It's USC vs. UCLA. Stanford vs. Cal. Michigan State vs. Michigan.
All rolled up into one high school football game.
The Carson High/Douglas High football rivalry continues tonight with the 50th renewal of one of the state's oldest series that dates back to 1923.
As an added bonus, the game carries with it playoff implications when the Senators and Tigers collide tonight in Minden at 7:30 p.m. Besides earning bragging rights, Douglas (2-3 Division II, 3-5 overall) can clinch a berth in the Northern 4A playoffs by beating the Senators.
Hug defeated Fallon 57-14 on Thursday, meaning Douglas must win to force a tie with the Hawks and clinch the final division playoff spot by means of a tie-breaker. The Tigers hold the tie-breaker advantage by virtue of their three-point win over the Hawks earlier this season.
With the Hug win Thursday, the best Carson (1-4, 2-6) can now do is finish fifth overall in the division if it beats Douglas.
But you can throw win-loss records right out the window in this one. Forget that Carson leads the series 35-12-2, including an overtime thriller the Senators won last year, 13-10. This is one of those rivalries where the outcome is always up in the air.
"This game has a lot of tradition, and we're obviously excited to have the chance to play Carson in a game that means something," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "To get to the last game of the season with a chance to earn something, you can't ask for more than that.
"The only way to go into the playoffs is to go in with a win, at least that's the way I look at it."
Senator coach Bob Bateman, speaking before the Hug win which eliminated any chance of Carson reaching the playoffs, said it would be the rivalry, not any faint playoff hope, motivating his team tonight.
"It's a very old, fun rivalry involving two close communities - probably one of the oldest on the West Coast," Bateman said. "Go into any local pub, restaurant or retail store and someone can tell you about the rivalry.
"It's like an interwoven experience for the two communities. It'll be fun."
Both teams like to run the ball. Douglas rushed for a season-high 222 yards in its 28-6 victory at Fallon last Friday. Kyle Baker gained 85 yards in his first extensive action since sustaining an MCL injury at Hug. Jake Ford scored three touchdowns, two on pass receptions and one on the ground for the Tigers, while Dusty Cornwall rushed for 47 yards and sophomore Monte McCann added 45 yards on 12 carries in his varsity debut.
Carson fullback Josh Carter, a 6-foot-2, 195 pound sophomore, rushed for 54 yards on 12 carries for the Senators last week against South Tahoe after previously carrying the ball just two times. Bateman said Carter, who also plays on defense at either linebacker or free safety, has been getting increasingly more reps in practice and is likely to be one of Carson's primary ballcarriers against the Tigers along with Doug Brooks.
"(Carter) earned the starting role in practice," Bateman said. "He'll be a good one for us. We wanted to bring him along slowly and let him learn both (his offensive and defensive) positions."
Should Douglas win a trip to the playoffs, McQueen in Reno awaits on Oct. 29, for the first round of the Northern 4A playoffs. Of course, McQueen is 4-0 and Division I champion (7-1 overall), but that doesn't faze Rippee.
"If we win (the Carson game), we deserve to go, I honestly believe that," Rippee said, referring to the Tigers' sub-.500 overall record. "We played three of the four playoff teams from the other division, and other than Reno, we played all the playoff teams in our division tough.
"It doesn't matter where we go for the playoffs. I'd go to Bull Breath, Montana, to play. Once you get there, anything can happen."
Notes: Four former standouts will be inducted into the Douglas Football Hall of Fame tonight: Gary Lundergreen, Terry Olson, Dan and Rod Coverley ('88). The Coverley twins went on to play at New Mexico. Olson, who helped the Tigers to an 8-1 record by rushing for 903 yards during the 1973 season, signed a baseball contract with the Texas Rangers after graduating in 1974. Lundergreen was a junior tailback on the 1951 Douglas team that went 6-2 and lost 20-7 to Reno for the Northern A championship - and he later went on to coach for 30-plus years at Whittell The Senator players are unlikely to be fazed by the fact that their playoff hopes disintegrated Thursday night. Bateman said the playoffs weren't even addressed during practice this week because of the highly unlikely scenario that had Carson advancing if Hug lost to Fallon and the Senators beat the Tigers by more than 12 points.
(Erick Studenicka contributed to this report.)