Perhaps it's not fair to say Saturday's game was as simple as Bad Gary versus Good Gary. Truth is, Gary has been playing hurt and Rutgers had far more problems than it's quarterback play in the first half. Still, in his last regular season game, the halves of football couldn't have been more polar opposite. While the defense put Rutgers in a hole that looked to be insurmountable, the offense didn't help much with a Gary Nova fumble and more drops than I take in an entire round of golf. It looked so much like the four losses prior. A rough start that turned into a complete shellacking before you could even blink. However, just mere hours later, Rutgers had turned what looked to be a 6-6 barely bowl eligible failure of a season into a 7-5 building block for the future.
I don't know what Kyle Flood said in the the locker room. I do know that he doesn't want to know what I was saying during halftime. I hope his kids were seated as far away from me as possible. The 3 hour drive to Maryland had looked to be for naught. The defense, if you want to call it that, was pop warner worthy, at best. It was looking grim for the Scarlet Knights both on the field, and in the postseason, as the possibility of a being left out of a bowl game loomed large.
I give credit where it is due. Kyle Flood made the adjustments. Apparently, a lot of them. The offense, sparked by a long Janarion Grant return, continued where it left off in the first half and just a few short minutes into the second half the game no longer seemed out of reach. The Rutgers offense was unstoppable in the second half. Gary Nova was picture perfect. The defense forced throws and did an admirable job of stopping the run. They were a completely different team. The one thing I have been hard on Flood for this year is his team quitting when they get down. Rutgers was demolished by the top 4 teams in the Big Ten and the games were never remotely close. Not this game, the team that came out in the second half was one that looked like they had no idea what the score was. Honestly, after coming back from 25 down, they looked like they expected to win the game the whole time.
The comeback win nows gives Rutgers a shot at a more prestigious bowl game, and makes the next month leading up to said bowl game a lot more bearable. It may have just been one game. One stellar half. However, the way in which Rutgers football capped off their regular season leaves a much better taste in the mouth of the fan base that has endured a multitude of up's and down's this year. In a game that meant a lot to first year offensive coordinator Ralph Freidgan, a man that was unceremoniously let go as long time Maryland head coach following a 9-3 season, his offense put on an absolute clinic after being down 35-10. As Gary Nova's career dwindles to an end, It was good to see him be the arm behind the biggest comeback in program history. Funny how 30 minutes of football can define an entire season...