College Football is a sport that is unlike anything else. Thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of people, are crammed into stadiums around the country to watch their favorite team go to battle on the gridiron. Like in every sport, there are rivalries that make the games even more intense and personal for those in the stands and on the field. Rivalries make any sport great and College Football houses some of the best rivalries in the world. These schools hate each other with a burning passion and want absolutely nothing to do with each other. Let’s take a look at the best College Football rivalries and see which one is the best of them all.
10. Michigan State vs. Michigan: Battle For The Paul Bunyan Trophy
Michigan leads the series 69-36-5
There is perhaps no bigger game in the state of Michigan than this one. Spartans and Wolverines. Both teams recruit the state of Michigan heavily, families are torn between the two schools, if you mention Wolverines or Spartans to opposing fan bases, their blood boils. These two schools hate each other. After Michigan running back Mike Hart called Michigan State their little brother after a 28-24 win in 2007, Michigan State has won eight of the last ten in this game since that loss. It’s personal for both sides and there’s no mistaking that this is one of the most heated rivalries in all of College Football. The 2015 meeting proved to be one of the most dramatic games as Michigan punter Blake O’Neill dropped a snap with 10 seconds left and Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson scooped up the ball and raced to the end zone as time expired to give Michigan State a dramatic 27-23 win in a game that they were losing for almost the entire 60 minutes.
9. Florida vs. Georgia: World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
Georgia leads the series 51-43-3 (Per Georgia), Georgia leads the series 50-43-3 (Per Florida)
When two teams have a discrepancy about who won a game in 1904 (per Georgia), you know these two hate each other. Florida claims that their 1904 meeting with Georgia didn’t count as a loss because it was before they moved to their permanent location in Gainesville. However, Georgia still counts the game as a win even if it was before Florida moved to its current spot in 1906. Jacksonville, Florida in the last week of October becomes an absolute insane asylum when these two teams come to town. With this rivalry dating back to 1915 (per Florida), there is no doubt that the SEC brings the heat when it comes to rivalries in College football. Jacksonville has been the permanent site of this game since 1933 and it has also been one of the crazier rivalries in recent memory. In the mid-2000’s, Florida was wiping the floor with Georgia. In the 2007 meeting, Georgia scored the opening touchdown of the game and the entire team rushed the field in order to fire up the Bulldog fans. At the time, Head Coach Mark Richt was more than fine with all of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that were called on his players. It’s no secret that these two severely dislike each other.
8. Clemson vs. South Carolina: The Palmetto Bowl
Clemson leads the series: 69-42-4
Clemson and South Carolina have been battling for state bragging rights since 1896 and have met a total of 115 times. The 2004 meeting proved the point that these two teams love to hate each other due to the massive brawl that occurred in the middle of the game. After some pushing and shoving after a play, both benches emptied onto the field, punches were thrown, players were wrestled to the ground and kicked, police had to come onto the field and clean up the brawl, and even the coaches got into heated arguments. The 2004 brawl was a straight on street fight and that intensity is always present when these two in-state rivals step on the field for the final game of their respected regular seasons.
7. Notre Dame vs. USC: Battle For The Jeweled Shillelagh
Notre Dame leads the series 47-37-5
Notre Dame against USC is perhaps one of the best non-conference rivalries in College Football and it has definitely provided some of the most memorable games. The 2005 game proved to be one of the best games of all time. USC was bound for yet another National Championship run and Notre Dame was in the way. Down 31-28 with under 10 seconds left, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was pushed into the end zone by Reggie Bush and the play famously became known as the “Bush Push.” USC went on to win the game 35-31 in perhaps one of the wildest and controversial endings in College football history.
6. Harvard vs. Yale: The Game
Yale leads 67-59-8
Dating back to 1875, these two Ancient Eight schools have played each other 134 times. I have been to three Harvard Yale games and all three of them were unlike anything I’ve been to before. Both teams set football back about 50 years and there is more pranking going around than football being played. Yes, College Gameday did come to Cambridge in 2014 when both teams were 9-0 and the winner would be the outright Ivy League Champion. However, Yale students dressing up as Harvard fans in 2004 getting other Harvard fans to hold up signs that said “We Suck,” goes to show that this is truly a different kind of College Football atmosphere. In 2016, Yale students stood up on the large walls separating the field from the stands inside Harvard Stadium completely nude. Yeah, that was a lot of fun to witness. The Harvard Yale rivalry is a spectacle to see and it is definitely one of the best old-time rivalries in College Football.
5. Miami vs. Florida State
Miami leads the series 32-30
Canes and Seminoles. The U against the Tomahawk Chop. When you think of Miami and Florida State, you think of players like Deion Sanders, Anquan Boldin, Michael Irvin, Ed Reed, Jalen Ramsey, Santana Moss, and a number of others that starred in college, and in the NFL. This battle between two in-state powerhouses was once dominated by Florida State. However, with Miami returning to national prominence again, this rivalry should become even more interesting. In a number of meetings, special teams have either won or lost the game for each side. In 1991, 1992, and 2000, Florida State had a series of missed kicks to win the game called “Wide Right I,” “Wide Right II,” and “Wide Right III” respectively. In 2002, Florida State lost on another kick affectionately called “Wide Left.” In 2016 with Miami down 20-19 looking to tie the game on an extra point, Florida State blocked Miami’s extra-point attempt and recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve a 20-19 win. This rivalry has given fans some of the best games in College Football and the rivalry is only going to intensify from here on out.
4. Texas vs. Oklahoma: The Red River Rivalry
Texas leads the series 61-46-5
Boomer Sooner and Hook em Horns. The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas is home for this historic rivalry. These two College Football blue-bloods first met back in 1900. The two teams have met 112 times and each meeting brings even more hate. This rivalry is more than just about football. The two states border each other, there is a large cultural difference, past border disputes are still bickered about, and there are large economic differences. There have been cases of players leaving Norman, Oklahoma to go play at Texas and there have been players leaving Austin, Texas to go play at Oklahoma. These two hate each other so much. However, it’s not quite on the same level as one of the other rivalries that will be mentioned later.
3. Army vs. Navy
Navy leads the series 60-51-7
The Army-Navy rivalry is unique in its own way that can’t really be described. This is a bucket list game for sure. The two service academies first met in 1890 and this game has given College Football fans something to look forward to on the second Saturday or December. If you want to see passes being thrown down the field like in the Big 12, you’re out of luck. Both teams run the flexbone triple option offense and it won’t come as a surprise if both teams combine for zero passes in the game. In all seriousness though, if you didn’t see the 2017 matchup being played in heavy snow in Philadelphia, Army’s all-white uniforms blending in like camouflage, and Navy’s Blue Angel tribute uniforms, go watch it right now. If Army-Navy in the snow doesn’t make you want to run through a wall, I don’t know what will.
2. Auburn vs. Alabama: The Iron Bowl
Alabama leads the series 45-36-1
Roll Tide and War Eagle. Dating back to 1893, this rivalry is easily one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. The Auburn and Alabama dilemma splits the state in half and families are split. Most of the time, the winner of this game will be the SEC West Division Champion. Emotions are mostly kept in check for this game but it has also given the College Football world some of the greatest games from Bo Over the Top in 1983, the Camback in 2010, and the kick-six in 2013. The Iron Bowl is one of College Football’s most crowned jewels. The last weekend in November in either Tuscaloosa or Auburn, Alabama unites a state through the game of football, and sincere hatred for each other. Both teams hate the life out of each other and would wish ill on the opposition. SEC rivalries are hardcore.
1. Ohio State vs. Michigan
Michigan leads the series 58-49-6
These two states have hated each other since long before Michigan or Ohio State existed. Territorial disputes about the Toledo strip caused a rivalry between the states and it’s only fitting that Ohio State and Michigan have hated each other since 1897. This shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise here. Buckeyes and Wolverines. Bo and Woody. Tressel and Carr. Meyer and Harbaugh. Ohio State and Michigan is easily the best rivalry in all of sports. These two have a hatred for each other that can’t be properly described. It’s extremely personal or each side as Ohio State has plenty of players from Michigan, and Michigan has plenty of players from Ohio. Players on both sides were recruited by both schools and the hate runs deep. Coming from a Penn State student, we hate both teams. However, when we see that these two lovebirds are playing on the last Saturday of November, it’s time to get the popcorn ready and watch the slugfest of a lifetime. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, these two will bash each other about anything regardless of the time and place. It’s rather comical that two of the most annoying teams in all of College Football hate each other. Each year, the Ohio State and Michigan game brings even more absurdity to an already heated rivalry. There is no doubt that this rivalry will remain the top rivalry in the world.