When people ask why college football is better than professional football, one of the first things that should come to mind is rivalry games. The passion of lifelong fanbases with decades of bad blood between them creates atmospheres that simply cannot be matched in other levels of the sport.
Like many conferences, the Big Ten is chock full of rivalries. In addition, most of these have now been protected on an annual basis thanks to the East-West alignment beginning in 2014. Geography plays a huge role in creating friction between adjacent fans, who then raise children and fans who become players who also embrace the rivalry.
So what makes a great rivalry? In the Midwest, our teams play for trophies (for the most part), and the bigger and sillier, the better. A close record over time also is important, as lopsided rivalries just do not have the same fun and risk involved on a year-to-year basis.
By my count, there are 14 rivalries in the current Big Ten setup. With apologies to Penn State - Ohio State (which is listed as a rivalry but just feels too recent and has no trophy, disqualifying it from this list), here are the top 14 rivalries in the B1G.