Flashback Friday: From Clemson-Georgia to Notre Dame-Everyone, Rivalries Lost & Renewed


Nothing typifies the greatness of college football quite like a rivalry game. The energy that exists in a stadium on rivalry game day surpasses any atmosphere in sports, save a championship deciding match.

The mystique of such contests defines the sport, hence my lamentations when supposed progress takes precedent over history. Rivalries come and go for a variety of reasons. Most recently, we have bid farewell to some of the game’s longest and most heated feuds, with others still on the chopping block because of realignment.

College football without Texas-Texas A&M, West Virginia-Pitt, Utah-BYU and Missouri-Kansas just seems…wrong. OK, maybe Mizzou-KU less than the rest, but you get the idea.

This is nothing new, unfortunately. Two decades ago, college football underwent similar structural changes to those unfolding today. The SEC’s and ACC’s expansions and ensuing scheduling changes changed how the leagues’ members outlined the non-conference. Clemson and Georgia each had established rivalries with in-state foes, so the casualty was their own feud.

Clemson and Georgia as a true rivalry is a contentious point by modern standards, but DawgSports.com published a compelling case for why it fits when the series was reintroduced for 2013. Factors like history, proximity and competitive level considered, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be.

Sure, they have preexisting rivalries in South Carolina and Georgia Tech, as well as conference feuds with Boston College & Florida, respectively — though comparing the two is difficult. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is as storied a rivalry as exists in football; Clemson-BC just introduced the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy a few years ago.

It’s status as a rivalry is no less reasonable than Marshall-Ohio, which first played in 1905 and introduced The Bell trophy to the contest in 1997. The two are locked into home-and-homes through 2015, getting an unlikely assist for rekindling the rivalry from the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Never underestimate the power of the $5 Hot-N-Ready.

Speaking of Marshall, the Thundering Herd has played West Virginia regularly over recent years. The coming season is the last the in-state match-up is guaranteed to continue as of now. Competitively, it’s not the most intriguing series — certainly not as high quality as West Virginia and Virginia Tech’s annual affair.

The two played for over decades before discontinuing the series when regular season schedules expanded to 12 games. Every season from 2002 through 2004, one of the two entered the game ranked in the top 15. Each time, that team was upset: West Virginia beat No. 13 Va. Tech in ’02, then repeated the feat a year later when the Hokies were No. 3. Tech exacted revenge in ’04 with a 19-13 defeat of No. 6 WVU.

There’s some renewed interest in faded rivalries, sparked most recently with Bill O’Brien’s declaration that Penn State and Pitt maintaining a rekindled partnership would prove difficult. PSU and Pitt first played in 1893 and featured some classic installments. Joe Paterno paved the way to his first national championship when No. 2 outlasted No. 5 Pitt in 1982.

The Panthers and Nittany Lions hook up in 2016, but the two-year engagement seems destined more reunion special than renewal.

Some rivals grow apart. Most all of the older rivalries were formed via proximity. Forty miles separate the campuses of Syracuse and Colgate. For decades, shared territory bred contempt manifested in a seven-decade long feud.

Colgate actually held the edge over those 70 years of HOODOO. But then ‘Cuse grew into a power. Colgate is now a member of the non-scholarship Patriot League. The two met in 2010, but the atmosphere was vastly different, the Raiders serving as an easy W for the Orange, and SU providing its neighbor a hefty paycheck.

Simple proximity isn’t always enough to develop a rivalry. Sometimes, it isn’t even necessary. Notre Dame’s national presence and sustainable independence allowed the Fighting Irish to cultivate and maintain rivalries around the country. From the Pacific Coast (Stanford, USC) to the Upper Midwest (Michigan, Michigan State) to the Southeast (Miami, played at the 2010 Sun Bowl and renewed this coming season in Chicago) and to the Atlantic (Navy, Boston College), UND is the ultimate vagabond.

Navy has Army and Air Force, the three of which play in a round robin for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Any threat to the CiC series is riot-worthy. Navy also has its longstanding rivalry with Notre Dame. Most recently, the Academy introduced the Gansz Trophy in conjunction with SMU. Frank Gansz played at USNA, and later coached at SMU.

The Mustangs’ and Mids’ respective invitations to the Big East is a nice coincidence that will allow this newly forged series to continue. Its introduction is just peculiar, particularly given Navy once had the terrifically-named Crab Bowl Classic with Maryland that has only been sporadically played. The 2005 and 2010 installments were the first since the 1960s.

Maryland’s had more success with Navy than with other rivals. The Terrapins have faced West Virginia most every season since 1969, and run a close 37-31 behind the Mountaineers. However, UM last won in January 2004 when it blasted WVU in the Gator Bowl. Since it’s been all Mountaineers.

But that’s nothing compared to Penn State’s dominance over Maryland in a series discontinued upon the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten merger. To call PSU-UM a rivalry would be like describing the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals as the same. PSU accumulated a staggering 35-1-1 record, the sole loss coming in 1961. The book was closed on those two meeting in the most fitting fashion, with the Nittany Lions winning 70-7.

Maybe O’Brien is holding off on adding future Pitt games to squeeze Maryland back into the slate.