When I was 7th grader in Durham, North Carolina, I had a teacher named Mrs. Crawford. She was a North Carolina fan. I rooted for Duke. The two universities are less than 10 miles apart. I think my rooting interest might have affected my grade.
That's a joke but not too far from the truth. These college football rivalries are pretty serious stuff.
As my friend John Bacon, author of “Fourth And Long: The Fight For The Soul Of College Football,” reminds me, "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" is how folks describe the annual game between Georgia and Georgia Tech. Those two old friends meet for the 107th time on Saturday.
And to the winners of these rivalry games go the spoils. College football rivals play for at least seven bells, four buckets and two spittoons. There are also beer barrels and bourbon buckets at stake.
"This is probably the biggest Alabama-Auburn tilt since 1971 when both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top five."
The Buckeyes are undefeated (11-0), the Wolverines 7-4. But as the cliche goes, throw out the record books when these teams collide.
I wonder where all those record books end up?
The rivalry game of the weekend that carries the biggest implications pits Auburn against Alabama. The Tigers and the Tide are playing in the 78th edition of the Iron Bowl, so-called because the traditional site of the game, Birmingham, had historic ties to the steel industry. It wasn't until 1989 that the folks at Auburn convinced the folks at Alabama that the game should be played, at least sometimes, on the Tigers' home turf. So tomorrow, the Iron Bowl will be played in Auburn, Alabama. And this one is about way more than bragging rights.
Alabama is the top team in the nation. Auburn is ranked 4th or 5th depending on the poll you watch. The winner of this game gets a berth in the Southeastern Conference title game but for the Crimson Tide of Alabama, a victory keeps them on track for a third straight national title. This is probably the biggest Alabama-Auburn tilt since 1971 when both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top five. Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan collected the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in America that season, but Alabama didn't seem to notice. The Tide rolled over the Tigers 31-7.
If memory serves me, one of the things we had to do in Mrs. Crawford's class was memorize the names of all the counties in North Carolina. There are 100 of them. Somehow, I did it — placed them correctly on the map.
If I was still a 7th grader, I could imagine her asking me to do it again if Duke wins Saturday.
This segment aired on November 29, 2013.
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