Stand and Deliver

Its thirty and out for me. I started following Rutgers football in 1975. It's time for me to retire and collect my pension. I have lived through so much Rutgers despair, it could make concrete cry. But wait! Wait just a minute. What is happening here?

It's thirty and out for me. I started following Rutgers football in 1975. It's time for me to retire and collect my pension.

I have lived through so much Rutgers despair, it could make concrete cry.

But wait! Wait just a minute. What is happening here?

Suddenly Rutgers had a game of significance on the scarlet radar.

It was Rutgers vs. UConn. And it was a big time game.



After only a couple of years playing division one football, suddenly they are the golden boys the New Big East.

You know the type. If you are like me you had to deal with them all your life. The good looking, fair haired boys of the silver spoon. The kind the cheerleaders swooned over, the kind that they made movies about. The kind that just "had to win."


They barely entered the Big East before they were playing in a bowl. ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sportsline all took a deep breath. They were about to tell the story that just "had to come true". UConn was going to dominate the New Big East. It just had to be. It is the type of storybook stuff that fair haired boys "cash in on" as their birthright.

But something odd was happening this time. Vegas had the game:

Rutgers by three.

How could this have happened?

This is not in the script.

How could this be?

Well, to start with, Rutgers has enough talent to choke a horse.

Forget about Mike Teel. Put me in at quarterback.

Yeah, go ahead. Put me in the friggin' game. So what if I have an arthritic shoulder, blood pressure higher than the Dow Jones average and a serious attitude problem, to boot. Let me throw to Moses, Tucker, Daniels, Foster and the rest. I could connect for 200 yards a game.


Maybe more.

The receivers are so obscenely talented that even I could throw for triple figures.

But I take back what I said about Teel.

Don't forget about Teel. Remember him.

Reggie Funderburke was at the West Virginia Game. He saw Teel. He was blown away. Reggie was the guy who caught passes from Ray Lucas. He was the guy who caught passes from Bryan Fortay, but Reggie was blown away by Mike Teel. He was blown away by this Jersey bred, thoroughbred who was looking off three receivers at a time and then throwing to a fourth.

Reggie saw it. Reggie was just plain floored.

And it doesn't stop there.

Don't forget about that 240 pound high-hurdler fullback with hands like Jerry Rice who – on an average day – pulls away from cornerbacks faster than a speeding bullet. Brian Leonard is a freak of nature.

And then there's Ryan Neill and then there's …

Well, why elaborate. This team has talent. This team has skill.

But – we all knew the story didn't end there.

The point was that it just might not matter. The awesome talent that Rutgers possessed might not matter one bit.

Rutgers, it seems, always lost in the clutch. In the end, Rutgers always disappoints.

You knew it. I knew it. The papers knew it. It is the ugly little truth that no one would talk about before the game.

If you follow Rutgers sports long enough, you end up with facial tics. It is not a question of "if" Rutgers will break your heart but just how creative they can be in doing it.

Well, this time was different. Rutgers finally won a game that mattered.

Forget about the score. Rutgers dominated the Huskies. The Knights had over 200 yards more total offense than UConn. They planted UConn quarterback Dennis Brown so many times he must have thought he was a tulip. They moved the ball when they had to and stuffed the UConn offense when it mattered.

But the game was more than that. Rutgers did what this Rutgers team hasn't done before. They won a key game on the road and they came from behind to do it.

Rutgers is now one win shy of bowl eligibility and two wins shy of actually going to a bowl.

Hold off my retirement, hold on to the gold watch.

Things have suddenly become interesting.

Things to feel good about:
Raymell Rice might be the real deal. He accelerates well and is strong enough to break tackles. Most importantly he has good vision and knows how to use his blockers.

Clark Harris, who had a case of the dropsies all season, got a case of the "catchies" just when the knights needed it.

It was Rutgers, rather than the "fair haired boys", who had the storybook ending. When Mike Teel went out with an injury, Ryan Hart came off the bench to lead RU to three touchdowns and the win. Hart took one hell of a lot of hard hits in his four years "on the banks." It was great to see him come back with a win like this.

Things to be concerned about:
Not much, this was one hell of a win. But the Knights must guard against coming in flat against opponents that they will be favored against. A "Buffalo-type" effort could cost RU a bowl bid.

Jeremy Zuttah's injury could be a real concern on a team that is not that deep on the offensive line.

Things to dream about:
There's a slim chance that Rutgers could run the table and get a BCS bid.

And, no, I'm not crazy.

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