By Dan Rubin
There’s no doubting that the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision has the best rivalries in terms of national media attention and publicity. There’s also no doubting the top level’s marketability or intensity, but if you’re not willing to plunk down the airfare, hotel, and exorbitant ticket prices for some of those games, here’s a look at some of the local games you might want to check out over the course of the 2011 season, (tournament games excluded).
Division 1-FCS (Football Championship Subdivision):
Maine vs. UNH – First played in 1904, the Battle for the Bryce-Cowell Musket will be contested this year at Cowell Stadium in Durham, NH. With a win this year, Maine would tie the all-time series, (UNH leads the series (44-43-8)). The Huskies of New Hampshire have aspirations to win the Colonial Athletic Association this year, especially as a preseason favorite.
Harvard-Yale or Yale-Harvard, depending on who you root for – commonly referred to as, “The Game,” this rivalry dates back to the late 1800’s. The hatred between Harvard and Yale extends so far beyond the football field to the classroom and beyond. Every year, the students try to one-up the other school, especially after the “We Suck” incident at Harvard Stadium in ’04. Since the Ivy League doesn’t participate in the FCS tournament, this is always the last game of the season and the seniors’ careers. This year it’s in New Haven at the Yale Bowl.
UMass vs. UNH – The teams brought the Colonial Clash to Foxboro last year at Gillette Stadium, but sadly, this rivalry is slowly dwindling down, especially since UMass will be joining the Bowl Subdivision and Mid-American Conference in 2012. The Minutemen lead the series, [43-27-3], and the 2011 game is the final scheduled contest of the season, as well as slated to occur in Foxborough, Massachusetts for the second year in a row.
Bentley College vs. Southern Connecticut State – The Bentley Falcons lost their traditional rival when the Bryant Bulldogs elevated to Division I-FCS, so their Homecoming game is now against SCSU. Last year, Bentley overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Owls, 36-26, on SCSU’s homecoming day. This year, Bentley has a chance to even the all-time series at [7-7] with a win in Waltham.
Stonehill College vs. St. Anselm College – The Ol’ Bronze Hawk game will be contested this year at Stonehill Stadium, as the Skyhawks will host their Hawk counterparts. Stonehill used a 19-point second quarter and 15-point third quarter to defeat St. A’s last year. The Skyhawks also defeated St. A’s, 31-28, two years ago in a last-minute rally.
Bridgewater State University vs. Mass Maritime – The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bowl saw Mass Maritime dominate BSU last season for their first victory in the rivalry in 14 years. The Buccaneers have been resurgent in the past few years, going .500 last season, as well as over .500 in the New England Football Conference. Yet, they also went [2-4] away from Clean Harbors Stadium, which is located directly on the Cape Cod Canal. They’ll make their yearly visit to Bridgewater on November 5.
Williams College vs. Amherst College –Arguably the greatest rivalry outside of Division I, the Ephs and Lord Jeffs represent something that resembles the credits to a Cheers episode. Williams has dominated the rivalry with over 70 wins, but the “Biggest Little Game” in America is always one of the best draws in New England.
UMass Dartmouth vs. Bridgewater State University – When I was at UMD, my roommate was a fullback on the football team. Every day, he’d return to the dorm from practice and state his dislike for Bridgewater. This year, it’s under the lights at Cressy Field in Dartmouth on September 10th. Bridgewater and Dartmouth are separated by about roughly 15 miles, but you can’t find anyone who goes to either school who actually likes one another. This rivalry is brutal.