I Think It’s Time We Stop Calling Northwestern State A Rival
The Northwestern State Demons have long been considered the Pokes' biggest in-state rival, however, I believe it's time for fans to abandon that thought.
The McNeese State Cowboys and the Northwestern State Demons have played each other 72 times since their first meeting on October 6, 1951, which the Pokes won 38-21.
I was born in 1979, and I wasn't exposed to the Cowboys until the early 90s. The hay day of Poke Fever. I remember as a 12-year-old boy hating the Demons' guts. I remember the games were chippy with fights on the field and sidelines (remember when they tripped our flag guy or the sideline clearing brawl on the field?). But as the years drug on the rivalry lost its luster and the younger Cowboys fans today don't have the glorious privilege of knowing what it's like to truly hate another team. Even while Cowboys fans were disillusioned by the narrative we were being force-fed (don't get me wrong it felt like a legit rivalry), the Pokes were 8-2 against the Demons from 1990-1999. Not very competitive.
Just because two teams have played each other 72 times doesn't make that a rivalry. Just because two times are in the same state doesn't make that a rivalry. Although I would agree that's a great recipe for a legit team and fan base rivalry, the numbers just don't support it. Let me explain.
Here's the definition of rivalry:
Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
If it's truly a rivalry, why isn't there a trophy at stake and at the very least a competitive series?
McNeese leads the series with an overall 48-23-1 record. In the last 22 years of the series, Northwestern State is 3-19 against the Cowboys. The Pokes also won 12 years straight from 2005-2017.
McNeese vs Northwestern 2000-2021:
- 2000 - L 34-37
- 2001 - W 17-10
- 2002 - W 27-3
- 2003 - W 13-9
- 2004 - L 17-47
- 2005 - W 22-17
- 2006 - W 29-26 OT
- 2007 - W 27-21
- 2008 - W 24-17
- 2009 - W 51-23
- 2010 - W 24-7
- 2011 - W 20-18
- 2012 - W 30-22
- 2013 - W 43-17
- 2014 - W 35-28
- 2015 - W 47-27
- 2016 - W 48-27
- 2017 - W 44-24
- 2018 - L 24-37 2OT
- 2019 - W 30-20
- 2020 - W 21-7
- 2021 - W 35-17
The numbers show that this 72-game series isn't a rivalry as both universities claim. At one time it was, but now it's time to give it a proper burial. The cold hard truth is that the Demons can't compete on the field with the Pokes in the modern era of the series.
I personally would love for Lamar to become our new rival. They have a way to go before that becomes a reality, but they've taken the right steps in rejoining the Southland and hiring their new Athletic Director Jeff O'Malley from Marshall. If he can help turn the Cardinals' sports programs around, then this is a match made in heaven.
Who wouldn't be able to get into a good ole Louisiana vs Texas rivalry with a team just one hour down I-10? And please, whatever you do, for everyone's sake make a trophy for the game.
The "Battle of the Border" already has an amazing ring to it, let's build on that. The travel is very easy for both fan bases and it's about high time we have a team to hate once again. While the Cardinals are in a rebuilding period, McNeese needs to start an incentive program for Cowboys fans to travel to Beaumont for the game so this rivalry can organically build. Maybe a free "Battle of the Border" t-shirt or koozie with your ticket purchase or have a promotion where you can buy a package deal for a ticket to every home and away game we play Lamar in football, baseball, softball, men's and women's basketball, and soccer.
In the 38 games played, McNeese leads the series 27–10–1.
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