I couldn’t really not do this one this week. And as a proud Michigan fan, I felt it was my patriotic duty.
Now, as all you college football fans know, this is Rivalry Weekend. The mother of all football weekends. This is what every die-hard college fan lives for. The Auburn-Bama game (the only state in the union not caring what goes on in Columbus this weekend). The Indiana-Purdue match up. The Pittsburgh-West Virginia duel. Even the Yale-Harvard challenge.
Granted, previous years have been even bigger with the Army-Navy game this weekend, Texas-Oklahoma, Florida-Georgia, Oregon-Oregon State, Stanford-Cal, and USC-UCLA, etc. But this year, we only have a few hot rivalries. Well, in my book, there’s only one.
BUT, let’s talk about the rivalry history in college football. Most rivalries are old and date back through generations of blood thirsty Hurricanes, feisty Gamecocks, or raging Aggies. Most rivalries are signified by a nickname for the game. Most rivalries are not only a battle for pride, but for a trophy to showcase for the next year. Most rivalries continue 365 days of the year.
Rivalries come from a long-history of match ups between similarly situated teams. Sometimes it’s an in-state pride thing, other times it’s a state vs. state pride matter. Most rivalries have a story, a history, that grandfathers tell their grandchildren on Friday night before the game the next day.
Some of the oldest and most played rivalry games have occurred more than 100 times. In fact, Lafayette-Lehigh have played over 140 times in the history of their rivalry! Other most played rivalries include: Kansas-Missouri, Cornell-Penn, Clemson-South Carolina, Richmond-William & Mary, and Wisconsin-Minnesota.
In fact, the Wisconsin-Minnesota match up is the oldest in NCAA Div. I-A, the teams having met every year since 1907. The teams now play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe (having in previous decades played for a slab of bacon) and Minnesota leads the series 59-49-8.
Some other trophies out there include the Golden Egg (Mississippi State-Ole Miss), the Tiger Rag (LSU-Tulane), the Bronze Boot (Colorado State-Wyoming), the Jeweled Shillelagh (Notre Dame-USC), and the Keg of Nails (Cincinnati-Louisville).
Likewise, the rivalry games each have a unique name. Well, maybe Michigan-OSU is the exception. But other, more creative ones, include: the Lone Star Showdown (Texas-Texas A&M), the Iron Bowl (Auburn-Alabama), the Duel in the Desert (Arizona-ASU), and the Backyard Brawl (Pittsburgh-West Virginia).
And the great teams tend to have off-shoot rivalries. Texas can claim Oklahoma and Texas A&M as rivals. When not crunching Buckeyes, Wolverines tend to flaunt the most winningest record over the Irish, and pure state pride over Michigan State. Florida battles not only the Bulldogs to the north, but also the ‘Canes and the ‘Noles for southern pride. No team is limited to just one rivalry.
But at the end of the day, this little blog wouldn’t be complete without some info about The Game. For instance, Michigan leads the series 57-39-6. This year, however, is the first year that the two teams will meet during the regular season as the nation’s #1 and #2 ranked teams. This is only the third time in the series (since the game has been permanently scheduled as the last regular season game) when both teams entered the game undefeated. Oddly enough, there is no trophy that these teams battle for. This rivalry is pure pride.