One of the great shames of Upstate New York college sports (or New York State college sports for that matter) is that Syracuse is basically alone on an island. Sure, St. John's and Cornell can play good basketball. And yes, Army plays good football now and again. But really, we're the only major multi-sport college in the state. We have no rival. And nothing's more fun, and gratifying, than playing a rival.
That's why we try to hold on to that Penn State rivalry. Or why we want the Boston College rivalry back. It's all we've got in that department. Especially in football. Basketball has an easy time of it but for the pigskin side, UConn and Rutgers are nouveau rivals. And besides, its just not the same as having a rival an hour down the road like they do in Oregon or North Carolina.
The truth is, we outgrew everyone. Including our original rival, Colgate. It sounds crazy now but there was a time, a very long amount of time, where there was nothing more important than the Syracuse-Colgate game in Archbold Stadium. It was always played in Archbold, even then we had more pull. But the sad truth is, Colgate dominated. Absolutely owned us.
Between 1891 and 1937, Syracuse only won 10 times. Remember, we were playing at home, too. 47 games, 10 wins. Syracuse wasn't terrible most of the time, it's just that Colgate was really, really good most of the time, including their 9-0 National Title season in 1932.
Of course as the years rolled on Syracuse got better, Colgate got worse. It's a testament to how much they dominated us early on that they still lead the overall series 31-29-5, though Syracuse is on a fourteen-game winning streak in the rivalry. If for no other reason, SU needs to schedule Colgate a couple more times just to officially overtake them once and for all.
The game on Saturday won't be like a turn of the century Syracuse-Colgate game. It will probably be a blowout, like the 52-6 pasting SU put on them the last time the two played (1987). There won't be bad blood. And as for Hoodoo...well, the legend of the Hoodoo has long since vanished.
Bummer. It wasn't too long ago this would have been the game of the year for both teams. Here's what I wrote in How To Grow An Orange about how the game-week atmosphere used to be:
Bonfires? Check. Parties? Check. Raids on each others’ campus? Check. Planes that would fly overhead and drop flyers onto the campus with taunts scribbled on them? Check.
Oh and there were punishments for those who got caught as well. Syracuse students whose attempts to sabotage Colgate activities went awry would return to SU with a C shaved into their while Colgate students who did the same would be sent home with an S where their full head of hair used to be. See? No beatdowns. No assaults. Just some good ol’ fashion head-shavings. Like Jesus intended.
When was the last time SU fans did any of that for any game? West Virginia? Rutgers? Nah. And that's a bummer. Proximity plays a big part. If West Virginia were an hour away, we might have that kind of rivalry. Then again, if West Virginia were an hour away, the area literacy rate would plummet. So, trade-off.
Oh well. We missed out on that good stuff. Then again, those people hadn't landed on the moon yet, so who wins this round? (We do, we're all moonwalkers).
Get ready for a week of nostalgia. But then again, let's make sure we don't get caught up too much in what was. We need to prove to the Raiders that those days are over and the days of getting beat by forty in front of 25,000 bored fans are here to stay. Good to see you again, Colgate. Now prepare to get slaughtered.