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The Michigan State football travel guide: Rutgers University

October 7, 2021
<p>Former quarterback Rocky Lombardi gets tackled in a game against Rutgers on Oct. 24, 2020.</p>

Former quarterback Rocky Lombardi gets tackled in a game against Rutgers on Oct. 24, 2020.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

The undefeated Michigan State Spartans return to the road this Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the east coast. 

Making your way to New Jersey to see the game in person? We have got you covered with a guide on the best sights, eateries and bars on and near the campus of Rutgers University.

A Historic Campus

Rutgers University is not only the oldest college in the Big Ten, it is one of the oldest in the country. Founded in 1766, the university now consists of five campuses stretching through Piscataway and New Brunswick. 

Rutgers holds the unique title of the “birthplace of college football”. Right on College Avenue is a plaque commemorating the first-ever college football game between New Jersey (which eventually became Princeton) and Rutgers.

A statue celebrating the same event is a central aspect of a gameday tradition called “the Scarlet Walk”. As the players arrive off the bus, they make sure to touch the statue on their way to the SHI Stadium as fans and the band cheer them on. 

The statue is one of many sights present on or near College Avenue, as the street strikes through the heart of campus.

Historic buildings, the student center, the main dining hall, the library and “the yard” (an open field on campus lined with restaurants that is often a hub of gameday activity) are all present on the street. Walking through College Avenue on gameday is one of the best ways to experience Rutgers campus, Aaron Breitman, Rutgers University alumnus and Managing Editor of Rutgers’ SB Nation site, On the Banks, said. 

“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 across the Raritan River to the stadium.

Right around the corner from College Avenue are a few iconic campus stops; the Kirkpatrick Chapel and Zimmerli Art Museum. The chapel, constructed 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 and Tailgating Scene

With a noon kickoff, those looking to tailgate are going to have to get up bright and early to pregame for the matchup. The lots open up at 7 a.m.

“The big joke used to be that everyone would tailgate and then not go into the game,” Breitman said. “Even when they were bad, there was a good tailgating vibe. It’s definitely a fun environment.”

But with an improving team and homecoming in town, Michigan State fans and students heading to the game should prepare for a raucous environment before and during the game.

If you are looking to celebrate (or forget) the results of the game, there are plenty of bars just off of campus in New Brunswick. 

“In terms of total package, like location and people, there are two major bars at Rutgers," Dylan McCoy, a journalism senior at Rutgers and Associate Sports Director at The Daily Targum. "Old Queens Tavern and the Scarlet Pub,”

The bars are across the street from each other. 

The Food

Is there a better way to start or end gameday than with all your daily calories stuffed into a single hoagie bun — aptly named the “fat sandwich”? 

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One of the most iconic gameday foods in New Brunswick is the fat sandwich, which is essentially everything but the kitchen sink stuffed onto a hoagie bun. 

“It’s basically a bunch of bar food on a sandwich,” McCoy said.

Everything from mozzarella sticks to mac and cheese is on the sandwiches found on the menu of RU Hungry. While there are various iterations of the sandwich, nearly every version is adorned with a handful of french fries.

Also, if you’re in the mood to punish yourself, there is an open challenge to consume five fat sandwiches in 45 minutes. Win, and you get your own fat sandwich creation featured on the menu. 

Food trucks are an essential part of the food scene on gameday, lining up the road on Scarlet Knight Way near the tailgating lots. RU Hungry began as a food truck back in the 70s. Stuff Yer Face is another quintessential restaurant for Rutgers students, providing stromboli and a wide variety of beers. 

Also, being an east coast school, a discussion of the food at Rutgers would be incomplete without mentioning pizza.

“The pizza in New Jersey 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 east thin-crust style slice that is iconic in the region.

“If you’re not from the east coast, most of the places will stand out,” Breitman said. 


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