BCS Quest: Rutgers' Benchmark Wins

Rutgers can clinch its first BCS bowl berth with a win Thursday at High Point Solutions Stadium against Louisville. As a countdown to the event, ScarletReport.com is running a feature a day geared to look at the history of the program, and the initial story ranks the top 5 benchmark wins.

Rutgers is a win away from its first BCS bowl berth, and getting that win Thursday against Louisville would be one of the bench mark moments in the history of the nation's oldest program.

It certainly would qualify as one of the top wins since Rutgers and Princeton met in Nov. 6, 1869, but it may not qualify as the biggest win in school history.

As the showdown for a BCS berth approaches, ScarletReport.com looks at the top five wins in program history, and offers a look at where a win against the Cardinals would rate on the list, with an emphasis on significance.

5. Oct. 18, 2007: Rutgers 30, South Florida 27
The Bulls came in ranked No. 2 in the nation and Rutgers used trickery and the pounding of running back Ray Rice to pull the upset.

Backup quarterback Andrew Depaola, who served as a holder on field goals, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass on a fake, Rice ran for 181 yards on 39 carries and Tiquan Underwood caught a pair of touchdown passes.

South Florida scored with 9:16 to play to pull within 30-27, but Rutgers had a pair of defensive stops and sealed the win with Zaire Kitchen's interception.
Reason for inclusion: It is the highest rated team Rutgers beat.

4. Nov. 22, 1976: Rutgers 17, Colgate 9
The game was moved from Rutgers Stadium to Giants Stadium to make room for more attendees, and the Scarlet Knights finished a season unbeaten by rallying for the win.

Rutgers trailed 6-3 at the half, but used a Bert Kosup to Mike Fisher 1-yard touchdown pass to take the lead and closed the game out, although one member of the Red Raiders wasn't impressed.

"Rutgers is nothing," Colgate linebacker Pat Horan told the Associated Press. "We meet them in the opener at Colgate next year. We'll kill ‘em."

Of course, even in perfection all was not perfect for the Scarlet Knights. Athletic director Fred Gruninger turned down an invitation to play in the Independence Bowl against McNeese State because the prevailing thought was Rutgers deserved better.
Reason for inclusion: This is the last perfect season, and was a launching point for the move to big-time college football.

3. Nov. 3, 1979: Rutgers 13, Tennessee 7
This the game that pushed Rutgers into big-time college football, even if it took a long while for the program to catch up after it.

Knoxville Journal columnist Ben Byrd asked the question "What's a Rutgers?" the morning of the game. The 23-point underdog Scarlet Knights showed No. 17 Tennessee the answer.

Rutgers trailed 7-0 early, but scored at the end of the second quarter when quarterback Ed McMichael connected with David Dorn for a 37-yard scoring play, and a pair of third quarter field goals made it 13-7 entering the fourth quarter.
Reason for inclusion: This is the first time the Scarlet Knights captured the nation's attention with a big-time win on a national stage.

2. Nov. 6, 1869: Rutgers 6, Princeton 4
The game was more like rugby and resembles very little, if anything, of what is now recognized as college football, but this was the starting point for the billion dollar industry and no matter how long time goes on, nothing will change that Rutgers won the first college football game.
Reason for inclusion: For decades, this win was the mantra Rutgers fans sang as the program toiled below mediocrity.

1. Nov. 9, 2006: Rutgers 28, Louisville 25:
The image from the blimp above the stadium of Rutgers fans rushing the field will be shown forever. This is the signature moment in the program's history because this win put Rutgers on the national map.

The Scarlet Knights moved into the top 10 rankings because of it, then-coach Greg Schiano was named national coach of the year because of it, the Rutgers presence in the television market was measureable, the stadium was expanded as an off-shoot from the ticket demand this game created and Rutgers went from being the school that always stunk to the "hot" school to watch in the gridiron.
Reason for inclusion: Without the win, the stadium likely doesn't expand, the Big Ten does come calling and Rutgers football isn't a known football school across the nation.

So, where would a win against Louisville stand in the program's history?
Before seeing how the game plays out and the by-product of a possible win, this should fall between Nos. 3 to 5.
The far-reaching benefits of the Louisville win in 2006 cannot be duplicated, and winning the first game played is something only one school can lay claim to.

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