BY: Ryan Moreland (@ryanmoreland)
They are the team you love to hate. The team that makes your blood boil just at the mention of their name. The team that you want to pound into the dirt and brag over for the next year. It is officially rivalry week in the CFSL and to honor that let’s look at some of the most heated rivalries in the CFSL.
Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State
Monday, 7 P.M. on Twitch
The battle for Oklahoma is simply known as Bedlam. The hard-fought rivalry has been a must-see game since Oklahoma joined the league in Season 10. Since then the Cowboys have managed to gain a small 3-2 series lead over the Sooner.
When asked to describe Oklahoma State in one word there was only one word that came to the mind of Oklahoma AD Dustin Hall, “Hate.” Oklahoma State’s AD Houston Freeman had a similar sentiment for the Sooners: “Disgust.” Freeman also said, “Bedlam is everything. The world kind of comes to a halt and the focus shifts purely on who can earn the bragging rights for another season.” Hall stated that “Bedlam is a chance at being the superior team in the state.” The one thing they both agreed on is that records don’t matter, only the win does.
The Sooners come into this matchup as the underdog, but that changes nothing for them. “[There is] nothing different from any other year…it always means the same,” said Hall. When asked what it felt like to beat the Cowboys Hall added, “The feeling that everything is right in the world yet again.”
The Backyard Brawl
West Virginia vs Pittsburgh
Monday, 9 P.M. CST on Twitch
This matchup may not have the playoff implications or CFSL history that some of the others on this list claim, but make no mistake; this will be one of the most heated battles. The Mountaineers will travel the 75 miles up I-79 to invade Pittsburgh on Monday night. Waiting for them will be a hungry Panthers team that wants one more chance this season to prove themselves.
Both teams are well aware of the significance of this game. “This is the most important game on our schedule,” West Virginia AD Nate Murphy said. He continued, “It would make our season.” Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator Justin Duke stated the conflict runs deeper than football. “It is the epitome of competition, it is coal vs steel. It’s family versus family,” Duke said. He later added, “It is the game of the year for both our programs.”
This will be the first-ever meeting between Pitt and WVU and it will be a chance for each program to set the tempo for what will hopefully be a long and meaningful rivalry in the CFSL. And not that either team needs more incentive, but the loser is likely to miss out on the postseason.
Oregon vs Washington
Oregon vs Washington
Thursday, 9 P.M. CST on Twitch
There is no nickname or trophy given to this rivalry. It doesn’t need frills and decoration. Oregon hates Washington and Washington hates Oregon. They like to keep it simple in the Pacific Northwest.
This has been a hotly contested rivalry. Oregon holds the current record at 3-2 and neither team has won more than two consecutive meetings over the other. This year Washington comes in as a major underdog. They only have one win on the season whereas the Ducks are a borderline playoff team. However, Oregon AD Michael Buck knows that can’t overlook their rival. “Even though we know Washington has had a terrible record this season, we know we are going to get their best,” Buck said. Washington’s AD Cole Mantell has his team hungry despite the disappointing season. “I won’t lie and say this season hasn’t been tough. Getting a win this week would mean a lot for us and the program,” said Mantell.
With a win, Oregon keeps their playoff hopes alive, as a loss would surely find them a spot in the PIT. Washington would like nothing more than to play spoiler to their rival and end their season on a high note.
The Iron Bowl
Auburn at Alabama
Friday, 6 P.M. CST
The last day of the regular season will start off with the Iron Bowl. Alabama leads the series 5-3 all-time, including the last two meetings. However, the Tigers have proved that they are not the same team they were last year. This should be a great matchup with high stakes for both teams.
Both sides show a lot of respect for each other (perhaps southern hospitality?), but they both desperately want this win. Alabama’s AD Cory Dobbins said, “I respect the hell out of both Pack and Allan, but I would love nothing more than to absolutely run it up a little Friday night and leave no doubt in who runs this state.” Auburn’s interim AD Allan Bargenquast stated that he respected Alabama, but he also added, “I dislike Alabama as much as anyone, and beating them would bring some personal gratification.”
Alabama comes into the game as a borderline playoff team looking to find a way into the top eight. Auburn seems like a sure-fire PIT team, but a win here should lock them in as one of the higher seeds in the CFSL’s secondary tournament. The Tigers are also looking forward to being the team to keep the Tide out of the playoffs.
Ohio State vs Michigan
Friday, 8 P.M. CST on Twitch
If there is a king among rivalries then The Game would wear the crown. They have played every year since Season 2 with an all-time record of 7-6 in favor of Michigan. To add to that hype, there is so much on the line this year. Whoever wins this game will win the Big10 and the automatic playoff bid. Not to mention a season’s worth of bragging rights.
“It’s the biggest rivalry game in all of college football,” said Michigan AD Justyn Veneklasen. Ohio State’s AD Jeff Melinyshyn added to that by saying, “It’s nasty, it’s hard hits, big plays, everything leaning on the next play. It’s what college football is all about.” When asked what beating Ohio State would mean for Michigan Veneklasen said, “Everything. This is the biggest game in Michigan football history in the CFSL.” When asked the same question Melinyshyn stated, “We’re the better team. We run the Big10. [Just] how it should be.”
The Buckeyes travel to the Big House as one of the two remaining unbeatens, but they could still lose the Big10 crown if the 5-2 Wolverines can pull off the upset. And nothing would please Michigan more. Last season Michigan traveled to Columbus with only one loss. At the time the Buckeyes only had one win. Proving that records do not matter in The Game, Ohio State upset Michigan. This is not something the Wolverines have forgotten.