The undefeated Michigan State Spartans hit the road again this Saturday to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the East Coast.
Heading to New Jersey to see the game in person? We’ve got you covered with a guide to the best sights, restaurants and bars on and near the Rutgers University campus.
A historic campus
Rutgers University is not only the oldest university in the Big Ten, it is one of the oldest in the country. Founded in 1766, the university now consists of five campuses stretching across Piscataway and New Brunswick.
Rutgers holds the unique title of “Cradle of College Football”. Right on College Avenue is a statue commemorating the very first college football game between New Jersey (which eventually became Princeton) and Rutgers.
The statue is a central aspect of a play day tradition called “The Scarlet March”. When players get off the bus, they make sure to touch the statue on their way to the SHI Stadium while the fans and the group cheer them on.
The statue is one of many sites on or near College Avenue, as the street runs through the heart of campus.
The historic buildings, the student center, the main dining hall, the library and “the courtyard” (an open field on campus lined with restaurants that is often a hub of activity on play days) are all present in the street. Walking down College Avenue on game day is one of the best ways to experience the Rutgers campus, said Aaron Breitman, Rutgers University alumnus and editor of Rutgers’ SB Nation, On the Banks.
“You hear the chatter and the energy hits you,” Breitman said.
Conveniently, near the library on College Avenue is Deiner Park, which has a bridge over the Raritan River to the stadium.
Just around the corner from College Avenue are a few iconic campus stops; the Kirkpatrick Chapel and the Zimmerli Art Museum. The Chapel, built in the 1800s, is a popular destination for weddings in the area (especially among Rutgers alumni) and one of the oldest surviving buildings. The Zimmerli Art Museum is one of the largest university museums in the country.
The bar scene and tailgating
With a kick-off at noon, those looking to prepare will need to get up early and early to prepare for the game. The lots open at 7 a.m.
“The big joke was that everyone got close and then didn’t come into the game,” Breitman said. “Even when they were bad there was a good tailgating atmosphere. It’s definitely a fun environment.
But with an improving squad and a homecoming in town, Michigan state fans and students heading to the game should be prepared for a noisy environment before and during the game.
If you are looking to celebrate (or forget) the results of the game, there are plenty of bars right next to campus in New Brunswick.
“In terms of the total package, like location and people, there are two main bars in Rutgers,” Dylan McCoy, senior reporter at Rutgers and associate sporting director at Daily Targum. “Old Queens Tavern and the Scarlet Pub,”
The bars are across from each other.
Is there a better way to start or end a day of play than with all your daily calories crammed into one hoagie bun – aptly named the “fat sandwich”?
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One of New Brunswick’s most iconic game day foods is the greasy sandwich, which is basically anything but the kitchen sink stuffed on a bun.
“It’s basically a bunch of bar food on a sandwich,” McCoy said.
Everything from mozzarella sticks to macaroni and cheese can be found in the sandwiches on the RU Hungry menu. Although there are different versions of the sandwich, almost all versions have a handful of fries.
Plus, if you’re in the mood to punish yourself, there’s an open challenge of consuming five fatty sandwiches in 45 minutes. Win and you get your own fatty sandwich creation on the menu.
Food trucks are a staple of the match day dining scene, lining the road with Scarlet Knight Way near tailgating lots. RU Hungry started out as a food truck in the 1970s. Stuff Yer Face is another go-to restaurant for Rutgers students, offering stromboli and a wide variety of beers.
Also, being an East Coast school, a discussion of food at Rutgers would be incomplete without mentioning pizza.
“New Jersey pizza is the best in the country. 100 percent, ”McCoy said.
There are plenty of options around town, many of which focus on delivering that classic slice of oriental thin crust style that is iconic to the region.
“If you’re not from the east coast, most places will stand out,” Breitman said.
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