Sport Rivalries: How Do They Rank?

Nikki WyattCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2008

There’s nothing better than a good sports rivalry.

I’m talking about the ones that you watch whether or not you support either of the sides. Those ones that make two mediocre teams play well during bad years just because of tradition. Those games also never end in a blowout or without controversy.

Those are the ones to watch. Here are my top five favorite sports rivalries. What are yours?

5. PatsColts: It’s the new generation of the Niners-Cowboys. These two teams are almost guaranteed to have a match up every season whether it be regular, post or both. The Pats were a constant thorn in Manning’s side, beating him in two post season games (one AFC title game) despite him having incredible years. These losses were the source of the “can’t win the big one” label that followed him around for some time.

Then the Pats began to flag and the Colts gained an advantage eventually beating them in a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the conference championship last year. Manning went on to win the Super Bowl. As both teams remain the NFL’s elite, it is obvious that every time these two meet, there are AFC title implications. And if they were in different conferences, those implications would be Super Bowl ones.

4. Ian CrockerMichael Phelps: Although they are great friends and teammates out of the pool, in the pool they are fierce competitors. While Michael Phelps was busy dominating almost every other event, Crocker was quietly dominating one event: the 100m butterfly. Combined with Phelps’s talent and Crocker’s focus, everyone else in the pool during the 100m butterfly is racing for third.

Phelps took Olympic gold in 2004, edging Crocker by .04 of a second. Crocker retaliated with one of the best swimming races ever to take place at the World Championships the follow year, shattering the former world record.

No matter what the circumstances are, the Crocker-Phelps 100m butterfly rivalry is one of the highlights of the upcoming Olympics and for years to come.

3. DukeUNC: Maybe it’s the fact that only eight miles separate them. Or it could be that they are always the top two ACC teams. Or maybe it’s the history that goes with it, but Duke-UNC is the biggest college basketball rivalry there is. Their (twice or more yearly) games always seem to go to the buzzer and their fans the most passionate.

Who could forget the UNCs 14-0 in conference play or UNC spoiling JJ Reddick’s senior night with the most viewed college basketball game ever? Or Hansbrough jumping up to confront Henderson and ending up breaking his nose, blood pouring everywhere.

Every time these two teams play, the nation watches because there’s nothing like it. 

2.  YankeesRed Sox: These two teams have met 1744 times. They have played each other for AL championships, titles and regular season series. The Yankees had the upper hand in years past winning two AL championships against the Sox and the World Series and 26 World Series titles surely, just ask any Boston fan, because of the Curse of the Bambino.

However, this rivalry took a new turn when the Sox came back from three down in the ALCS to win four games in a row for the championship. They then went on to win the World Series two times in three years while the Yankees faltered.

But no matter what the circumstances, Yankees-Red Sox is always a game worth watching.

1. MichiganOhio State: Ever year these two football teams battle it out in front of thousands. These games usually determine some of college football’s most important bowl games and almost always who wins the Big Ten title. The rivalry is one of the most dated in the world-the first game being held 1897.

It still continues today.

These two schools are always on the better end of the NCAA and represent some of the winningest programs in history (Michigan owning that title at .745). UM has won 11 National titles and OSU close at seven. Great players like Desmond Howard, George Allen and Lou Groza have come out of these schools. Their fans are crazy, their weather is unpredictable and their players are always NFL worthy.

This makes for a great rivalry that we are lucky enough to witness every year.


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