Top 5 College Football Rivalries
- BYU-Utah “The Holy War”
Two of Utah’s most prominent schools have played a total of 97 times since their first match-up in 1896, Utah leads the all-time series 54-34-4 and has won the last 6 meetings including a 20-19 this season.
- West Virginia-Pitt “The Backyard Brawl”
Arguably the gritties rivalry of the group, the Backyard Brawl is the 14th oldest rivalry in college football and was given the name due to the close proximity of the two universities (75 miles). The rivalry is on a decade hiatus as the next game will be played in 2022. Through the 104 game history, Pitt leads the series 61-40-3, however, West Virginia has won the last 3 meetings.
- Mississippi State-Ole Miss “The Egg Bowl”
The rivalry began in 1901 and played every year until 1911 when they took a 3 year hiatus. After that short break the two teams have played every year since 1915 with the exception of 1943 for World War II (which you will see in most, if not, all college football rivalries). In 1926 Ole Miss broke a 13 year losing streak against MSU and rushed the field in Starkville attempting to tear down the goal posts, fights broke out as MSU fans took offense and the two schools created the Golden Egg Trophy to avoid anymore issues. The two schools have played 112 times and Ole Miss leads the series 63-43-6.
This rivalry has been given a bevy of names but none have seemed to stick. It is a meeting of two of the greatest collegiate athletic programs in history, UCLA has the most National Championships across all sports and USC is 3rd. The first meeting took place in 1929 with USC blowing out UCLA 76-0. Since then, the teams have met a total of 83 times with the Trojans leading the all-time series 45-31-7.
- Florida State-Florida
Another rivalry without a name, it is a contest between two of the oldest public universities in the country. The two teams have met a total of 60 times, but have played some absolute classic games, including No. 1 vs No. 2, Choke at Doak and the National Title game in 1997, one year after the 1 vs 2 game. The Gators lead the series 34-24-2, but the Noles have won the last 3 and look like they should roll this season to make it 4 straight.
As always, I can never make a list and keep it to the number I’ve set, so here are my top 5(really 6), rivalries in College Football.
5B. Lafayette-Lehigh “The Rivalry”
It is the longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football, with the two schools playing every year since 1897. The rivalry was actually started in 1884, but stopped for a year in 1896. They have also played the most games in college football history having met 151 times, Lafayette leads the series 78-68-5. The tradition was even kept alive during World War II where both teams played twice in 1943 and 44. This is such an obvious game to put in the Top 5 (6). The longest streak of games played year after year is incredible, especially given the frequent and occasionally drastic changes with conference realignment. It is unfortunate that larger schools don’t take note and make sure they can make these games happen each year (I’m looking at you Notre Dame-Michigan).
5A. Auburn v Alabama “The Iron Bowl”
It pains me to put Bama on this list, but there is no denying the awesomeness of the Iron Bowl, especially in recent history. For most of the series’ history, the game was played in Birmingham and got its name because of the city’s influence and history in the steel industry. Since 2000, odd-numbered years are played at Auburn and even years at Alabama. They have met a total of 80 times, Alabama leads the series 44-35-1, but Auburn has the most memorable moment of the rivalry.
4. Michigan v Ohio State “The Game”
I have a problem with both schools, Michigan more so than Ohio State, but there is no denying how intense, electrifying and competitive this game is. The rivalry began in 1897 and has been played annually since 1915 for a grand total of 112 meetings. And there have been too many all-time great games in this series to count, for anyone around my age the most notable has to be the 2006 match-up between the #1 Buckeyes and #2 Wolverines that was dubbed the Game of the Century. The Troy Smith led Buckeyes went on to win 42-39 over Chad Henne and the Wolverines. Despite that win and 4 consecutive wins in the series, Michigan leads all-time 58-47-6.
3. Notre Dame v USC “The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh”
Just before the Buckeyes and Wolverines took center-stage in the mid-to-late 2000s, the Irish and the Trojans were the premier game. The rivalry dates back to 1926 and is played between two of the most storied programs in all of college football. Both schools have won 11 National Championships and have 7 Heisman Trophy winners. 87 times the two teams have met and the most famous in recent history is 2005 game called the “Bush Push”, still one of the most painful games I have ever witnessed. The Irish lead the series 46-36-5 and have won 3 of the last 4 match-ups.
2. Oklahoma v Texas “The Red River Showdown”
Because apparently it’s no longer the shootout? Whatever, still one of the best rivalry games of all time. The game has a tradition of both schools’ ROTC programs running the game ball from their respective campuses to Dallas. Once they arrive they play a scrimmage game for a trophy and of course, bragging rights. The rivalry started in 1900 and has been played 110 times, Texas leads 61-44-5 and it should be a great game again this year.
1. Army v Navy
There is no greater rivalry in sports, that’s right, all of sports, than when West Point and Annapolis meet every December. The academies began play back in 1890 and have played annually since 1930 for a total of 116 meetings. The game has been played at 10 different locations, with Philadelphia hosting the most at 86 times. The game has traditionally closed out the college football regular season with the week on their own. This game is the definition of throw out the records because this game means a hell of a lot to the people involved. No matter how good or bad each team is, it is always a close one. While Navy has dominated the series as of late, 14 straight wins, the games have been close with just 2 games since 2010 being decided by more than a touchdown. The tradition, pageantry and pride around this game brings chills to any spectator watching. This is by and far #1 on my list of sporting events that I want to attend, unfortunately it is super expensive.