Top 10 College Football Rivalries
What makes a football game a rivalry. Is it the proximity of the two schools?
It can be.
Is it the familiarity of the two teams as they battle for their conference title year after year?
Sometimes it is.
Is it because this is the teams oldest rival and they have played for more than 100 years.
Many times it is.
A rivalry can be some or all of these things. These are the games that before the season even starts it is circled on the schedule as a must win.
Included with each rivalry are the overall records and a brief history of the rivalry. These are the top 10 college football rivalries.
10. UCLA vs. USC
USC leads series 44-28-7
The rivalry began in 1929 and the schools are separated by just 12 miles. The winner of the game takes home the Victory Bell. The victory bell was given to UCLA by their alumni association in 1939, stolen by USC in 1941, and then finally, in 1942, it was decided that the winner takes home the bell.
9. Florida vs. Florida State
The Sunshine Showdown
Florida leads series 33-19-2
Florida has had a football program since 1906. Florida State had a football team in 1900 but became a women’s school in 1905. Florida State became coed again in 1947. Soon after, Florida State starts their football program again, and the series ultimately begins in 1958.
8. BYU vs. UTAH
The Holy War
Utah leads series 53–34–4
Brigham Young University is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church. The University of Utah is owned by the state of Utah. There is a conflict (usually unspoken) between church and state.
After the last game, in which BYU won 26-23, BYU’s starting quarterback Max Hall was quoted as saying “I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home.”
7. Oregon vs. Oregon State
The Civil War
Oregon leads series 57-46-10
It is the battle for the state of Oregon. The series began in 1894, and the two teams have played 113 times. The winner of the game takes home the Platypus Trophy. The trophy was designed by an art student in 1959. The platypus was chosen due to its duck bill and beaver-like tale.
6. West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh
The Backyard Brawl
Pitt leads the series 61-38-3
The series began in 1895. A rivalry began primarily due to proximity. Just 70 miles separate the two schools. They often compete over the same recruits in the state of Pennsylvania. There is a deep-seated hatred between the opposing fans and players.
5. Army vs. Navy
The Army—Navy Game
Navy leads series 54-49-7
The series began in 1890. It is traditionally the last regular season game for each team. It is a battle for inter-service bragging rights. Due to the grade, height, and weight restrictions and each player’s service requirement after graduation, it is usually the last competitive football game for the seniors on each team. Even with the drive to win the game, the winning and losing teams band together and sing the winning and losing team’s alma-maters to the academy students.
4. USC vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame leads series 42-34-5
The series began in 1926. Starting in 1952, the winner of the game takes home the Jeweled Shillelagh. The shillelagh is a Gaelic war club that was given by the Norte Dame Alumni chapter in Los Angeles to commemorate the beginning of the rivalry. After each game, a ruby Trojan or an emerald shamrock is added to the club. In 1989 they ran out of room on the club, and it was retired. The tradition continues now with the introduction of a new club in 1997.
3. Oklahoma vs. Texas
The Red River Rivalry
Texas leads series, 59-40-5
The series began in 1900. The rivalry gets its name from the Red River that forms part of the boundary between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. There are three trophies exchanged between the two teams. The most well-known is the Golden Hat. Since 1932, the game has been played at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas.
2. Auburn vs. Alabama
The Iron Bowl
Alabama leads series 40-33-1
The series began in 1893, the name Iron Bowl coming from the historic role of the region in the Iron and steel industry. It’s a rivalry that happens when you have two large universities in the same state.
Without a professional team in the state of Alabama, this game rivals the Super Bowl in the state. One thing that led to Alabama’s lead in the series is that Auburn didn’t get to play a true home game in the series until 1989. Auburn won 30-20.
1. Ohio State vs. Michigan
Michigan leads series 57-43-6
The series began in 1897. Since 1935 it has been each team’s last game. In most years this game has Big Ten title implications, and on many occasions nation title implications. The rivalry was probably at its peak when each team was coached by now College Football Hall of Fame coaches Woody Hayes (Ohio State) and Bo Schembechler (Michigan). Schembechler was also an assistant coach under Hayes at Ohio State. This period is named the Ten Year War. This is the biggest college football rivalry and, quite possibly, the biggest sports rivalry in North America.