They are as old as college football itself. On Nov. 6, 1869, two intrastate rivals, Princeton and Rutgers, met in New Brunswick, N.J., in the first intercollegiate football game. Rutgers won 6-4. Ten years later the Garden State's Thomas Edison invented the incandescent lightbulb, leading—some would say indirectly, but we believe otherwise—to stadium lighting and to such prime-time battles as the one that took place last Saturday between No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Florida.
Be they crosstown (Southern Cal- UCLA), cross-bay (Cal-Stanford) or just plain cross (which describes the folks at Auburn-Alabama and Clemson-South Carolina games), in-state rivalry games, of which there were 13 last weekend and 12 more this week, are a breed apart. Witness the vitriol that can arise at an Oregon-Oregon State game. "My parents got threatened in Corvallis two years ago," Ducks center Ryan Schmid said last week. "The Oregon State fans were pushing and shoving and pretty much verbally abusing my mom, poor little thing. But she probably brought it on."
As if these games needed to ratchet up their intensity ("You even have grandmothers giving you the finger," says backup quarterback Dave Meyer of Virginia Tech, which meets Virginia on Saturday), two of last weekend's backyard brawls involved half the nation's top eight teams: the aforementioned Seminoles-Gators matchup plus No. 5 Oregon at No. 8 Oregon State. A third game, No. 6 Washington at Washington State, had Rose Bowl and potential Orange Bowl implications. SI attended all three, plus a few others, in assembling what seems to be an Old Oaken Bucket—the trophy Purdue took home from its 41-13 defeat of in-state archfoe Indiana—full of material to get to the bottom of these rivalries.