Conference realignment has killed many rivalries, and with it, the long-standing traditions that went along with them. Growing up, we all recall Oklahoma-Nebraska, Pittsburgh-West Virginia (The Backyard Brawl), Missouri-Kansas (The Border War), and so many more. Realignment didn’t just separate well-known rivalries – the smaller conferences were also affected. Some schools sought greener pastures, with more exposure and money.
It’s no secret that the Sun Belt is the small, rural FBS conference. When a school transitions from FCS to FBS, the Sun Belt is usually a starting point. For Troy and Middle Tennessee State, it worked out exactly that way. When conference realignment happened in 2013, the “Battle for the Palladium” was cast aside. The damage? A game which, in 2008, was a Top 5 non-BCS game in 2008 by ESPN.
Battle for the Palladium Overview
- Series Standings: Middle Tennessee State, 12-8
- Longest Winning Streak: Middle Tennessee State, 8 games, 1936-1953.
- Last 10: 7-3, Troy
- Troy won its first game in the series in 1999.
- Last Played: 2012 (24-21, MTSU)
History of the Rivalry Game
While the rivalry started in the mid-1930’s, the trophy was created in 2003. The intent of both student governments was to engage both schools’ fans – and boy, did it work. Both schools agreed to base the trophy on Greek Mythology, due to the schools’ shared nods to it. The Troy Trojans are obvious, but the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders are a little less so. The Blue Raiders’ mascot is Lightning – a winged horse that bears a striking resemblance to a Pegasus. According to Greek Mythology, the Palladium is a wooden statue that fell from the heavens that was kept in Troy (Turkey, not Alabama).
When the trophy was announced, the Sun Belt gained a marquee televised game. This trophy game often pitted the top two teams in the Sun Belt against each other. This game gave the conference a ton of exposure and some establishing prestige at the time.
When the ACC raided the Big East in 2013, a lot of shifting started to happen around college football. The remainder of the Big East started a new conference – the American Athletic Conference. The AAC then raided Conference USA, and CUSA raided the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee State joined CUSA in the 2013 season. The Battle for the Palladium has been defunct ever since.
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