Field of dreams: Rutgers University Marching Band performs at Super Bowl XLVIII

The band mid-performance, with field major Christiian Credle in a split.

New York and New Jersey played nice – for a little while, at least – when the Rutgers University Marching Band pumped up the crowd and performed the Super Bowl XLVIII pregame show alongside Syracuse University.

The two bands, approximately 400 students in all, performed before more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, on February 2.

“We’re used to going into sold-out stadiums, but I didn’t expect it to be so overwhelming,” says Rutgers University Marching Band drum major Lindsey Malko. “It was so loud. It hit me right then: We are performing for all these people. It was breathtaking. That first note was so loud and so powerful.”

Baritone section leader Keith Lalley says of the stadium crowd: “It just looked like a several-stories-tall wall of bodies.”

The game tanked early for the Denver Broncos, who lost to the Seattle Seahawks 43-8. But Band Director Tim Smith says taking the field was spectacular for the Rutgers musicians.

“You could see the students’ eyes – they were as big as saucers,” Smith says.

Lalley admits that he was “freaking out. I was star-struck once we stepped out onto the field. But once we were in place…I immediately fell back into my comfort zone of knowing exactly what was going on, knowing exactly what to do.”

     Students wait outside MetLife Stadium before the performance.

The crowd even gave the students some Rutgers love. As the Marching Scarlet Knights took the field, Smith says, “The RU chant started. It was this gigantic, adrenaline-filled homecoming for everyone.”


Lalley adds: “Thousands of people cheering for your band/school in unison? So cool!”

The university marching bands Jerseyfied the pregame show from the get-go by kicking off the performance with Freehold-born Bruce Springsteen’s pounding Born in the U.S.A., then segueing into Born to Run. The bi-state medley featured Livin’ on a Prayer, by Sayreville’s Bon Jovi, and New York, New York, made famous by Hoboken-native Frank Sinatra. They wrapped up with Brooklyn-born Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind.

Smith says students put in five two-hour rehearsals during the first two weeks of the spring semester to prepare for the Super Bowl. They performed at a Super Bowl media day at Newark’s Prudential Center and appeared in Times Square as part of FOX’s Good Day New York television show.

Smith says on game day elated band members departed the field arm-in-arm.

“Usually, they have fierce, serious faces on game day,” Smith says. “This was different: There was a sense of joy on all their faces.
      Students watch as fireworks go off outside MetLife Stadium.         

"It was like magic,” he says. “We couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

The Rutgers Marching Band’s 100th anniversary celebration will take place September 26, 2015, during the Rutgers-Kansas football game at High Point Solutions Stadium. For more information, click here.