at #12/#11.

My apologies to all you Buckeyes and Sooners out there for leaving you off the list.

SPEAR THE TURTLE!, or "Hey Kids! Get your face on ABC next Saturday."

Do you have your sign ready yet for next week's game versus the Maryland Terrapins on real television, the kind that every American can pick up with just rabbit ears and no cable or satellite fees? Are you prepared to receive that excited call from Grandma next Sunday saying, "I saw you on the Tee Vee yesterday!"?

Tip #1: Appeal to the network's vanity and need for constant self-promotion. TV networks love to take pictures of their own name or logo while the announcers are entertaining the couch potatoes at home by talking about the steak dinner they ate the night before or the key touchdown they scored in 1975. The picture below shows how a student waiting outside R house last November 9 appealed to the cameramen of ESPN while cheering Rutgers and commenting on a movie that had just appeared in the theaters.

For next Saturday, think of phrases that begin with the letters A, B, and C, and say something about the Knights or the Terrapins.
Always Be
Chopping
is our free suggestion, but I'm sure it's not the best. You can do much better.

Tip #2: Watch Your Grammar! You, by sitting in the stands at Rutgers Stadium and wearing scarlet, are -- whether you are a student, alumni, faculty member or not-- representing one of the oldest colleges (1766) and the oldest football program (1869) in the nation. Again, please note the sample from last year's Louisville game up above. Note the properly placed apostrophe in "it's"; a small thing maybe, but the writer of this poster would look like an idiot if it weren't there. I was behind a ten-year-old poster waver at the Norfolk State game with a sign that read, "Your in R House." What? That doesn't make any sense at all. Is it possible he meant "You're in R House"?

Tip #3: Watch Your Language? You want to be rude? Be rude. The Maryland Terrapins have much thicker skins (or shells) and freer tongues than the Naval Academy fans, as shown by this great article and legal opinion, "Fan Profanity" by Howard W. Wasserman, at firstamendment.org, which uses as a starting point the famous "F*ck Duke" chants and t-shirts at Maryland in 2004. Read the whole article if you're interested, especially about the way that PUBLIC universities are freer spaces than private schools, but here's a key concluding paragraph:
The grandstand at the arena or stadium has become the central public forum for cheering speech. Fans are invited to the arena and encouraged to speak, loudly and in however vivid or stark terms, to support, oppose, cheer, jeer, criticize and even taunt teams, players, coaches and officials in that game. Having created this forum for students to express themselves, a public university has ceded control over the manner in which students do so, at least within the parameters of protected speech. Fans must remain free to jeer as well as cheer players and teams and in as blatant or profane a manner as they wish.
So don't necessarily worry about keeping it clean, but keep it grammatical and clever! Remember, you're representing the great university of the State of New Jersey.

Tip #4: Be Original. The people with the Kiss-like painted faces and the "Knights In Schiano's Service" sign in first row of the closed endzone caught my eye last Saturday. Someone dressed as a Knight with the stuffed turtle on a (fake) sword (I doubt if real swords will make it past security) and a "Spear the Turtle!" sign might catch a camera's eye next Saturday.

Tip #5: Be Young. All a cute kid might need is a sign that reads, "Turtle? Tastes Like Chicken," but don't try to get away with it if you're older than about eleven or twelve.

Tip #6: Body Paint. I know that these painted red Knights and their gold Heisman trophy friend (I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of him in his statuette pose) made it onto ESPN at least once during the game last November. Try it yourself.
Tip #7: Go with the classics: "Upstream Red Team," "See Ray Run" or "Beat Visitor."

I'll take and post a few photos of the best signs and fans I see next week.

These off weeks are killers.

I should be at a Rutgers game today!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About The Norfolk State University Band


Before all the attention shifts to the September 29th game against Maryland, I want to say just a couple more words about the guys pictured above. First of all, they are a great argument for why sports on television are not sports at all. I don't care if you were able to see the second-quarter touchdown receptions of Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt in slow motion replays on MSG. You still missed all the best moments of last Saturday's 59-0 victory. You wouldn't have had any idea that their brass section could drown out the deafening piped-in music at the beginning of the game, or that their halftime brought the crowd to its feet, or the most magical moment of all . . .

Right before the explosive 42-point second quarter, with the score only 3-0, a wave started in Rutgers Stadium (yes, with the new student bleachers in the open end of the Stadium, and with every seat filled, it is possible to have waves in Rutgers Stadium!) and when the wave got to the Norfolk State band, which was large enough to fill a section and a half of the bleachers, they rose in unison, in silence, at a quarter the speed of the other sections. Their slowing of the wave was a thing of coördinated beauty. The crowd in the Stadium responded with cheers and good-hearted laughter. And that was exactly the mood in R House when the television timeout ended and Mike Teel threw his first touchdown of the day, a forty-three yarder to Kenny Britt with 7 seconds off the second-quarter clock. You know the rest. I hope you were there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kordell Young Is Out for the Season


I was sad to see this short news article today about Kordell Young being out for the season with an injury to his left knee.
In Saturday's game he came toward the sideline favoring a leg after going in as a gunner on a attempted punt block in the first half. I remember being very worried at the time, but reassured when he took over Ray Rice's spot in the backfield through much of the second half (along with true freshman Mason Robinson). Some of the most exciting moments in the 2006 season came when number 8 touched the ball, often (like a certain back who now plays for the Rams) on short passes out of the backfield. I was really looking forward to seeing him mature and and hoping that he would see lots more action in 2007. He'll be missed.

Get Well Soon Kordell!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rutgers at #11 in both polls out this afternoon

Going into an off week, not only is Rutgers at #11 in both the AP and the Coaches polls, but there are now four Big East teams, half the conference, ranked in the top 25: West Virginia (5 ap/5 coaches), Rutgers (11/11), Louisville (18/19), and newcomer South Florida (23/24).

The Answer Was Blowing in the Wind


Before the game, as my son and I played catch in the parking area, it was clear that the wind would be a factor inside Rutgers Stadium. Stiff swirling breezes made it an ugly kicking and punting day for Jeremy Ito all day long, and in the first quarter when Mike Teel was passing into the wind the Knights only managed to score 3 points. That changed quickly -- with the first two long passes of the second quarter leading to the first two touchdowns of the 42-point second quarter -- once the wind was at Teel's back.

The only other highlight worth mentioning is the fact that Norfolk State's marching (& dancing) band, like Howard's band last season, was worth the price of admission to the Stadium. They brought down the house, and brought the crowd to its feet. Their marching band trounced the Marching Scarlet Knights, "The Pride of New Jersey," as badly as the Football Scarlet Knights trounced the Football Spartans on that same field before and after halftime.

Of the streaks mentioned in the last entry, all but one are still alive. 16 will be the number of weeks that the Knights will be ranked, 10 is the current home winning streak, 6 is the number of games scoring 30+ points, 6 is the number of games without a sack of Mike Teel, 4 is the number of straight Homecoming Day victories, but Ray Rice's current streak of 100-yard games ended at 5 when he (like many of the starters) didn't come back for the second half. He "only" ran for 72 yards on 12 carries (with 3 touchdowns) in his first half action.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Scarlet Knight Streaks


Current Streaks Entering the Norfolk State game on 9/15/07

15 -- Rutgers (#13 AP/ #13 Coaches) has now been nationally ranked in 15 consecutive polls, a school record.
9 -- The home winning streak, at nine games, is now the 6th longest in the country (after only USC, Louisville, Florida, LSU, and BC). After Saturday’s game, the current Knights could be halfway toward matching the record home-win streak of twenty games set when yours truly was a student On the Banks in the mid-Seventies.
5 -- Five straight games scoring 30 points or more.
5 -- Five straight games in which the offensive line has not allowed a sack.
5 – Ray Rice’s current streak of 100+ yard games (he shares the RU record of 7 straight games with J.J. Jennings).
3 -- Three straight Homecoming Day victories. The last Homecoming loss was to Pittsburgh in 2003.
2 – Ray Rice’s current streak of 1,000+ yard seasons. Could he be halfway to his third thousand-yard campaign after the third game of the 2007 season?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Scream . . . scream real loud

I expect that tonight's game against the Midshipmen of Annapolis will be the only game at Rutgers Stadium that I will miss this year. I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean right now to make it to the game, so someone else is using my ticket.
I wouldn't want anything untoward to happen just because someone isn't screaming loud enough when the Rutgers defense is on the field.
Make some noise, and wear red to the game. I expect to get some updates by 3 or 4 this morning Greenwich Mean Time. But I'd love to be there with you screaming Upstream Red Team after the Knights' fourth or fifth first-half touchdown tonight.