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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

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Football and nicknames have quite a history.
Football and nicknames have quite a history.

College football rivalries worthy of a good nickname

Does the new Big 10 Championship football game need an ongoing nickname? I think so. And the next two weeks of the season are as exciting as a loose ball in the end zone. The conference championships, and the remaining BCS spots, are still very much in play. The big games can't get any bigger.

It only stands to reason then that some of the top college football rivalry football games have been nicknamed throughout college football history. And like all things "nicknamed," the list is a long one. More than likely, you are very familiar with the high profile, Division I rivalry nicknames. They have been seared into our college football consciousness for years. A few of the more well-known games include:

"The Backyard Brawl" – Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
"The Border War" – Kansa vs. Missouri
"Bedlam" – Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
"The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail" – Florida vs. Florida State
"The Game" – Ohio State vs. Michigan
"The Civil War" – Oregon vs. Oregon State
"The Golden Boot" – LSU vs. Arkansas
"The Battle for the Bone" – Fresno State vs. Louisiana Tech
The Battle for the Leather Helmet" – Boston College vs. Clemson
"The Sunshine Showdown" – Florida vs. Florida State

This rivalry list could be as endless as all those painful Geico and Aflac TV commercials that make you want to jam a toothpick under your fingernail.
Those of you who know me well know I have an undying passion for the obscure. And any good college football fan would have to be a double-knit lint-head to overlook the goofiness to be found in some of these Division II and Division III rivalry games.

For my money, the best rivalry nicknames in Division II are:

"The Anchor-Bone Classic" – Grand Valley State vs. Ferris State
"Battle in Seattle" – Western Washington vs. Central Washington
"The Old Hickory Stick Game" – Northwest Missouri State vs. Truman State
"Top Dog Game" – Butler vs. Indianapolis

And last but not least, the best of the rest in Division III:

"The Cereal Bowl" – Carleton vs. St. Olaf
"The Battle for the Border Claw" – West Texas Baptist vs. Louisiana College
"The Biggest Little Game in America" – Amherst vs. Williams

In the end, William Hazlitt, the 19th century essayist, may have said it best: "Of all eloquence a nickname is the most concise; of all arguments the most unanswerable."

Needless to say, there will be plenty of arguments before Saturday's kick-offs. But when a two-legged zebra blows the final whistle Saturday night, all the rivalry game questions will have been answered for another season. Or, until a more perfect version of the college football rivalry nickname game comes along.

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