The Spread, Week 9: Pesky Sister University

It seems to come up every year around this time: is Penn State really our rival? They sure think so, and it’s hard to blame them. We are the closest conference team to them geographically and our games tend to be competitive. The overall record between the two teams is only slightly in our favor.

But Buckeye fans have different views on the subject. Personally, I don’t believe in multiple rivals. Sure, you could argue that every team in your conference is technically a rival, and that’s true in a sense. But to me, there’s more to a rivalry than just wanting to win a game. There’s a real and pure hate that transcends all other football allegiance.

I can sum it up for you pretty easily: a couple weeks ago, on the Saturday of Ohio State’s bye week, a friend had a party, attended primarily by Buckeye fans. Since there was no game we needed to watch, we would, every once in a while, check in on scores and keep each other updated. As the Penn State/Michigan game proceeded, it became apparent that the Wolverines might suffer their first loss of the season. We gathered around the TV, the crowd growing larger with each overtime. It was determined that my wife was bad luck and she banned herself from the room. We were cheering as if it were our own team on the field.

And we were cheering for Penn State.

Because Michigan is our rival and they always will be. We will always get at least a little bit of joy when they lose and be a little disappointed when they win. This week we’ll be cheering against Penn State, but it will not be with the same abject disdain as we’ll have on November 30th.

While some of these rankings can be fluid, here is how I would currently place Big Ten teams in terms of their “rivalry” with Ohio State:

The Hated

The true rival, this series is filled with history and hate. It bleeds over into not only other sports but also personal relationships.

Michigan, obviously

Competitive Rivalries

Based primarily on recent success, these series are more about the game itself than anything else. Sometimes the presence of a particular coach or player can elevate a team to this category. Often bleed over into sports, but not typically beyond that.

Penn State

Sibling Rivalries

Sometimes competitive, but usually still one-sided. Marked by mutual respect. Mostly, we just don’t want to lose to these teams, but have nothing else against them.

Michigan State
Nebraska, probably (too early to tell)

Weird Neighbors

Not generally competitive, but sometimes spring a surprise upset or play better than expected. Beating these teams is not overly exciting, but losing to them is very damaging.



  1. […] State week, everyone, or as it’s known in Happy Valley, “We sure wish you guys would call us your rivals!”. Look how much we hate you! Please, please can we be […]

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