7-5 overall, 6-5 conference, 3rd Big East
Against the spread
6-5 (3-2 home, 2-4 away, 3-5 grass)
6-5 (3-2 home, 3-3 away, 4-4 grass)
-.25 per game
2005 Season Summary
Head coach Greg Schiano certainly inherited a disaster area when he took over the Rutgers program in 2001 as the Scarlet Knight football program was a laughing stock and whipping boy in the Big East and had not been to a bowl since 1978 despite the fact that it was far easier to qualify for a bowl in the modern era than ever before.
It appeared as if Rutgers was beginning to turn the corner in Schiano's third season when they went 5-7 straight up and 10-1-1 against the spread as he emptied his benches full of youngsters and bought them much needed experience. Rutgers continued to roll with a 4-2 start in 2004 which included a seemingly landmark home win over Michigan State in which the fans, led by Tony Soprano himself, stormed the field in triumph to rip down the goal posts. Unfortunately, Rutgers collapsed down the stretch and lost their final five games as many fans hoped Soprano would arrange to have Schiano whacked.
2005 would be a do or die season
Schiano and his Scarlet Knights knew that 2005 would be a do or die season in which anything less than a bowl berth would be considered unacceptable and cost the coach his job. It was Schiano's fifth season in the depleted Big East and there was simply no more patience or tolerance of excuses for Rutgers .
A heartbreaking opener that could have ruined the season
Rutgers opened as a 1.5-point chalk at lightly regarded Illinois in the debut of their new coach, Ron Zook. The Scarlet Knights seemed to have the game in hand with a 27-7 third quarter lead before blowing it all and allowing the Fighting Illini to win 33-30 in a heartbreaking opener that could have ruined the season.
Schiano maintained a steady hand
Rutgers beat 1-AA Villanova in their home opener 38-6 and then traveled to Buffalo where they scored an uninspiring 17-3 win as 22.5-point chalks against one of the worst programs in 1-A football. There was nothing that inspired any confidence in Rutgers so far.
Back to back road games made season
Next was a home game against a Pitt program that was reeling under new head coach Dave Wannstedt. The Scarlet Knights got their first truly impressive win of the season, 37-29, as 2.5-point chalks. Rutgers gave back a lot their good will, however, in their next game against rebuilding but upstart West Virginia , losing 14-27 as 3-point home dogs.
Back-to-back road games would end up making Schiano's season. Rutgers first clobbered Syracuse 31-9 as 2.5-road dogs as the wrong team was clearly favored in that matchup. This was followed up with a dramatic 26-24 win at Connecticut as 3-point chalks versus a Husky team that had become well respected as an “expansion” program. Rutgers now stood at 5-2 straight up and 2-4 against the spread while needing just one more win to save Schiano's job and qualify for a bowl berth.
Exposed down the stretch
Up next for Rutgers was a winnable home game against a good Navy program. The Scarlet Knights were 6.5-point chalks and clinched a bowl berth with a 31-21 win and cover as they entered the toughest portion of their schedule.
Up and coming South Florida came calling next to Rutgers, who was installed as a 2.5-point chalk before losing 31-45. Next was a trip to Louisville for a Friday Night national TV game in which Rutgers was blown apart 5-56 as 22.5-point dogs. Senior day was more pleasant, a 44-9 win over Cincinnati as 13.5-point chalks as Rutgers finished 7-4 straight up but was exposed down the stretch as a second rate bowl team.
First Bowl in 27 years
Tony Soprano again was on hand for Rutgers ' first bowl in 27 years as they took on Arizona State at Phoenix 's Bank One Ballpark as 9-point dogs. Tony and his boys cashed in as Rutgers lost but covered in a 40-45 decision. Schiano and his Scarlet Knights cleared a major hurdle in 2005 but whether they can maintain that modest level remains to be seen.