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MARTIN: What is the best college football rivalry?

By De'Vante Martin
On October 29, 2020

 With the attack of coronavirus, many conferences have scaled back to the play of non-conference opponents for football.

Conferences such as the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Southeastern Conference (SEC), and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) are playing either all conference games or mostly conference games. With the schedule being set up this way, it has some teams playing their rivalries earlier in the season. This begs the question, what is the best rivalry in college football? Many people opinions make the answer to this question vary, so I came up with a combination of things to sort out what the best rivalry is.

The first part of the criteria that I will use is competitiveness. I mean what is a rivalry if it is not a back and forth battle. The second part of the criteria is that the two schools need to play each other every year. What kind of rivalry is it if the teams do not play every year? The third part is the excitement behind the game as far as the sport on the field and also student and fan atmosphere. This is not a part of the actual football game, but it is definitely the surroundings of the game.

According to my criteria, I came up with Grambling-Southern as my top college football rivalry. It was a tough decision between Army-Navy, Grambling-Southern, and Texas-Oklahoma. Each series has its own uniqueness. Each series is also very competitive and have been for many years, but the Grambling-Southern game has met the criteria in each area equally. 

The Bayou Classic has one significant thing that I believe that edged out both the Army-Navy game and the Red River Showdown. Of many activities held during the conjunction, the well-attended and popular Battle of the Bands is performed. The Battle of the Bands is two part, where both the Human Jukebox (Southern University Band) and the World Famed (Grambling State University band) collide in a choregraphed battle. The first part is the day before the game which also has a Greek show. The second part is held during the game’s halftime show. 

The Classic is also very competitive on the field with Southern leading the all-time series 36-33 with two wins vacated. This game is always very important because both schools usually are in contention for the SWAC championship. Even though Grambling is behind in the series as of 2020, they hold the record for most SWAC championships with 25. Southern is a distance 2nd with 19.

Though this rivalry has always been a big in state rivalry, it has not always gotten the recognition it has deserved. Prior to the 1970s, the game was not a big media spectacle as it is today. Sooner rather than later, the game became big, and is on national television every single year. With its highly contested games, major events such as the battle of the bands, and the annual playing of the game, it is in my opinion the best college football rivalry. 

– De’Vante Martin is a Sophomore Mass Communication major from St. Joseph, La.  

 

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