U Sports Football Report (Week 6)

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South of the border, the NCAA waits until the end of their season to put on the best rivalries in the country.

Rivalry week is a long-standing tradition in the NCAA and it provides some of the best games every year.

It takes that intensity of rivalries and packs it into one full week where anything can happen to any team.

That is what a rivalry does as they are the games that mean everything to both teams involved and the games where everything is on the line.

It isn’t about the rankings or the championship as it is simply about beating the team that you will see every year for the foreseeable future.

It is about getting bragging rights in the city, state, division or country that will be held over the heads of the loser forever.

The NCAA takes all of that and packs it into a single week where they will surely find a great game amongst the rivals for any given year.

In U Sports it isn’t as neatly packed as rivalries can happen at any point in the season giving any week the potential for a great game.

Despite that, there is one date every year that fans of university athletics need to circle on the calendar no matter where it falls.

That is the date of the Panda Game that has become the best rivalry game in the country bar none.

There are others with great histories, like the Red & Blue Bowl between York and UofT, and others that mean a lot more, like Montreal and Laval, but the Panda Game has trumped them all in terms of competition.

The game has its origins in 1955 when stuffed panda was donated and became the mascot of the Ottawa Gee Gees before they adopted the horse as their mascot.

That panda, named Pedro, was used to promote the game between the Gee Gees and their cross-town rivals from Carleton.

The panda would regularly be kidnapped by either school before the game becoming a massive tradition until it began to involve vandalism.

It set the stage for the game though and eventually the game evolved into something entirely different.

It quickly became one of the biggest games of the year in U Sports only behind the Vanier Cup game.

It also became a bit more of a party than a football game and in 1987 the game ended in tragedy when the stands failed and students fell to the ground outing one in a coma for 20 days.

There has always been a long tradition with a lot of stories behind the tradition, not all of them great stories.

Then in 1998, it came to a halt when the Ravens decided to end their program and take football away from the school.

The best rivalry in the sport and one of the biggest games was gone although the Gee Gees had ruled the series for ten years before then winning the game nine times.

The Ravens brought football back in 2013 though and with it came the Panda Game and since then the game has never been better.football-sidebar

The Gee Gees extended their lead in the series when the rivalry started up again in 2013 with an easy win over their rivals who were in their first year.

Things got a lot more interesting from there as the second year of the rivalry ended with a Hail Mary pass from the Ravens to earn their first win in the Panda Game since 1994.

The next game was another Carleton win in overtime when the teams put up a total of 93 points.

Last year was the second blowout since the game returned but was still one of the biggest crowds they have ever played in front of.

This year it was Week 6 when these teams would face off and plenty of people were tuning in to see what the best rivalry in the sport would produce.

It didn’t disappoint as both teams were ready to fight it out right until the end of the game and that end would come later than expected.

The Gee Gees and Ravens went to double overtime this time in front of another sellout crowd.

This time the Ravens continued to try to even the series when they took the win leaving the overall series at 33-16 for Ottawa.

Although this game has a bit of a strange past and might not mean the difference in the OUA it remains one of the best games every year.

The Ravens are on a role but the Gee Gees have been in the game almost every year and are only one or two plays away from winning.

It is tough in University sports to remain this consistently close but fans of U Sports might as well just enjoy it.

The Panda Game is back and better than ever as it marks the best rivalry and the best regular season game almost every year making it a must-see in U Sports.


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