Mad Thoughts

Mad Thoughts: Rivalry Week is More Than Just a Game

Bobak Ha'EriNebraska football has some of the best fans in college football. Memorial Stadium, Husker football home field, holds an ongoing NCAA record of 354 consecutive sellouts.

College football rivalry week: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Although it symbolizes the end of college football’s regular season, it never disappoints. That is, unless your team doesn’t come out victorious.

Rivalry week generally lives up to its hype. Teams and fans go all out to prepare for their most important games of the season. The Ohio State University takes it to the next level, crossing out every letter “M” on campus with red tape ahead of its game against the University of Michigan.

A rivalry week win is not merely another conference win or ticket into the conference championship game. Oh, no. It’s far more important than that. It’s for the cheap-looking trophy and basking in all the glory.

It’s for the 365 days of proudly boasting that your team is better than the latter.

Every team has its rival, and every year, week is full of exciting comebacks and upsets. This year, the University of Kentucky pulled a huge upset over the No. 16 University of Louisville with a 41-38 win. Georgia Tech University squeezed past the University of Georgia 28-27. And the University of Missouri pulled a comeback win over the University of Arkansas, after the Tigers’ head coach Barry Odom called a risky fake punt in the second half, which resulted in a first down and eventually a touchdown.

And Michigan vs. Ohio State. The face-off between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes was inarguably THE Game of the Year. The Buckeyes won 30-27 in double-overtime after a controversial first down call. You could hear Wolverines fans screaming in anguish from across Lake Michigan.

It’s not just fans and players who get into it, though. The coaching staffs feel the pressure, too. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has lost to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in their past two meetings, was fined $10,000 after he criticized the referees’ calls on Nov. 26, according to CBS Sports.

But with all the excitement surrounding rivalry week, do fans harbor authentic hate for their opponents or do they just get caught up in the excitement? Rivalry week is exploited by sponsors and investors, who amplify the aesthetics of the week to create this false hatred for an opposing team. Some might even call it a hoax to boost ratings and ticket sales. But die-hard fans can’t help but fall into the trap that is rivalry week. You must stand behind your team and truly feel some disgust toward the opponent.

I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska — home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. You can take the girl out of Nebraska, but you can’t take the Husker Red out of the girl. I was taught from a very young age that the Iowa Hawkeyes are no-good neighbors (I’ll save the specifics for another time).

Despite only meeting 47 times since 1891, the rivalry between the two teams is strong. But quite frankly, I’m not sure why. I have no reason to hate Iowa — other than the fact that “it’s Iowa.” I can’t help but cringe every time I see a Hawkeye logo pass me on the street; it’s rooted in my Husker Red blood.

Yes, Nebraska lost to its eastern neighbor 40-10 on Nov. 25. And yes, this was the second consecutive year we’ve lost to Iowa, but let me remind you that Nebraska leads the series 29-15-3.

Let me also compare some fun facts. Nebraska has three Heisman trophy winners: Johnny “the Jet” Rodgers (1972), Mike Rozier (1983) and Eric Crouch (2001). Iowa has one: Nile Kinnick (1939). Nebraska has 46 conference championship titles to Iowa’s measly 13 conference titles. Most importantly, Nebraska has five national championship rings. The Hawkeyes received their lone championship title in 1958.

So, sure, Iowa may have had Nebraska’s number this season and last season, but I think the stats speak for themselves as to why the Huskers are the more dominant program.

But my feeling the need to justify my team’s success only further demonstrates how deep football rivalries are instilled.

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