2019 Rutgers Closing in on 1981 Northwestern as Worst Power 5 Ever


rutgers dance team

It’s a shame that Rutgers, “the birthplace” of college football, is such a train wreck of a dumpster fire of a hot mess of a program these days. It’s almost like they peaked that historical day, November 6, 1869, when they defeated Princeton 6-4 (sounds like a 2018 Michigan State contest) in what was the first college football game ever.

The current incarnation of Rutgers football is on pace to become quite possibly the worst team in not just Big Ten, but also power five conference history. To reach that nadir, to take “fun bad” to the most utmost extreme level, the standard that must be eclipsed is 1981 Northwestern. It’s a high (actually low) bar, but it can be cleared.

Northwestern finished the ’81 season in the midst of a 34-game losing streak, the longest in NCAA Division I-A history. Coached by Dennis Green, the ’81 Wildcats were exactly who you thought they would be as the infamous streak began on September 22, 1979, and ended on September 25, 1982.

These were the days of “lake the posts,” in which students would tear down the goalposts after victories and carry them about 3/4 of a mile to Lake Michigan and toss them in the drink. In those dark ages of Northwestern athletics, most fans would show up mostly for the experience of throwing marshmallows at each other.

Memories of pre-1995 Northwestern Wildcats football still resonate, and this association is a big reason why NU still struggles with attendance (at least attendees clad in purple) today, despite their consistency and recent success. Yes, NU is bad this year, I know, but it’s an aberration.

Under Pat Fitzgerald, this will be just the fourth time they will end up bowl ineligible, and he’s been on the job since 2006.

northwestern wildcats

Back to the 1981 team, they went 0-11, with a nine game Big Ten schedule. They were outscored 82-505 overall, and 75-425 in conference play. Over a three week span, against Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin, they were outscored on aggregate 125-0.

Current Rutgers is no better. Through their first five conference games, they have been outscored 14-221. So they would need to somehow find a way to accumulate 62 points, against the likes of Illinois, #3 Ohio State, Michigan State (noted for their heavy d.) and #6 Penn State in order to end up ahead of the throwback Cats. 

Good luck with that! Defensively, their prospects are much much better, as they would need to give up 204+ points in order to be worse than ’81 Northwestern. That’s an average of 50+ points per game, and that’s likely not going to happen, even if Penn State and Ohio State hang 60 or 70 on them, which both could do if they want.   


Just acknowledging theses simple facts, and articulating them to you the reader, makes one ask, yet again “why did you do this Jim Delaney?” Did you really believe Rutgers would bring in New York City television viewers? Even if so, is it worth it?

In a 35-0 loss to Indiana, yes, the Indiana Hoosiers, Rutgers had one passing yard. Seriously, one whole passing yard. Quarterback Johnny Langan was 5-13 passing for 1 yard, and a QBR of 39.1. I don’t know who you are and what you do, but I am reasonably confident that you might be able to achieve that. Also, check out the Rutgers receiving numbers from that Indiana game:

Aaron Young 3 catches for 4 yards, Bo Melton 1 for -1, Paul Woods 1 for -2.

rutgers basketball

Rutgers may be “The Birthplace,” but seriously, what have you done for us lately?

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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