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Tuesday
Nov152005

Rivalry

Of many things to like about college football, the natural rivalries that have developed are among the best.  Michigan and Ohio State.  Alabama and Auburn.  Texas and Oklahoma.  USC and UCLA.  Oregon State and Oregon.  Miami and Florida State.  We as fans get caught up in the tension between schools, between people who share a lot in common except their colors on a particular Saturday.

A lot of rivalry games are set for this and the following weekends, and I can't help but be excited.

That said, two rivalries stand out to me as almost comical.  Those are the ill feelings between Auburn and Alabama and USC and UCLA.

Most rivalries have both schools on some kind of level ground.  That is, Michigan fans can make a lot of claims that they're the best, but so can Ohio State fans.  But with these two specific rivalries, there's a certain big brother/little brother feel to them that cracks me up.  Not surprisingly, USC and Alabama play the big brother roles.  They've had a lot more success over the years, have owned the rivalries and their fans approach the rivalry a little different than those on the other side.

For simple proof, I present to you two blogs, one by a USC fan and the other by UCLA fans.  The USC fan is his usual cool cucumber, relaxed about his place in the world and oblivious to the presence of his rival.  The UCLA fan, however, has worked himself into some kind of lather, absolutely frothing three whole weeks before the game against his big brother.  This stuff is hilarious.  I wish I could find a similar example between Auburn and Alabama blogs, but have yet to notice it.  I've talked to Auburn and Alabama fans before and I can tell you it's much the same on their end.  It's like to one side they're just happy with the obligatory win just to shut the other guys up, and on the other side their whole existence is built into the outcome.  I don't think these are exactly the healthiest or more traditional rivalries around, but while they exist I remain entertained.

Getting back to the other rivalries, we have a handful of the very best this weekend, including Ohio State/Michigan and the aforementioned Auburn/Alabama "Iron Bowl" to go along with "The Big Game" between Stanford and California, Clemson and South Carolina, Oregon and Oregon State's "Civil War", and several other intriguing instate matchups.  Good times, and certain to provide a few upsets.

 

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Reader Comments (5)

Well, for one you have to measure the nature of the fan - remember that BN started as 'Fire Karl Dorrell' - about part of the way through his second year... which naturally lends itself to a more passionate, impatient, and generally a tad overly emotive blogger. I don't know much about BFT (only read it sporadically) but I doubt the personality is the same. Just because one Bruin blogger might be a certain way doesn't mean all are - same with Trojan bloggers.

Additionally, though, I think it has a lot to do with recent events, not necessarily long-term history. Remember just a century ago (aka the 1990s) it was UCLA that was riding high in the intracity skirmishes, running off an 8-year streak of victories. In that time the Bruins put a lot of pressure on the Trojans to perform, as opposed to the other way around as it is now, despite the fact that this season both teams have had pretty good success in general. (I seem to even remember a USC blogger posting about the 8-year streak finally making the rivalry game matter a bit more for the Trojans, but I don't remember where I found it)
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Well...USC still has a game against FSU before we can start thinking about UCLA. And we also have Notre Dame.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterboifromtroy
Boi,

You basically make my point.

The USC fan is kind of blase about UCLA, meanwhile the UCLA fan and his blog have been staking the entire worth of their season on beating USC. There's an unhealthy disconnect there, in my mind.
November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
No - **A** UCLA fan stakes the season's worth on that game. Not 'the' UCLA fan.

I don't. I put great value on the game, sure - it's not only a rivalry game, it's also a game that will decide if UCLA shares the Pac-10 title, if UCLA beats the #1 team in the country (while ending that 30+ win streak), and if UCLA has any chance to go to a BCS bowl. That's a LOT piled into one game. Meanwhile, Bruin fans have three weeks to sit and stew about it.

If this was 1998, I'd put down money that the situations between the average USC fan and the average UCLA fan would have been the reverse of what they are today - UCLA would be in the middle of a lengthy winning streak (going for #20 at that point), ranked top 3 in the BCS (maybe #1 by then, not sure), and additionally hold a 7-year long streak against the Trojans at the same time.

It's recent history that dictates the value of the rivalry game to each opponent, not long-term. And clearly over the past few seasons USC has been dominant. There have been stretches during which UCLA has been nearly as dominant (almost no team has been 'as' dominant, at least not in the modern era) and I feel entirely justified in believing the positions would be reversed.

I know they were for me: in '98, I was worried about the game in that it was one more obstacle between UCLA and the national championship game. But I wasn't overly worried about the Trojans - "8 more years..."
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
I agree. I went to Oregon where we have and always shall hate with an unmitigated passion Washington. The pregame video still ends with Kenny Wheaton's interception for a touchdown to end the 1994 game and it sends electricity throughout the stadium like nothing else.

I don't really think that Washington actually acknowledges Oregon's existence, or at least not publicly.
November 18, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterbede134

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