5 Questions With On The Banks: How Mad Are Rutgers Fans About Michigan State’s Use Of The “Keep Chopping” Phrase?

<5 Questions With On The Banks: How Mad Are Rutgers Fans About Michigan State’s Use Of The “Keep Chopping” Phrase?>

The No. 11-ranked Michigan State Spartans bring a 5-0 record to Piscataway, New Jersey this weekend, but face a tough challenge against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-2) at noon Eastern Time on Saturday (Big Ten Network).

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To help give us some more perspective on Rutgers, we spoke with Aaron Breitman, managing editor for On the Banks (not of the Red Cedar) — SB Nation’s home for all news regarding Scarlet Knights.

Are Rutgers fans really that upset about the whole “Keep Chopping” thing? Is a potential mini rivalry brewing between Michigan State and Rutgers? Aaron provides on these questions and more.

1. As you are probably aware, Mel Tucker has used the “Keep Chopping” phrase as a mantra for the Michigan State

program, similar to Greg Schiano and the Rutgers

program. It appears that Rutgers fans, and perhaps Schiano himself, don’t appreciate MSU’s use of it

. How big of a deal is this to Rutgers fans/football program?

Aaron: I love it. It seems like last season’s game really hit a sore spot with Michigan State. I know Tucker loves using cliches and catch phrases, but Rutgers doesn’t look at his use of “Keep Chopping” this season as random or unintentional as MSU fans imply that it is. Outsiders don’t appear to either, as CBS’ Adam Zucker threw a zinger at Tucker about it in a recent interview.

Tucker has done a good job of recruiting New Jersey and after last season’s loss, the idea that using something Schiano and Rutgers have since 2005 as a coincidence seems like fiction. The university even has “Keep Chopping” copyrighted for merchandising purposes.

I am all for this beef and think at the end of the day it makes this annual matchup fun. It’s not a rivalry yet and I know MSU fans will probably scoff at the idea that it ever could become that, but this year’s game seems to have taken on more importance for both sides. Tucker, intentionally or not, raised the stakes by using a core mantra of the Rutgers program. Winning would give Tucker the upper hand and even more ammo on the recruiting trail in NJ.

Schiano was asked about it this week and simply explained how important it is to the program and he has often spoken about the origin of it. I know Tucker has coached with other programs that appear to have used Dr. Kevin Elko, who gave Schiano and the Miami coaching staff the metaphor back in 1999. I really don’t think Tucker meant anything at first by using, but I do think he probably was made aware of the issue from a Rutgers perspective at some point and just didn’t care. Like I said, I think it’s part of what makes college football fun and it’s a win win for fans on both sides. Is it noon on Saturday yet?

2. Rutgers is off to a 3-2 start, but has lost back-to-back Big Ten games to Michigan and Ohio State

, and was blown out at home by the Buckeyes last week. What do you make of this team so far, and how do you see the Scarlet Knights matching up with Michigan State?

Aaron: The season in a lot of respects has gone exactly as Rutgers fans would have hoped with a 3-2 start. Winning all three non-conference games was a must to have a viable path to a bowl game and they were able to accomplish that. The second half performance against Michigan was stunning and unexpected. It’s only year two of rebuilding under Schiano and it’s clear they’ve made significant progress faster than expected. However, giving Michigan all they could handle prematurely raised expectations that Rutgers could challenge Ohio State even though on paper that idea made zero sense.

At the end of the day, the loss to OSU was humbling but also didn’t change the path ahead of them in hopes of having a successful season. There are winnable games remaining and the blue print is simple. Minimize mistakes with penalties and turnovers, while relying on strong play from the defense and special teams. I think Rutgers and Michigan State are similar in a lot of ways, but MSU has a better quarterback and better playmakers on offense. However, Rutgers will have confidence they can win and an axe sized chip on their shoulder, so I do expect them to give the Spartans their best


Video: Is No. 9 Michigan or No. 11 Michigan State More of a Surprise? (Stadium)

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