The 61st Cortaca Jug football game between Ithaca College and Cortland State University will be played on its biggest stage yet this fall — MetLife Stadium, the home of the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets. To shine a light on this historic matchup, we will run a multi-part series in this space leading up to game day on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. We’ll cover all things Cortaca — interviews with Cortaca Jug legends, plans for alumni gatherings around the nation, ways the game is being incorporated in academic programs and other topics. Previous stories in the series can be found here.
If you played football at Ithaca College during the first decade of the new millennium, you were probably a teammate of one of the Scalice brothers. Offensive lineman Joe ‘06 and linebacker Matt ‘09 each served as co-captain, earned All-American honors, and led teams that, from 2002 to 2009 never lost more than three games in a season. Their careers overlapped for three games during 2005, Joe’s senior year before Matt, then in his first year, was injured and took a medical redshirt.
That decade was smack in the middle of one of the few instances of parity in the rivalry, and the games were typically marked by nail-biting finishes. Not only did the teams split the Scalice family’s eight Jug games 4-4, four of the games were decided by three points or less, while a fifth was decided in overtime.
Joe recalls the atmosphere of Cortaca as being unmatched. “All of a sudden it’s Cortaca Week,” he said. “The tickets are on sale, you hear the students talking about it, and you feel the excitement on campus, but from a football perspective it’s business as usual…until game day. Then, you come out of the locker room and the crowd’s roaring and you can’t hear anything, and you think to yourself, ‘This is what they were talking about.”