Virginia’s most intense football rival is Virginia Tech. North Carolina’s is N.C. State. Recruiting repercussions and state bragging rights are paramount.
But for longevity and continuity, Virginia’s series with North Carolina has no peers regionally and few nationally.
Thursday night marks the 117th game between the Cavaliers and Tar Heels. They first met in 1892, playing once in Charlottesville and once in Atlanta, Virginia winning at home and Carolina on neutral turf.
Only four times since 1900 have the Cavaliers and Tar Heels not met, those occasions due to World War I.
Barring unimagined conference realignment chaos, Virginia-North Carolina soon will rank as the Bowl Subdivision’s second most-played series — UNC leads 58-54-4. The current list:
* Minnesota-Wisconsin (122): The Gophers and Badgers first met in 1890, and the Big Ten rivals play annually for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Very Cool.
* Kansas-Missouri (120): This series dates to 1891, but Mizzou’s move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference has ended their annual clashes.
* Texas-Texas A&M (118): The annual Thanksgiving game between the Longhorns and Aggies is the greatest casualty of realignment — like Missouri, A&M bolted the Big 12 for the SEC. Bet Alabama wishes the Aggies and Johnny Football had stayed put.
* Kansas-Nebraska (117): Who knew, right? The Jayhawks and Cornhuskers first played in 1892, but the latter’s move from the Big 12 to Big Ten ended annual meetings.
* Miami of Ohio-Cincinnati (117): The rivalry endures despite the RedHawks playing in the Mid-American Conference, the Bearcats in the Big East.
The most memorable Virginia-Carolina game I’ve witnessed: The Cavaliers scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes, the last on Scott Secules’ 9-yard pass to Keith Mattioli, to win 20-17 en route to the 1987 All-American Bowl.
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