"The Carolina-Virginia game is to the South what the Yale-Harvard game is to the North, and with this idea in view perhaps can be understood the intense and enthusiastic interest which this game always arouses,"
That quote is from the Yackety Yack back in 1906, and a 103 years later UNC-UVa is once again raising the intense and enthusiastic interest of the modern day Yale-Harvard game – complete indifference from the world at large. It's almost as if The Oldest Rivalry in the South exists solely to annoy the SEC by being battled over by two basketball schools.
There's been the occasional fervent game in my lifetime, but always in Charlottesville and involving the Cavaliers playing spoiler to a UNC team. More often then not it's just been sad, like the Heels' last win in 2005, a thrilling 7-5 victory between two teams that would finish close to .500. Seven of the last twenty games have been decided by twenty-three point margins or greater; 1996 remains the only game in recent memory that had national implications.
On some level, I know this is an important rivalry. It's the game that built Kenan. Scrawled on a rafter in the attic of Hill Hall is the score of the 1912 game, a 66-0 rout by the Cavaliers, left as a taunt by a Virginia fan amongst the builders. But it comes across as more archaeology than rivalry. There's no excitement, no hatred, just a distaste towards Mr. Jefferson's bourbon-breathed imbecilic followers. Look on our games, ye Mighty, and despair.
Let's make this perfectly clear. There is no way Virginia can win on Saturday. First of all, the Cavaliers are absolutely awful, with three losses in as many games to Southern Miss, TCU, and William & Mary. They have no running game of which to speak of, and have eleven turnovers in three games, including an impressive seven giveaways to their D1-AA opponent. Most importantly, the game's in Chapel Hill, and not Charlottesville, where UNC hasn't won since 1981.
There will not be a repeat of last year, where everyone knew UNC would win except the Hoos. There will just be a game that brings Al Groh one step closer to the unemployment line, and then everyone will move on to the next ESPN channel, searching for something interesting. Maybe next year, there will be a real rivalry. Maybe next year.