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The Story Behind College Football’s Best Rivalry Game Nicknames

How did the Platypus Trophy, the Battle for the Paniolo, and Clean, Old-fashioned Hate come to be? Boardroom has answers to your college football questions.

It’s that time in college football where the fiercest of all feuds are renewed: RIVALRY WEEK.

The bad blood that simmered all season is now allowed to surface, boiling over onto the field and among fans on both sides. One of the best parts about college football rivalries? The nicknames attached to the games and the trophies up for grabs. Here are a few of the best that we will see over the course of this Thanksgiving Week.

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“Rumble In the Rockies”

Colorado at Utah

Friday, Nov. 26, 4 p.m. ET (FOX)
All-time meetings: 67 (Series tied 32-32-3)

There is something charming in the symmetry of an all-time series that has spanned decades still being tied. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes renewed this rivalry in 2011 after five decades of dormancy. That was the year both schools joined the Pac-12.

Though this isn’t either team’s most-played rivalry, the “Rumble in the Rockies” moniker still remains one of the best for any rivalry game. The history behind the name choice isn’t as spectacularly enriched in folklore — it was the winning selection of a fan naming contest. Utah will have more to play for than Colorado, as they’re trying to secure a spot in the conference’s championship game. The Utes are favored and at home. Though Colorado has only three wins on the season, an unconventional Friday afternoon kickoff could be the foundation for a solid game.

–Johnathan Tillman

The Platypus Trophy (formerly “The Civil War”)

Oregon State at Oregon

Saturday, Nov. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
All-time meetings:
124 (Oregon leads 66-48-10)

It hasn’t officially been called “The Civil War” since 2020 when the practice was discontinued for perfectly legitimate reasons — but apart from all that, what do you do when your state’s two foremost college football teams are the Ducks and the Beavers? You combine their mascots into an animal that represents them both: the platypus. That’s how the state of Oregon’s football establishment settled on the Platypus Trophy to go to the winner of a series that dates back to 1894.

The trophy itself didn’t appear until 1959 and had a brief run as the award for the winner of the Oregon-Oregon State football game before disappearing. It resurfaced in the 1960s as the trophy awarded to the winner of the teams’ water polo rivalry.

The trophy didn’t actually return to the football field until 2005 when it re-resurfaced, this time in a closet on Oregon’s campus — because let’s face it, the trophy isn’t much to look at, neither side has fully embraced it. Let’s hope that changes soon. Look at this work of art:

This year’s game will be in Eugene with the hometown Ducks expected to roll as they continue their push for the College Football Playoff.

–Russell Steinberg

“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”

Georgia at Georgia Tech

Saturday, Nov. 27, Noon ET (ABC)
All-time meetings: 114 (Georgia leads 68-41-5)

No question, this’ll be a tall task for the Ramblin’ Wreck to make this game competitive, let alone pull out a victory. But no matter the year or the circumstances, this in-state rivalry is clean, it’s old-fashioned, and it’s all about the hate.

The two schools’ campuses may only be separated by 70 miles, but the gap in recent success seems wider than that. That closeness breeds a special kind of hatred and this has been a rivalry since the very first meeting in 1893. “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” was birthed by author Bill Cromartie and the history of the rivalry includes moments like chasing opponents onto train tracks and hindering conference readmission.

The Yellow Jackets’ proudest claims to fame in this series come from decades ago. First, Georgia Tech has the largest margin of victory in the history of the rivalry, winning 48-0 in 1943. Tech also has the longest win streak, winning eight in a row from 1949-1956. Georgia is the undisputed best team in college football, boasting the nation’s best defense and an unblemished record. But what makes rivalries special are those unexpected moments. Is one of those in story on Saturday?


“Deeper Than Hate”

Georgia Southern at Appalachian State

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2:30 p.m ET (ESPN+)
All-time meetings: 35 (Appalachian State leads 19-15-1)

For two teams that faced each other just once between 1939 and 1993, there’s plenty of animosity between the two sides, as the name of the rivalry suggests. It’s not a surprise either, as both sides have played annually since ’93, including in the Division I-AA quarterfinals in 2001 and while they each transitioned to FBS. It’s been a relatively even series overall, with the Eagles being the only ones to win more than three matchups in a row — four from 2000 to 2002.

They’ve played close games. They’ve played blowouts. They’ve played each other as the top-ranked team in FCS. After one game, App State students tore down the goalposts and one of them somehow ended up through the window of the Georgia Southern team bus. Yeah, the hate runs that deep.

This year, the Mountaineers have the clear advantage over a struggling 3-7 Eagles squad, but this game is never played out simply on paper.


“Battle for the Paniolo”

Hawaii at Wyoming

Saturday, Nov. 27, 3 p.m. ET (Spectrum Sports PPV)
All-time meetings: 25 (Wyoming leads 15-10)

“Paniolo” is the Hawaiian word for cowboy. And while the island state may not evoke your typical wild west imagery, there is some serious history there.

Cattle were first brought to the Hawaiian islands by Captain George Vancouver in 1793 — long before there was college football, or America’s west, for that matter. King Kamehameha, overseer of the land at the time, began establishing a culture of hunting and herding, creating a similar culture to the one established stateside. On the gridiron, the rivalry with the Wyoming Cowboys began in 1978 when Hawaii joined the Western Athletic Conference.

The rivalry was put on hold from 1997 to 2012 when Hawaii became a football-only affiliate of the Mountain West Conference. Both teams are hovering around .500 this year, but the Paniolo trophy should still be hotly contested for the 26th time as the Warriors travel to War Memorial Stadium to take on the Cowboys.


The Paniolo is on the line once again Saturday in Wyoming. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)


Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

Saturday, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
All-time meetings: 125 (Oklahoma leads 90-18-7)

Bedlam — literally defined as a situation of madness and confusion — is one of those rivalry names that encompasses all sports; not just football. In fact, the name comes from Oklahoma State referring to the two sides’ wild matches in wrestling.

When the series turned to the gridiron in 1904, Oklahoma dominated, and not much has changed. Not only did the Sooners win the first 11 meetings between the two, but the Pokes didn’t even score a point until the ninth meeting. Over those first 11, Oklahoma outscored Oklahoma State 335-20. Since then, the Cowboys have never won more than two meetings in a row and the Sooners have won the last six.

But this year might be different. Both teams are 9-1 and ranked in the top 15 of the College Football Playoff rankings. With this game closing out the regular season, it is sure to have major Big 12 title implications.


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