Top 5 Rivalries: Pac-12 Edition


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Over the next couple of weeks, I will be examining the biggest and most exciting rivalries in college sports. This edition, I will go over what, in my mind are the biggest rivalries in the Pac-12.

The Pacific-12 conference traces it roots back to 1915, when the Pacific Coast Conference was founded in Portland, Oregon at the Imperial Hotel. The original members of the PCC were Cal, Washington, Oregon, and Oregon State. The conference began play in 1916. The would continue to play until 1959, when the ‘pay-for-play’ scandals at Cal, Washington, USC, and UCLA disbanded the entire conference. The grandfather of the Pac-12, the Athletic Association of Western Universities, was started on July 1, 1958, with those four schools as the founding members. Over the years, teams have come and gone, but the conference is one of the strongest in the nation with 12 members, which are Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. With that many teams, there are bound to be some intense and incredible rivalries.

Rivalry #5: Washington-Washington State

Since 1900, the Cougars and the Huskies have been lining up on the football field during the last week of the season in a game that is commonly referred to as the Apple Cup. The odd years have been played st Husky Stadium in Seattle and the even years in Pullman at Rogers Field. From 1934 to 1961, the teams competed for the rights to lift the Governor’s Trophy, but that was replaced in 1962 by the Apple Cup, which is named that due to the state’s huge apple industry. The overall record is in favor of the Huskies, who are leading the series 69-32-6. This is one of the oldest rivalries in the conference, but is also a game of mockery for analysts. In 2008, the media called it the “Crapple Cup” due to the 1-10 Cougars playing and beating the 0-11 Washington team. Even though it has been made a mockery of over the years, the history of the game and between these two teams is so rampant, with each fan base pulling for their respective schools to get the big win. This isn’t just a rivalry on the field. This game is a battle for the state of Washington.


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Rivalry #4: California-Stanford

The Big Game, as it is referred to by most sports junkies, is a game played between the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears. Being first played in 1892, it is only behind seven other games as the eighth most played college football rivalry game. It is known as the oldest rivalry in the West, with the first game being played in San Francisco on March 19th, 1892. Interesting fact is that Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, was the team manager for that game. In 1906, when President Roosevelt outlawed rivalry games, the game began to be played on the rugby field. This happened until the year. Since 1933, the two teams have been playing for the Stanford Axe. The Cardinal lead the all time record at 60-46-11. This rivalry really tells a history of the Pac-12; two academically impressive schools squaring off on the field. This is a truly great game between two of the most historic programs in Division 1 history.

Stanford California Football

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Rivalry #3: Oregon-Oregon State

Now this is an intense rivalry. Known as the Civil War, this game stays true to the name. This game has been played since the year 1894, which is good for fifth most played rivalry game in college football. Not only is the football game named the Civil War, as both men’s and women’s basketball teams have there own versions of the game. For three year, 1959-1961, the game decided who won the Platypus Trophy, which was lost for 40 years until it was found in 2005. Oregon is leading the series, with a 62-48-10 record. When I think of the most heated rivalries in the country, the Civil War is easily on my top 5 list. It is a great rivalry between two schools that were original parts of the founding of this conference, and it is always worth a watch when the game is nationally televised.


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Rivalry #2: Arizona-Arizona State

The Arizona-Arizona State game, known to southwesterners as the Duel in the Desert, is another heated rivalry for the right to call themselves the best team in the state. The first meeting was on November 30, 1899 and since then, the game, when played, is always played during the last week of the season. The winner of the game wins the Territorial Cup, which is accepted as the oldest rivalry trophy in the NCAA. Not only do the schools battle on the football field for best in the state, but the rivalry finds itself being played in 20 varsity intercollegiate sports. The teams have met a total of 88 times on the football field, with Arizona leading the overall series 48-39-1. Like the Civil War, the game for the Territorial Cup is a battle. It is a game like any other rivalry, in which both teams will do anything to give them a better chance of winning the game. Arizona-Arizona State is one of the most well respected rivalries in the country, and it never ceased to disappoint.


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Rivalry #1: USC-UCLA

Finally, the top spot on my list belongs to the game played under the Hollywood lights, UCLA-USC. The football game, again, is not the only showing of this rivalry, as many of the schools athletic teams represent the two Southern California schools in the matchup. The is a rivalry between the number one and three teams in Division-1 sanctioned team championships, with UCLA at 112 and USC at 100. Though the game doesn’t have a catchy name like some other rivalries, it is one of the most respected on the planet. The football game decides who gets the chance to hoist the Victory Bell, the trophy for the game. The game also has a huge impact on the Pac-12 championship, as the two schools have combined for 44 titles since the year 1916. It has decided who has represented the conference in the Rose Bowl countless times. The USC Trojans lead the overall series, with a record of 44-31-7. The thing that sets this rivalry apart is how it isn’t just a football rivalry. The schools have been competing for years in almost everything, due to the close distance between the two. In this rivalry, you are getting two of the college sports powerhouses with a ton of history. The Battle of Los Angeles is one of the most anticipated games of the year in each sport and, for that, holds the number one spot on my list of Pac-12 rivalries.


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