football-fbs flag

Gerard Gilberto | | September 18, 2014

Garden State variety

  Statue commemorating the first game ever played.

Last week took you on college football’s ultimate road trip through the heart of Texas. This week’s trek will be centered on the convergence upon Piscataway, New Jersey. 

New Jersey invented this game. Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4 in the first game of football ever played, in 1869.

Since its national championship 1869 season (yes, 1-1 in two games against the same opponent still qualifies for a national championship), Rutgers has fallen to Penn State in 22 of 24 meetings. 

This time they will be playing the Delaware River rivalry game for the first time as Big Ten opponents. It would be best to get to the birthplace of college football before the cold weather, so let’s hit the road and keep all our activities in the Garden State for this week’s trip.

Those of you bearing down on High Point Solutions Stadium from the north should stop by one of the best towns in north Jersey, Hoboken. Frank Sinatra may have crooned New York, New York and said Chicago was his kind of town, but he was born in Hoboken. Sitting at the foot of the Lincoln Tunnel, Hoboken is a small town that’s far from rural, with a beautiful view of New York's midtown skyline.

First thing you’re going to want to do in Hoboken is hit Washington Street, which is lined with amazing restaurants, shops and taverns to keep you occupied at night. The game is on Saturday, so, no jokin’ -- try to get there by Thursday or maybe even Wednesday, if you actually want to have enough time to stand in line at Carlo’s Bakery, the sweets store featured on the television show Cake Boss.

People coming to Piscataway from the east are most likely predominantly New Yorkers, so I understand I’m asking a lot telling you to cross the Hudson -- but it’s for college football’s sake that you take a day of rest. There is a place in New Jersey where some consider Sept. 12 to be a celebration of Aug. 43 (endless summer). I’ll come out and say it: the shore. There is a lot more to that beautiful place than anything you’ll see on television. So take the chance to soak up every last bit of summer that you can and go down to Bradley Beach, Asbury Park, Seaside Heights, wherever. Asbury Park is like Graceland for any Bruce Springsteen fan, so if that’s your thing be sure to make it to the Stone Pony.

Anybody coming up from the south toward the game will get to witness New Jersey’s crown jewel, Atlantic City. If you can’t figure out what to do in this city, I would like for you to check and make sure you still have a pulse. If you need something to make that pulse jump, the Miss America Pageant is in Atlantic City this weekend. But now, if you brought the kids along for the ride, have no fear, the Tropicana has an IMAX theater that shows 3D children’s movies and there is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum on New York Avenue. But of course, don’t forget to take a walk along the Boardwalk.

But what to do if you’re a Nittany Lions fan coming in from State College or anybody coming in from the west? Take a long hike in the Pocono Mountains. They make for some beautiful country, or there is a great land reserve in the Garden State called Spruce Run, a campground in the western part of New Jersey.

You’re almost in Piscataway, but you can’t do anything Rutgers-style without stopping by the on-campus haunt in New Brunswick -- the Grease Trucks. All that driving must have made you hungry. But how hungry? Hungry enough to have a sandwich named after you?

The grease trucks specialize in “fat sandwiches.” The best way to explain a fat sandwich is to picture a three-course meal, stuffed into a half a loaf of Italian bread. For example, the “Fat Darrell” has chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, and marinara sauce all in the same sandwich. If you can eat five of these sandwiches in less than 45 minutes, you get to design your own and make it your namesake.

That will conclude your trip around the Garden State. The game is at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, so make sure you don’t get lost in all of what New Jersey has to offer.

Next week we’ll be rolling toward one of the best college football cities in America: Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

• College football tickets

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners