The glow on the Rutgers’ football team may have dimmed a little since their season-opening upset of Michigan State on the road; it was followed by a home loss to Indiana, but no one can ever take away one distinction the Scarlet Knights hold: they played the very first college football game.

The contest took place on Nov. 6, 1869, and saw the Rutgers team (known at that time as the “Queensmen” since the school was called Queens College then) defeating rival Princeton, 6-4 on the Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick. You can probably tell by that unusual score that the game was played differently back then; there weren’t standardized rules, so since the game was played at Rutgers, they used Rutgers’ rules.

There were 25 players on the field for each team at the same time and they couldn’t run with the ball or throw the ball, they had to punch or kick it. If you’re thinking this sounds more like soccer than what we know as football, you’re right. Once you put the ball in the other team’s goal, it counted as a “game” and ten such games constituted a match, hence the 6-4 final score.

College football was born, and so were college football rivalries; according to EPSN: “ Immediately after Rutgers won the first game ever played, Princeton's players were literally run out of town by Rutgers students. The Princeton men jumped in their carriages and quickly made the 20-mile trek back to their campus.” So, while the Scarlet Knights may not have a prayer against the Big Ten’s behemoth, Ohio State, this weekend, they’ll always have college football’s first victory.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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