NCAA Football Rivalries: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Cavaliers

The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and we all have our own guesses as to who will be playing and who will win, but the Super Bowl is not the only great thing about football! There is another thing that makes NCAAF betting all that much more fun!

rivalries! We all know the main rivalries, we know the big ones, but if you are from the Northern States you may not be all that familiar with one of the biggest and most famous rivalries in the whole of college football history!

It is nicknamed the ‘South’s Oldest Rivalry’ and it is between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Virginia Cavaliers.

While these team names may not even be familiar to you, we can promise you that by the end of today you will be thirsty to see this rivalry in action! It is one of our favorite sports rivalries of all time, and for good reason!

‘The South’s Oldest Rivalry’

This rivalry is a contest between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Virginia Cavaliers. It is a college football rivalry game that is played each year between these two teams.

Both of these teams have been members of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1953, however, these two teams have fought off 15 times more than any other ACC football programs. Of course, North Carolina and Virginia also have rivalries in other sports, and are well known for this.

It is not actually the ‘oldest rivalry’ as the Georgia-Auburn rivalry first played their game 245 days before this rivalry had its first match. However, it got its name for its age and length but also the early success of both of the programs and the importance of the early games.

The age and bitterness of this rivalry is also demonstrated by how North Carolina beat Auburn and Georgia in their own states at a combined score of 82-0 (how savage!) before they took out Virginia by 4 points and claimed the championship in 1898.

All games played between these two teams were 1-1 played at a neutral site between 1893 and 1916, however, after a hiatus for WWI they have played alternating between their home stadiums.

Then between 1910 and 1950, they would always play as the last game per season, and it would nearly always fall on Thanksgiving Day.

By 2021, this rivalry game is tied with the Georgia-Auburn game as the most played rivalry game in the 5 conferences.

between NCAAF picksmany southern football fans tend to keep their eye on these rivalries as they are hot to watch and never cease to entertain!

The Nature Of This Age Old Rivalry

There is a lot of historical lineage and academic standing between the two universities of which are involved in this rivalry.

The University of Virginia was founded by the 3rd President of the United States and the Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. However, the University of North Carolina was the first operational State University in the US.

There have also been a fair share of famous people that have come from both Universities, and a lot of literary texts written about these Universities, and their competitive games since.

This rivalry is often referred to as being a gentlemen’s rivalry, thanks to the prestigious image socially and academically alike of both universities. Both of these universities are actually quite alike, at least they are from an academic and social standpoint.

However, it is unlikely that they will admit this, especially on game day!

But Why?

Some reasons that the rivalry has grown so much are in the famous spectators and ‘Benedict Ronald’, let us elaborate on this for you…

Benedict Ronald

Typically considered to be the best high school football player from Virginia, and the only junior to be named the top high school quarterback, Ronald Curry committed to The Virginia program in 1997.

With this, Welsh declined to take on Vick whose career in the same district was overshadowed by Curry’s. Curry recommitted from Virginia on signing day which resulted in him being called Benedict Ronald, or Benedict Curry by those faithful to Virginia and blamed him for the program losing out and for them losing out on Vick, who went recruited.


The most famous spectator for this rivalry was in 1928 on Thanksgiving Day, when US President Calvin Coolidge and his First Lady were among the 20,000 spectators who went to view the rivalry game in Charlottesville.

Neither the President nor his First Lady were graduates of either University, instead they attended the game out of pure interest in the rivalry.

On this date North Carolina won by a pinch at 24-20 in their 8th game of the series to be decided by one or fewer touchdowns.

It was one of the last of the rivalry games that these teams played at Lambeth Field, as in 1931 Scott Stadium was built to hold more spectators.

Coolidge declined to run a second term, and only 16 days before the game Herbert Hoover won the election in 1928 to replace him in office.

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