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Jacksonville State needs a new true rivalry

09/13/2012

In football, especially in the South, rivalries are fierce, extremely competitive, and talked about all year round. If your team loses be ready to hear about it for some 360 days. Alabama and Auburn meet in the Iron Bowl annually, and as it's one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football, it is by far the biggest in Alabama. Although not too long ago, another fierce battle ragged once a year when the JSU Gamecocks met the Troy Trojans.

Last Saturday night, the Gamecocks beat UT Chattanooga in a thrilling game that literally came down to the final second. Unfortunately, for the forseeable future this rivalry, which began over a century ago, looks to be over with no more games scheduled against one another.

The first meeting between the teams that now are the Mocs and Gamecocks was in 1904. The next meeting was two decades later in 1924, followed by two more meetings the following two years. There was another break in the series until 1953, when the two schools met for the fifth time and would play almost annually for the next 30 seasons. After a 13-6 loss in 1983, the Gamecocks had to have the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths for 21 years, until the rivalry resumed in 2004. JSU unloaded any bad feelings they may have had for UTC in the 65-20 win over the Mocs in 2004.

While Chattanooga holds the overall series record lead at 25-12, take away the games prior to 1966, the first year JSU was actually JSU, and the series is 11-10 to UTC, almost even with the Gamecocks winning six of the final eight.

Now to the dismay of fans and even Head Coach Jack Crowe, who has been outspoken about how much he believes true rivalries like JSU-UTC can impact a program, it looks like JSU will go without a regular rival unless something changes.

So why not bring back one of the best from the past? Jacksonville State and bitter rival Troy played every year from 1946 to 1990 and after a five year break played from 1995 to 2001 before the rivalry saw its last game to date. "Whup Troy" should once again fill JSU Stadium every so often. Yes, Troy is an FBS school, but strength of schedule is no fear to JSU, who is in the midst of visiting almost every SEC school and has future plans to face Auburn, LSU, UCF, and Michigan State.

The Gamecocks need a true rivalry, and if Troy or Chattanooga can't be resumed, maybe it's time for the birth of a new one. Middle Tennessee State rests in Murfreesboro, TN, only 200 miles away. It's an average FBS school that probably won't ever be a BCS powerhouse and lies in the area that JSU visits often for many OVC games. The schools have faced each other 22 times before.

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