Game Review: Syracuse Orange vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 10/13/2012, 1pm
Weather: Low 60’s; Attendance: 48,011; Ticket Price $30
“This is Jersey?!? Who Knew?” by Tree
Despite its awful name, the stadium was very agreeable. It was a gorgeous day and the stadium is surrounded by trees. UNC’s stadium is considered one of the nicest stadiums because it is nestled in a forest. I have been to both and the scenery at Rutgers’ stadium is comparable to UNC. Since it was warm, I didn’t mind sitting up in peanut heaven. I could see the whole field and there was a video screen on one end of the stadium (opposite sections 115 and 116). It was small but serviceable. The stadium was fairly spacious with numerous bathrooms. The student section was raucous, shouting cheers of “R” to which fans replied with “U”. The fight song was sung after every score and there was some sort hand motion when the other team had a 3rd down. I never did quite figure out what that was. The stadiums also didn’t have nets behind the goal posts and it was kind of amusing watching the ball bounce around in the stands. The concessions were standard fare but the service was quick. It also appeared that they took the university meal plan. The students must love that.
One thing that really surprised me was that the cheerleaders (or at least that’s who I thought they were) were selling 50 – 50 tickets. I chuckled to myself when I saw that. But, I wasn’t laughing when they announced the winning prize of $26k! I made an immediate mental note to make sure I always buy a 50/50 ticket from then on. It may be a high school staple but I guess even big time programs need all the cash they can get.
Once again, I really hadn’t done my research other than figuring out rough directions to Piscataway from NYC. It was an easy drive and I followed directions to the lots once I got close to the stadium. I missed a golden opportunity when I saw a desperate scalper dump off two tickets for $40 to guy and his son next to me. This guy did a masterful job with the scalper, talking him down from $50 apiece to $20 for what I think was lower level. This was a pretty good trick considering he had an anxious son next to him, convinced that the place was sold out. After he got the tickets, I heard him say to his son, “Hey this is not a Devils game. I am not going to pay $50 a head for Rutgers.” I couldn’t blame him there especially after paying $20 to park.
After I parked, another car pulled next to me full of Rutgers fans. I was watching the ticket negotiations so I heard them before I saw them. There was a definite female Jersey accent and as I turned I expected to see Snooki and Bowwow, or J-wow, whatever, but instead I saw an attractive 40 something female in a classy and well-tailored leather blazer and matching boots. Well, okay, the jacket was Rutgers scarlet red and the boots had two inch heels, but she was a far cry from the heavy mascara and mess of hairspray I normally see on TV. Hmm, this is Jersey?
I followed a crowd to board a shuttle bus that dropped us off relatively close to the stadium. I still didn’t have a ticket, and I was getting a little worried that there wouldn’t be any scalpers that close to good old High Point Solutions Stadium. My fears, of course, were unfounded. I found a guy who sold me upper deck for $30. Sure it was on the 50 yard line, but I was silently cursing myself for letting that scalper in the lot get away.
The game was pretty entertaining. Rutgers came in undefeated, but Syracuse is definitely one of their rivals, if not Rutgers’ number one rival. I came across more than one couple from a house divided. The first half finished at 7 – 7. Syracuse got the ball after the half and drove down the field with a great drive only to be forced to kick a field goal. That’s where things went south for the Orangemen. The field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Syracuse. After that, Syracuse really struggled. The next drive, the QB fumbles around the 50 and Rutgers responds with a field goal. Syracuse fumbles on their 14 yard line. Rutgers punches it in. Syracuse is down by 16, but doesn’t give up. They drive down to the Rutgers goal line only to be stopped on fourth down. Syracuse did manage to score later on. Rutgers defense was very strong, but their offense wasn’t nearly as potent. I came away thinking that for an undefeated team, they had a hard time putting a lesser opponent away. If not for some atrocious special team play by the Orangemen, the Rutgers could have found their undefeated season lost. But as always, a “W” is a “W” and the fans were in high spirits as we rode the bus back to the lots on the far side of campus. It was a crowded bus, but the fans were friendly and I caught a glimpse of the campus. It certainly looked as pretty as the stadium.
The consistent talk on bus was that the fans couldn’t believe they were undefeated. That was not to last, but both teams did end up winning their bowls games later on. The last thing I heard was the comment a Syracuse wife said to her Rutgers husband, “Enjoy it while you can because basketball season is right around the corner.”
Personal Notes from the Game:
I tacked this game on the back end of annual work fishing trip with customers off the Jersey shore. It was good day fishing and I had managed to catch a cold but clear bike ride that morning before we went out. The boardwalk was empty of course, but as I rode along the coast, I couldn’t help notice the beautiful homes on the ocean. The only thing I knew about the Jersey shore was that there were young, quasi Italian drunks running around reinforcing the negative stereotype of my heritage. Unfortunately only a few weeks later, I would witness that same neighborhood torn to pieces by Hurricane Sandy. The fishing trip was on a Friday and I headed into NYC to crash at a friend’s place for the evening. He was a young guy I work with and he was kind enough to take my tired old ass out on the town. I did think it was funny that he suggested that I dress up a little more to go out. We ended up at some club in Manhattan on the roof. This roof top club was outside and they had these goofy red robes for the patrons to wear. It was a scene right out of a sci fi movie. I was looking for the soylent green appetizer. We met a gregarious couple on vacation from California who was clearly in the mood to party. However, we left them after one shot of Jaeger knowing that hanging out with them would be trouble. Besides, my young friend was tired – at 10:30 pm! We headed back to his place in Hoboken and again, I was impressed at what a nice place it was to live. The next day I was able to grab another bike ride before heading out to the game. It was a great ride on an almost secluded bike path along the river. Again, I thought, this is Jersey?