September 26, 2013

History lesson: Engineering rivalries

More news about: MIT | Rose-Hulman | RPI | WPI
WPI is playing for the Transit Trophy this week, and it doesn't involve trains or cars.
WPI athletics photo

Week 4 is perhaps the most odd Saturday on the D-III schedule. It's the last week before almost every conference (except the four-teamers) shifts into league play, making it the most common bye week. There are only 96 games on the schedule, and 186 of 244 teams in action, with 58 sitting this weekend out.

It's also the only weekend in September without a built-in, hardcore D-III rivalry to appreciate. Week 1 brought us a three-point, won-in-the-final-two-minutes Guilford-Greensboro Gate City Soup Bowl and the Millsaps-Mississippi College Backyard Brawl. The second week brought us rivalries old and new: Coe and Cornell played for the 123rd time since 1891, while SUNY-Maritime and Mass. Maritime met for the sixth time in the Chowder Bowl. Week 3 begat a Johnnie-Tommie (or is it Tommie-Johnnie) game for the ages.

ATN, however, digs deep into the D-III files. And there I find a Week 4 rivalry game worthy of mention.

RPI and WPI -- and because of those handy initialisms, after almost 15 years, I still struggle to spell "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute" -- meet on Saturday for the Transit Trophy. If you knew that a transit is used to measure angles, and the trophy has nothing to do with subways or city buses, congratulations. You might be an engineer. (As a son of an engineer, I probably deserve to be swatted over the head with a rolled-up newspaper for not knowing that.)

Anyway, the trophy is a creation of the two athletic departments. RPI won every year from 1997 through 2009, so the rivalry never quite got on our national radar, but with WPI winning in 2010 and 11, and RPI stealing the trophy back in 2012, we began to take note. Although the trophy hasn't been around the entire time, this season's meeting is actually No. 106 in the rivalry, so it's in a special class.

So is everybody at WPI and RPI, come to think of it. And that's why when those engineers play these engineers, all the engineers cheer. (Where's that rolled-up newspaper, so I can hit myself?)

There are four teams called the Engineers in D-III -- MIT and RHIT are the others, so basically all the institutes -- of technology, or the polytechnic institutes -- go by it. Would be cool if Rose-Hulman, Massachusetts, Worcester Polytech and R-E-N-S-S, oh, RPI, could all get together and play a round robin for a giant T-square or something. Milwaukee School of Engineering doesn't have football, but they have hosted a basketball tournament with many of these schools.

Since we've already made note of RPI and their 3-0 start, let's look at 1-2 WPI: The last-second loss to crosstown Worcester State was a bummer for the Engineers, and instead of bouncing back, Norwich scored the first 17 points in a 31-14 win. But WPI has outscored its competition 76-74 this season, with 11 touchdowns to 10, so maybe they're due to even off their record too. (They beat Curry, 48-28, in the opener).

Off the beaten path

Even though we've spun forward to Week 4, a couple overdue hat-tips for games that were off the beaten path in Week 3:

• La Verne, which last had a winning season in 2005 and last made the playoffs in 1994, won its very-late season opener, 25-20, at Whitworth. Since it's no small trip from the Los Angeles area to Spokane, or no small feat for a lower-half SCIAC team to win in NWC territory, the Leopards deserve their due.

The NWC won its other three matchups with the SCIAC pretty convincingly in Week 3 (Linfield beat Cal Lutheran, 52-14, in a matchup of conference favorites, Pacific Lutheran beat Redlands, 35-14, in a clash of expected No. 2s and Puget Sound, which hadn't won since Oct. of 2010, scored twice in one minute of fourth-quarter play to salt away a win at Whittier.

LaVerne, on the other hand, made a 17-0 halftime lead stand up while holding the Pirates to 61 rushing yards in avenging a 45-20 loss from 2012.

• Maryville's 42-30 win against Sewanee is just a blur. Or a fog, rather. (Hit me with that newspaper again please. Thanks). Our friend Marcus Fitzsimmons (and his giant headshot) at The Maryville Daily Times has the tale. If, like most of us, you weren't there, no worries. It wasn't a game you had to see to believe.

Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to since 2007 and is in his first season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

Previous Columns

October 23, 2016
Snap Judgments: Controlling your own destiny
With three weeks of regular season play remaining, 16 playoff contenders remain undefeated. For fans...
October 20, 2016
Handling the political football
A summer on Capitol Hill, an internship at a national convention, or a spring abroad at an embassy...
October 16, 2016
Snap Judgments: Don't sleep
Week 7 had wire-to-wire excitement. We can't wait to see what Week 8 brings. After over 12 hours of...
October 13, 2016
Remembering a fallen brother
At Wittenberg, or Lake Forest, a helmet sticker hardly suffices to counteract the emotion of losing...
October 9, 2016
Snap judgments: Are we having fun yet?
Saturday was thrilling. Week 6 had several exciting finishes that will be remembered for a long...
October 6, 2016
Finding a home in purple
With the returning offensive player of the year, St. Thomas might not have been a place a running...
October 2, 2016
Snap judgments: What do we know?
Conference play is in full swing. Some results created clear separation, while others caused more...
September 29, 2016
Re-ranking the conferences for 2016
It’s not easy to compare conferences. Some are no-brainers. Guess what? The WIAC, with three...
September 25, 2016
Snap Judgments: Survival Saturday
Saturday showed that Top 25 teams are far from infallible. Seven teams had to eke out single-digit...
September 22, 2016
Ohana means family
Eventually, the final score will be forgotten. Certain plays will fade away. But the experience that...
September 18, 2016
Snap judgments: A humbling Week 3
Saturday featured multiple marquee matchups of ranked teams taking to the road. There were long...
September 15, 2016
The playcaller and the playwright
A theatre professor spent two seasons behind the scenes with the UW-Oshkosh coaching staff and...
September 11, 2016
Snap judgments: Time to dig deep
No team expects to open the season 0-2. Conference play will afford these teams the opportunity to...
September 7, 2016
Fuentes walks off, a decade later
Julio Fuentes was paralyzed in the opening game of his sophomore season for Alfred. Ten years later,...
September 4, 2016
Snap judgments: The excitement is back
Week 1 had it all. Impressive debuts from coaches and players, thrilling comebacks, and Top 25...
September 1, 2016
Football is here: Get fired up!
New Around the Nation columnist Adam Turer introduces himself to the national audience, introduces a...
December 18, 2003
Let us tell you about Salem
We’ve had the opportunity to go around the nation this year, both literally and figuratively....
 • More Division III football news releases

Other Columnists