South's Oldest Rivalry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
South's Oldest Rivalry
Sport Football
First meeting October 22, 1892
Virginia 30, North Carolina 18
Latest meeting October 14, 2017
Virginia 20, North Carolina 14
Next meeting 2018
Meetings total 122
All-time series North Carolina leads 63–55–4
Largest victory Virginia 66, North Carolina 0 (November 26, 1912)
Current win streak Virginia, 1 (2017–present)

The South's Oldest Rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played annually by the Virginia Cavaliers football team of the University of Virginia and the North Carolina Tar Heels football team of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both universities have been members of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1953, but the Cavaliers and Tar Heels have been playing much longer. They played their first two football games over sixty years before the eventual formation of the conference, with the series starting 1–1 after a split doubleheader in 1892.

As the name of the rivalry indicates, it is the oldest and most played rivalry game in the ACC and throughout the American South. It is tied for the second-most played in all of Division I FBS, after the rivalry game between Wisconsin and Minnesota (for Paul Bunyan's Axe) in the Big Ten.

Series history[edit]

Long being the most played game among all Football Bowl Subdivision series in the Southeastern United States, it has become known over the years simply as the South's Oldest Rivalry. It is also the oldest series in this highest division in the east. The 2017 meeting marked the 122nd edition of this game (played continuously since 1919), five more than the Army–Navy Game (played continuously since 1930), and equal to the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" (Georgia–Auburn, played continuously since 1944).

The game was first twice played in 1892 (Virginia won the first, and North Carolina the second, splitting the southern title). Virginia then claims a southern championship for every year of 1893–1897, with North Carolina gaining a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title in 1895 (only loss to Virginia) and 1898. Both overshadowed by Sewanee in 1899, Virginia again went on a tear from the turn of the century until 1905 when North Carolina pulled the upset.[1]

Virginia and North Carolina have faced each other 122 times. North Carolina leads the all-time series, 63–55–4.a In 2010 UNC broke a long losing streak in Charlottesville, UNC's first road win in the series since 1981. It ended what many UNC fans mockingly described as the "Charlottesville Curse." UVA led the series from 1893 to 1944, and UNC has since led from 1945 onward. Virginia closed to within two games in 2009, but UNC then proceeded to win seven in a row. Even after the losing streak, Virginia is 20–13–1 in the rivalry since 1983, the year that UVA snapped a long losing spell to the Heels, during which Virginia only beat UNC once from 1969 to 1982.

Second-most played is 103 for North Carolina versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and second-most played for Virginia is 95 against Virginia Tech for the Commonwealth Cup.

Nature of the Rivalry[edit]

There is considerable historical lineage and academic standing between the two universities involved. The University of Virginia was founded by third President of the United States and founding father Thomas Jefferson, whereas the University of North Carolina was the first operational state university in the United States. William Faulkner was Writer-in-Residence at UVA, and Peter Taylor was on the UVA faculty and retired in Charlottesville. UNC is the alma mater of Thomas Wolfe, Walker Percy, and Shelby Foote. President Woodrow Wilson attended the University of Virginia and was President of its Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, whereas President James K. Polk attended UNC and was a Senator in its Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies

When the 1985 Richard Moll book was published listing the original eight "Public Ivies," public colleges with rigorous academic standards, there were only two sharing a common athletic conference: the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina. For at least nine consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UVA second and UNC fifth among all public universities, and they are first and second in the east.[2] The two were also the first future members of the Atlantic Coast Conference to be elected to the prestigious Association of American Universities: UVA was elected in 1904 and UNC in 1922. Only Duke University would join them, in 1938, before the ACC was formed in 1953.

The rivalry is often called a "Gentlemen's Rivalry." One reason for this moniker is the prestigious image, both academically and socially, of both universities in their states and throughout the region. The institutions' student bodies also tend to somewhat mirror one another from a social and academic standpoint. As for today and recent decades, the rivalry itself has been lackluster and less heated despite a few recent historical wins by UNC. Neither program has finished at the top of the ACC since the 1990s, nor has UVA yet played in the ACC Championship Game.

Contributing factors[edit]

"Benedict Ronald"[edit]

Often considered the best high school football player of all time from the state of Virginia,[3] and the only junior ever to be named the nation's top high school quarterback by USA Today, Ronald Curry announced a verbal commitment to George Welsh's Virginia program on September 4, 1997 during ESPN coverage of that night's game between Virginia and Auburn.[4] With the commitment from Curry, Welsh declined to recruit Michael Vick, whose own stellar career in the same high school district was largely overshadowed by Curry's. While Curry's high school football coach, 12-time state champion Mike Smith, was happy that Curry would attend Virginia, Curry's AAU basketball coach Boo Williams told Curry he should decommit and go to a "basketball school" like North Carolina to get a better shot at the NBA.[5]

Curry decommitted from UVA on signing day, causing him to be called "Benedict Ronald" and "Benedict Curry" by the Virginia faithful who blamed him not only for the program losing out on his own services, but for losing out on the unrecruited Vick. Curry was lampooned in the media, earning the title "Sports Jerk of the Year" in the nationally syndicated Tank McNamara comic strip. At North Carolina, Curry went 0–3 against UVA the next three seasons as a starting quarterback. The Tar Heels did finally beat Virginia when he was a senior and yielded much of his time under center to freshman Darian Durant.

Famous Spectators[edit]

Probably the most famous spectator of this rivalry was present on Thanksgiving Day 1928. United States President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge were among the 20,000 spectators watching the game at Charlottesville to see North Carolina win 24–20 over Virginia.[6]

Game results[edit]

North Carolina victoriesVirginia victoriesTie gamesForfeits
1 1892 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 30–18
2 1892 Atlanta, GA North Carolina 26–0
3 1893 Richmond, VA Virginia 16–0
4 1894 Richmond, VA Virginia 34–0
5 1895 Richmond, VA Virginia 6–0
6 1896 Richmond, VA Virginia 46–0
7 1897 Richmond, VA Virginia 12–0
8 1898 Richmond, VA North Carolina 6–2
9 1900 Norfolk, VA Virginia 17–0
10 1901 Norfolk, VA Virginia 23–6
11 1902 Richmond, VA Tie12–12
12 1903 Richmond, VA North Carolina 16–0
13 1904 Richmond, VA Virginia 12–11
14 1905 Norfolk, VA North Carolina 17–0
15 1907 Richmond, VA Virginia 9–4
16 1908 Richmond, VA Virginia 31–0
17 1910 Richmond, VA Virginia 7–0
18 1911 Richmond, VA Virginia 28–0
19 1912 Richmond, VA Virginia 66–0
20 1913 Richmond, VA Virginia 26–7
21 1914 Richmond, VA Virginia 20–3
22 1915 Richmond, VA Virginia 14–0
23 1916 Richmond, VA North Carolina 7–0
24 1919 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 6–0
25 1920 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–0
26 1921 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 7–3
27 1922 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 10–7
28 1923 Chapel Hill, NC Tie0–0
29 1924 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 7–0
30 1925 Chapel Hill, NC Tie3–3
31 1926 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 3–0
32 1927 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 14–13
33 1928 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 24–20
34 1929 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 41–7
35 1930 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 41–0
36 1931 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 13–6
37 1932 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–7
38 1933 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 14–0
39 1934 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 25–6
40 1935 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 61–0
41 1936 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 59–14
42 1937 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 40–0
43 1938 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 20–0
44 1939 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 19–0
45 1940 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 10–7
46 1941 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 28–7
47 1942 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 28–13
48 1943 Norfolk, VA North Carolina 54–7
49 1944 Norfolk, VA Virginia 26–7
50 1945 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–18
51 1946 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 49–14
52 1947 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 40–7
53 1948 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 34–12
54 1949 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 14–7
55 1950 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 44–13
56 1951 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 34–14
57 1952 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 34–7
58 1953 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 33–7
59 1954 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 26–14
60 1955 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 26–14
61 1956 * Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 21–7
62 1957 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 20–13
63 1958 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 42–0
64 1959 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 41–0
65 1960 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 35–8
66 1961 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 24–0
67 1962 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 11–7
68 1963 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 11–7
69 1964 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 31–27
70 1965 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 21–17
71 1966 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 21–14
72 1967 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 40–17
73 1968 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 41–6
74 1969 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 12–0
75 1970 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 30–15
76 1971 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 32–20
77 1972 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 23–3
78 1973 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 44–40
79 1974 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 24–10
80 1975 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 31–28
81 1976 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 31–6
82 1977 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 35–14
83 1978 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 38–20
84 1979 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 13–7
85 1980 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 26–3
86 1981 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 17–14
87 1982 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–14
88 1983 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 17–14
89 1984 Chapel Hill, NC Tie24–24
90 1985 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 24–22
91 1986 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–7
92 1987 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 20–17
93 1988 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 27–24
94 1989 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 50–17
95 1990 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 24–10
96 1991 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–9
97 1992 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–7
98 1993 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 17–10
99 1994 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 34–10
100 1995 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 22–17
101 1996 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 20–17
102 1997 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 48–20
103 1998 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 30–13
104 1999 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 20–17
105 2000 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 17–6
106 2001 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 30–24
107 2002 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 37–27
108 2003 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 38–13
109 2004 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 56–24
110 2005 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 7–5
111 2006 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 23–0
112 2007 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 22–20
113 2008 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 16–13
114 2009 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 16–3
115 2010 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 44–10
116 2011 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 28–17
117 2012 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 37–13
118 2013 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 45–14
119 2014 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 28–27
120 2015 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 26–13
121 2016 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 35–14
122 2017 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 20–14
Series: North Carolina leads 63–55–4
^* North Carolina forfeits due to using an ineligible player

Other sports[edit]


Carolina currently leads the series 127–50.

Comparison with other football rivalries[edit]

At 122 games played, the "South's Oldest Rivalry" is tied for the second most played rivalry game nationwide among college football's Power Five conference schools, behind only the Paul Bunyan's Axe rivalry between the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers. The UNC-UVA rivalry recently surpassed the Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M and Border War between Kansas and Missouri due to the 2010–13 NCAA conference realignment, as one school from each of those pairs moved from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry (Auburn-Georgia) may eventually surpass "South's Oldest Rivalry" (UNC-Virginia) in number of games played due to the conference expansion of the SEC and ACC conferences. With the possibility of a same-season rematch in the SEC Championship, Auburn and Georgia can play a second game in the same season; North Carolina and Virginia, however, are in the same division of the ACC, making a similar North Carolina vs. Virginia ACC Championship matchup impossible. Georgia and Auburn's meeting in the 2017 SEC Championship equaled the UVA-UNC rivalry in total games played at 122. Nonetheless, as the UVA-UNC rivalry was not suspended during World War II, the "South's Oldest Rivalry" has still been played for more consecutive years.

See also[edit]


^a North Carolina forfeited the 1956 game to Virginia for using an ineligible player.[7][8][9] The UNC athletic department does not acknowledge the forfeit when reporting on the result, and chooses to count the game as a UNC win in its marketing materials.[10]

1Virginia won the first game played in 1892.
2North Carolina won the second game played in 1892.


  1. ^ "Carolina Athletic Record Over 37 Year Period High". The Tar Heel. January 7, 1926. Retrieved March 5, 2015 – via  open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ Ranked above both is the University of California, Berkeley and UVA is tied with UCLA. UNC then trails only the University of Michigan for fourth nationwide.
  3. ^ "The Amazing Ronald Curry". Dave Sez. 2004-08-12. Archived from the original on 2004-10-16. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  4. ^ "Virginia Won Big Before It Took The Field"; Richmond Times – Dispatch – Richmond, Va.; Bob Lipper; Sep 5, 1997; Page D1
  5. ^ Ronald Curry Has All the Moves; The Washington Post – Washington, D.C.; Angie Watts; Apr 8, 1998; page C1
  6. ^ O'Neals (1968) Pictorial History of the University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia (p. 154)
  7. ^ "Wahoos Play Host to No. 18/22 UNC Saturday – University of Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site". Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  8. ^ Jon Blau, Penn State Daily Collegian, "Forfeits uncommon in realm of college sports" Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Sports Illustrated, 1957 Football Issue, September 23, 1957
  10. ^ [1] Archived October 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.