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College football’s SEC-ACC Thanksgiving rivalries — and family feuds — renewed one year later

Why did they stop serving ice in the drinks at Georgia games? Because the student who knew the recipe graduated.

Why did Florida disband its water polo team? All the horses drowned.

Did you hear about the Louisville grad who won the $4 million Kentucky state lottery? He asked to receive it in installments of $4 a year for one million years.

Did you hear about the Clemson student who died during a pie-eating contest? The cow kicked him in the head.

Rivalry Weekend in college football is the best. Period. That glorious three days with so many throwdowns between so many teams that have faced off for a century of more, becoming as much a part of our late November routines as gnawing on turkey or pushing strangers out of the way to grab the last cheap Black Friday air fryer.

It is that rarest of times when we can talk smack to our neighbors, thumb our noses at our co-workers and, in so many instances, even stare down and clap back our very own flesh and blood. Not over politics or policy or the latest social media conspiracies, but over a football game. It’s emotional. It’s divisive. But ultimately, it’s just sports. So it’s also a helluva lot of fun. Most of the time.

That’s why one year ago, this weekend just didn’t feel right. The list of reasons for that uneasiness is long, painful and all-too familiar. But for millions of us, particularly in the southeastern corner of the map, the single greatest source of that strangeness was the absence of those traditional cross-conference rivalries that exist within the borders of the states that are home to both an SEC and ACC school.

Clemson vs. South Carolina had been played every single fall for 111 years, even through a pair of world wars. But the Palmetto Bowl was stopped in its cleats by the COVID-19 pandemic and the SEC’s resulting decision to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule in 2020. Same for the other SEC vs. ACC games.

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech , aka Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, wasn’t played for the first time since 1924. Florida vs. Florida State , the Sunshine Showdown, was curbed after 64 years. Kentucky vs. Louisville , the Governor’s Cup, was sidelined after not missing an autumn since the series was kicked off in 1994, and finally was moved to its rightful place on the final regular-season weekend after the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014.

Suddenly, family rooms, kitchens and even bedrooms that had always seen Thanksgiving weeks full of house-divided tension of Rivalry Weekend fell quiet. Way too quiet. No one enjoys fighting, but everyone loves to win, especially when victory also brings the opportunity to lord some success over one’s family and neighbors for the next 364 days.

"The whole season was so weird that not playing Georgia Tech was just the final step into total weirdness," said Georgia alum and superfan Frank Pittman, who says he hasn’t missed a […]

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