By: Ross Weber, KCOU Sports
At this point in the college football season, a lot has been decided. Some conference championships, conference championship game matchups, Heisman and national title contenders long have been debated. Seasons for some considered “over”, “unimportant”, “irrelevant”. Yet for those teams, nothing is more important than this final game, this final week, rivalry week.
On this rivalry Saturday in 2014, two teams whose national championship hopes were done, in a game that had no conference implications whatsoever, some Kentucky Wildcat players were stepping on the mid-field logo of the Louisville Cardinals, in which some of the Cardinal players took offense. Tensions running high, hatred between two schools fighting for state-wide bragging rights at two schools more well-known for basketball than football, and a full-on fight breaks out. You try and tell those players that their game is “irrelevant” they’d try to beat each other up even more.
Another game, simply titled “The Game”, between two schools who care more about Rhodes Scholars than Heisman winners, Harvard and Yale. Harvard, looking to finish off an undefeated season, Yale, looking to break a losing streak to the Crimson. Both of these institutions take pride in their academics, but more alumni will tell tales of great Games than all-nighters studying for midterms. With nothing more than bragging rights on the line, it’s easy to call that Game “unimportant”, but watching the scene unfold at Harvard Stadium after a game-winning touchdown by senior quarterback Conner Hempel would make you think they had just won a National Championship. All of this for two teams who will not compete in any bowl games or postseason play.
Rivalries from all across the country mean so much more than just one game on the schedule. It’s bragging rights, it’s houses divided, it’s the difference between a successful season or a failed one, no matter what your record. Rivalries from the somewhat minor Civil War (Oregon vs Oregon State), and the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana vs Purdue), and including the elites of the Iron Bowl (Auburn vs Alabama), and the other The Game (Ohio State vs Michigan) matter to those teams more than some bowl games, Heisman winners or national championships do.
In my short time I have spent so far at the University of Missouri, I have seen ten football wins, an SEC East title, and Shane Ray break the single season Mizzou sack record, but one of the moments I will remember most from this year was during the Georgia game, when a fan was put on the jumbo-tron and he flashed a Kansas shirt from under his jacket. The boos for that fan and his shirt were the loudest Faurot Field got during that 34-0 Bulldog beat down.
Success may fade, but rivalries sure do last forever.