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The college football Hater’s Guide to Rivalry Week games

The college football Hater's Guide to Rivalry Week games
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Rivalry Week divides families and states. It brings out the best — and worst — of college football.

It’s why in 1968, with Ohio State leading Michigan 48-14 late in the game, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to go for two points, instead of kicking a PAT. When reporters asked Hayes why he went for two, he famously quipped, “Because they wouldn’t let me go for three.”

Rivalry Week can decide coaches’ fates, teams’ postseason hopes and can define an entire season. It’s about bragging rights for 365 days.

Let’s all give thanks for the 2019 edition of the Hater’s Guide to Rivalry Week, sorted in handy chronological order:




Mississippi native Brad Edwards recalls the 1983 Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State where a game-winning field goal attempt miraculously stops and falls to the ground before going through the uprights.

Egg Bowl

Ole Miss at Mississippi State
Thursday, 7:30 ET, ESPN/ESPN App

Year it began: 1901
Overall record: Ole Miss leads 62-45-6
Past five years: Ole Miss leads 3-2 (the Rebels vacated their 31-17 win in 2014 because of NCAA sanctions)

Mississippi State’s biggest villain: Ole Miss coach Johnny Vaught guided the Rebels to a 19-2-4 record in the Egg Bowl from 1947 to 1970 and again to a win as interim coach in 1973. His second loss to the Bulldogs was a 19-14 defeat during Archie Manning’s senior season in 1970.

Ole Miss biggest villain: Bulldogs linebacker Leo Lewis became public enemy No. 1 in Oxford after he alleged that he was given money and other improper benefits from the Rebels during his recruitment. The allegations were part of a six-year investigation that led to the Rebels being placed on NCAA probation for four years and missing bowl games in consecutive seasons. Lewis, now a senior, will try to improve to 3-1 against Ole Miss.

Story that best explains the rivalry: Rebels fans rushed the field after Ole Miss snapped a 13-game losing streak to Mississippi State in 1926. But Bulldogs fans stood their ground and were determined to protect the goal posts, so an ugly brawl ensued. The poor sportsmanship led the student bodies to create the Egg Bowl trophy. But the rivalry took another turn in 2017 when a lifelong Mississippi State fan, Steve Robertson, who has covered the Bulldogs since 2001, brought down Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze by poring over his phone records, leading to an investigation that exposed calls Ole Miss officials called “troubling” and causing Freeze’s resignation. “It’s the two runt puppies in the SEC West fighting for the hind teat,” Robertson said. “When you finally get locked on that hind teat, you do whatever you have to do to stay there, even if the other guy has to starve.”

Hater’s guide to watching this year: It hasn’t been a banner season for either team, but the Bulldogs can still qualify for a bowl game with their sixth victory. A second-half fight, which led to four ejections, marred the Bulldogs’ 35-3 victory last season. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey met with the then-athletic directors this summer to try to clean up matters. MSU coach Joe Moorhead, who is 13-11 in his second season, might need this one more than Ole Miss’ Matt Luke, who seems assured of coming back for a fourth season in 2020.


Commonwealth Cup

Virginia Tech at Virginia
Friday, noon ET, ABC/ESPN App

Year it began: 1895
Overall record: Virginia Tech leads 58-37-5
Past five years: Virginia Tech leads 5-0

Virginia Tech’s biggest villain: Virginia hasn’t won back-to-back games in the series since Aaron Brooks was its quarterback in 1997-98. After guiding the Cavaliers to a 14-point victory over Tech in 1997, Brooks engineered a stirring comeback in a 36-32 decision the next season. His 47-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Hawkins with 2:01 left was the go-ahead score. He threw for 735 yards with seven touchdowns in two games against the Hokies.

Virginia’s biggest villain: The Cavaliers might still be paying former Hokies coach Frank Beamer rent four years after his retirement because he certainly owned them. After going 1-5 against UVA in the first six meetings, Beamer’s teams won 19 of the next 23, including the last 12 before his retirement. The Hokies scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to send Beamer out a winner in his final game against Virginia, 23-20 in Charlottesville on Nov. 28, 2015.

Story that best explains the rivalry: Hunter Carpenter enrolled at Virginia Tech in 1898 and played football under an alias because his father didn’t approve of him playing. Carpenter despised the Cavaliers, especially after his Tech teams lost five straight games in the series by a combined score of 88-5. In 1904, Carpenter transferred to North Carolina to get another shot at UVA, but the Cavs beat the Tar Heels 12-11. The next year, Carpenter returned to Tech for an eighth season of college football. The Cavaliers made him sign an affidavit that he wasn’t being paid to play in the game. The Hokies finally beat Virginia 11-0, but Carpenter wasn’t around for the finish because he was ejected for throwing the ball at a Cavs player.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The Hokies have won an unprecedented 15 consecutive games in the series. The Cavaliers’ last win was a 35-21 decision in 2003. Last season, in the 100th meeting in the series, the Hokies tied the score at 31 with 1:51 left and won 34-31 in OT. The winner of Friday’s game claims a Coastal Division title, a spot in the ACC championship game and potentially an invitation to the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Apple Cup

Washington State at Washington
Friday, 4 p.m. ET, Fox

Year it began: 1900
Overall record: Washington leads 73-32-6
Past five years: Washington leads 5-0

Washington’s biggest villain: Ryan Leaf said there was a joke on campus during his time at Wazzu: “What’s the difference between God and Ryan Leaf? God doesn’t think he’s Ryan Leaf.” The current ESPN analyst was brash and arrogant and he could back it up. And in 1997 in Seattle, Leaf threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-35 victory over the favored Huskies and was carried off the Husky Stadium field as the Cougs celebrated their first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years.

Washington State’s biggest villain: Hall of Fame coach Don James, the Dawgfather, led Washington from 1975 to 1992 and was 13-5 in the Apple Cup. He also didn’t mind needling his rival. “I’ve always felt that being a Cougar prepares you well for life,” James said. “You learn not to expect too much.”

Story that best explains the rivalry: In 2002, Washington State was 9-1 overall, ranked No. 3 and could clinch a Rose Bowl berth and a shot at a BCS appearance with a home-field win over a 6-5 Washington team. Wazzu QB Jason Gesser, who shared Pac-10 Player of the Year honors with USC’s Carson Palmer, went down with an injury in the fourth quarter and Washington rallied from a 20-10 deficit to tie the score and force overtime. In the third OT, Washington State backup Matt Kegel threw a short pass that was batted down by Washington’s Kai Ellis, who fell on the ball. After an officials’ huddle, they ruled it was a backward pass and a fumble, with a Washington recovery, and the game was over, just like that. A near-riot ensued as shocked fans pelted the field with bottles, souvenirs and anything that wasn’t bolted down.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: Huskies coach Chris Petersen is 5-0 against Mike Leach, outscoring him 189-69 in those games, an average outcome of 38-14. Last year, the Huskies won their second Pac-12 North Division title in three years with a 28-15 upset of the No. 7 Cougars in the snow, then defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake added a little fuel to the rivalry. “They do the same thing year in and year out,” Lake said. “It makes it really easy to game plan. … Hopefully [Leach] remains here a long time. That would be awesome.” Leach didn’t seem to be as familiar with the Huskies assistant, saying the defense was the same as it had been under longtime Petersen assistant Pete Kwiatkowski, who is still at UW as Lake’s co-coordinator. “I don’t really even know who [Lake] is,” Leach later told Seattle radio station KJR. “I guess he’s chirping so somebody will notice him or something. Maybe you know him, I don’t know him.”




Former Ohio State wide receiver Joey Galloway beats Michigan his senior year for the first time and earns a pair of gold pants.

The Game

Ohio State at Michigan
Saturday, noon ET, Fox

Year it began: 1897
Overall record: Michigan leads 58-50-6
Past five years: Ohio State leads 5-0

Michigan’s biggest villain: The Wolverines loathed longtime Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, but Jim Tressel did far more damage against them. Tressel had a 9-1 record against Michigan during his tenure as coach from 2001 to 2010 (a 37-7 victory in 2010 was vacated because of NCAA violations), and his team’s 42-39 win in 2006 secured the Buckeyes a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

Ohio State’s biggest villain: OSU fans will probably never forgive current ESPN analyst Desmond Howard for striking a Heisman pose in the end zone after a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Wolverines’ 31-3 rout in 1991. It was the longest punt return in Michigan history — and the Buckeyes’ worst loss to the Wolverines since 1946. Howard’s teams went 3-0 against OSU from 1989 to ’91.

Story that best explains the rivalry: The legend goes that Hayes refused to call Michigan by its name and referred to it as “that school [or state] up north.” In fact, during a recruiting trip to Detroit in February 1972, Hayes refused to purchase gas in Michigan, instead choosing to return to Ohio on fumes. “We’re not getting any gas in this [expletive] state,” Hayes told an assistant. “The tax money we’d be paying them on the gas would be going to them, and I’m not supporting them in any way possible.”

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The Buckeyes won the Big Ten East and clinched a spot in the conference title game, but the Wolverines can still try to damage their CFP hopes. After some early struggles on offense, Michigan has won seven of its past eight games. Jim Harbaugh is the first Michigan coach to start 0-4 against the Buckeyes. The Wolverines allowed 38 points in the second half of a 62-39 loss last year. OSU has won seven straight and 14 of the past 15 games (including the vacated 2010 win) in the series.

Palmetto Bowl

Clemson at South Carolina
Saturday, noon ET, ESPN/ESPN App

Year it began: 1896
Overall record: Clemson leads 70-42-4
Past five years: Clemson leads 5-0

South Carolina’s biggest villain: Clemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson guided the Tigers to a 35-17 victory in 2014, throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more — while playing with a torn ACL in his left knee. The loss snapped USC’s five-game winning streak, and Watson went 3-0 in the series before turning pro.

Clemson’s biggest villain: In 1992, USC freshman quarterback Steve Taneyhill, with his long mullet hanging out of his helmet, hit fake home runs after big plays and then autographed the Tiger paw at midfield at Death Valley following the Gamecocks’ 24-13 victory. Two years later, he returned to Clemson and directed a 33-7 rout, which secured a winning season and bowl appearance.

Story that best explains the rivalry: The teams traded blows for nearly 10 minutes in the fourth quarter of Clemson’s 33-7 victory at Death Valley in 2004. No one was hurt before law enforcement and coaches broke up the ugly melee. Administrators at both schools self-imposed bowl bans as a result of the fight. It was Lou Holtz’s final game as USC’s coach.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The Gamecocks haven’t put up much resistance in the last three meetings, with Clemson winning each by 21 points or more. The Gamecocks are headed to their second losing season in four years. Adding salt to their wounds, the Gamecocks are convinced that Clemson’s coaching staff turned them in for violations that led to USC being placed on probation last month. The Tigers can win their 27th consecutive game and remain among the CFP favorites.

Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate

Georgia at Georgia Tech
Saturday, noon ET, ABC/ESPN App

Year it began: 1893
Overall record: Georgia leads 67-41-5
Past five years: Georgia leads 3-2

Georgia Tech’s biggest villain: Former Bulldogs coach Mark Richt probably deserves a statue somewhere near Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. Richt’s teams went 13-2 against the Yellow Jackets and never lost in Atlanta. Richt’s last game as UGA’s coach was a 13-7 victory at Tech on Nov. 28, 2015; he was fired the next day.

Georgia’s biggest villain: A seven-man SEC officiating crew was suspended two days after they blew a call near the end of Georgia Tech’s 51-48 overtime victory in 1999. With the score tied at 48 with 15 seconds left in regulation, the officials ruled that Georgia’s Jasper Sanks fumbled at the 1-yard line. TV replays showed the ball popped out after Sanks hit the ground, but it was before the era of instant replay. Tech kicked a field goal in overtime — after an attempt was blocked on third down — to win the game.

Story that best explains the rivalry: Georgia and Georgia Tech were charter members of the SEC, but the Yellow Jackets left the league in 1964 because of coach Bobby Dodd’s concerns about scholarship limits and player mistreatment. Tech tried to re-enter the league in 1975 with Bear Bryant’s help, but the Bulldogs led the charge to block membership.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: Just like last year, the Bulldogs might be two victories from reaching the CFP if they defeat Georgia Tech and then LSU in the SEC championship game on Dec. 7. The Yellow Jackets have limped to a 3-8 record in coach Geoff Collins’ first season. Georgia has won 15 of the previous 18 games in the series.

Governor’s Cup

Louisville at Kentucky
Saturday, noon ET, SEC Network/ESPN App

Year it began: 1912
Overall record: Kentucky leads 16-15
Past five years: Louisville leads 3-2

Kentucky’s biggest villain: Former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino loved beating the Wildcats more than anyone else. His teams went 4-0 during his first tenure from 2003 to ’06 and then 3-1 after he returned in 2014. During his first game against Kentucky as Louisville’s coach in 2003, the Cardinals scored their final touchdown with 13 seconds left in a 40-24 rout.

Louisville’s biggest villain: Record-setting UK quarterback Tim Couch threw for 398 yards with four touchdowns in a 38-24 victory over the Cardinals in 1997, and then had 498 yards with seven touchdowns in a 68-34 win in the first game at Papa John’s Stadium the next year. The pass-happy Wildcats piled up 801 yards in the second one.

Story that best explains the rivalry: UK fans have long professed their superiority over the Cardinals in the Commonwealth. The Wildcats won the first six games by a combined score of 210-0 from 1912 to 1924 — and then the rivalry wasn’t played again for 70 years. The Cardinals had to wait until a 13-10 victory in 1995 to claim their first win in the intrastate series.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The Cardinals have been better than advertised in Scott Satterfield’s first season and have already won seven games. Kentucky has been dogged by injuries but can also get to seven wins with a second straight decision over the Cardinals.



Patty Liverance had to decide where to send her two youngest children to college so she had an idea, let the outcome of the 2013 Bowl do it for her. Alabama wins, she stays in Michigan, Auburn wins, she moves to Alabama.

Iron Bowl

Alabama at Auburn
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Year it began: 1893
Overall record: Alabama leads 46-36-1
Past five years: Alabama leads 4-1

Auburn’s biggest villain: With 57 seconds left in the 1985 Iron Bowl, Alabama trailed 23-22 and was backed up at its 12-yard line. But Tide quarterback Mike Shula connected on three passes and threw a key block on a reverse to move to Auburn’s 35-yard line. With the Iron Bowl hanging in the balance, Alabama’s Van Tiffin made a dramatic 52-yard field goal as time expired for a 25-23 win.

Alabama’s biggest villain: Quarterback Cam Newton played with the Tigers for only one season, and many Alabama fans will go to their graves swearing he shouldn’t have been eligible for that long. Newton’s father was accused of shopping his son out of junior college, and Auburn declared Newton ineligible for a few hours. Of course, he was reinstated in time to lead Auburn from a 24-point deficit in a 28-27 victory over the Tide in the 2010 Iron Bowl, which became known as the “Camback.”

Story that best explains the rivalry: Following Auburn’s 2010 national championship, Alabama fan Harvey Updyke poisoned the iconic trees at Toomer’s Corner, where Tigers fans traditionally gather to celebrate victories. Updyke later pleaded guilty to criminal damage of an agricultural facility and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of supervised probation. “I just have too much Bama in me,” Updyke said.

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The Crimson Tide lost to LSU 46-41 on Nov. 9, which cost them an SEC West title and potentially a spot in the CFP. Then the Tide lost star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a dislocated hip in a 38-7 win at Mississippi State two weeks ago. The Tigers are 8-3 after losing to three teams currently in the top 10 of the CFP rankings, and coach Gus Malzahn could really use a victory over Alabama. Since playing for a BCS national title in 2013, the Tigers are only 4-14 against their three biggest rivals — Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

Paul Bunyan’s Axe

Wisconsin at Minnesota
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App

Year it began: 1890
Overall record: Tied 60-60-8
Past five years: Wisconsin leads 4-1

Wisconsin’s biggest villain: Until last year, the Badgers hadn’t lost to the Gophers in 15 years. In 2003, Minnesota, with tailbacks Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney, took a 24-6 lead in the second quarter. But then Wisconsin tied the score at 34 with 7:15 to play. Minnesota got the ball back last and drove down the field for a potential winning field goal. Rhys Lloyd’s 35-yard attempt was true, and he sprinted toward Wisconsin’s sideline for Paul Bunyan’s Axe before the ball even went through the uprights in a 37-34 win.

Minnesota’s biggest villain: Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema’s teams went 7-0 against the Gophers from 2006 to 2012. In the 2010 game, with the Badgers up 41-16 with 6:39 left, Bielema had his team go for two after a touchdown. Bielema said that’s what his card told him to do, but then-Gophers coach Tim Brewster thought he was trying to run up the score. The coaches had a heated exchange at midfield afterward. “He’ll have to live with it because it was wrong,” Brewster said.

Story that best explains the rivalry: The longest rivalry in college football has been a one-sided affair recently, with the Badgers winning 21 of 24 meetings since 1995. Before one of the meetings, Bielema had two strength coaches dress like Minnesota players and steal Paul Bunyan’s Axe during a Wisconsin practice. “Everybody is looking around like, ‘What the hell just happened?'” Bielema said at the time. “They had never seen the trophy lost before, most of them. I wanted them to feel what that was going to be like.”

Hater’s guide to watching this year: The winner of Saturday’s game in Minneapolis wins the Big Ten West, clinches a spot in the Big Ten championship game and still has an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual. The Badgers are still licking their wounds from last season’s ugly 37-15 loss at home last season.

Civil War

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