Ri­val­ries lose luster when team teams are down

The Covington News - - Sports -

Let's as­sume col­lege foot­ball's ap­peal is school pride. If that's the case, it's per­fectly un­der­stand­able why any­one get into a game be­tween a 6-5 and 5-6 team.

In all hon­esty, it goes be­yond that. Col­lege foot­ball has a uni­ver­sal ap­peal to those whop en­joy a good time. Nearly all big col­lege foot­ball game is as­so­ci­ated with a party. The Sugar Bowl — a Mardi Gras at­mos­phere in New Or­leans. The Ge­or­gia-Florida game with its ridicu­lous nick­name. It seems like the al­lure of col­lege foot­ball is get­ting tore up and paint­ing lit­tle lo­gos on your face. But not ev­ery­one looks at that way.

Take an old ri­valry like Michi­gan-Ohio State, two teams that have tra­di­tion­ally net at the end of the sea­son since 1935. These ri­val­ries run gen­er­a­tions deep. There may be some whiskey sip­ping go­ing on in the stands, but it's more likely to keep warm than any­thing else.

So many times a ri­valry game like the Ge­or­gia-Ge­or­gia Tech matchup turns out to be the high­light of a school's year. Ask any Michi­gan fan the past few years and they'd tell you a win over Ohio State would erase all that los­ing. So when two teams suf­fer­ing through down years like Ge­or­gia and Ge­or­gia Tech have, the ri­valry game is for brag­ging rights. It's to ease the pain of a bad year.

So of­ten you can also throw the records out the win­dow when ri­vals get to­gether. That's why de­spite an in­fe­rior 5-2 record, Alabama al­most knocked off un­de­feated Auburn. It's also why Ge­or­gia strug­gles against Florida (who re­ally isn’t a ri­val so much as a con­test of fans to see which one can party harder). Some­times the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pect

of the game is worth two touch­downs.

A bad team can save a sea­son with a win over a ri­val. It only hap­pens in col­lege foot­ball. Sure, a Pack­ers win over the Bears is great, but if Green Bay fin­ished the year at 8-8 and missed the play­offs, it wouldn't mean any­thing. But in col­lege, so many times, it's all about who wins that ri­valry game.

Of course, the best sce­nario is when two ri­vals meet at the end of the sea- son with some­thing on the line. Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship games of­ten de­liver this. Be­cause the truth is, a foot­ball game is so much bet­ter when there's some­thing on the line. One game should not make a sea­son. When ri­vals are down and the out­come is mean­ing­less, it's not as much fun. It's good to win. It's just not much fun be­ing a loser.

Josh Briggs

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