FRIDAY NIGHT WRITES

A Weekly Commentary on the State of Rutgers Football. This week: A load of Bulls.

A LOAD OF BULLS
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This week, Rutgers will be taking on the South Florida Bulls.  This got me thinking since I thought Buffalo was the Bulls, but it turns out that they both are Bulls.  If there's one bright spot in replacing the Buffalo game with the Ohio game, it's that we only need to take on one load of Bulls.  I'm sure the people who clean the players' cleats after the game don't mind cleaning up after less Bulls.

The Bulls (the ones in South Florida) have been playing close football games all year, and it finally bit them last week as they gave up late scores to Kansas in a 13-7 loss.  They won their previous three games, all with come-from-behind victories.  South Florida relies heavily on Freshman Quarterback Matt Grothe who leads the team in passing, and rushing.  Last season, Rutgers spotted the Bulls an early 21-0 lead.  Fueled by a large and enthusiastic crowd a week after becoming Bowl-eligible, Rutgers played a furious game of catch-up, closing to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a hard hit forced a Ryan Hart fumble and also knocked Hart out of the game.  Mike Teel came in, but threw an interception that sealed Rutgers fate.  Starring in the game were the New Rochelle kids, Ray Rice who rushed for 158 yards and Courtney Greene with 12 tackles.  Brian Leonard had 2 touchdowns and Devraun Thompson lead the defense with 13 tackles.  Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately the new Bulls are drastically different from last year's team after a tumultuous off-season that saw six starters suspended for failing a drug test and nine players who failed to qualify academically.

Speaking of coincidences, the Buffalo Bulls started out as the Bison which is also the nickname of Rutgers last opponent, Howard University.  Buffalo changed the name to avoid a conflict with a long-since gone professional team in Buffalo.

Of course, the Bulls are not the only team name that is duplicated in the NCAA.  Even Rutgers has to share the name "Scarlet Knights" with Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.  There are a handful of teams with one-of-a-kind nicknames.  Some of the more interesting names are the Wichita State Shockers, the Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels and the Akron Zips.  The best name by far is the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.  I can't imagine how there's just one of them in the whole nation!  The most popular name is the Eagles which is shared by over 40 American Colleges and Universities.

Why don't they take all the Eagles and let them battle it out for sole ownership of the name?  That would be an interesting contest.  Actually, for a fair contest you would have to include the Fighting Eagles, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Marauding Eagles, Mean Green Eagles, Purple Eagles, Running Eagles, Screaming Eagles and Soaring Eagles.  I say make them get out their thesauruses and come up with something original!

Speaking of Golden Eagles, it seems that way too many schools want their teams to be gold.  Teams that are Golden include the Golden Bears, Golden Bobcats, Golden Eagles, Golden Bulls, Golden Falcons and Golden Flashes as well as Flyers, Gophers, Griffins, Grizzlies, Gusties, Hurricanes, Knights, Lions, Panthers, Seals, Suns, Tigers, Tornadoes and Gold Rush, all of them Golden.  Even the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has their BluGolds!  Some of these choices sound strange.  After all, what makes a hurricane or tornado golden?  The fact is, Gold may sound like a great idea, but it makes a lousy color for a T-Shirt or jersey.  Give me a good old scarlet T-Shirt any day.

Speaking of Red, I'd also like to see the Crimson, Crimson Wave, Crimson Tide and Crimson Storm battle it out.  (That's Harvard, Calumet, Alabama and Southern Nazarene)  Really, couldn't three of them come up with another color?  While they're at it, the Crimson Wave should have to defend themselves from the Tulane Green Wave, the Pepperdine Waves and Florida Atlantic's Blue Waves.

Some of the names are so mired in antiquity that one wonders how they have been kept for so long without change.  The eight schools that call their teams Aggies are no longer just agricultural schools, but have kept the name.  Unfortunately, in the 21st century, the name "aggie" inspires more quizzical looks than fear.  Meanwhile, the Augsburg College Auggies are just copy-cats.  Even more obscure are the St. Louis University Billikens which are named after a doll.

On the other hand, it's not a good idea to use the name solely when choosing a college.  You might think that the Hardrockers are a real party school, but that name belongs to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology which is not known for their late nights.  Similarly, if you decide that a college career spent in Australia or California would be good, don't choose the Kangaroos, Koalas or Gold Rush which are in Texas and South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively.

Some names are just asking for trouble.  Converse College is just asking for a beat-down for calling their teams the All-Stars.  The Alderson-Broaddus Battlers are asking for it also, but maybe not as much as the Blackburn College Battlin' Beavers.  As far as the Oregon Ducks (and the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks) are concerned, I don't give a quack.

Pop Quiz:

Match the team names with the Colleges:

Team Names:
- Big Blue
- Big Blues
- Big Green
- Big Red
- Black Squirrels
- Blue Hens
- Cadets
- Dirtbags
- Wahoos

Colleges:
- Cornell University
- Haverford College
- Norwich University
- California State University-Long Beach
- University of Virginia
- Dartmouth College
- University of Delaware
- Millikin University
- Bluefield State College
(Answers will be posted on the R House message board.)

Don't even get me started about the Scarlet Hawks!

AROUND THE BIG EAST
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UConn finally woke up to defeat Indiana 14-7, but didn't have an easy time of it.  With a nearly non-existent passing game, UConn had to rely on their rushing game to achieve their only offensive score.  Their defense did better, holding Indiana to 0 yards on 27 rushing attempts.  Scarlet Knight fans can sympathize with UConn's offensive woes.  Coach Randy Edsall announced earlier this week that UConn will start Matt Bonislawski at Quarterback this week in an attempt to provide life support to their offense.  Connecticut had hoped for a solid win against an opponent that had lost to a Division I-AA team, but had to settle for a game that asked more questions than it answered.

Syracuse won their second game in a row, defeating Miami of Ohio 34-14.  With their previous defeat of Illinois, Syracuse has won two consecutive games for the first time since changing coaches after the 2004 season, but coming against teams with a combined record of 1-7, it's not much.  Some pundits blame Syracuse's woes on Quarterback Perry Patterson and some on Head Coach Greg Robinson.  Personally, I blame their problems on an increasingly competitive recruiting market that has been giving New York area blue chippers plenty of other options, including Rutgers.

Syracuse's next game brings 1-3 Wyoming to the Carrier Dome which could give the Orange their first 3 game winning streak since 2002, but beyond that the Orange faithful have little to look forward to with the start of league play and 3 more ranked opponents (yes, that includes the Scarlet Knights).  The Wyoming game brings it's own drama as Wyoming RB Devin Moore, in real Joe Namath fashion, has publicly guaranteed victory.

Is Tyler Palko a God?  Against Division I-AA The Citadel, Palko completed 15 of 17 passes for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns in a bit over 2 quarters.  Palko leads the nation with a stellar passing efficiency rating of 187.3.  Palko has completed 12 touchdowns so far this year with only 3 interceptions, but he has to give a big thanks to his offensive line which has allowed him to be sacked only twice this season.  Happily for the rest of the Big East, Palko is not a God.  Michigan State exposed Palko's weaknesses after running up 38 unanswered points, forcing Palko to play a mistake-prone game of catch-up.  When Palko was forced to abandon the run and throw, he came up short against MSU's all-out passing defense.

-- The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect those of StateOfRutgers.com.  If those views differ from yours, visit the message boards and tell everyone what you think.


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