It's a good rivalry when the participants can't even agree on how many times they've played.
Morgan State goes to Washington, D.C., today (1 p.m.) to play Howard at Greene Stadium. The Bears say the series began in 1931 and that they lead it 32-14-1, but the Bison claim that the two began meeting in 1889, and that they won the first seven meetings by a combined score of 250-0.
In Division III, Maryland's oldest rivals meet at Homewood Field today (1:30 p.m.), when Western Maryland plays at Johns Hopkins. Every year but one since 1947, the two have ended the season by playing each other. The exception came in 1963, when the game was canceled because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The Blue Jays lead the series with 36 wins and 28 losses, or should that record be 37-29? Both colleges claim that they won the 1907 game by a 4-0 score, and the Green Terrors give the Blue Jays a 21-0 victory in 1916 that isn't in Hopkins' records.
Whatever the records, Morgan State and Howard look forward to playing each other. The Bears (2-7) have lost five straight games, and coach Ricky Diggs said his team needed to see Howard (5-4) on the schedule.
"Our kids were down after last week [a 63-13 loss at Western Illinois]," Diggs said, "but Howard is enough to get them back up."
Morgan State takes hope in the fact that it beat Howard last year, and that the Bears have played a tougher schedule. Howard, 2-9 last year, starts only two seniors. The Bison have played four Division II teams and beaten three of them, and like Morgan State, their defense lost several important players to injuries early in the season.
While Morgan State is allowing 41.8 points a game, Howard's defense has plugged in young players and continued to prosper. The Bison's defensive coordinator is Rubin Carter, the Denver Broncos nose tackle from 1975 to 1986. Howard will be tested by Morgan State's passing game, the most productive in the MEAC.
Two teams that were in control of the Centennial Football Conference a month ago will meet at Homewood Field, but Western Maryland has lost three straight and Johns Hopkins two in a row. The winner will go home with a 6-4 record. That would be the Blue Jays' best since 1985, and the Green Terrors' second winning mark since 1981.
"When we lost to them last year, the team seemed to be down and bitter about the whole season for a long while," Hopkins wide receiver Joe Richards said. "People weren't as aggressive about working out in the off-season. After we beat them my freshman year, I went in the weight room one day and there were already 10 players in there."