Editor’s note: A version of this story originally was published in 2021.
It’s finally here, the week that hate — the clean, old-fashioned kind, mind you — is in fashion.
If you’ve ever been accused of firing a contractor because he wore a rival’s shirt to your house, this is your time. Put the flag up outside your house. Get the group texts fired up. Add a little school spirit to your Zoom background for your next meeting.
It’s Rivalry Week!
To celebrate, our reporters recap the excessive celebrations, tree desecrations and trash-can-fueled altercations from some of college football’s greatest games. Turn the fight song up and get the memes loaded up in your camera roll. Here we go.
Jump to a rivalry:
Ole Miss-Miss. State |
Oregon-Oregon State | Ohio State-Michigan
Kentucky-Louisville | Texas A&M-LSU
Alabama-Auburn | Arizona-Arizona State
Virginia-Virginia Tech | Washington State-Washington
Kentucky-Louisville | Florida State-Florida
Georgia-Georgia Tech | Clemson-South Carolina
North Carolina-NC State
All times Eastern
Better known as: Egg Bowl
This year’s game: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN & ESPN App
All-time record: Ole Miss 64-47-6 (according to Ole Miss); 66-46-6 (according to Miss. State)
Current streak: Mississippi State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: Where do you start? Most recently, there was Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore dropping to all fours in the end zone, lifting his leg and pretending to urinate like a dog in the 2019 Egg Bowl. His actions drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Rebels missed the ensuing 35-yard extra point attempt and lost 21-20 to the Bulldogs. Three days later, Ole Miss fired coach Matt Luke, which precipitated the hiring of Lane Kiffin. Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead was probably under more pressure coming into that game. There was a feeling, fair or not, that he was an odd fit in Starkville after previous coaching stops at Penn State, Fordham and Connecticut, among other non-southern schools. Moorhead famously said that Thanksgiving night after the game, “This is my team, this is my school, this is my program. You’ll have to drag my Yankee ass out of here.” A little more than a month later, Moorhead was fired on Jan. 3, four days after Mississippi State lost to Louisville in the Music City Bowl. That’s despite going 2-0 against Ole Miss as Mississippi State’s coach. The ironic thing is that Moore’s stunt wasn’t original. DK Metcalf did it two years earlier in the end zone after catching a 63-yard touchdown pass in Ole Miss’ 31-28 win over Mississippi State. Three days later, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen bolted for the Florida head-coaching job.
Strangest off-field moment: Steve Robertson, a lifelong Mississippi State fan who has the school’s logo tattooed on his left hand, was researching former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze’s phone records on July 5, 2017, for a book Robertson was writing and found a call associated with advertisements for a female escort service.
Robertson, who had been covering Mississippi State sports since 2001, relayed his findings to attorney Thomas Mars, who was representing former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in his lawsuit against Ole Miss. Mars alerted the Ole Miss general counsel in a July 13, 2017, email about the call, and a week later, Freeze was out as Ole Miss’ coach despite beating Alabama in back-to-back seasons, in 2014 and 2015, and guiding the Rebels to their first Sugar Bowl victory in 50 years to cap the 2015 season.
Robertson said he received multiple death threats and shared one with ESPN back in 2017 in which someone wrote on a message board that he “won’t be around much longer.” — Chris Low
Quote that defines the rivalry: C.R. “Dudy” Noble, the namesake for Mississippi State’s baseball field, played four sports at Mississippi State (then known as Mississippi A&M) then coached baseball, basketball and football at Ole Miss for parts of the 1917 to ’19 seasons, before returning to coach at Mississippi State, most notably baseball. He later became Mississippi State’s longtime athletic director.
Noble famously told a sports writer: “I already know what hell is like. I once coached at Ole Miss.”
A close second place in the quote department goes to former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill. When Sherrill was hired in 1991, Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer called Sherrill a “habitual liar.” Sherrill countered by saying that Brewer “didn’t know what the word habitual meant.”
Better known as: The schools did away with Civil War moniker in 2019
This year’s game: Friday, 8:30 p.m., Fox
All-time record: Oregon, 67-49-10 (acc. to Oregon State); Oregon, 66-51-10 (acc. to Oregon)
Current streak: Oregon State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: It’s tough to beat the 1998 game. No. 15 Oregon was, of course, favored in the game, yet the nighttime setting in Corvallis made it ripe for an upset. The back-and-forth affair led to overtime, when a failed fourth-down try appeared to give Oregon State the victory. The fans rushed the field and surrounded the goalposts without noticing that there had been a flag thrown for pass interference. Security and team officials took more than 15 minutes to get all of the fans on the field back to their seats in order to continue the game. Oregon scored a touchdown to tie the game at 38 then added a field goal to start the second overtime.
The Beavers then handed the ball off to running back Ken Simonton, who had 157 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on the night, and he pranced into the end zone for a winning 16-yard touchdown run. The field was re-rushed, and the win not only gave the Beavers their first five-win season since 1971, it also set the stage for going 11-1 and winning the conference in the 2000 season.
Strangest off-field moment: This rivalry is no stranger to strange moments, but how about one that involved actual fire? In 2010, after the Ducks beat the Beavers in Corvallis to advance to the BCS title game, a group of Oregon fans were seen holding up an “I hate your Ducks” T-shirt that was on fire while they tried to light their celebratory cigars with it. The burning shirt soon ended up burning the turf and damaged the field. At the time, Oregon State’s assistant athletic director said the entire logo at midfield needed to be replaced, which would cost over $5,000. It was later determined that the damage was closer to $1,500.
Police found cigar wrappers on the field and eventually were able to catch the Oregon student via a photo in the Portland Tribune and a YouTube video in which the 20-year-old student was seen throwing the burning jersey onto the turf. Though he was not the one who lit the shirt on fire, he was charged with one felony and four misdemeanors. — Paolo Uggetti
Quote that defines the rivalry: At the risk of leaving out “No Natty for you” guy, this quote by running back Ryan Nall in advance of the 2017 matchup sums up the dynamic the two schools have with each other.
“I remember [at last year’s game] seeing that our sideline was jumping around, and we didn’t have raincoats on,” Nall said. “And then I saw the fancy Nike Duck raincoats on. And I remember thinking, ‘We’re going to beat them. They’re not prepared for these elements.'”
Nall was right. Oregon State beat the Ducks that day. But his trash talk was thrown back in his face during the 2017 game, as Oregon trounced the Beavers 69-10.
Better known as: The Game
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, Fox
All-time record: Michigan, 60-51-6
Current streak: Michigan, 2
Wildest on-field moment: There was Desmond Howard striking the Heisman Trophy pose as Keith Jackson yelled, “Hello, Heisman.” Charles Woodson and David Boston going after each other in 1997. The 1950 Snow Bowl, a game that featured 45 punts and ended with a 9-3 Michigan win. The controversy over whether J.T. Barrett got a first down in the 2016 game. But one of the wildest moments came in 1973, when Ohio State ran onto the field to a roar of boos and ran straight toward Michigan’s “Go Blue” banner that the Wolverines jump and touch before every home game. The Buckeyes jumped up, grabbed the banner and tore it down in the middle of the field, which caused the boos to grow louder. That incident led to former Michigan players defending the banner in 1977, which caused an incident of its own. As Ohio State players ran under the banner, the Michigan alumni stood in the middle of the lane while body checking and pushing the Buckeyes players as they ran through. The incident caused Michigan announcer Bob Ufer to exclaim, “Oh brother, are you and I in for 60 minutes of football!”
Strangest off-field moment: This probably could have served as the wildest on-field moment, but it technically happened off the field. A dustup occurred in the 2013 game, and Ohio State offensive lineman Marcus Hall was ejected. He stormed to the sideline, threw his helmet to the ground, kicked a bench and left the field. As he made his way into the tunnel, he extended both arms and flipped off the Michigan fans as he exited. That moment went viral, and T-shirts were even made with a silhouette of Hall flipping the double bird. — Tom VanHaaren
Quote that defines the rivalry: “I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people in the classroom, the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.” — new Ohio State coach Jim Tressel at a Buckeyes basketball game after being hired to replace John Cooper, who went 2-10-1 against Michigan.
Better known as: Governor’s Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, ABC and ESPN App
All-time record: Kentucky, 19-15
Current streak: Kentucky, 4
Wildest on-field moment: Louisville was a massive, four-touchdown favorite entering the 2016 game, with future Heisman winner Lamar Jackson leading the way. But the Cards’ season had already begun to fall apart the week before when Jackson was bludgeoned by Ed Oliver and the Houston defensive front. Against Kentucky, Jackson struggled badly, throwing three interceptions. Still, Louisville had a shot to win, with a first-and-goal play, tied at 38 with 1:45 to go. Instead, Jackson was hit in the backfield and fumbled. Kentucky recovered, drove 60 yards on seven plays and kicked a winning field goal to hand the Wildcats their first Governor’s Cup since 2010.
Strangest off-field moment: OK, this happened on the field — but not during a play. Louisville was looking for revenge in 2017 after Kentucky pulled the massive upset the year before, and Jackson was the catalyst. The emotions were high from the outset, and when Jackson scored in the first quarter, a skirmish broke out on the sideline. Jackson got into it with Kentucky’s Jordan Jones, but it was Wildcats linebacker Denzil Ware who stole the show by picking up a plastic trash can and attacking a Louisville player with it. — David M. Hale
Quote that defines the rivalry: Although the two schools initially played in 1912, the rivalry went dark from 1924 until 1994. When the rivalry kicked off again, Louisville was considered an upstart program, while Kentucky was already battling in the difficult SEC East. Former Kentucky coach Bill Curry summed up the general feeling for the Wildcats, who saw the game as an obstacle, while Louisville saw opportunity: “To add another stem-winder, another gut-check game, was just not smart scheduling on our part, whereas for Louisville, it was a great thing.” Kentucky prevailed 20-14.
Better known as: Nothing, but Les Miles once had an idea: “We need a trophy. Somebody needs to come up with a trophy. There’s so much petroleum right? On both ends. Maybe some kind of big petroleum something. No, not a barrel. A wrench or something.”
This year’s game: Saturday, noon, ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: LSU, 35-23-3
Current streak: Texas A&M, 1
Wildest on-field moment: The two teams played 50 times before they were ever in the same conference, so there is plenty of history. But we just have to go back to 2018 for this one, to when A&M beat LSU 74-72 in an epic, seven-overtime game that set the FBS record for the most points in a game and lasted nearly five hours. That, in itself, was wild. But afterward, with fans storming the field and Texas A&M receivers coach Dameyune Craig — who was fired by LSU coach Ed Orgeron following the 2016 season — jawing at LSU coaches, a melee broke out. LSU offensive analyst Steve Kragthorpe (himself a former A&M offensive coordinator) intervened with Craig, and A&M student manager Cole Fisher, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher’s nephew, shoved Kragthorpe. Cole Fisher then traded punches with LSU running backs coach Kevin Faulk and was punched by LSU safety John Battle. “I didn’t appreciate getting punched in my pacemaker,” Kragthorpe told Gannett Louisiana newspapers afterward, though video showed it to be a shove, albeit in his chest. Jimbo Fisher said “the matter has been addressed internally” on A&M’s end; and Kragthorpe, who has Parkinson’s disease, was OK. But that game supercharged the now-divisional rivalry.
Strangest off-field moment: The two are fierce recruiting rivals. But no signee was under as much scrutiny as Billy Cannon Jr., son of LSU’s legendary 1959 Heisman Trophy winner. The younger Cannon chose Texas A&M in 1980, saying he didn’t “owe LSU his blood” and that he wanted to leave Louisiana. LSU retired the elder Cannon’s No. 20 jersey in 1960, but after his son picked the Aggies, there was a failed movement to unretire the father’s jersey. LSU and the Aggies also went to the wire in 1986 for the services of one of the nation’s top recruits, running back Harvey Williams. Williams, a star at Hempstead (Texas) High School, just 42 miles from College Station, told Sports Illustrated he was set to sign with the Aggies but that he heard a cheerleader singing the “Aggie War Hymn” on the way to his announcement, got annoyed and changed his selection to LSU. For a little extra fuel, he added: “All that military and uniforms and yell leaders, I don’t get off on that stuff. And that dog — Reveille — that dog is so sorry. I can’t stand that dog.” — Dave Wilson
Quote that defines the rivalry: “I hope they enjoyed it. I hope they put the score of last year’s game too. I bet they didn’t sell many cups on that one.” — Orgeron to WAFB-TV in the spring of 2020, following LSU’s 50-7 defeat of the Aggies in 2019 after Texas A&M sold cups at Kyle Field concessions stands with 2018’s 74-72 score on them.
Better known as: Iron Bowl
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
All-time record: Alabama, 49-37-1
Current streak: Alabama, 3
Wildest on-field moment: At first, it looked as if the official review might save Alabama, which was one win away from reaching the SEC title game in 2013 and a shot at a third consecutive BCS National Championship appearance. With the contest tied at 28, running back T.J. Yeldon sprinted across midfield and ran out of bounds right as the play clock hit 0:00 on the field. But officials took another look and decided one second should be placed back on the clock — enough time for Alabama coach Nick Saban to have his place-kicker attempt a 56-yard field goal.
And just like that, the Kick Six was born. Adam Griffith’s kick fell short. Chris Davis caught the ball in the back of the end zone, started running toward the middle of the field, then veered to his left. Alabama’s field goal team was late getting into coverage and couldn’t stop Davis from breaking containment, and he danced down the sideline for a touchdown. Auburn won the game, fans stormed the field and Alabama was stunned. Auburn went on to the SEC championship game and the BCS title game.
“First time I’ve lost a game that way,” Saban said. “First time I’ve ever seen a game lost that way.”
Strangest off-field moment: Al from Dadeville wasn’t Al from Dadeville at all. His real name was Harvey Updyke, and he was from Louisiana, and he called in to Paul Finebaum’s radio show one day with a story of how overheated the Iron Bowl rivalry can get.
Updyke, an Alabama fan, said he was at the 2010 game in Tuscaloosa when he saw someone place a Cam Newton jersey on former Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s statue.
“Let me tell you what I did,” Updyke told Finebaum. “The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away. I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike 80DF in them.”
Finebaum, who wasn’t taking it all that seriously, asked, “Did they die?”
“They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die,” Updyke said.
Finebaum then asked, “Is that against the law to poison a tree?
“Do you think I care?” Updyke said. “I really don’t. Roll damn Tide.”
Updyke did poison the famed oaks on Toomer’s Corner, which had stood for more than 70 years as a gathering place for Auburn fans to celebrate. The school fought to save the trees, but in 2013, they had to be removed.
Updyke, who died in 2020, was charged with criminal mischief, desecrating a venerated object and damaging agriculture. He was later convicted of felony criminal damage of an agricultural facility, served more than 70 days in jail and was ordered to pay about $800,000 in restitution. — Alex Scarborough
Quote that defines the rivalry: From 1904 to 1988, every Iron Bowl was played in Birmingham, which was only an hour’s drive from the University of Alabama but twice as far from Auburn. When Pat Dye took over as coach at Auburn in 1981, he wanted to change that. But his former boss, Bryant, said they’d never agree to it as long as he was still coaching. To which Dye famously replied, “You ain’t gon’ coach forever.” Bryant reminded Dye that they had a contract to play in Birmingham through 1988. Fine, Dye said, they’d play the game in Auburn in 1989 then. And they did. The 11th-ranked Tigers upset No. 2 Alabama 30-20 in the first rivalry game ever played in their home stadium. Afterward, Dye told his team how much that meant to him: “Sure I’d like to be 11-0, but I wouldn’t swap this year for any year that I’ve been at Auburn.”
Better known as: Territorial Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: Arizona, 50-46-1
Current streak: Arizona, 1
Wildest on-field moment: Arizona State had already locked up a berth in the Rose Bowl when it traveled to Tucson in 1986, and the only blemish on its record was a tie. Down 24-10 late in the third quarter, the Sun Devils were driving with a chance to make it a one-score game. On third-and-goal, Chuck Cecil stepped in front of a Jeff Van Raaphorst pass six yards deep in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown. The touchdown sealed a famous win for Arizona and, perhaps more importantly, prevented Arizona State from finishing undefeated. For Arizona, Cecil’s interception return stands as one of the most iconic moments in program history.
Strangest off-field moment: Unlike most long-standing rivalries, there hasn’t been one iconic trophy on the line in the Arizona-ASU football game for a significant period of time. Multiple trophies have cycled in and out over the past 70 years or so. Still, the Territorial Cup is the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, dating back to 1899. After its debut more than a century ago, the Cup went missing for the next 80 years, only to be discovered in a church basement in 1980. It has been awarded to the winner of the game since 2001. — Kyle Bonagura
Quote that defines the rivalry: “This rivalry goes back [to 1899]. The Territorial Cup has really emotional fan bases when it comes to this football game. It’s one of longest rivalries in college football, so that’s always good. The guys that have played in this game have competed in it; they understand the validity of it.” — Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards, 2018
Better known as: Commonwealth Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ACC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: Virginia Tech, 60-38-5 (acc. to Tech); Virginia Tech, 58-38-5 (acc. to UVA)
Current streak: Virginia Tech, 2 (and 17 of the past 18)
Wildest on-field moment: Virginia held a commanding 29-14 lead entering the fourth quarter of the 1995 installment of the Commonwealth Cup. The Hokies stormed back on the arm of signal-caller Jim Druckenmiller, taking a one-point lead with 47 seconds to play. UVA’s final comeback attempt was thwarted when Virginia Tech’s Antonio Banks picked off a pass and returned it for a score. But what’s most remembered from that play is Virginia trainer Joe Gieck sticking his foot out in a feigned attempt to trip Banks as the Hokies’ defender raced down the Cavaliers sideline. Gieck insisted the incident was just a joke and that he never came close to tripping Banks, adding, “I’ve seen too many people break a tibia [doing that] in soccer.”
Strangest off-field moment: These days, Virginia Tech players expect wins against their chief rival, but at the turn of the 20th century, things were different. Hence the story of the long career of Hunter Carpenter, a future Hall of Fame halfback who played for the Hokies from 1899 through 1903. In 1899, Carpenter’s team was demolished by Virginia, and he vowed revenge. Unfortunately for Carpenter, he lost again in 1900 and 1901 and 1902 and 1903. Inexplicably, Carpenter then enrolled at North Carolina — a far better football program at the time — in hopes he might finally beat Virginia in 1904. He lost again. In 1905, Carpenter returned to Virginia Tech — his eighth year playing college football — and faced allegations by the UVA newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, that he was being paid. He was forced to sign an affidavit denying it, and he finally got his win. The outcome became so contentious that Virginia refused to play the Hokies again until 1923. — David M. Hale
Quote that defines the rivalry: In 1989, former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was dealing with heart problems, which raised alarms when he collapsed on the sideline during the Hokies game with Virginia that year. It turns out, Beamer had actually been on the receiving end of an errant elbow during a tackle attempt. “So, I got this heart issue going,” Beamer said, “I got a tooth knocked out, and we lost the game.” No doubt the score was the one that bothered Beamer most.
Better known as: Apple Cup
This year’s game: Saturday, 4 p.m., Fox
All-time record: Washington, 75-33-6
Current streak: Washington, 1
Wildest on-field moment: When an individual game within a rivalry is branded with its own name, it’s a good indicator that something unique took place. For the Apple Cup, the Snow Bowl is that game. After climbing to No. 13 in the AP poll a few weeks earlier, Washington State had lost three of four and entered the 1992 Apple Cup at home against No. 5 Washington. The Huskies had been ranked No. 1 until a loss to No. 12 Arizona two weeks prior but had still already locked up a trip to the Rose Bowl.
It began to snow the morning of the game and really started to come down after kickoff. At halftime, Washington, which was led by quarterback Mark Brunell, led 7-6 at halftime as neither team could find any sort of an offensive rhythm. In blizzard-like conditions in the second half, everything changed. WSU quarterback Drew Bledsoe caught fire and led the Cougars to 29 third-quarter points, including one of the most iconic plays in WSU and Apple Cup history: a 44-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Bobo, who slid into a snowbank underneath the goalpost after making the catch.
Strangest off-field moment: A lot of what made the 2002 game strange — for all the wrong reasons — technically took place on the field, but not until the game was over. Unranked Washington beat No. 3 Washington State 29-26 in triple overtime in a game that ended when the officials ruled a WSU bubble screen was a backward pass and recovered by Washington. The response from the crowd at Pullman’s Martin Stadium was ugly, as fans rained down bottles and whatever else they had at their disposal toward the field. Washington star wide receiver Reggie Williams was pelted with a bottle, and UW athletic director Barbara Hedges stated she “feared for her life,” marring the end of one of the best WSU regular seasons in history. — Kyle Bonagura
Quote that defines the rivalry: “One game doesn’t make a season, but the people who say that haven’t participated in the Apple Cup.” — former WSU coach Mike Price
Better known as: Sunshine Showdown
This year’s game: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN and ESPN App
All-time record: Florida, 37-27-2
Current streak: Florida State, 1
Wildest on-field moment: It is so hard to choose between the Choke at Doak in 1994 or the Sugar Bowl in 1997 when Florida won the national championship or Florida upsetting No. 1 Florida State 32-29 by rotating quarterbacks in 1997 or Doug Johnson throwing a football near Bobby Bowden’s head during a pregame brawl in 1998 or a postgame fight between the teams in 2003 after Florida State started stomping on the logo at midfield (a game marred by horrific officiating calls). As you can see, there have been plenty of wild moments. But if we had to choose one, the most notable has to be the Choke at Doak, when Florida blew a 31-3 fourth-quarter lead in Tallahassee. The game ended in a 31-31 tie, but it felt like a win to many Seminoles. Florida coach Steve Spurrier said of the game, “They were all bragging about the tie. I said, ‘Hell, it’s the same for you as it is for us.'” Spurrier never did beat Florida State in Tallahassee.
Strangest off-field moment: Perhaps the most contentious moment in the rivalry happened after their 1996 regular-season matchup, when Spurrier accused Florida State coach Bobby Bowden of trying to deliberately take out quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Florida State won the game 24-21, but the teams ended up in a rematch in the Sugar Bowl to decide the national championship. Bowden said of the accusations: “We might hit ’til the echo instead of just the whistle. We try to do it legally. They usually call it if it’s too late.” It was not a good enough explanation for Spurrier, who said, “We are not going to go to the Sugar Bowl and take the crap that we took in Tallahassee. Maybe we’re declaring war on the Seminoles, and maybe they’ve declared war on us, but we’re looking forward to competing with them — not for a national championship, not for anything except trying to beat them. That should be as big a goal as we could possibly have.” Florida won the rematch 52-20 to claim its first national title. — Andrea Adelson
Quote that defines the rivalry: “You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.” — Spurrier
Better known as: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate
This year’s game: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC and ESPN App
All-time record: Georgia, 70-39-5 (acc. to Georgia); 70-41-5 (acc. to Tech)
Current streak: Georgia, 5 (and 18 of the past 21)
Wildest on-field moment: In the 1999 edition in Atlanta, the score was tied at 48 with 13 seconds to go. Georgia had the ball at Tech’s 2-yard line on first-and-goal. Instead of kicking a field goal to potentially win the game, Georgia coach Jim Donnan elected to go for a touchdown. Jasper Sanks took a handoff, dove for the goal line and — depending on which side you were on — either fumbled or was down before losing the ball. TV replays showed Sanks was down, but it was before the introduction of instant replay rules. So, the only thing that mattered was the officials ruled Sanks fumbled the ball, and Georgia Tech took possession at its 1-yard line. The game went into overtime, and Tech’s Luke Manget kicked a field goal to give the Yellow Jackets a controversial 51-48 victory. The next week, then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer suspended referee Al Ford and his six-man crew from working the SEC championship game.
Wildest off-field moment: The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets don’t agree about much of anything, including the all-time series record. Georgia says it has a 68-39-5 advantage; the Yellow Jackets claim 41 victories in the series. The dispute lies in games played during World War II, in 1943 and 1944, during which Georgia Tech won by a combined score of 92-0. Many of the Bulldogs’ best players from their 1942 national championship enlisted in the war, so there wasn’t a single returning starter. In fact, most of Georgia’s players were under the age of 18 and weren’t eligible for the military draft. Conversely, Georgia Tech benefited from having an on-campus Navy V-12 Program, from which it was able to recruit football players, as well as a Navy flight school, which attracted players from other schools. Georgia still distinguishes the disputed games in its media guide and record books with asterisks. — Mark Schlabach
Quote that defines the rivalry: “Lose to Tech, you don’t put up a Christmas tree. That’s my rule.” — Erk Russell, whose family apparently went without the holiday tradition only four times in his 17 seasons as Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 1964 to 1980.
Better known as: Palmetto Bowl
This year’s game: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: Clemson, 72-43-4
Current streak: South Carolina, 1
Wildest on-field moment: The nation’s second-longest continuously played rivalry (it ended at 111 games last year; thanks COVID-19) is packed with title-worthy moments, from The Return and The Brawl to The Catch and The Catch II (or as Gamecocks fans call it, The Push-Off). But the peak pissed-off moment of the game’s history happened in 1992. That’s when cocky, rattail-wearing quarterback Steve Taneyhill took over a South Carolina team that had started the season 0-5 and led the Gamecocks to four wins in his five starts, including an upset 24-13 victory over the reeling Tigers. Taneyhill threw for nearly 300 yards in the cold rain, and along the way, he stood on the bench and taunted the orange crowd, swung an imaginary baseball bat, was carried off the field by jubilant fans and, most notably, ran to Death Valley’s midfield and acted as if he was signing his autograph atop Clemson’s sacred Tiger Paw logo. A poster of that moment is still on display in sports bars and man caves from Charleston to Greenville.
Strangest off-field moment: OK, so it was on the field, but it involved a bunch of guys who should have been off the field. In 1961, Clemson took the field in Columbia and started their pregame warm-ups, but they were the weirdest warm-ups ever, including dancing and stumbling and dropping passes. They even convinced the Clemson band to play the “Tiger Rag.” But when the real Tigers jogged out, confused and then angry, the crowd realized that the “team” they’d been watching was instead members of South Carolina’s Sigma Nu fraternity. — Ryan McGee
Quote that defines the rivalry: “They ain’t Alabama. They ain’t LSU. And they’re certainly not Clemson. That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California and the university in this state always has been, always will be, Clemson.” — Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, 2011
Better known as: Carolina-State
This year’s game: Saturday, 8 p.m., ACC Network and ESPN App
All-time record: UNC, 68-38-6
Current streak: NC State, 2
Wildest on-field moment: This game has never been as big of a deal as it should be, at least not nationally. When these squads met as ranked teams one year ago, it was only the third time in 110 meetings that both teams were in the AP Top 25. But forget that neither one of these Tobacco Road anchors has been as good at football as they should be or that they have inexplicably kept this game off the final weekend of the schedule more often than not; this is a game that generates plenty of heat across the Old North State. (Trust me: I grew up dodging postgame fights in the Carter-Finley Stadium parking lot.) The 2004 edition of the game was in Chapel Hill, and the home crowd was left heartbroken when Wolfpack tailback T.A. McLendon rumbled into the end zone for a game-tying TD in the closing seconds, with the would-be game-winning PAT forthcoming. As one goal line official signaled touchdown, another ran in and said McLendon’s knee had hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line. On the next play, McClendon ran it in again, this time going airborne. UNC’s Khalif Mitchell blasted the ball from McClendon’s grasp, and the game ended with a Tar Heels fumble recovery and a 30-24 win.
Strangest off-field moment: After the 1905 game ended in a 0-0 score, the third straight tie in the rivalry, the NC State football team received a congratulatory telegram from Trinity College, a little school in nearby Durham that had yet to start a football program. In 1925, Trinity changed its name to Duke. — Ryan McGee
Quote that defines the rivalry: “You might not hear much about that game around the country, and that’s fine. But if you ever walk into a bar anywhere in the state of North Carolina and you see a guy in khakis and his Carolina polo staring at a guy in his jeans and an NC State T-shirt, clear the room, because it’s about to go down.” — Philip Rivers, NC State quarterback, 2000-03, who posted a 3-1 record vs. UNC