Sports Rivalries That Fans Don't Think About

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Sports Rivalries That Fans Don't Think About
Image via NCAA.org

After watching this year's "Iron Bowl" between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, along with the Ohio State-Michigan game earlier in the day, sports fans were reminded why sitting in front of the TV all day watching sports is never a bad thing.

But it occurred to me that, while these are just two examples of over-publicized, well-known games, there are a ton of sports rivalries that fans either forget or just straight-up don't even know about.

So while I pointed out a few of the best new sports rivalries a few months ago, today I'm giving some clashes between teams that fans should really start to appreciate—because there are some really serious ones out there.

 

8. Wellesley High School (MA) vs. Needham High School (MA) Football

Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

Go ahead and argue that this game is just another high school football game between two bitter small towns in the Northeast, but dig a little bit deeper and you'll find that this isn't only the oldest public school football game in the country—beginning back in 1882—but that the all-time series is an astonishingly close, 59-56-9, with Wellesley holding the slight edge.

We all may have had that one school growing up who we claimed to hate because it was in a neighboring town, but when two towns square off for close to 125 years, it's the only thing that anyone truly knows, so each Thanksgiving is a full portion of stuffing the other school on the gridiron.

 

7. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Image via AFP and FoxSports.com

I know, I know, it's tough to consider this a real rivalry because the two haven't even knocked gloves in the ring before, but for all the talk about this ever happening, shouldn't it at least be considered?

Hands-down the two most prized, popular fighters of the past decade, Pacquiao and Mayweather would be a spectacle that would produce one of the highest audiences for a sport that could definitely use some more viewers—as well as a true premier fight for the first time in awhile.

I typically base a rivalry off numerous meetings and an even record against one another, but even if these two faced off just once, it'd probably be one of the most memorable boxing moments of the past 25 years.

 

6. Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves

Comparatively speaking, this is like new money versus old money, with the hot, young, confident Washington Nationals trying to supplant the consistent, well-run organization of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

With baseball having so many storied teams hating each other like the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, or the LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, having a team on the rise like the Nats absolutely despising a blue-blood franchise of the past 20-plus years like Atlanta is good for business.

Add in the fact that both teams look built to compete for the next decade or so, and this is one that is beginning to develop into something baseball fans should start taking notice of.

 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

If you want big boy football, then make sure you perch yourself nicely in front of the TV whenever these AFC North teams go against each other—and buckle up your chinstrap.

Sure, this one gets a lot of publicity in the media and regionally among the two cities, but because it's still a relatively infant rivalry—with the Ravens being founded just 18 years ago—it doesn't usually come up in conversation as one of the best in the NFL like traditional—but stale—rivalries like the Giants-Eagles, Bears-Packers or whenever Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are on the same field.

Look no further than the stunt that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin's pulled during the latest game between the teams on Thanksgiving night, stepping in front of the Ravens' Jacoby Jones during a kick return to try and obstruct his path—earning Tomlin a hefty fine.

 

4. United States vs. Ghana

Phil Cole/Getty Images

For anyone who follows the U.S. men's national soccer team, the recently held 2014 World Cup Draw not only pitted Team USA in arguably one of the toughest groups in next summer's tournament, but also against a familiar foe in the process.

While escaping Germany and Portugal will be a difficult tough task in Brazil, the Yanks found themselves in a group with Ghana as well, who the squad has gone head-to-head with in both of the last World Cups in 2006 and 2010—losing by a 2-1 margin in each, and setting a record for viewers in the latter.

Sure, USA and Mexico is often the biggest rivalry for our boys from the pitch, but with a third straight meeting with "The Black Stars" on the world's grandest stage, this one is developing into a pretty good one too.

 

3. Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres

Steve Babineau/Getty Images

Hockey might not be the most popular of sports in the United States, but if you're looking to get into the fastest sport in the world, you might want to check the schedule to see when the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres drop the puck next—because it's one that has a feisty history to it.

Although both teams seem to have narrowed their hate for each other a bit as other teams have entered into the discussion as primary rivals, the heated battles these two franchises had from their days in the old Northeast Division—since renamed the Atlantic Division—shouldn't be easily forgotten.

The "May Day" goal is arguably the greatest moment in this rivalry, but even recently, current players have shown that there's no love lost between these two teams.

 

2. UPenn vs. Princeton Basketball

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Although I'm guessing that neither you nor I could have ever been accepted to an Ivy League school coming out of high school, that doesn't mean that us bitter sports fans should just give the middle finger to the conference and ignore its athletics, right?

And if you're looking for a classic, even rivalry within the conference—excluding Harvard-Yale—look no further than the UPenn Quakers and the Princeton Tigers.

Playing against each other since 1903, this rivalry has seen the teams meet nearly 230 times, with UPenn leading the series 123-105, and in the past 25 years, the Quakers have earned 10 Ivy League titles, and the Tigers 11—with one shared.

It may not get the notice of many people who didn't grow up with it, but that doesn't mean it's not one of the all-time greats—just hear it from the players who have played in it.

 

1. Mount Union vs. UW-Whitewater Football

Image via NCAA.org

In an age where every college football fan can't wait to see the BCS go to the wayside, the NCAA Division-III football playoff format has been one in place for quite some time now.

And when you talk about what teams have proven to be the most successful at the win-or-go-home tournament, Mount Union in Ohio and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater should be the first to come to mind.

With eight D-III titles between them in the past 10 years, the two have developed quite the annual routine of meeting each other in the national championship game, with both earning berths for seven straight seasons between 2005-11.

And wouldn't you know it, the two potentially could meet again to determine this year's champion—should things play out as they typically have in the past decade.

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