Holy War in good company

By By Kelsey Price

By Kelsey Price

The Crusades are long over, but in Utah, the Holy War rages on. With a history longer than the Hundred Years’ War, rivalry fans seem convinced come game day that BYU-Utah is the only college rivalry in the country, except perhaps Ohio State-Michigan.

What about other college rivalries? What makes BYU-Utah different? Or is it just another rivalry game, not a war?

Here’s a look of similar rivalries in the country and how they compare.

North Carolina-Duke

Dating back to 1920, The Battle of Tobacco Road is one of the fiercest rivalries in college ball. The proximity of the two schools8212;eight miles8212;puts the 45 miles between the Utes and Cougars to shame. UNC is a public school that predates the U by more than 100 years. Meanwhile, Duke is privately owned and, like BYU, has religious roots.

Unlike the Holy War, the UNC-Duke rivalry seems to be concentrated on a single sport8212;basketball. Both teams are national powerhouses, and fans are probably willing to cut off a limb to attend the annual matchup.

“We practically sleep in tents for two months in the middle of winter just to get a spot at the game,” said Duke junior and Utah native Rebecca Harbuck. “It’s way more intense than I could have imagined.”

The factors that separate Utah-BYU from Duke are religion and diversification. Although the UNC-Duke rivalry certainly exists in other sports apart from basketball, it is not as widespread as BYU-Utah, which claims a rivalry in just about everything from football to Ultimate Frisbee.

“Religion is keeping people divided all year round at (BYU-Utah),” Harbuck said. “People here are just evil during basketball season.”


In the good old rivalry fashion, the first Auburn-Alabama matchup, in 1893, nearly resulted in a brawl.

“Things went downhill from there,” said the director of Alabama’s football museum, Ken Gaddy. “We used to have to play in Birmingham so the site was neutral, which is where the rivalry gets the name Iron Bowl.”

Since both schools are in the SEC and potentially top 25 teams, the rivalry is at the forefront of everyone’s minds in Alabama. The annual matchup between the two schools determines a conference title bowl berth just about every year.

The two schools are separated by only 40 miles, and in these small towns, the rivalry is year-round.

“Football is life,” said Auburn student Patrick Halladay. “It’s the only thing people care about down here.”

Football is undeniably the largest component of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, but unlike UNC-Duke, it carries into other sports as well. The men’s basketball games are considered to be particularly vicious.

The rivalry once again differs from BYU-Utah because there is no religious factor. Halladay said religion8212;or the lack thereof8212;plays a huge difference in fan interactions between the two rivalries.

“Religion is a huge part of Utah-BYU,” he said. “You can put religion into taunting, so it’s a lot more vicious in that aspect, I suppose. But there are a lot more drunk people down here, so that makes the arguing potentially hazardous.”

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