Rivalry Interrupted: 10 great college football games we may never see again
Rivalry games are some of the best and most exciting games of the college football season. And, the fact that they get played every year just adds to the excitement, spirit and tradition.
Sadly, due mainly to conference realignment -I'm looking at you SEC- and scheduling conflicts, many fans don't get to mark their calendars for their favorite, and most stressful, games of the season. So, in memorium, let's take a look at ten of the best rivalries currently on hiatus.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame
42 meetings between 1887 and 2014
Michigan leads the series 24-17-1
The most recent discontinued rivalry on this list, as well as one of the most historically important. The programs are two of the most visible, popular and successful in college football history. In fact, Notre Dame is first in overall winning percentage and Michican is second, and each claim 11 national championships. This great rivalry ended due to the Fighting Irish joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football but with the concession that ND must play five ACC opponents every season. The rivals had originally agreed to end the series in 2018, but the cessation of the series was moved up due to the ACC agreement.
Best meeting: 1986 UM 24 ND 23. Lou Holtz's first tumble with the Wolverines as Irish head coach saw the South Bend boys amass 455 yards on offense and never be forced to punt. However, the Irish made some fatal turnovers deep in Wolverine territory that allowed UM to stay in the game. In the end, ND kicker John Carney missed a field goal in the final seconds to give Michigan a close win.
Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
"The Backyard Brawl"
104 meetings between 1895-2011
Pitt leads the series 61-40-3
The University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University are separated by a mere 75 miles lending more tension to the rivalry and adding a recruiting element into the competition. The Panthers have pretty much owned the rivalry since the beginning. They've won the game 21 more times than the Mountaineers and defeated WVU 15 consecutive times between 1929 and 1946. And, indeed, it was Pitt who still ended up on top in the most exciting game of the rivalry despite West Virginia being ranked second and preparing for a trip to the BCS National Championship game. On December 1, 2007, the 4-7 Panthers traveled to Morgantown to face off against the undefeated, No. 2 Mountaineers and obliterated WVU's national title hopes by handing them a 13-9 defeat.
Auburn vs. Georgia Tech
92 meetings between 1892 and 2005
Auburn leads the series 47-41-4
More people are familiar with the Georgia/Auburn rivalry known as "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry," however, the Bulldogs' two rivals are also rivals in their own right. Auburn and Tech were both charter members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Southeastern Conference, and even maintained an out of conference rivalry after Tech left the SEC in 1963. In fact, John Heisman, of Heisman Memorial Trophy fame, coached at both schools.
Best Meeting: 1968 GT 21 AU 20. In a game that either side never felt like they were leading, it was Tech who scored last with a 65-yard drive capped with a three-yard touchdown run to go ahead by one point. Auburn drove down the field immediately and looked as if they were about to snatch victory from the Yellow Jackets in the final seconds. However, Tech's defense kept the Auburn offense out of the redzone, and the Tigers' kicker missed a 29-yard field goal. After that, all the Jackets had to do was milk the clock to enjoy a win over a rival on the road.
Baylor vs. Texas A&M
"Battle of the Brazos"
108 meetings between 1899-2011
A&M leads the series 68-31-9
This rivalry is unique in that between 1899-1905, Baylor and A&M played multiple times in a single season. The two schools are only 90 miles apart, and the Brazos River flows by both campuses lending its name to The Battle of the Brazos. The rivalry is also known for pranks that the students of each institution would pull on each other the week before the game. Aggie students would steal Baylor's bear cub mascot and paint pro-A&M statements all over campus. Likewise, Baylor students would paint buildings and statues on A&M's campus green.
Best meeting: 2004 Baylor upset the 16th-ranked Aggies by one point in overtime in Waco. The Bears went for two at the end of the first overtime to break A&M's 19-year winning streak in the series.
Kansas vs. Missouri
"The Border War"
120 meetings between 1891-2011
Missouri leads series 57-54-9
The Border War hearkens back to actual combat between the states of Kansas and Missouri in the late 1850s, in which pro and anti slavery forces waged a guerrilla war to decide whether Kansas would enter the U.S. as a slave or free state. Kansas and Missouri's more healthy athletic rivalry began only a few decades later when both schools played in the Western Interstate University Football Association, and they maintained competitive as they moved to the Big 12. However, when Missouri left to join the SEC in 2012 it spelled doom for the historic rivalry which hasn't been played since.
Best meeting: The NCAA recognizes the 1911 Border War as the first official homecoming game, and the game was a close one. So, close, in fact, it ended in a 3-3 tie, the same result as the 1910 game.
Cincinnati vs. Louisville
53 meetings between 1929-2013
Cincinnati leads 30-22-1
This rivalry has streached across four conferences: the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference, Conference USA and the Big East. Sadly, the most recent conference realignment saw Louisville split for the ACC, while Cinci stayed with the Big East as they reformed into the American Athletic Conference. Cinci and Louisville played for the "Keg of Nails" which resides on the victors campus each year.
Best meeting: 2007 Cincinatti's offense outpaced the Cardinals' defense in the first quarter giving Louisville a 14-7 lead. However, the Cardinal offense, despite not being explosive, stayed consistent finding the endzone once each quarter. Louisville's consistent offense, plus an incredible fourth quarter defensive stand to make the Bearcats settle for a field goal, turned out to be enough to win the game, 28-24.
BYU vs. Utah
"The Holy War"
95 meetings between 1896-2013
Utah leads 57-34-4
The Holy War refers to the cultural differences of the fan bases and campuses of the two schools: BYU being a private university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints while Utah is a public university run by the State of Utah. The Cougars and Utes also played in the Mountain West Conference from 1922-2010, with the Holy War game often deciding the conference championship. The conference rivalry ended, however, when Utah joined the Pac-12 and BYU became independent in 2011. Also, the close proximity of Provo, Utah (where BYU is located) and Salt Lake City adds to the fire.
Best meeting: 1993. Utah snapped the Cougars' four game win streak with a 34-31 win in Cougar Stadium thanks to a huge defensive stop by the Utes defense that forced a field goal from the half-yard line and a last minute field goal from senior kicker Chris Yergensen.
Maryland vs. Virginia
78 meetings between 1919-2013
Maryland leads 44-32-2
This border rivalry was intensified, like many others on this list, by conference ties. Maryland and Virginia both joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953. However, Maryland, one of the ACC's founding members, left to join the Big Ten in 2014, thus ending this thriving, border state clash. The two schools dislike for each other even spilled over into the UM president's office in 2003. C.D. Mote, in response to UVA being ranked academically as high as the University of California-Berkeley, said "[Virginia is] highly overrated these days." In response, Virginia board of visitors member William H. Goodwin said, "I certainly think a college president should have more class, but you have to expect that from Maryland."
Best meeting: 1945. No. 13 Virginia met the Terrapins, and first year head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, in Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. The Cavaliers had won 14 straight games over the past two seasons, but they hadn't faced the future Alabama legend yet. Terp running back Sam Behr had a 90-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter, but Virginia still held a 13-12 lead. Bryant, however, had a trick up his sleeve. Freshman tailback Red Poling hit end Don Gleasner with a short pass, before Gleasner broke away for the 50 yard score in the final seconds of the game.
Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M
70 meetings between 1927-2011
A&M leads 37-32-1
The Aggies and Red Raiders were in-state rivals for 30 consecutive years before conferences ever got involved. They were then even fiercer competitors as they played each other as Southwest Conference foes and later as Big 12 Conference rivals. However, the latest conference move saw A&M move to the SEC, while Tech stayed with the Big 12, ending a beautifully fierce rivalry. As with A&M's other in-state rival, Baylor, painting a competitors campus is as a part of the rivalry as football. On Tech's campus there is a statue of Will Rogers on a horse, who's posterior just happens to point towards College Station and A&M's campus. Aggie students used to cover the Rogers' statue with maroon paint the week before the game, however, this tradition ended when the "Saddle Tramps", a Tech student organization started covering the statue in red crepe paper before the A&M game.
Best meeting: 1999. The fifth-ranked Aggies came to Lubbock looking to for an easy victory against Tech, whose starting running back, Ricky Williams, was injured. However, backup RB Sammy Morris may have proven himself even better as he ran 36 times, all down the throat of the A&M defense to upset the Aggies, 21-19. After the game, Raider fans brought a goal post to the feet of Will Rogers' statue.
Texas vs. Texas A&M
118 meetings between 1894-2011
Texas leads 76-37-5
Another great rivalry stalled by A&M's defection to the SEC, Texas and A&M's series has been completely owned by the Longhorns due to their tradition of huge success. But, the rivalry meant a great deal to both sides. Both of the school's fight songs mention each other, the schools typically reserved the last Saturday of the season to play each other and Texas even has a special light display at UT Tower specifically for the night after defeating A&M.
Best meeting: 1990. The Aggies came to Austin with a six game win streak in the series, however the Longhorns were ranked No. 5 and weren't going down easily. The game stayed close throughout, and A&M was looking to tie it at 28 to hopefully send it to overtime. The Aggies did find the endzone, but a missed extra point gave the Longhorns a one point lead and the ball with mere minutes in the game. No. 5 Texas had no problem milking the clock on the way to a 28-27 victory to end their six-year drought against A&M.