2023 Richmond vs William & Mary

Top 5 CAA Football Rivalry Games (& Trophies)

Top 5 CAA Football Rivalry Games (& Trophies)

Rivalries and trophy games are part of what makes college football great. CAA football hosts some of the best rivalry trophy games in the sport.

Jul 28, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
Top 5 CAA Football Rivalry Games (& Trophies)

Coastal Athletic Association football hosts some of the sport's longest standing, most exciting rivalries. Conference members' assorted rivalry and trophy games extend beyond intraleague competition, with some historically fierce opposition crossing such borders. 

The 2023 CAA football includes such matchups when Hampton hosts Norfolk State in the Battle Bay, and the next week when the Pirates face Howard in the showdown of The Real HU. 

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The same week as Hampton-Norfolk State's Tidewater tilt, North Carolina A&T hots North Carolina Central in a rivalry that turned 100 years old last season. 

Choosing the best five rivalries among the many throughout the CAA, both in and out of league, just isn't possible without excluding a worthwhile entry. But pinpointing the five best rivalry-game trophies is another story. 

A unique or history-rich trophy can give a series that extra motivation to turn competition into rivalry. The following five such prizes stand out either for their original look, the backstory they symbolize, or both. 

But first, we have to acknowledge the BBQ Bowl trophy. Coastal newcomer Campbell's departure from the Big South Conference put a hiatus on a fledgling rivalry with Gardner-Webb, but the short-lived trophy deserves recognition for its look. 

Granite Bowl: New Hampshire Vs. Dartmouth

As the only Div. I programs in the Granite State, it's fitting UNH and Dartmouth play for a trophy shaped like New Hampshire and made of granite.

The Wildcats and the Green first met in 1901, which kicked off a run of futility for New Hampshire that extended across multiple decades. UNH didn't beat Dartmouth until the series' 17th installment in 1973, winning a 10-9 classic when Dan Losano ran back a 100-yard kickoff return for the Wildcats. 

Losano's was the first of just four returns in UNH history to go the distance, the fourth of which came via the electric Dylan Laube vs. Richmond last season. 

Losano also sparked a run of Wildcat dominance in the Granite Bowl: UNH has all won but four meetings beginning with the '73 victory, including a 14-0 shutout in 2022. 

Battle of the Blue: Delaware Vs. Villanova 

Proximity helps create an intense rivalry, and so do close, meaningful games. The Battle of the Blue delivers both, as Delaware and Villanova have consistently been at or near the head of the CAA pack from the league's football inception. 

The Battle of the Blue Trophy — unique in that it's one of the few rivalry trophies at any level of college football featuring an actual football — wasn't introduced until 2007. Villanova has enjoyed possession of it for much of its existence, including following last season's 29-26 thriller, the third straight installment decided by one score. 

Delaware and Villanova's actual rivalry dates back to the 19th Century, however. The first meeting set a tone befitting the series in the decades since, with Delaware's 10-6 victory on Nov. 23, 1895, marking the first 31 editions decided by eight points or fewer. 

Battle for the Golden Apple: UAlbany Vs. Stony Brook

Empire State rivals UAlbany and Stony Brook play for one of the younger trophies in college football—but it's also one of the most original. The Golden Apple certainly lives up to its name. 

The series — which became the Battle for the Golden Apple in 2015 — began 20 years earlier. UAlbany dominated the initial stretch in the rivalry, but since the introduction of the Golden Apple, the sides are split at four wins each, and neither with more than two consecutive victories. 

The Great Danes own the trophy heading into 2023 thanks to quarterback Reese Poffenbarger throwing nearly as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions (five) in a UAlbany rout. 


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The Capital Cup (The Oldest Rivalry in the South): Richmond Vs. William & Mary 

With a game named The Oldest Rivalry in the South, you better believe there's a ton of history in the annual Richmond-William & Mary showdown. The Spiders and Tribe have been locking up since 1898 and have played 133 times since, and remarkably, are tied for the duration of the series. 

Richmond won the first encounter in 1898, 15-0, in a contest that the Richmond Dispatch described as being played on "ground...more like a fat, old-fashioned feather-bed than a foot-ball field." A Spiders quarterback listed in the recap only as "Ellyson" scored a long touchdown that became the first of hundreds of marquee moments that have defined The Oldest Rivalry in the South. 

The rivalry is also defined by the Capital Cup, which was introduced in 2009. 

The Brice-Cowell Musket: Maine Vs. New Hampshire 

Arguably the most original trophy in college football, the Brice-Cowell Musket is such a cool rivalry prize that Utah State and Wyoming introduced the concept 65 years after the Musket debuted. 

The Brice-Cowell Musket became the symbol of the Maine-New Hampshire rivalry in 1948, as the Oct. 9 edition of the Bangor Daily News details: 

The Musket remains the award at stake when the Black Bears and Wildcats meet, and it doesn't matter what's at stake when the two face: The Brice-Cowell Musket brings out the best in both programs. 

Last season's installment perhaps best crystallizes the intensity and meaning of The Musket, as Maine — enduring its share of struggles in the first season under coach Jordan Stevens — took a New Hampshire team playing for a share of the CAA championship to overtime. 


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A pair of former Battle for the Brice-Cowell Musket players, Maine's Stevens and New Hampshire's Rick Santos, oversee each program today, adding a special wrinkle to the meaning of this outstanding rivalry.