Syracuse, Rutgers Rekindle Rivalry After Nearly a Decade
Syracuse and Rutgers spent years battling on the gridiron in the Big East. Since conference realignment, though, the former foes have not faced off. WAER's Jenna Elique dives into the Orange and Scarlet Knights Rivarly.
Everyone loves a good rivalry game. They’re the matchups football teams and fans across the country circle on their calendars. The Syracuse and Rutgers rivalry is a bit different because these two teams haven’t faced off in about nine years. It’s been a while, so here’s a brief history lesson that should provide some context.
From 1987-1998, the Orange were dominant and held a 12-game win streak over the Starlet Knights. That means, for a while, SU could almost always count on an automatic win when the team from Jersey popped up on the schedule. That changed from the early 2000s up until both schools left the Big East in 2013. Rutgers started to be competitive both on the recruiting trail and on the field, as a result. The Scarlet Knights are currently on a two-game win streak against the Orange. That last win came in 2012, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a certain anticipation when Coach Schiano’s squad comes to town.
“I can’t wait. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. You know I was kinda upset, obviously, the whole COVID thing last year, but we were supposed to play them last year, at Rutgers. You know I was super excited for that but you know I’m excited to have them at home,” said redshirt junior Tommy DeVito.
The signal-caller is from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, less than an hour drive from the Home of the Scarlet Knights, making them the hometown team. DeVito isn’t the only one with ties to New Jersey. Nine other players on the roster call the Garden State home. Let’s just say the connection between these two universities run pretty deep.
“Jersey football. You know there’s a lot of tough guys over there. You know they recruit their guys and you know we’ve got some Jersey guys on the team, so we’ve talked about it. You know I know a bunch of the guys. I played against a bunch of them in high school, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” DeVito said.
DeVito was recruited by the Scarlet Knights and chose to come sport the Orange instead, but the Rutgers recruiting game has improved tremendously and serves as the turning point in this rivalry. Brent Axe of ESPN Syracuse remembers back to a time where the recruiting scale was extremely lopsided.
“Jersey used to be a place that Syracuse coaches could just walk in, like they were going to the duty-free shop at the airport, and just walk out with a bunch of recruits. It’s like they owned that state. Schiano changed that. So once Schiano got in there, it got intense,” Axe said.
The recruiting clash has shaped this rivalry for about the last 20 years and proves to be a significant storyline every time this game is played. The same thing could be said about this year, but something happened 20 years ago that shaped this battle into a lasting bond.
“It’s kind of incredible to think about that the game is on 9/11, and that you’re playing a team from Jersey. I can’t imagine the emotions for some of those players that are from New Jersey on both rosters,” Axe said.
With all of the connections, it’s truly set to be a memorable day. The Scarlet Knights will honor the lives lost by wearing special memorial uniforms and their helmets will have a “Never Forget” decal shown. The Orange are also going to take some time to commemorate the events of 9/11 with a pregame ceremony.
There’s a number of reasons to listen to this game. Whether it be for the regional connection, the old Big East rivalry, or the honoring of a somber day. DeVito reminds us of one more reason that’s worth celebrating.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun you know with the fans cause they’re close, and I’m sure they’re going to travel to the game, and first home opener, so it’s gonna be a lot of Syracuse fans. It’s gonna be packed and I’m looking forward to get going,” DeVito said.
The Dome atmosphere is back just in time for the first rivalry game of the season and the next chapter to unfold.