The 30 Most One-Sided Rivalries in Sports
Rivalries bring out the worst in us as sports fans. They make us hateful people who might flip off an old lady wearing a Dodger cap (don't ask). They make us even more obsessive about our teams than we normally are. And to be honest, it's not healthy. But it sure is fun.
Some rivalries are great. Two top-tier teams fighting it out for dominance over a fresh bed of grass is heaven.
Some rivalries aren't as great. They might be completely one sided. These are the 30 most one-sided rivalries ever.
30. Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
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Let's get this out there: northern California despises all of southern California's sports teams. So when the Lakers and Kings were arguably the two best teams in the Western Conference in the early 2000s, things got a little heated.
The problem for Sacramento Kings fans (I am one of you) is that the Kings never came out on top. As the eighth seed in the 2000 NBA playoffs, Sacramento gave the Lakers all they could handle in the first round. The result? The Lakers won in five and raised another banner in the Staples Center. The next year the two met again, and again the Lakers rolled over the Kings and defended their championship.
But 2002 was different. Sacramento posted a league best 61-21 record and were actually favored when the two met in the conference finals. With the Kings up 3-2 in the series, the referees (and Robert Horry) gave game six to southern California. The Lake show took game seven and a third straight title.
29. Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
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Nebraska and Oklahoma began their rivalry almost 100 years ago in 1912, and back then, the Huskers dominated. In their first 22 meetings, Nebraska went 16-3-3. Since then, momentum has shifted harshly.
From 1943 to 1958, the Sooners won 16 straight. More recently, Oklahoma has won five of the last six matchups.
28. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
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Let's take this dominated rivalry to the pitch. The North London derby began all the way back in 1887. In those days, Arsenal was known as "Royal Arsenal" (how regal). That match was abandoned 15 minutes early due to "owing and darkness."
Their first league match came more than 20 years later when Arsenal slipped by the Spurs 1-0 in 1909. A century later, the rivalry still fumes. Arsenal has gotten the better of Tottenham, as they have won 71 and drawn 47 against 52 losses. They also have collected 13 First Divisions to the Spurs two.
27. Texas vs. Texas A&M
The Aggies and Longhorns hate each other. But, Texas is certainly the over-sized bully in the fight.
The Horns have taken down eight out of their last 11 games, but that statistic doesn't even come close to painting this picture. Texas leads the all-time series 75-37-5.
26. Michigan vs. Michigan State
These two in-state rivals started smacking each other around in 1953. The prize? The coveted Paul Bunyan Trophy, of course.
The Wolverines have proven to be the better team over the long haul. In their 58 meetings, Michigan has won 34 and tied (blah) twice. They have also piled up more hardware. Michigan has claim to 11 national titles to the Spartans' six. More impressively, the Wolverines have collected 42 conference titles while State has won just seven.
25. Texas vs. Baylor
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Texas and Baylor hardly belong on the same field, let alone the same rivalry. Baylor has zero national titles. Texas has four. The Bears have won their conference five times; the Longhorns have won theirs 32 times.
So how do they match up head-to-head? Let's just say Texas has a slight edge. Since 1901, the Horns have beaten the Bears 73 times (with four ties) in 100 meetings.
24. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
It's funny to think these two guys used to be somewhat friendly with each other. In fact, they spent some time training together.
Back in 2003, Ortiz was the light heavyweight champ and Chuck Liddell was the top contender. The problem? Ortiz wouldn't give Liddell a title shot. It didn't matter, anyway. Ortiz lost a unanimous decision to Randy Couture at UFC 44.
With no belt at stake, Ortiz agreed to tangle with "The Iceman" at UFC 47. After an uneventful first round, Liddell laid more hands on Ortiz than that kid who got baptized last Sunday at church.
Liddell won the rematch, too. At UFC 66, it took Chuck three rounds to earn a TKO and retain the light heavyweight belt he won from Couture one year prior. After the fight it was revealed that Liddell had dismantled Ortiz with a torn MCL and a popped tendon in the middle finger of his left hand.
23. Notre Dame vs. Purdue
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This won't be the last time you see the Fightin' Irish on this countdown. Notre Dame football used to be the standard for excellence. And how do you acquire such lofty praise? By dominating your "rivals."
The Irish and Boilermakers first fought over bragging rights in 1896 when Purdue upended Notre Dame 28-22. In 1946, they began to play annually in what would be called the Shillelagh Trophy.
As far as the trophy goes, Notre Dame has won 35 to Purdue's 19. ND has won 54 of the 82 games while tying the Boilermakers twice. That's pretty one sided.
22. North Carolina vs. NC State
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This one isn't even close. UNC has dominated NC State for decades. The Heels have posted a 144-75 all-time record against their in-state foe.
North Carolina has been to 18 Final Fours. They own five national championships and helped develop arguably the greatest player of all-time.
NC State has won it all twice in three trips to the Final Four. Their most notable alum? Four-time NBA All-Star and anchor to the '74 championship team, David Thompson.
21. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson
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Remember when Tiger Woods was dominant? Ah, those were the days. I would actually watch golf on Sunday afternoons. There was a reason to watch. I was witnessing history. Nowadays...meh.
Before the 2004 Masters, Phil Mickelson was in golf hell. Sure, he'd win a tournament every now and again, but he hadn't collected a major. And what was the major reason (pardon my pun) for his lack of hardware and green jackets? Tiger Woods.
By 2004, the younger, more spry Woods had eight majors. Lefty finally found a way passed Tiger and the field at the '04 Masters and since then he has won three more majors. Currently, Tiger has 10 more major wins and 50 more tour wins than Mickelson.
20. Liverpool vs. Everton
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The Merseyside derby got its start back in the nineteenth century. In 1894, the two clubs from the city of Liverpool began a rivalry which has had a friendlier feel.
In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the "friendly derby" because so many families are split on which team to support.
Liverpool has dominated Everton, posting a 85-64-66 mark. Much of The Reds' success can be attributed to Ian Rush, who has netted 25 goals in the Merseyside derby.
19. Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras
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As a kid, I rooted for Agassi. He was more rock n' roll. Sampras was a nerd. His serve and volley tactics annoyed me. But they were effective. especially against Andre.
Though Sampras only leads their all-time series 20-14, Petey won the big matches. The two Americans met five times in Grad Slam titles and Sampras won four.
18. New York Yankees vs. New York Mets
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Before interleague play was introduced in 1997, the Yanks and Mets had never matched up (besides spring training games, but who cares about those?). Imagine living next door to someone for so long, working on the same field, yet never crossing paths with that person. Go figure. Of the 89 meetings, the Yankees have won 53.
The biggest games were played in the fall of 2000. Deemed "The Subway Series," the dominant Yankees squared off against a Mets team that had finished with seven more wins in the regular season. It didn't matter, though. The Bombers polished off the Metropolitans in five games en route to their third straight World Series win and 26th overall title.
17. Usain Bolt vs. Tyson Gay
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Tyson Gay was supposed to be Usain Bolt's biggest competitor at the Beijing games in 2008. The problem? Bolt showed up; Gay didn't.
Bolt earned three gold medals and set two world records. Gay didn't even qualify for the finals in his best event—the 100 meters.
16. Cubs vs. Cardinals
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Despite the fact that the Cubs lead the all-time series 1092-1049-17, the Cardinals have taken care of business when it matters—in October.
These two clubs have met eight times in the postseason and St. Louis has gotten passed Chicago six of those times.
Also, the Cards have won 10 World Series while the Cubbies continue to flounder in a funk that has lasted more than 100 years.
15. Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock
It's hard to say what would have happened between these two guys had Shamrock been in his prime during their trilogy.
The aging Shamrock and Tito Ortiz first met in the octagon in 2002 at UFC 40. There, Ortiz defeated Shamrock in three rounds by way of the TKO in his fifth title defense. After losing his belt to Randy Couture at UFC 44, Ortiz lost to Chuck Liddell in his next fight seven months later.
Looking for redemption, Ortiz won his next three bouts before re-tangling with Shamrock. At UFC 61, Ortiz pummeled Shamrock. Three months later, he scored another first round TKO in a re-match against Shamrock.
14. West Virginia vs. Marshall
The Friends of Coal Bowl might only be six years old, but West Virginia and Marshall first squared off in 1911. It was a hell of a game, too. The Mountaineers squeaked by the Thundering Herd, 17-15.
Then, the massacres began. Two games later, WVU destroyed Marshall 92-6. They followed that beat down with an 81-0 drubbing eight years later. West Virginia's all-time record against Marshall? How about 11-0. Good god, man.
13. AL vs. NL
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In 1997, baseball decided that it needed to spice things up. Their solution? Interleague play.
Now, fans got to see American League teams and National League teams duel during the regular season. You would think the advantage would have swung to the NL. I mean, it's the senior circuit, right? Wrong.
The NL would have to win the next 166 games to draw even with the AL. I guess all of those extra at bats for the NL's starting pitchers meant nothing in the long run.
12. Lions vs. Vikings
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I miss Barry Sanders. He made you look forward to Lions' football. You know who else looks forward to Lions' football? The Vikings.
With an all-time mark of 66-31-2, Minnesota has dominated Motown. Back in 1961, the Lions were the team feasting, though. They won eight of their first nine matchups. Since then, it's been all Minny.
In their last 22 meetings, the Vikes have taken 19. Ouch.
11. Manchester United vs. Manchester City
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There's no question which one of these squads is the bully. Though City is a constant force in the EPL, United has come out on top more often than not in the Manchester derby.
United boasts 67 wins to City's 43 and 50 draws. But United is unquestionably the more honored side. City has 13 to United's 60.
10. USC vs. UCLA (football)
"The Battle of L.A." sounds like a good movie title. But, it's what they call the football "rivalry" between the prolific Trojans of USC and the not-so-prolific Bruins of UCLA.
Head-to-head, the Trojans are ahead with a record of 43-28-7. USC owns L.A. when it comes to the gridiron. The men in red have 11 national championships, whereas the Bruins have just one.
We should have seen which way this rivalry was going after their first meeting in 1929. Much like the stock market, UCLA crashed and burned to the tune of a 76-0 smackdown.
9. USC vs. UCLA (basketball)
It's time for a little role-reversal.
Though USC has embarrassed UCLA on the football field, UCLA turns the table on the hardwood. With 11 national championships (seven of them consecutive from 1967-1973) and 18 Final Fours, UCLA is perhaps the most decorated school in the NCAA.
USC has never won a national title, but they have reached two Final Fours.
8. Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin
Anderson Silva's knees are downright devastating. Just ask Rich Franklin.
These two "feuded" in the mid-2000s. Silva bludgeoned Franklin in both of their meetings.Their first matchup came at UFC 64, where Silva ended the fight in the first round. His strike of choice? His knee of course. They met again at UFC 77 about a year later.
Silva re-introduced his knees to Franklin, scoring a second round TKO.
7. Eagles vs. Cowboys
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In perhaps the most heated division, the Eagles and Cowboys have been at each other's throats since 1960. In their first meeting, Philly slipped by Dallas 27-25. That same year, the Eagles won their third and last NFL Championship thus far.
The two squads have met on the gridiron 100 times, with the 'Boys winning 56. Dallas has taken the division 20 times to the Eagles 12, and has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy five times. Philadelphia has never won a Super Bowl.
6. Lakers vs. Clippers
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It's a waste of time to compare these two franchises. One of them is always in contention for an NBA championship, the other is an irrelevant team in a relevant city.
In my research, I was surprised to find that the Clippers have beaten the Lakers 48 times. Too bad they've played 189 times.
It's funny, as a northern California sports fan I should hate the Clippers. Maybe Blake Griffin can instill some hate into my otherwise hate-filled heart.
5. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
This is another joke of an in-state rivalry. The Bedlam Series is nothing more than a walk in the park for the Sooners.
With an 82-16-7 record, the Sooners make door mats out of the Cowboys. Maybe this game should be left off the schedule. It's just sad when one team has no shot of winning. Sorry, OSU.
4. Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals
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Krusty's accountant: Let me get this straight. You took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it against the Harlem Globetrotters?
Krusty: Oh, I thought the Generals were due!
[watches the game on TV]
Krusty: He's spinning the ball on his finger! Just take it! Take it!
[the Globetrotters score]
Krusty: That game was fixed! They were using a freakin' ladder, for God's sake!
Classic Simpson's episode.
Anyway, the Trotters belong on the list even if their rivalry with the Generals is a put on. From 1953 to 1995, Harlem went 13,000-6.
3. Canadiens vs. Bruins
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With so much parity in the NHL, it's difficult to find one-sided rivalries. Sorry Beantown, Montreal owns you.
The two teams have compiled a 343-259-103 all-time record with the Canadiens on the good side of those numbers.
More remarkably, the two teams have met in the playoffs 33 times. This is gonna sting: the Habs have won 24 of those series.
2. Red Sox vs. Yankees
Before 2004, Bostonians had no retort to a Yankee fan's razzing. With more than eight decades between World Series wins, the Red Sox became baseball's lovable losers. They fielded good teams with extremely talented players and had a loaded farm system, but just couldn't win the big one.
To make matters worse, their biggest rival, the hated Yankees, were prospering 198 miles southwest. During Boston's 86-year drought, the Yanks won 39 pennants and 26 World Series. The teams personified Yin and Yang.
We all know what happened in 2004. The Sox won again in 2007, but decades of a one-sided rivalry earn this classic matchup a place on the list.
1. Notre Dame vs. Navy
This rivalry is a slam dunk at number one. Honestly, I don't even understand how it can be labeled a rivalry. Thankfully for the Midshipmen, the Irish are a shell of what they used to be.
Let's put some historical numbers on this one. Notre Dame is 71-11-1 all-time against Navy. They won 43 consecutive games from 1964 to 2006. Back then, this game was an automatic win. It was as if I challenged Bobby Fischer to a game of chess.
Lately, this rivalry has gotten interesting. In 2007, Navy broke that awful losing streak in a triple overtime thriller. In 2009 and 2010, they won again, giving them the last three out of four.
Hey, maybe I do have a chance against Fischer. Too bad he died in 2008.