Louisiana's Top College Football Rivalries
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TEN POINTS OR LESS
Now that we’ve mined the Louisiana football rivalries that exist in the top tiers of college pigskin, let’s delve a little further and take a look at a Division III school, Louisiana College, a religious-based school with a long football tradition.
Although LC really has no in-state rival, the institution does hold interstate grudges against members of its conference. Louisiana College, a Pineville-based Baptist school founded in 1906 and currently boasting an enrollment of just about 1,000 students, sits as a member of the American Southwest Conference, in which it annually battles one of its fiercest rivals, East Texas Baptist University, for the Border Claw trophy.
Much like the Nicholls-SLU series, the Louisiana College and East Texas Baptist University enmity was put on hold for 31 years when Louisiana dropped football in 1968. But the program returned in 2000, and since then the Wildcats have played East Texas Baptist 12 times, with the series standing at 6-6 after LC’s come-from-behind victory in 2011.
Louisiana College Sports Information Director Will Tubbs acknowledges that the national media spotlight rarely shines on his school’s football program – “We’re the smallest of the small,” he says – but LC still takes its football very seriously, especially when it comes to the Border Claw.
“I don’t think we have any earthquake game like LSU-Alabama or LSU-Auburn,” he says, “but every year, with very few exceptions, the game is decided by 10 points or less. It’s just a hard-fought, close game.”
However, LC and ETBU are similar to Grambling-Southern because, like the state’s HCBUs, they share common roots – both were founded by Baptist groups. “It’s a rivalry, but a friendly rivalry,” Tubbs says. “There’s no ill will, because we have a brotherhood.”
So what about the state’s two large-school-level teams that have no in-state antagonists anymore, Tulane and Louisiana Tech? Although the two Bayou State universities are in different FBS conferences – the Green Wave is in Conference USA, LTU in the Western Athletic Conference – they do share a common enemy: the University of Southern Mississippi.
Tech confronts Southern Miss in the Rivalry in Dixie, in which the Golden Eagles hold a 31-13 edge, while USM also dominates the Battle for the Bell with the Greenies, 23-7. In that way, the Bulldogs and Green Wave are linked, if not actually pitted against each other.
That’s a rundown of some current Louisiana college football rivalries, but, of course, there are many others that have come and gone throughout history. That list begins with the long-ago enmity between Tulane and LSU, but it also includes a handful that ended when one part of each respective rivalry decided to change its level of play or to shift conferences.
Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech, for example, nurtured a fierce feud for many years before the Bulldogs decided to move up to NCAA Division I-A (now the Football Bowl Subdivision). The same goes for NSU and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
But there’s one more Louisiana football rivalry that must be mentioned. Of course, it’s a fictional one, but in the Adam Sandler movie, The Waterboy, the University of Louisiana Cougars annually stomp on South Central Louisiana State University until former UL waterboy Bobby Boucher becomes an SCLSU linebacker and guides the squad to a huge upset win in the Bourbon Bowl.
OK, granted, the Bourbon Bowl is make-believe. But the intense enmity between the fictional colleges does symbolize several of the real-life, in-state pigskin antagonisms.
Louisianians don’t mess around when it comes to college football, no matter what the level of play. And certainly when it comes to rivalry games, where the players leave everything on the field, and the fans go bonkers in the stands. Whether the game is in Monroe or Natchitoches or Lake Charles or Thibodaux or Pineville or New Orleans, the intensity is as real as it gets.