A Budding College Football Rivalry

By Richard Kent
Updated: October 19, 2008

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Yes it is a rivalry. A very good rivalry. One that deserves to be played on Thanksgiving Day. Maybe for the Garden State trophy. The rivalry is Rutgers-UConn.

Sure it isn’t Oklahoma-Texas; Michigan State-Michigan or even Harvard-Yale, but it is on the rise and has legs. Both coaches Greg Schiano of Rutgers and Randy Edsall of UConn said that it was a rivalry before the game Saturday, played in New Jersey and won by Rutgers, 12-10.

UConn star runner Donald Brown is from New Jersey. He was barely recruited by Rutgers. He knows that it is a rivalry. It is the biggest game of the year for him and Rutgers held him in check for most of the game.

The fans know that it is a rivalry game. They talked smack most of the week on the message boards. Both teams hate to lose to the other. When Schiano gained his first victory over UConn in Storrs a few years back, he jumped in the air.

Most of the Big East hierarchy were at the game. They were there for a reason. It was the Big East game of the week. There aren’t a lot of rivalries in the Big East. Sure, Pittsburgh-West Virginia is a good one, but it has history.

This game has very little history, but it has emotion, a very important ingredient for a rivalry. You could feel it on the field. You could feel it in the press box. You could feel it in the stands. UConn had a lot of fans there — about 5,000.

They made a lot of noise. Especially after UConn scored first.

New Jersey is fertile recruiting territory for both Rutgers and UConn. Many star UConn players over the years have come from New Jersey. There are very few highly recruited high school football players in Connecticut.

Hence, UConn must go looking in New Jersey for players. And they do quite well there. It is time for the Big East to recognize the rivalry and give it a Thanksgiving Day opportunity.

It happened once before and the television audience was strong.

Both teams have good young quarterbacks and should be good for the foreseeable years. They are well coached and have tremendous fans who will travel to the game. It was sold out this year and has been sold out in the past.

There is no doubt that it will be sold out in the future. It is time.