First contestedOctober 22, 1892
Virginia 30, North Carolina 18
Number of meetings123
Most recent meetingOctober 27, 2018
Virginia 31, North Carolina 21
Next meetingNovember 2, 2019 in Chapel Hill
All-time seriesNorth Carolina leads 63–56–4[1]
Largest victoryVirginia 66, North Carolina 0 (November 26, 1912)
Current streakVirginia, 2 (2017–present)

The South's Oldest Rivalry is the name given to the North Carolina–Virginia football rivalry.[2] It is an American college football rivalry game played annually by the Virginia Cavaliers football team of the University of Virginia and the North Carolina Tar Heels football team of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[3] Both universities have been members of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1953, but the Cavaliers and Tar Heels have been playing much longer. They played their first two football games 61 years before the ACC existed, with the series starting 1–1 after a split doubleheader in 1892. Virginia and North Carolina have played each other more times than any other opponent[4] and their rivalry is tied for the second-most played rivalry in Division I FBS, after the game between Wisconsin and Minnesota (for Paul Bunyan's Axe) in the Big Ten.

As the name of the rivalry indicates, it has long been the most-played rivalry game in the South, although the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry (between Auburn and Georgia) has also been played since 1892 and the SEC version was played twice in 2017 to finally equal the number of games played as the South's Oldest Rivalry. The Virginia–North Carolina game has been played continuously since 1919, while the Auburn–Georgia game has continued uninterrupted only since 1944.

Series history Edit

Long being the most played game among all Football Bowl Subdivision series in the Southeastern United States, it has become known over the years simply as the South's Oldest Rivalry. It is also the oldest series in this highest division in the east. The 2017 meeting marked the 122nd edition of this game (played continuously since 1919), five more than the Army–Navy Game (played continuously since 1930), and now only equal to the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" (Georgia–Auburn, played continuously since 1944) which was recently played twice in the same year in 2017.

The game was first twice played in 1892 (Virginia won the first, and North Carolina the second, splitting the southern title). Virginia then claims a southern championship for every year of 1893–1897, with North Carolina gaining a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title in 1895 (only loss to Virginia) and 1898. Both overshadowed by Sewanee in 1899, Virginia again went on a tear from the turn of the century until 1905 when North Carolina pulled the upset.[5]

Virginia and North Carolina have faced each other 122 times. North Carolina leads the all-time series, 63–55–4.a In 2010 UNC broke a long losing streak in Charlottesville, UNC's first road win in the series since 1981. It ended what many UNC fans mockingly described as the "Charlottesville Curse." UVA led the series from 1893 to 1944, and UNC has since led from 1945 onward. Virginia closed to within two games in 2009, but UNC then proceeded to win seven in a row. Even after the losing streak, as of 2018 Virginia is 22–13–1 in the rivalry since 1983.

Second-most played is 103 for North Carolina versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and second-most played for Virginia is 100 against Virginia Tech for the Commonwealth Cup.

Nature of the Rivalry Edit

There is considerable historical lineage and academic standing between the two universities involved. The University of Virginia was founded by third President of the United States and founding father Thomas Jefferson, whereas the University of North Carolina was the first operational state university in the United States. William Faulkner was Writer-in-Residence at UVA, and Peter Taylor was on the UVA faculty and retired in Charlottesville. National Poet Laureate Rita Dove serves on the UVA faculty, and UVA is the alma mater of Edgar Allan Poe and eight winners of the Pulitzer Prize (including Edward P. Jones, Ron Suskind, Virginius Dabney, and five others). UNC is the alma mater of Thomas Wolfe, Walker Percy, and Shelby Foote. President Woodrow Wilson attended UVA and was President of its Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, whereas President James K. Polk attended UNC and was a Senator in its Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. Assassinated Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was a graduate of UVA's law school.

When the 1985 Richard Moll book was published listing the original eight "Public Ivies," public colleges with rigorous academic standards, there were only two sharing a common athletic conference: the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina. For at least nine consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UVA second and UNC fifth among all public universities, and they are first and second in the east.[6] The two were also the first future members of the Atlantic Coast Conference to be elected to the prestigious Association of American Universities: UVA was elected in 1904 and UNC in 1922. Only Duke University would join them, in 1938, before the ACC was formed in 1953.

The rivalry is often called a "Gentlemen's Rivalry." One reason for this moniker is the prestigious image, both academically and socially, of both universities in their states and throughout the region. The institutions' student bodies also tend to somewhat mirror one another from a social and academic standpoint. As for today and recent decades, the rivalry itself has been lackluster and less heated as neither program has finished at the top of the ACC since the 1990s.

Contributing factorsEdit

"Benedict Ronald"Edit

Often considered the best high school football player of all time from the state of Virginia,[7] and the only junior ever to be named the nation's top high school quarterback by USA Today, Ronald Curry announced a verbal commitment to George Welsh's Virginia program on September 4, 1997 during ESPN coverage of that night's game between Virginia and Auburn.[8] With the commitment from Curry, Welsh declined to recruit Michael Vick, whose own stellar career in the same high school district was largely overshadowed by Curry's. While Curry's high school football coach, 12-time state champion Mike Smith, was happy that Curry would attend Virginia, Curry's AAU basketball coach Boo Williams told Curry he should decommit and go to a "basketball school" like North Carolina to get a better shot at the NBA.[9]

Curry decommitted from UVA on signing day, causing him to be called "Benedict Ronald" and "Benedict Curry" by the Virginia faithful who blamed him not only for the program losing out on his own services, but for losing out on the unrecruited Vick. Curry was lampooned in the media, earning the title "Sports Jerk of the Year" in the nationally syndicated Tank McNamara comic strip. At North Carolina, Curry went 0–3 against UVA the next three seasons as a starting quarterback. The Tar Heels did finally beat Virginia when he was a senior and yielded much of his time under center to freshman Darian Durant.

Famous SpectatorsEdit

File:Coolidge after signing indian treaty.jpg

Probably the most famous spectator of this rivalry was present on Thanksgiving Day 1928. United States President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge were among the 20,000 spectators watching the game at Charlottesville to see North Carolina win 24–20 over Virginia.[10]

Game resultsEdit

North Carolina victoriesVirginia victoriesTie gamesForfeits
1 1892 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 30–18
2 1892 Atlanta, GA North Carolina 26–0
3 1893 Richmond, VA Virginia 16–0
4 1894 Richmond, VA Virginia 34–0
5 1895 Richmond, VA Virginia 6–0
6 1896 Richmond, VA Virginia 46–0
7 1897 Richmond, VA Virginia 12–0
8 1898 Richmond, VA North Carolina 6–2
9 1900 Norfolk, VA Virginia 17–0
10 1901 Norfolk, VA Virginia 23–6
11 1902 Richmond, VA Tie12–12
12 1903 Richmond, VA North Carolina 16–0
13 1904 Richmond, VA Virginia 12–11
14 1905 Norfolk, VA North Carolina 17–0
15 1907 Richmond, VA Virginia 9–4
16 1908 Richmond, VA Virginia 31–0
17 1910 Richmond, VA Virginia 7–0
18 1911 Richmond, VA Virginia 28–0
19 1912 Richmond, VA Virginia 66–0
20 1913 Richmond, VA Virginia 26–7
21 1914 Richmond, VA Virginia 20–3
22 1915 Richmond, VA Virginia 14–0
23 1916 Richmond, VA North Carolina 7–0
24 1919 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 6–0
25 1920 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–0
26 1921 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 7–3
27 1922 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 10–7
28 1923 Chapel Hill, NC Tie0–0
29 1924 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 7–0
30 1925 Chapel Hill, NC Tie3–3
31 1926 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 3–0
32 1927 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 14–13
33 1928 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 24–20
34 1929 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 41–7
35 1930 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 41–0
36 1931 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 13–6
37 1932 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–7
38 1933 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 14–0
39 1934 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 25–6
40 1935 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 61–0
41 1936 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 59–14
42 1937 Chapel Hill, NC #18 North Carolina 40–0
43 1938 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 20–0
44 1939 Chapel Hill, NC #16 North Carolina 19–0
45 1940 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 10–7
46 1941 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 28–7
47 1942 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 28–13
48 1943 Norfolk, VA North Carolina 54–7
49 1944 Norfolk, VA Virginia 26–7
50 1945 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–18
51 1946 Charlottesville, VA #11 North Carolina 49–14
52 1947 Chapel Hill, NC #10 North Carolina 40–7
53 1948 Charlottesville, VA #4 North Carolina 34–12
54 1949 Chapel Hill, NC #19 North Carolina 14–7
55 1950 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 44–13
56 1951 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 34–14
57 1952 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 34–7
58 1953 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 33–7
59 1954 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 26–14
60 1955 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 26–14
61 1956 * Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 21–7
62 1957 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 20–13
63 1958 Charlottesville, VA #15 North Carolina 42–0
64 1959 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 41–0
65 1960 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 35–8
66 1961 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 24–0
67 1962 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 11–7
68 1963 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 11–7
69 1964 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 31–27
70 1965 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 21–17
71 1966 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 21–14
72 1967 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 40–17
73 1968 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 41–6
74 1969 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 12–0
75 1970 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 30–15
76 1971 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 32–20
77 1972 Chapel Hill, NC #18 North Carolina 23–3
78 1973 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 44–40
79 1974 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 24–10
80 1975 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 31–28
81 1976 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 31–6
82 1977 Charlottesville, VA #19 North Carolina 35–14
83 1978 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 38–20
84 1979 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 13–7
85 1980 Chapel Hill, NC #15 North Carolina 26–3
86 1981 Charlottesville, VA #13 North Carolina 17–14
87 1982 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–14
88 1983 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 17–14
89 1984 Chapel Hill, NC Tie24–24
90 1985 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 24–22
91 1986 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–7
92 1987 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 20–17
93 1988 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 27–24
94 1989 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 50–17
95 1990 Chapel Hill, NC #11 Virginia 24–10
96 1991 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 14–9
97 1992 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 27–7
98 1993 Charlottesville, VA #21 Virginia 17–10
99 1994 Charlottesville, VA #25 Virginia 34–10
100 1995 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 22–17
101 1996 Charlottesville, VA #24 Virginia 20–17
102 1997 Chapel Hill, NC #5 North Carolina 48–20
103 1998 Charlottesville, VA #21 Virginia 30–13
104 1999 Chapel Hill, NC #23 Virginia 20–17
105 2000 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 17–6
106 2001 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 30–24
107 2002 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 37–27
108 2003 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 38–13
109 2004 Charlottesville, VA #15 Virginia 56–24
110 2005 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 7–5
111 2006 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 23–0
112 2007 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 22–20
113 2008 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 16–13
114 2009 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 16–3
115 2010 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 44–10
116 2011 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 28–17
117 2012 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 37–13
118 2013 Chapel Hill, NC North Carolina 45–14
119 2014 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 28–27
120 2015 Chapel Hill, NC #22 North Carolina 26–13
121 2016 Charlottesville, VA North Carolina 35–14
122 2017 Chapel Hill, NC Virginia 20–14
123 2018 Charlottesville, VA Virginia 31–21
Series: North Carolina leads 63–56–4
^* North Carolina forfeits due to using an ineligible player

Other sportsEdit

Men's basketballEdit

Virginia's Tony Bennett holds an 8–7 edge against North Carolina's Roy Williams as of the end of the 2017–18 season. However, Carolina leads the overall series 131–55[11] as of the same date.

Men's soccerEdit

North Carolina leads Virginia 40–35–10 across all men's soccer competitions.[12]

Comparison with other football rivalriesEdit

At 122 games played, the "South's Oldest Rivalry" is tied for the second most played rivalry game nationwide among college football's Power Five conference schools, behind only the Paul Bunyan's Axe rivalry between the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers. The UNC-UVA rivalry recently surpassed the Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M and Border War between Kansas and Missouri due to the 2010–13 NCAA conference realignment, as one school from each of those pairs moved from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry (Auburn-Georgia) may eventually surpass "South's Oldest Rivalry" (UNC-Virginia) in number of games played due to the conference expansion of the SEC and ACC conferences. With the possibility of a same-season rematch in the SEC Championship, Auburn and Georgia can play a second game in the same season; North Carolina and Virginia, however, are in the same division of the ACC, making a similar North Carolina vs. Virginia ACC Championship matchup impossible. Georgia and Auburn's second meeting in the 2017 SEC Championship equaled the UVA-UNC rivalry in total games played at 122.

See also Edit

Notes Edit

^a North Carolina forfeited the 1956 game to Virginia for using an ineligible player.[13][14][15] The UNC athletic department does not acknowledge the forfeit when reporting on the result, and chooses to count the game as a UNC win in its marketing materials.[16]

1Virginia won the first game played in 1892.
2North Carolina won the second game played in 1892.


  1. Virginia Cavaliers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction, accessed October 14, 2018
  4. The South's Oldest Rivalry Continues Saturday, accessed October 14, 2018
  5. "Carolina Athletic Record Over 37 Year Period High". The Tar Heel. January 7, 1926. Retrieved March 5, 2015. open access
  6. Ranked above both is the University of California, Berkeley and UVA is tied with UCLA. UNC then trails only the University of Michigan for fourth nationwide.
  7. "The Amazing Ronald Curry". Dave Sez. 2004-08-12. Archived from the original on 2004-10-16. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  8. "Virginia Won Big Before It Took The Field"; Richmond Times – Dispatch – Richmond, Va.; Bob Lipper; Sep 5, 1997; Page D1
  9. Ronald Curry Has All the Moves; The Washington Post – Washington, D.C.; Angie Watts; Apr 8, 1998; page C1
  10. O'Neals (1968) Pictorial History of the University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia (p. 154)
  11. [1], accessed October 22, 2018
  12. "Series History by ACC Opponet". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  13. "Wahoos Play Host to No. 18/22 UNC Saturday – University of Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site". Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  14. Jon Blau, Penn State Daily Collegian, "Forfeits uncommon in realm of college sports" Script error
  15. Sports Illustrated, 1957 Football Issue, September 23, 1957
  16. [2] Script error
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