San Diego State has a rivalry problem.
The problem is that the Aztecs don’t have a real rival.
If you went to Wyoming or Arizona State or New Mexico and asked anyone on campus who their chief rival is, you’d get consistent answers of Colorado State, UofA and general human decency.
But take a poll of current students at SDSU and ask them who the school’s biggest rival is. You’ll get a mix of Boise State, UNLV, Fresno State and South Alabama. If you would’ve asked me on my first day of school back in 2006, I probably would have told you UCSD, just because it was the only other college I could name south of Irvine.
Sure, take a survey of diehard Aztec fans and you’ll get a consensus that BYU is the team we tend to hate the most. But everyone hates BYU. We’re not special. That’s like asking the teams in AFC West who their rival is. Every single one of them is gonna say the Raiders. (The Raiders themselves, of course, would select DA HATERZZZZZZ.)
The irony is, we’ve kinda, sorta become that team that everyone in the conference hates. We’ve been bad at most things for the better part of our history, and now that we’re a three-time Poinsettia Bowl participating colossus, all of a sudden we’re too good for the whole damn conference. They should hate us. We’re the worst.
And that’s a good thing! It’s fun to be hated. The Show didn’t make all those “NO ONE LIKES US, WE DON’T CARE” shirts just because they ran out of lyrics from the fight song. (“Hail to our team!” coming soon to a dorm floor near you.) They did it because it’s awesome being the team everyone desperately wants to beat.
But simple hatred does not a rivalry make.
However, this week we gear up to play football against Fresno State for The Battle for the Old Oil Can, a tradition that goes as far back as, well, one US president. But this matchup really does have some history. We’ve played the Bulldogs 55 times, the most of any opponent in the country. (Second place is Air Force at a distant 40.) We’re ahead in the series at 28-23-4 because there was a shameful time in this nation’s history when we allowed college football games to end in ties.
That’s, like, real history, you guys! Also, did you know they are the last Mountain West team to beat us at home in football? It’s true! We haven’t lost an MWC game at Qualcomm since 2013! What the fuck!?! The last time we lost a conference game at home was to Derek Carr and his permanent eyeliner. And lest we forget, they accounted for 2/3rds of our MW losses in basketball last year. On top of all that, Fresno isn’t even a state!
People forget that.
So for at least this week, let’s stop acting like we’re too good for this conference. Let’s ignore bowl scenarios and our status in the “Receiving Votes” categories of the world and watching University of Houston games like they’re the moon landing. Let’s just focus on the fact that we do have a rival.
And they fucking suck.