One of college football's most unusual rivalries takes place Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. This year, it is Henderson State's turn to take the walk over to Cliff Harris Stadium to face Ouachita Baptist in the 96th Battle of the Ravine.
For those unfamiliar with this unique rivalry, that's no typo. The Reddies will make the trek by foot — across U.S. Highway 67 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas — from their campus to Cliff Harris Stadium, home of the Tigers.
The walk only takes about 5 minutes. Here's what you need to know about Saturday's rivalry.
1. The Battle of the Ravine is a clash of next-door neighbors
These two teams are as close as it gets. Henderson State's Carpenter-Haygood Stadium is a driver and 3-iron away from Ouachita Baptist's Cliff Harris Stadium. Per NCAA.com's Mike Lopresti, the golf coach has done it, playing shots from one end zone to the other.
If you walk from football field to football field, you won't even break a sweat. It's only 3,696 feet or just 0.7 miles depending on your preference of measurement. In fact, if the games are scheduled just right, both teams can probably scout each other without leaving the press box.
2. Henderson State at Ouachita Baptist is an old-school rivalry
These two certainly know each other very well. Saturday's meeting will be the 96th Battle of the Ravine. The first game was in 1895, but Henderson State was Arkansas Methodist College back then. The series began as HSU vs. OBU in 1907 and — despite a 12-year hiatus due to prank wars by the schools — the 96 meetings place ninth all-time when it comes to DII football's most-played rivalries.
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After 95 meetings, Ouachita Baptist has the slightest advantage. Ouachita has won the last six meetings, including in 2017 when Ouachita snapped the Reddies' longest road winning streak in DII football history at 31 games at Cliff Harris Stadium.
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One additional fun fact between the two. Ouachita Baptist won its 27th-conference game in a row in the 2019 Battle of the Ravine. That tied the record of 27 set by none other than Henderson State from 2011-2014.
3. This game has 2023 DII football championship tournament implications
With losses to both Harding and Southern Arkansas, Henderson State will need a lopsided victory and complete collapse by several other Super Region Three teams to make the 2023 DII football championship. But at 8-2, the Reddies are still a very good football team and would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their long-time rivals.
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The Tigers are 9-1 and sit at No. 6 in the final Super Region Three rankings before the selection show. As we saw last week, this part of the bracket is very fluid, and one slip up could cost a team their playoff lives.
Ouachita Baptists running back Kendel Givens is one of the best in DII football. He's run for at least 100 yards six times this season and nine games with at least two touchdowns — his 24 total touchdowns leads DII football. Wide receiver Connor Flannigan is the perfect compliment in this rush-heavy attack, set to go over the 1,000-yard mark in this contest.
The 2014 game set the GAC record as 12,228 fans of the Ravine piled into Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. Let's see if this one breaks it.