The sport of college football is built upon its history and tradition. Each week during the season, FootballMatters.org will take a look at some of the history behind some of the upcoming weekend’s top games.
#20 USC at #4 Washington, Saturday, November, 12, 2016, 6:30 pm, Fox
All-Time Series: USC lead 50-24-4 over Washington.
First Played: 1923
These two West Coast powerhouses have had a long-standing rivalry dating back to the 1920s, and it has usually revolved around a Head Coach. USC’s John McKay and Washington’s Don James dueled for nearly two decades, dividing five national championships between them. Prior to James, the Huskies and Hall of Fame Head Coach Jim Owens were tormented by the Men of Troy, while USC’s John Robinson had his fill of the UW during his tenure. Recent match ups between the schools have produced some instant classics. With both teams in the top 25 and Washington in line for a berth in the College Football Playoffs, the stakes between these two schools have rarely been higher. Notable games include:
November 16, 1974 – The 1974 incarnation of the USC Trojans were a true powerhouse. Head Coach John McKay’s squad was loaded on both sides of the ball with talented, all-time great players. Quarterback Pat Haden, wide receiver Lynn Swann, and running back Anthony Davis were the cogs in the Trojan machine that drove their impressive offense. They welcomed their then-unranked rivals into the Los Angeles Coliseum for what turned out to be a one-sided affair. Huskies Head Coach Jim Owens was once again stymied by his rival and the Huskies were upended by USC by a final score of 43-23. For Washington, this led the way to a sub-500 season; for the Trojans, they would finish the season 8-0-1 record, the Pac-8 championship, a berth in the Rose Bowl and a share of the national championship.
September 22, 1990 – Prior to the 1990 season, the winner of the annual USC-Washington contest had gone to the Rose Bowl in 10 of the previous 13 seasons, and this game continued that trend. The night prior to the game and during halftime at Husky Stadium, Washington honored their All-Centennial team. Pep talks were given to the #21 ranked Huskies before they faced the #5 Trojans by all-time greats Hugh McElhenny and Nesby Glasgow. A crowd of over 72,000 bore witness to a rare shutout with the Huskies prevailing 31-0. This was USC’s worst defeat in 30 years and Tailback U’s fabled “Student Body Right” was held in check by All-American Steve Emtman and his fellow defensive mates to just 28 yards. Trojan signal caller Todd Marinovich was sacked three times and harried countless other times on the day. When asked about the pressure, Marinovich famously said: “I just saw purple. That’s all. No numbers, just purple.”
October 2, 2010 – In 2009, the Washington Huskies, led by future Trojans Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, upset the then #3 ranked Trojans at Husky Stadium. The win thrust Washington into the top 25 to close out the season and derailed any hopes of a run at the National Championship for Southern Cal. In 2010, Lane Kiffin took over the reigns from the recently departed Pete Carroll and his Trojans welcomed in the Huskies to the Coliseum hoping to avenge the previous season’s defeat. The Huskies hadn’t won in Los Angeles since 1996 and were in the midst of a 13-game road losing streak. Quarterback Jake Locker was a force on the field that day for Washington. He completed 24 of 40 pass attempts for over 300 yards and also ran for 111 yards; his heroics would have been in vain however, if not for the performance of junior placekicker Erik Folk. In 2009, with three-seconds left, Folk drilled a 22-yard game winner for the Huskies. In 2010, it was deja vu. Despite two consecutive timeouts called by Kiffin in an effort to “ice” him, Folk nailed a 32-yarder as time expired.
Kentucky at Tennessee, Saturday, November 12, 11:00 am, SEC Network at Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads 79-24-9 Kentucky.
First Played: 1893
While in recent years, this annual match up has been more competitive on the basketball courts than the football field, there is still a deep-seated rivalry between the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers. Less than 200 miles separates Lexington, KY, and Knoxville, TN, and this close proximity has created some classic games in the past. The annual tilt used to be known as the Battle for the Beer Barrel; the trophy, a wooden barrel that was painted half blue and half orange, it was given out to the winner each year from 1927 to 1997. In 1953, the Wildcats won against their cross-state rivals, but a group of Tennessee students absconded with the barrel. In retaliation, Kentucky students dog-napped the Volunteers beloved hound dog mascot Smokey! This year, the contest has high stakes as both the Volunteers and Wildcats are challenging for the SEC East crown. Notable game include:
November 25, 1950 – The 1950s were the only decade in which the University of Kentucky had the true upper hand against their SEC rivals. There was good reason for this though, as guiding them during that time was none other than the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. The clash between the two schools in 1950 promised to be an epic one. The Wildcats offense was driven by a powerful offensive line, led by All-American Bob Gain, who would go on to win that year’s Outland Trophy and later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Volunteers boasted a Hall of Famer of their own on the sidelines in Head Coach Robert Neyland. On the field, the great Doug Atkins was cementing his legacy as a future Pro Football and College Football Hall of Famer by terrorizing offenses from his spot at defensive end. The game between the two took place in Knoxville at Shield-Watkins Field; the Wildcats came in undefeated and ranked #3 in the nation; the Vols came in on a seven-game winning streak and were ranked #9. When the final whistle blew, the Volunteers handed Bryant his only loss of the year, 7-0 and cost the Cats a chance at a national championship.
November 24, 2007 – Commonwealth Stadium was the site for what turned out to be an epic showdown between the Wildcats and Volunteers in 2007. Tennessee traveled to Lexington looking to clinch the SEC East title and earn a trip to the SEC Championship Game. Kentucky came in backed by one of its strongest teams in years and they were fresh off of upsetting then #1 ranked LSU. Wildcats quarterback Andre Woodson was having a stellar season and the team overall was looking to end their current 22-game skid to the Volunteers. Four quarters would not be enough for this game, nor would three overtimes! At the start of the fourth overtime, Volunteers signal caller Erik Ainge connected with wide receiver Quintin Hancock for a touchdown strike on the first-play from scrimmage and converted their two-point conversion. Tennessee stopped Kentucky’s two-point try and earn a berth in the SEC championship game. Vols Head Coach Phillip Fulmer would finish his career the next season without losing a game to Kentucky.
November 26, 2011 – By the time the 2011 season rolled around, the Wildcats losing streak to their arch rivals had reached 26 games. Injuries greatly hampered Tennessee; Head Coach Derek Dooley was forced to turn to wide receiver Matt Roark to lead his offense after injuries to both his number one and number two quarterbacks. The fans at Commonwealth Stadium were witness to history as their Wildcats snapped the losing streak with a final score of 10-7 in the final game of the season.
Texas Tech at #13 Oklahoma State, 2:30pm, FS1, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
All-Time Series: Texas Tech leads 21-19-3 over Oklahoma State.
First Played: 1935
The Oklahoma State University Cowboys and Texas Tech University Red Raiders are two of the inaugural members of the Big XII Conference. Over the years, the two programs have been responsible for the offensive explosion that has become trademark of spread offense in college football. Innovators like former Red Raiders Head Coach Mike Leach and Spike Dykes and Cowboys Head Coaches Jimmy Johnson and Les Miles have brought innovation on both sides of the ball. Current coaches Kliff Kingsbury and Mike Gundy were both former quarterbacks for their respective alma maters and their offensive philosophies are sure to keep the scoreboard operators busy on Saturday. Notable games include:
November 2, 1935 – Tech Field in Lubbock was the site of the first ever meeting between the Texas Technological College Matadors and the Oklahoma A&M Cowboys. Led by former Carlilse Industrial Indian School star Albert Exendine, the Cowboys were still finding their footing in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Matadors were quickly becoming a force in the Border Conference. Defense was the name of the game back then and the Matadors and Cowboys were evenly matched. The first match up between the two rivals ended in a 14-0 shutout in favor of Tech. It would be one of the rare shutouts in the series’ history.
December 3, 1988 – The Cowboys and Red Raiders met each other as part of the 1988 Coca-Cola Classic in the most unlikely of locations ever between these longtime rivals: the famed Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. This game turned out to be a real barn burner for the fans in attendance and one of the most thrilling between the two teams in their history. As part of his offensive arsenal, Cowboys Head Coach Pat Jones had one of the game’s true all-time greats to rely upon in his backfield in junior running back Barry Sanders. During this back and forth match up, Sanders capped off his amazing season by rushing for more than 300 yards and 4 touchdowns to finish the season with 2,628 yards. The game ended 45-42 in favor of OSU and Sanders learned he had won that year’s Heisman Trophy by watching it on Tokyo television.
November 8, 2008 – Near the close of the 20th century, Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock was the site for this clash between the two schools. This game marked the first time that both schools played each other while being ranked in the top 25. The Red Raiders were riding high and came into the game ranked #2 under Head Coach Mike Leach and his dynamic passing duo of quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The Cowboys, who had not won in Lubbock since 1944, had their own tandem of aerial offensive weapons in Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant. The Red Raiders exploded offensively that afternoon, putting up 14 points in every quarter and won the game 56-20. Tech would finish the year ranked #12 and earning a spot in that year’s Cotton Bowl Classic; the Cowboys finished #14 with a spot in the Holiday Bowl.