10 SEC Football Rivalries That Count (Because There's a Trophy!)
Every conference has their football rivalries and the SEC is no different. The rivalry games are the best games of the season. Win against your biggest rival and even a bad season becomes good. Lose and the season is lost, even if that was your only loss.
The best rivalries have two things: A name and a trophy. In this slide show I have three things: A name, a trophy and at least one SEC Team.
This is how we do it in the SEC!
The Battle For The Beer Barrel (aka The Border War)
The prize: The Beer Barrel
The original Battle for the Beer Barrel was conceived in 1925 by a Kentucky booster club for the football rivalry with Tennessee, so that the series would have a trophy similar to Purdue’s Old Oaken Bucket and Michigan’s Little Brown Jug.
Tennessee held a 60-23-9 edge in the series with Kentucky when the Beer Barrel trophy game was discontinued due to the tragic deaths of several Kentucky football players in 1997 in an alcohol-related car crash.
In addition to the schools' rivalry, blood banks in the home cities of each university (Lexington, Kentucky and Knoxville, Tennessee) compete to see who can raise the most units of blood. This is known informally as the Blue-Orange Crush.
Tennessee leads the series 72-23-9
The Palmetto Bowl (aka The Battle Of The Palmetto State)
The prize: The Hardee's Trophy
The longest uninterrupted rivalry in the South, and the third longest overall, belongs to the University of South Carolina and Clemson. This game has been played every year since 1909.
The origins of this rivalry are too involved for a simple slide show. Suffice it to say its roots are buried in the Confederacy, post-Civil War Reconstruction, bitterness between the Low Country and the Upcountry, Republicans vs. Democrats, farmers vs. city folks, racism, embezzling, court battles over endowments and wills, etc... All before Clemson even became a school. This is one nasty rivalry.
"There’s a history of bad blood between these institutions," says Jay McCormick, a doctoral candidate at USC. "So when athletics came to Carolina and to Clemson, it was natural that they should be a rivalry. The rivalry extends back to political and social origins. It’s not just an athletic rivalry. It’s a manifestation of these things."
Approximately forty games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Clemson has more wins against South Carolina than any other program.
Clemson leads the series 65-38-4.
The Egg Bowl (aka The Battle For The Golden Egg)
The prize: The Golden Egg Trophy
The 10th longest running uninterrupted rivalry in the nation goes to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Like many rivalries, the Golden Egg Trophy has its roots in in violence.
For the first 23 years of this rivalry Ole Miss had only won 5 games. In 1926 Ole Miss beat Mississippi State (then known as Mississippi A&M) 7-6. The Ole Miss fans rushed the field and several of them began tearing down the Mississippi goal posts.
They were met by A&M students who defended their school's property with fists and wooden chairs. Many injuries were sustained by students from both schools.
Students from both schools came together and created "The Golden Egg" in order to avoid such conflicts in the future. It's not actually an egg. The football of the 1920s was more ovoid and blunted than they are today.
In years that the game end in a tie the previous year's winner keeps "The Golden Egg" for the first six months, and the other school gets it for the remainder of the year.
Mississippi leads the series 60-40-6.
The Magnolia Bowl
The prize: The Magnolia Bowl Trophy
Once known simply as the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry, this game was renamed The Magnolia Bowl in 2008 by a vote of both student bodies due to the recent reemergence of both programs. The Magnolia is the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi.
The trophy was designed by an LSU sculpture major with input by both student body leaders. And it's ugly. But it made the list because it met all three criteria: a name, a trophy and an SEC school.
With this year’s 97th meeting, the series is the second-most played for Ole Miss and tied for second-most for LSU.
Although LSU leads the series 55-39-4, Ole Miss has owned the trophy since its creation (2008).
The Battle for the Rag
The prize: The Tiger Rag or The Victory Flag, depending on who wins.
The winner between LSU and Tulane gets this satin trophy flag known as the Tiger Rag at LSU and the Victory Flag at Tulane.
First created in 1940, the flag was probably made to ease the growing tension between the two schools that culminated in a riot after Tulane's victory in 1938.
The original flag is thought to have been destroyed in a fire at Tulane's University Center in 1982. In 2001, LSU and Tulane worked together to create a reconstruction of the rag based upon archived photographs.
The rivalry, officially renewed in 2006 after a 12 year break, will end after one more match-up. In order to save money LSU agreed to pay Tulane $700K to void the final six years of the home and home series.
They will meet for one final game in New Orleans at a future date, winner keeps the flag.
LSU leads the series 69-22-7
The Battle For The Governor's Cup
The prize: The Governor's Cup
Kentucky and Louisville began playing each other in football in 1912. After Kentucky won the first six game while holding Louisville scoreless the rivalry took a 70 year hiatus.
The Governor's Cup was introduced in 1994 when the rivalry was reinstated.
Kentucky owns the series 13-9 but Louisville leads in The Governor's Cup competition 9-7.
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate
The prize: The Governor's Cup
The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech's rivalry is as old as Georgia Tech itself. This rivalry first started with the choosing of the location of the Georgia Tech campus, and has been inflamed by school colors, WWI, WWII and fight songs.
Depending which school you talk to this game has been played either 104 times (Georgia Tech) or 102 times (University of Georgia).
Georgia refuses to count the games in 1943 and 1944 (both years in which Georgia Tech won) because many of their players went to fight in World War II, though official college football records include the games.
The University of Georgia leads the series 60-39-5.
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
The prize: The Okefenokee Oar
The Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic/Georgia vs. Florida Football Classic (depending on who is designated as the home team), played in Jacksonville, Fl. since 1933, is one of the few remaining neutral site rivalries being played today.
The trophy, The Okefenokee Oar, was first used in the 2009 game. Carved from an Okefenokee Swamp cypress tree estimated to be 1,000 years old, the Okefenokee Oar is a joint effort between the University of Florida and University of Georgia student governments. The Oar symbolizes a border dispute between Florida and Georgia that took place during the colonial period. The Florida-Georgia border runs through the Okefenokee Swamp.
Due to sensitivity about the over-consumption of alcohol by students and other attendees, the nickname "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" has been dropped from most official usage. "The War For The Oar" is the more preferred name of the rivalry now.
The University of Georgia leads the series 46-39-2.
Battle for the Seminole War Canoe
The prize: The Seminole War Canoe
Although Miami's and the University of Florida's rivalry dates back longer than UF's rivalry with Florida State University (ten years before FSU fielded their first team), they have only played 39 times. This is due in part to the SEC requiring member schools to play eight conference games in 1987.
The two teams have met only five times since.
The Seminole War Canoe Trophy was hand carved by Seminole Indians from a 200-year-old cypress tree that was struck by lightning. Donated on the behalf of Hollywood, Florida in 1950, it has been an award given to the winner of football games between the schools.
The Trophy is on permanent display at the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. The importance of the canoe has been diminished since the 1970s. At one point Miami thought it was taking up too much room and it eventually found itself in a trash pile on the Coral Gables campus, where it was discovered and rescued by former UM player Don Mariutto and former coach Walk Kichefski.
Miami leads the series 28-26.
The Battle for the Golden Boot
The prize: The Golden Boot
Although the first game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the LSU tigers occurred in 1901, the rivalry between the teams intensified after Arkansas' entrance into the Southeastern Conference in 1992, and later in 1996 with the first awarding of the "Golden Boot" and the official titling of the game "The Battle for the Golden Boot". The game is now generally played on the day after Thanksgiving.
The Golden Boot is molded from 24-karat gold in the shape of the states of Arkansas and Louisiana. The trophy stands four feet in height, weighs nearly 200 pounds and is valued at $10,000. It is believed to be the heaviest trophy awarded in a college football rivalry.
LSU leads the series 34-19-2
The Iron Bowl
The prize: James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy
The University of Alabama and Auburn University (then known as the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College) first played at Birmingham's Lakeview Park on February 22, 1893 before about 450 spectators.
In 1907 money within the game contracts, plus the fact that Auburn wanted an unbiased "Northern man" to officiate the game put an end to the rivalry for 40 years.
In 1947 Alabama and Auburn (then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute) re-instituted the rivalry and moved the game to 44,000 seat Legion Field. By 1980 the series had come to be called the Iron Bowl, due to Birmingham's prominence as a center of iron and steel production.
In 1989 the rivalry became a "home and home" series, though Alabama continued to play their "home" game at Legion Field until 2000, when Alabama moved the game to Bryant/Denny.
The trophy given to the winner of the game is the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Award. It is named after James E. Foy, an Alabama graduate and former Auburn dean of students and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society – which was established on both campuses during the 1920s. The Foy Trophy is presented at halftime of the Auburn–Alabama basketball game later in the same academic year at the winner's coliseum. After the trophy presentation, the SGA President of the losing school must recite his or her adversary's fight song.
Alabama leads the series 40-33-1.