College Football’s Top 10 Rivalries
College Football's Top 10 Rivalries
Rivalry week is here in college football and all across America families bragging rights will be decided and families will be separated as they enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner.
Many aspects come into play when talking about a rivalry in college football, but proximity to one another is the No. 1 factor that makes a rivalry become great. Of the top ten rivalries I have compiled, half of them are between teams within the same state. Four of the remaining five are of teams within the same conference and/or in a state that borders their rival.
The next component that makes up a great rivalry is that you need two teams to be successful. A rivalry doesn’t become great if one side keeps getting worked over by their opponent. That’s why a hammer and a nail aren’t rivals--the hammer is undefeated against the nail.
The third component that makes up a great rivalry is hate. Certainly there is a semblance of respect for one another deep down, but not during rivalry week. Husbands and wives are sleeping in separate beds during rivalry week and can’t even look each other in the eye after their team loses.
Some great rivalries are now defunct as a result of conference realignment like Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma and West Virginia-Pittsburgh, so I excluded them from the list.
I also focused on major conference rivalries. Therefore, the game known as “The Rivalry” between Lehigh and Lafayette will not be included--despite the 147 meetings between the two schools located 17 miles apart--the most of any other rivalry in college football. Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together and celebrate another year together and share all the things they are thankful this time of year.
For me, I am thankful for these 10 great rivalries that make the college football season that give the end of the regular season a nice jump-start into championship week.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.
The Holy War: Utah vs. BYU
Utah leads 56–34–4 in the rivalry that first was played in 1896. Utah also owns an edge in the recent history with the Cougars having been victorious in seven of the past 10 games between the two schools. This is a game that transcends sport and is a battle between the Mormons of BYU and the public school kids at Utah.
Unfortunately as a result of the move to the Pac 12 by Utah the series will be interrupted in 2014 for the first time since World War II when BYU didn’t have a football team from 1943-1945. However, the holy war will still be back at least for the 2016 season. My suspicion is the two-year hiatus will only drive the rivalry to new heights and my hope is the two schools will find a way to meet every year to continue the rivalry.
The Third Saturday in October: Alabama vs. Tennessee
The two teams first met in 1901 and Alabama hold the series lead at 50-37-8. For decades the game was played on the third Saturday in October, but has been moved around after the SEC went to a two-division format. However, the rivalry is not dismayed by dates and when the two teams are on the field bitterness and hostility follows
The series has not been a back and forth battle but one of one team’s winning streak followed by the other team reeling off a long streak of their own. Currently the Crimson Tide is rolling with a six-game winning streak with a jarring 21-point margin victory on average during the streak which started after snapping Tennessee’s seven-game streak.
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party: Georgia vs. Florida
A dispute on the origin of this rivalry between the two schools just goes to show you the level this rivalry will go. Depending on which school you believe the rivalry either began in 1900 or 1901 and Georgia either leads 48-4-2 or 49-40-2 over Florida.
One thing that cannot be disputed is the game that Georgia won earlier this season will go down as one of the best of the 2012 season and should land the Bulldogs in the BCS Championship game if they win the SEC Championship Game. Florida has dominated since the 1980 season having won 18 of those games, but is currently on a two-game losing streak to their SEC east foe.
USC vs. Notre Dame
The lone rivalry to make the top 10 that features teams that aren’t within the same state or in the same conference. The two schools first met in 1926 with Notre Dame holding a series lead 43-34-5. The two schools combine for the most Heisman winners, national titles, players taken in the NFL draft, All-Americans and College and NFL hall-of-famers.
This year’s meeting could see Notre Dame clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game with a win over their rival if they are able to defeat USC--which they have been able to do just once in the last 10 games.
The Civil War: Oregon vs. Oregon State
The first meeting between the two schools was in 1894 making only six rivalries older than the one between the two schools in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon leads the series 59-46-10. The 116th meeting between the two doesn’t feature the same luster it would have prior to Oregon’s defeat last weekend, but don’t discount the face that Oregon State will be looking to snap the Ducks’ four-game winning streak in the rivalry and keep Oregon out of the Pac-12 championship game.
Florida vs. Florida State
The first meeting between the two teams in the sunshine state was in 1958 with Florida leading the series over Florida State 33-21-2, but over the last 40 meetings the series has been a veritable toss-up with Florida leading 20-19-1.
This rivalry has been a treat to watch over the past 20 years because each has usually been challenging for a national title with the loser all but eliminated from title contention. The two schools battle for the best high school recruits and many of the state’s best recruits will decide where to go based on this games result.
The Red River Rivalry: Oklahoma vs. Texas
Texas leads 59–43–5, but lost the 107th meeting between the two Big 12 schools early this season 63-21 and has lost three in a row to their neighbors to the north. The two schools first met on the field in 1900 and has been played in Dallas ever since with the exception of three games.
Since 1932 the two have met at the Cotton Bowl and provides one of the coolest sights in college football with a literal split down the middle of the stadium of Texas and Oklahoma school colors. Six of the past 12 meetings between the schools has had one represent the rivalry in the BCS National Championship Game ensuring its status as one of the elite rivalries in college football.
The Army-Navy Game
The first meeting between the two service academies dates all the way back to 1890. The 113th meeting takes place on the second Saturday in December and is the final game of the college regular season. Navy is looking to extend their series lead which stands at 56-49-7, and seven-game winning streak over Army.
This game is the epitome of sportsmanship, because afterwards the two teams band together and sing each school’s alma-maters. Long ago these two teams were collegiate royalty with a number of Heisman winners and national titles, but currently the biggest appeal is that very few, if any, of the team’s players will ever play in another game after the Army-Navy game and will instead be teammates in the U.S. Military.
The Iron Bowl: Alabama vs. Auburn
Alabama leads the series 41-34-1 and won last year’s game over Auburn 42-14 en route to the national title. The two teams first met in 1883 and will meet for the 77th time this Saturday with Alabama needing a win to clinch the SEC west. The two Alabama institutions have won each of the last three BCS National Championships, as well as two of the three past Heisman trophies. Roll Tide and War Eagle are two of the most synonymous phrases associated with college football and represent the spirit between the two fan bases--that is as heated as any in the nation.
The Game: Ohio State vs. Michigan
Michigan leads the all-time series 58-43-6 and won last year’s game 40-34. The two teams first met in 1897 and will meet for the 109th time on Saturday with Ohio State one win away from an undefeated season. This rivalry rose to prominence when Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler were coaching each Big Ten school from 1969-1978 in a period known as the “Ten-year War,” when the two schools shared the Big Ten title six times.