Say, it's the first week of class at Syracuse! It's also the first weekend of the college football season! And that means there's a lot of freshmen that are looking for answers on "who do we really root against?" Or perhaps we haven't had a 50 comment discussion on who's more of a menace between UConn and Villanova lately. Well, have no fear. I've decided to put together a tidy little guide to pretty much anyone considers a rival of Syracuse in football, men's basketball, and men's lacrosse. If you're new to SU and need a quick crash course, consider this your lesson. Or, if you're here to see MS Paint-style things I drew up of rival mascots, then you're in the right place. Let's get started with our first category, as although we don't play these guys as often, they're still considered some of our biggest rivals:
You see, back when I was a student at Syracuse a year and a half ago, we were in this thing called "The Big East." It still exists today, but in much different form. It was quite awesome, even though the ACC move has begun to reap quite a few benefits for Syracuse to help soften the blow a bit. And even though we don't play them all as often, the rivalries have stuck. Sorry, DePaul, you didn't make the cut.
Georgetown is still rival numero uno for the Orange. If you're a freshman, you'll have to wait another year for this game to occur. However, never fear as the Orange and Hoyas will renew their rivalry in basketball soon enough, which is something schools in a lot of other rivalries split by conference realignment should learn. There's so many great battles between the two through the years that have led it to where it is today. Pretty much just check out Requiem for the Big East out of the 30 for 30 catalog and it'll give you some great background knowledge on this.
Unfortunately, that documentary doesn't mention a certain UConn, well, pretty much at all except for a few Jim Calhoun bites. In the late 1990s and 2000s there was plenty of debate on whether the Huskies topped the Hoyas as our top rival- and for good reason. Both schools won national championships in this span, had a multitude of close games between the two, and of course had the epic six-overtime game in the 2009 Big East Tournament. The rivalry is on hiatus at the moment, but hey, last year's NCAA Tournament troll job by UConn should be enough to whip up some hate at any time.
Still on the schedule for this season are Villanova and St. John's, who were also fellow charter members of the Big East. The rivalry with Villanova has been going on for years, but is probably most remembered for those around my age group for the 2010 College Gameday game with over 34,000 in attendance to see the Orange win and move to #1 in the nation for about a week. This season the rivalry will be played in Philly. The Johnnies are also still on the schedule after the Big East move. As any pundit will tell you, Madison Square Garden is a "home game" for the Orange (well...), so given how big the crowds are with the NYC area alumni this should stay a part of Orange basketball schedules for years to come, even with a few breaks. It also doesn't hurt that Syracuse hasn't lost to St. John's since 2007.
But hey, we didn't leave all our rivals behind.
Pitt is our tap-dancing partner from last season's Big East-to-ACC move. The two of us are designated football rivals, so we'll see the Panthers every season unless the ACC decides to change things up. The designation isn't just because we moved with them, as we have a rich football tradition with them. And although this isn't necessarily the most bitter of rivalries in basketball, you can be guaranteed of a close game when these two face on the hardwood. Just ask Tyler Ennis about that one.
Boston College is our kinda-sorta biggest football rival and there's a Wikipedia page to prove it in case you're into things like that. Last year was a pretty fun deal to seal up bowl eligibility and anyone who's followed the Orange long enough will love to tell you how we ruined their plans to go to a BCS bowl game in their final Big East season in 2004. That led to Pitt losing to Utah. And us getting destroyed by Georgia Tech which led to the GERG era. So it goes. Oh, and they're plenty annoying in basketball to muster up some hate, too. And don't forget about the Orange Eagle Trophy this site and BC Interruption have going. It's pretty good to have this rivalry back, guys.
Notre Dame thinks of us as basketball rivals, so what the hay. I mean, it's given us some good games back in the Big East and should eventually lead to some in the ACC as well. Besides, we'll now be playing their storied football team every couple of years, and the last time we played them we beat them. With Greg Robinson. At Notre Dame Stadium. We'll try to do it again with a much more competent coach this time around at MetLife Stadium next month.
Louisville's one of our newest Big East basketball rivalries that really began to become a must-watch game the past couple of years. Now they've made the move to the ACC as well. The classic battle of Boeheim vs. Pitino has resulted in some great games, including the final real Big East Championship Game that eventually gave way to Final Four runs for both teams later that month. We've also had some really awesome upsets against the Cards in football, including giving them their first loss in 2012 when they were ranked top-10 in the nation. We were a bit afraid we wouldn't see this rivalry blossom, but thanks to their switch we won't have to worry about that.
Of course, with that ACC move we've begun to develop some new rivalries.
It didn't take long at all for the highly anticipated matchups with Duke to become a bonafide basketball rivalry. After just two games, it looks like Duke and Syracuse will have one of the biggest rivalries in basketball for years to come. It started off with a dramatic overtime victory for the Orange in front of a record crowd at the Dome. Then came Boeheim's tirade and ejection in a close win for the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor. Two games in and this rivalry's already got some classic moments that won't be forgotten any time soon. Additionally, Syracuse is developing a bit of a lacrosse rivalry with the Dukies. The two have played a non-conference game in 2011 and 2012, met in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2013 (in the national title game for the latter), and had an exhilarating battle in the 2014 ACC Tournament. With Duke overtaking Syracuse's role of the king of lacrosse for the time being, this should continue to work its way up Syracuse's lacrosse rivalry ranks.
Speaking of lacrosse, we already had a rivalry with Virginia in that before the ACC move. Cuse and UVA always seems to be a barnburner of a lacrosse game, filled with fast-paced gameplay and results in question until the final horn. With many classic NCAA Tournament and late February/early March battles, this has always been one to circle the calendar for in the spring. With Virginia's basketball team on the rise, this should also shape up to be a great basketball series. The ACC calendar makers have been pretty good at making both the basketball and lacrosse games the same weekend, so we may have ourselves a nice little tradition going with the Hoos from this point forward.
Although the first ACC matchup wasn't a classic, North Carolina should figure to be an ACC rivalry for years to come. That's because when you have two top tier basketball programs rich with tradition, it's pretty much impossible for this not to become a big rivalry. Add in the fact UNC coach Roy Williams was coaching Kansas when Jim Boeheim and Syracuse won the national title in 2003, and you've got all the storylines and narrative you need each time the Heels and Orange touch the court. This could become a lacrosse rivalry, too, but that would probably require a postseason matchup and well... UNC tends to sputter in May.
In addition to playing them in basketball every year, we also play defending champion Florida State, NC State, and Wake Forest in football each fall as they're fellow members of the ACC Atlantic Division. These could potentially become rivalry games with a few classic battles on the gridiron over some time, so be on the lookout for these as time goes on. Oh, and be careful about #FSUTwitter from time to time. Now you may be asking "didn't we forget someone?" Well..
Clemson for some reason we have a blog rivalry with (because you nincompoops can't stay out of their place and those morons can't stay out of ours or whatever). Add in Scott Shafer's cursing at Dabo Swinney and hey, there's some heatedness to this thing. The most important thing, however, is that their mascot is probably the greatest meme in the college football blogosphere. As Spencer Hall can explain, 8-Ball the Tiger (not his real name) is one coked-up tiger that is way out of his head.
Now a lot of these rivalries don't have too much local flavor. Good thing we've got these next two:
In the past, Colgate and Cornell were our two biggest rivals in pretty much everything. Today, they're mainly known as "convenient local connections that Jim Boeheim can easily plug in to fill a non-conference schedule." Okay, that's a little too harsh. Although both these schools are a little too focused on hockey for us to really get invested in basketball games (well, besides when Cornell was actually a top 25 team a few years ago) with them, (P.S.: I want men's hockey a ton at Cuse) they still provide us with some nice traditional matchups. We still maintain a really big lacrosse rivalry with Cornell that's resulted in a ton of great games (probably none more than the 2009 NCAA Championship), so get to those games whether they're at the Dome or in Ithaca if you can. And for nostalgic purposes, you can relive the memories of Syracuse-Colgate football games of past days on, yes, Wikipedia.
"Oh god, you're talking about lacrosse again," you the person who's just enrolled in SU and never been to a game is probably thinking. Well, there's a lot more lacrosse where that came from!
Johns Hopkins is Syracuse's biggest rival in college lacrosse. Not Georgetown. Johns Hopkins. Got it? Although they have a habit of claiming 40-someodd national titles, Johns Hopkins is the second most successful team in the NCAA era with 9 NCAA Championships. First? Syracuse with 11. Their matchup on St. Patrick's Day weekend is a lacrosse tradition that brings together two of lacrosse's most storied programs. In addition to being a college rivalry, it's also a rivalry between Central New York and the Baltimore area, two major hotbeds of lacrosse. Throw in a usual contrast of styles and you've got quite an intriguing battle. There's been some great classics in this rivalry as well, probably none more so than the 1989 NCAA Championship Game, seen by many as the greatest game ever played (it's even on YouTube!). If all that didn't convince you, then let me tell you that Johns Hopkins has a really annoying fight song. That will seal the deal on my convincing.
We didn't play Princeton last season due to the ACC move taking up more of the schedule, but they still remain one of Syracuse's biggest lacrosse rivals. The rivalry exploded in the 1990s and early 2000s when Syracuse and Princeton played in the NCAA Tournament or the Championship Game practically every year, becoming the sport's top rivalry game for some time. Although the rivalry's lost its luster a bit since Bill Tierney left for Denver and the Tigers have struggled late in the season in recent years, it still lives up to being a very close and fun game to watch every year (again, when they're on the schedule). Oh, and in that excitement you'll probably be happy at the end- Syracuse has won 9 out of its past 11 against the Tigers.
It's been a yearly matchup for some time, but only recently has Albany risen up to become one of the top games on the Orange's schedule each spring. Thanks to the spectacular play of the Thompsons, who were all related to former Syracuse star Jeremy Thompson but passed up Syracuse to join the Great Danes, this has skyrocketed in intensity the past couple of years. Add on two straight years of overtime barnburners with goals flying in constantly and you've got one of the best up-and-coming rivalries in the sport. Although all that remains of the Thompsons at Albany is Lyle (who, you know, broke the record for points last season), this should remain a great Upstate NY battle.
Hobart? Who the hell is Hobart? Well, Hobart's actually, factually one of Syracuse's rivals. It's a small school in Geneva, but they'll come and invade the Dome when they play. Oh, and they play way above their heads when they play Syracuse. Hobart will probably beat the Orange at your time in the Cuse. Don't worry, things like that tend to happen with them. The Syracuse-Hobart rivalry is also the only rivalry in any sport that Syracuse plays for a trophy- the Kraus-Simmons Trophy. No, I am not lying about any of this.
We haven't really talked that much football. Well, you see, a lot of our rivalries in that just simply aren't played anymore. We'll explain three of these up ahead.
Rutgers isn't really our rival historically but because of how annoying they are and their sorta success in the past 10 years, mainly when we were at our historical low-point, we'll include them here. They go on and on and on and on and on about NEW YORK MARKET even more than we do. That resulted in Jim Delany adding them to the Big Ten when the only thing they bring to the table's a major media market with cable boxes. COLLEGE ATHLETICS IN THE 2010S, EVERYBODY! So yeah, we kinda fight for the New York market with them. I don't even know when the hell this one's being brought back.
West Virginia was arguably our biggest rival in the Big East, playing for the trophy too ugly to ever be included in EA Sports' NCAA Football series even though it was mentioned, the Schwartzwalder Trophy. Although WVU dominated the series for a long time, the series ended with three straight Syracuse victories, including the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl when West Virginia was in the Big 12 and the Orange still in the Big East. The basketball between the two was pretty good, too, with Huggy Bear and Boeheim going at it. It even had controversial goaltending non-calls! Hopefully this rivalry comes back soon, as we need something besides the Kraus-Simmons Trophy to play for.
Penn State is seen as our biggest football rival back in the days of the entire northeast being independent. The main portion of the rivalry took place from 1950-1991. Today the series is played sporadically. The Nittany Lions hold a 41-23-5 advantage over the Orange, and hey look this has a Wikipedia page, too! Although Syracuse has struggled the past 40 or so years against Penn State, that's still better than what Maryland's up against on a yearly basis, right?
So there you have it, freshly minted Syracuse freshman and/or TNIAAM Syracuse diehard who wants to argue these points all day long. You now know who to hate, dislike, or at least have your head in the game when we play a certain school. Now go out there and cheer your Orange on! Or, as Pierre McGuire will tell you, have some fun.