The Rutgers Scarlet Knights defeated UConn on October 6, 2012, avenging last season's loss that cost the team a possible share of the Big East title. The win also gave Rutgers their seventh 5-0 start in school history. Here's a look back through the years at each one of those 5-0 start seasons.
It would still be another 37 years before they adopted the "Scarlet Knight" mascot, but 1918 marked the first time in school history that Rutgers began a season 5-0. All-American Paul Robeson, the only African American enrolled at Rutgers at the time, was recognized as one of the premier college athletes in the nation, despite enduring racial bigotry from opponents and teammates alike. Rutgers outscored their opponents 178-3 over their first 5 games, which would ultimately account for all of the team's victories that season.
Final Record: 5-2.
Now officially known as the "Scarlet Knights," Rutgers was led in 1958 by multi-talented senior Bill Austin, who showcased his talents at halfback, safety, and punter. Rutgers' only loss of the season was at the hands of Quantico, a one point affair that Austin was forced to sit out due to a hand injury.
Final Record: 8-1
Rutgers again narrowly missed going undefeated in 1960, their only blemish a two point loss to Villanova. Coach John Bateman was the only Rutgers coach in history (at the time) to lead his team to a 5-0 start during his inaugural coaching year. A good deal of the team's success was due to Yale transfer Alex Kroll, then considered one of the finest centers in the nation.
Final Record: 8-1
In 1961, running back Steve Simms and quarterback Sam Mudie helped lead the Scarlet Knights to their first undefeated season in the team's 91 year history. Only Alabama would pull off the same feat that year. Their stunning fourth quarter comeback against Columbia in the final contest of the season is still regarded as one of the most exciting games in Rutgers' history.
Final Record: 9-0
Rutgers would again go undefeated in 1976, this time under legendary coach Frank Burns. Defensive tackles Nate Toran and John Alexander, along with linebacker Jim Hughes, anchored a defense that allowed opponents just 7.4 points per game and ranked no. 1 nationally in total defense. Rutgers was invited to play in the 1976 Independence Bowl, but coach Burns declined the invite, considering it a snub to his unbeaten squad.
Final Record: 11-0
Rutgers notched their first winning season in 12 years in 2005, but their breakout year came a year later. Coach Greg Schiano's Scarlet Knights lost only twice all season in 2006, once to Cincinnati and again in a triple overtime thriller at West Virginia. All in all, 11 Scarlet Knights on the team would eventually play in the NFL, including sophomore halfback Ray Rice, fullback Brian Leonard, and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. After beginning the season unranked, Rutgers finished no. 12 in the nation, and recorded the team's first ever bowl game win against Kansas State at the 2006 Texas Bowl.
Final Record: 11-2
On October 6, Rutgers defeated the Connecticut Huskies 19-3 to give them their seventh ever 5-0 record. With the victory, coach Kyle Flood became just the second first-year coach in school history to lead Rutgers to a perfect record after 5 games. Flood's team currently lead's the nation in run defense, while running back Jawan Jamison has rushed for 100+ yards in each game to date. Rutgers looks to go 6-0 for the fifth time in school history on October 13, 2012, when they face the Syracuse Orange.
Final Record: TBD
Joe is a graduate of Rutgers University, and longtime fan of Scarlet Knights athletics.
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