The Best Day In Football

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.22.2019


The Saturday Before Thanksgiving Showcases The Best The Sport Has To Offer

Most of us are already stressing over the travel, lines at the grocery store and mapping out a Black Friday attack. But in the midst of that I ask you to pause for a bit on Saturday and witness football in its truest form, playing for the love of the game.

Saturday features some of the oldest rivalries in all of sports. Lafayette v Lehigh will play the 155th time, Harvard will visit Yale for the 136th time and Montana will visit Montana State for,believe it or not, the 119th time. Not only is there a lot of history, not to mention some frigid temperatures, and some pretty good football.

 

The point here is that the overwhelming majority of the kids, seniors, who play in these games will never put on pads, line up and play the game of football again. Ever.

Think about that.

During the week you may play softball, basketball, tennis, even strap on pads for a pub hockey league but very, very few will ever practice, prepare and play a tackle football game again. Ever.

When most of us were 21 or 22 years old, we didn’t think of the finality of a part of our life ending. Probably don’t even think about it now. But all things come to an end and they certainly do on the field of play. No more early morning runs, weight lifting sessions, long bus rides or banter in the locker room. It all comes to an end and for most, it will be Saturday.

So this Saturday, take a minute to reflect and while you do, check out Harvard v Yale, USC v UCLA, Stanford v Cal, or Lafayette v Lehigh. You’ll see kids playing not because they’ll have a chance at the next level but because they love the game of football. Whether they admit it or not, they love the preparation,the travel, buckling up the chin strap a little tighter and lining up against the old school rival. It’s something to see and the last time you’ll see some of those kids ever play the game of football.

What To Watch Fri. 11/20 – Sun. 11/22

All times are Pacific.

Friday November 20th

Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.

Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.

Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.

 

Saturday November 21st

Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.

Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.

Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.

Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.

YaleHarvard at Yale  – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’

Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.

UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.

Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.

Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.

TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.

Cal at Stanford  – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.

Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.

 

Sunday November 22nd

Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.

Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.

Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings  – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.

Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.

Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.

Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.

 

 

 

The Death of Tradition

College Football is big money. You can see this most recently with the Big Ten conference adding Maryland and Rutgers. Not because of their football prowess but because of their geographical location and the markets they can open up (New York, Baltimore and Washington DC respectively). One of the by products of this money grab is the loss of traditional battles you would see at the end of the season.

When conferences began to merge and develop championship games one of the first rivalries to die was that of Nebraska vs Oklahoma. A series that dated back to November 23,1912 was ended due to the fact that Nebraska was in the North and Oklahoma was in the South. They did continue to meet every few years until Nebraska left the conference in 2011 for the Big Ten. Now Nebraska’s rivalry game the day after Thanksgiving is Iowa.

Other rivalries have fallen by the wayside due to conference realignment. Pittsburgh vs West Virginia (the Backyard Brawl) stopped play in 2011 after playing every year since 1943. Texas vs Texas A&M had been played, usually on Thanksgiving, every year since 1898. That came to ended this year when A&M moved over to the SEC and Texas started their own TV network. Texas is keeping the Thanksgiving day game by rotating in opponents such as TCU and Texas Tech but it will not be called the “Lone Star Battle”. Flying under the radar was the ending of the Kansas vs Missouri game which had been played for 120 consecutive years.

Not all rivalries come to end however. When the SEC expanded they somehow managed to keep some of the biggest rivalry games around with Auburn continuing to battle Georgia (the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry) and Tennessee continues to battle Alabama every “third week of October”. These match-ups continue even though half these teams play in the SEC East and the other in the SEC West.

Other schools have managed to keep their beloved rivalry game despite conference realignment. Florida still plays Florida St, Georgia still plays Georgia Tech, Florida St. still plays Miami, South Carolina plays Clemson and  BYU still finds time to play Utah in the “Holy War” (this game will stop for two years but will be resumed).

BYU vs Utah is an interesting case. Utah went from the Mountain West to the PAC-12 and BYU ended up becoming an independent team. BYU initially was a little ticked off that Utah went to the PAC-12 and was going to end the series. In the end, cooler heads prevailed and the game looks like it will continue to happen but not at it’s traditional end of the season date.

So why do some of these traditional rivalry games continue while others die off? You could point several directions but the most logical has to be at the administration. You could go other ways and claim that there isn’t enough room on an already tough conference schedule but in all reality, if these schools want the rivalry game to continue then they will find a way to make them happen. A lot of this you’d have to think just comes down to spite.

You’re going to that conference and cashing in without helping us? Oh yeah! Well we’ll just cancel the rivalry so there!

Please.

Sometimes you don’t really think about until you hit Thanksgiving and realize that Texas isn’t playing Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night. Nebraska isn’t going to battle Oklahoma. West Virginia isn’t going to have their annual slobber-knocker match up against Pitt. Then they get replace with games like TCU vs Texas and West Virginia vs Iowa St. Really?

The flip side to this of course is the rivalry games that continue seem to be that much more special. Michigan is still going to play Ohio State and the old “Iron Bowl” is still going to happen when Alabama and Auburn smack each other in the mouth on Saturday.

What would the fans and people do if these didn’t happen?

Some traditions do come to an end but in the world today with the world being as global as it is isn’t it nice to have something you can rely on like you’re traditional college football battles on Thanksgiving weekend? If it’s a real economic issue, wouldn’t more people show up to watch mediocre Pitt v West Virginia then the .500 Iowa St vs West Virginia?

In case you were wondering, the longest running rivalry in college football is Lehigh vs. Lafayette. They have played the game since 1884 and have met 148 times.