Last week we looked at many of the colorful rivalries that make college football such a rich sport steeped in tradition. This upcoming week will take a further look at several more historic matchups being played this holiday weekend starting Thanksgiving night.
On Thursday night, Texas and Texas A&M; will hookup for their annual battle. These archrivals have always had a “big brother, little brother” relationship, with the Aggies trying to outdo Texas. Years ago these two schools set up a program that awarded points to every athletic competition, be it men’s or women’s sports, which were totaled at the end of the year and a winner was announced. Texas has won this competition every year. The home team is 5-5, but 8-2 against the spread. Texas is still in the BCS hunt and will be looking to chew up the Aggies like a left over turkey leg.
On Friday, the Egg Bowl rivalry will be renewed as Mississippi State heads over to Oxford to get in on with the Rebels. This match-up is best described as a “family feud” as read in William Barner’s book on the history of the rivalry. Back in the old days, fans would break out into fights before, during and after the games. In 1926, the fighting got so ugly after the first Ole Miss victory in 13 years that officials came up with the concept of the Golden Egg Trophy, awarded to the winner in a formal ceremony each year. It was supposed to cut down on such ugliness, instead the fans just fought outside the stadium as opposed to in it. The Rebels have won four of last six and are 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine contests.
There is no game that has loyalties running deeper than Alabama and Auburn. This is a regionalized affair that is important to every Alabamian. In a state that has had a century-old love affair with college football, this one is about 60 minutes of football determining bragging rights in Alabama for the next 364 days. The losers have only “next year” to cling to because the scores of other games during the season really do not matter. The game is known as the Iron Bowl because its birthplace is in Birmingham, which was built around huge iron ore deposits in the Alabama hill country. What is truly unusual about this historic rivalry is it was not played for 41 years from 1907-1948. The universities had reached an impasse in 1907, with unfair officiating being one of the charges, and neither side could come to an agreement, thus no game was played in that time period. The 1950’s saw Auburn’s Shug Jordan dominate the Crimson Tide, until Paul “Bear” Bryant returned and eventually the series turned to Alabama’s favor. Bryant teams went on to crush the Tigers for years before losing in his final game in the series. Shortly thereafter, “The Bear” announced his retirement and two months later he passed away. The names like Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Bo Jackson, Shaun Alexander are all part of the lore along with the infamous kicker Van Kiffen, who made what became known as “The Kick” in 1985. Kiffen drilled a 52-yard field goal with just seconds left to give Alabama a 25-23 win. No.1 Alabama hosts this year’s event trying to break a stranglehold Auburn has had with six straight wins (4-2 ATS) under coach Tommy Tuberville, as the Tigers are creeping ever closer to the Tide who own a 38-33-1 all-time edge. Auburn can shatter most of the dreams of #1 Alabama with a seventh triumph. The home team is just 4-9 ATS; with the Tide 5-5 ATS in last 10 and Tigers 9-6 ATS on the road against ranked teams.
A regionalized rivalry known as the “Border War” between Kansas and Missouri will once again have great meaning to the combatants. This will be the second year of two-year agreement to return to the roots of origination and play the game in somewhat neutral Kansas City (19 of the first 20 games were played in Kansas City). The all-time football series has Missouri leading 54-53, with 9 ties. The underdog is 8-5 ATS in the last 13 years. Surprisingly this is the second oldest rivalry in D-1 (FBS), with the winner getting The Indian War Drum.
The Notre Dame-USC rivalry is regarded as the greatest intersectional series in college football and has been played annually since 1926, except for a brief repose during World War II. The winner of this rivalry game is awarded the coveted Jeweled Shillelagh, a war club adorned with emerald-emblazoned clovers signifying Irish victories and Ruby-emblazoned Trojan warrior heads for Trojan wins. Notre Dame is 3-9 ATS against cross-country rival USC since 1996 and has lost last three games at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum by 82 points.