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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | September 28, 2022

The 11 most played rivalries in DII football history

Ferris State wins the 2021 DII football championship in dominant fashion

South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State are set to meet in the 137th Black Hills Brawl on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. ET. While that makes it the oldest rivalry in DII football, there is more at stake this weekend than there has been in quite sometime.

Let's take a look at the 11 most-played rivalries between current DII football programs.

That rivalry from the Mount Rushmore State is the oldest on the list, dating back to 1895. The Hardrockers were shutout by their now-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foes 18-0 that late November day. South Dakota Mines took it to heart, and when the teams next met in 1900, the Hardrockers dominated the Yellow Jackets 27-0 to start a 14-game unbeaten stretch in the rivalry. After SD Mines' latest victory, the Hardrockers lead the all-time series, 65-60-11.

This year, Black Hills State enters the contest 4-0 for the first time since 1970. Conversely, the Hardrockers are off their first 2-0 start in RMAC play ever. The two schools that know each other so well are entering unfamiliar territory as this game will determine first place in the wide-open RMAC.

Furthermore, there are a pair of Harlon Hill Trophy candidates playing in this matchup. Hardrockers' quarterback Jayden Johannsen is off to a torrid start with 1,290 yards passing, 202 yards rushing and 13 combined touchdowns. The main recipient of those passing yards, wide receiver Jeremiah Bridges, was also on our watchlist, already with 570 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Both the Yellow Jackets and South Dakota Mines were among the 12 pleasant surprises to start the 2022 season.

In 2021, Tuskegee and Morehouse played for the 109th time since the first meeting between the two in 1902. Tuskegee holds the most lopsided advantage on our list, leading the all-time series 71-30-8 despite Morehouse's 31-15 victory on Oct. 9, 2021. The two face off on Oct. 8, 2022 next.

The Turnpike Tussle and Battle of the Ravine — perhaps two of the better know rivalries in all of college football — are famous because of their proximity. Emporia State and Washburn travel the 58-mile trek down the Kansas Turnpike each year for some exciting MIAA football while Henderson State and Ouachita Baptist literally walk across the street to each other's stadium to see who will claim the rights to the Ravine.

Washburn cut into Emporia State's lead in 2019 with a 37-17 victory, but Emporia State struck back in 2021 and now holds a five-game lead over its Kansas rival. The two also play Oct. 1 yet one more time. Ouachita Baptist eked out a 24-21 victory in 2019, breaking the deadlock, and now have a 44-43-6 advantage in the series. This rivalry is reserved to close out the season on an annual basis. 

Below is a list of the 11 most played rivalries in DII football along with their series records and the most recent matchup between the two. 

DII football rivalries: The 11 most played rivalries in history

Games Teams (Series leader listed first) Series Record First game LAST meeting
136 South Dakota Mines, Black Hills State 65-60-11 1895 SD Mines, 13-10
118 Emporia State, Washburn 58-53-6 1899 Emporia State, 35-30
110 Virginia State, Virginia Union 57-45-9 1900 VSU, 27-24 (OT)
109 Tuskegee, Morehouse 70-30-8 1902 Morehouse, 31-15
105 Southeastern Oklahoma St., East Central 50-47-8 1909 East Central, 42-38
99 Catawba, Lenoir-Rhyne 49-46-4 1907 Lenoir-Rhyne, 49-3
99 Pittsburg State, Emporia State 64-34-2 1915 Pitt  St., 14-13
97 Truman, Central Missouri 52-40-5 1905 N/A*
93 Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State 44-43-6 1907 OBU, 24-21
91 Truman, Northwest Missouri State 54-33-4 1908 N/A+
90 Pittsburg State, Washburn 63-26-1 1921 Washburn, 49-38

(Notes: *Have not played since 2013 | + Have not played since 2011. Truman left the MIAA for the Great Lakes Valley Conference, annual games no longer scheduled. All records via the official NCAA DII football record book on NCAA.org.)

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