Year in. Year out. That's what a rivalry is all about.
Cal Lutheran College vs. Cal State Northridge is not the oldest of college football wars, but the game has rapidly escalated from a once-in-a-while skirmish to a lively annual battle with high stakes.
As the teams prepare for their ninth meeting today at CSUN's North Campus Stadium, consider:
The clash has crucial conference consequences. Cal Lutheran joined CSUN this season as a member of the NCAA Division II Western Football Conference after 23 years as a National Assn. of Interscholastic Athletics independent. Conference action begins today. Of the Kingsmen's first WFC game, CLC Coach Bob Shoup said: "We feel like a girl who finally made it to the altar after 24 years of waiting."
CSUN's run-and-shoot offense and Cal Lutheran's pro-style attack should establish the game as a Valley-area pass time. CSUN quarterback Chris Parker has recovered from an ankle injury, but Tom Bonds of CLC is hampered by a shoulder injury and may not play.
CLC (4-1) is a small, private college with a fine tradition in the tiny NAIA. That contrasts sharply with CSUN (3-2), a large, public university that has struggled for recognition in the vast NCAA.
The schools compete for top high school and junior college recruits because of geographic proximity. A convincing victory may convince local prospects to attend one school over the other.
The most recent meetings have been the best. CSUN won in 1984 and '83 by a total of five points. CLC took hard-fought games in '82 and '81.
Said CSUN Coach Tom Keele: "We've got all the ingredients of a great rivalry. It is something both teams recognize."
Added Shoup: "It is not going to take anything special to get us motivated. The rivalry is strong and getting stronger."
The pre-conference fortunes of the teams suggest a close game. Both have defeated Sonoma State, St. Mary's and San Francisco State, and both were defeated by Cal State Hayward. CSUN has been slightly more convincing in its victories and blew a fourth-quarter lead against Hayward, a team that led Cal Lutheran, 24-3, at halftime en route to a 37-15 win.
Cal Lutheran has a better record by virtue of whipping Western New Mexico, an NAIA school. Northridge lost its opener, 56-12, to Nevada, Reno, an NCAA Division I-AA power.
CSUN would appear to be the favorite, ever so slightly, but the coaches claim the match is even.
"Odds can be thrown out the window for this one," Keele said. "Cal Lutheran always gives us an emotionally charged dogfight."
Keele's seven-year record at CSUN is 30-37-1 overall and 3-2 against CLC. Shoup is 170-55-6 over 24 years at CLC and 5-3 against CSUN.
A review of the past eight meetings:
Gray Paves the Way
1972: CSUN, 49, CLC 7
No rivalry was expected after CSUN thoroughly waxed CLC in the first meeting of the schools. CSUN's 565 total yards, 394 yards rushing and 34 first downs still stand as CLC records of defensive ineptitude.
CSUN quarterback Don Gray, who had been recruited heavily by CLC, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
After winning the NAIA title in 1971, CLC was rebuilding. The season-ending loss dropped the Kingsmen to 5-5.
CSUN (6-5) outscored its opponents 375-192 in 1972, but the five losses were by a total of eight points.
The Bauer & Trumbauer Hour
1975: CLC 16, CSUN 8
Before the game, CSUN Coach Gary Torgeson was asked if his defense would concentrate on tough CLC fullback Hank Bauer. Torgeson facetiously replied: "Who's Bauer?"
A senior who later had a distinguished career with the San Diego Chargers, Bauer rushed for more than 100 yards on his way to a still-standing Kingsman record of 1,024 yards that season.
Bauer ran for a first-quarter touchdown to match an early CSUN score. After Bob McAllister kicked a 19-yard field goal to put CLC ahead to stay, tight end Steve Trumbauer caught an eight-yard scoring pass from Bill Wilson to ice the victory.
Tempers flared as CLC's Butch Eskridge and CSUN's Don Donegal were ejected for fighting. CLC was penalized 15 times for 129 yards and CSUN was flagged nine times for 73 yards.
Shoup said: "This win is my greatest thrill. I can't imagine anything more important. It was gratifying to see the courage we showed today."
The win over CSUN during the season's fourth week propelled the Kingsmen to the NAIA finals, where they lost to Texas Lutheran.
Late Out of the Gate
1976: CSUN 26, CLC 14
Despite finishing the season with a 9-1 record, CLC was denied the NAIA playoffs because of the season-opening loss to CSUN.
Two early touchdowns by Craig Galligher and one by Jim Krug gave CSUN a 19-0 lead it never relinquished. A 14-yard pass from John Kindred to Butch Eskridge and two Brad Hoffman field goals were the only CLC scores.
The tone was set early when Matador Charles Schroeder recovered a fumble on CLC's first possession. CSUN scored four plays later.