Top 10 Biggest Non-Conference Rivalries in College Football
College Football is a wonderful game filled with pageantry and tradition.
Rivalries are a huge part of this. However, some of the most interesting rivalries take place in non-conference bouts. Because of this, I set out to determine which of these rivalries have earned the distinction of being in the Top 10.
So without further ado, I present the Top 10 non-conference rivalries in college football.
*NOTE : CONFERENCE AFFILIATIONS INCLUDE MOVES FOR NEXT SEASON
10. Cy-Hawk Trophy: Iowa vs. Iowa State
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Series Record: 39-20 University of Iowa
The battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is a sample of a great interstate rivalry.
However, this rivalry has been thoroughly dominated by the Hawkeyes, including a 15-year stretch of dominance from 1983-97.
2011's edition of the series was the 117th running of the series, which Iowa State won 44-41. It was the 20th time in the series where the game has been decided by seven points or less, including each side winning a game 2-0.
Iowa State has never won more than five consecutive games in the series.
Because this series is as lopsided as it is, it is impossible to rank it much higher than this. However, the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is a classic non-conference rivalry that needs to continue to be played every year.
9. Clean, Old Fashioned Hate: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
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Series Record: 61-39-5 Georgia
A century old rivalry between two schools less than 100 miles apart.
The rivalry's name is extremely fitting. Georgia Tech students have made multiple attempts to steal Georgia's Chapel Bell and Georgia Tech students claim to have stolen Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreck. These schools clearly hate each other and it shows on the football field.
The longest win streak in the series is eight games, siding in Georgia Tech's favor, spanning from 1949-56.
In 1917 and 1918, when the United States was involved in World War I, the two schools did not compete, however, those have been the only two years the teams did not face off since the rivalry's conception in 1893.
In that 1893 meeting, Georgia Tech dominated en route to a 28-6 victory. However, Georgia has taken control and at one point won seven straight games in the series.
The Bulldogs have won the last two games of the rivalry, the 2010 game finishing 42-34 in Athens.
The series will continue in the final week of the season in Atlanta.
8. Thompson Cup: Army vs. Navy
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Series Record: 55-49-7 Navy
In the 111 times in 121 years that the Naval Academy's football team and the Army's football team play their annual rivalry game, it is almost always played in Philadelphia and is very close in series record.
In fact, when Navy's nine game winning streak began, Army actually led in the series. That same nine game winning streak is the longest in the series' profound history, with the second longest being five games that Army won from 1992-96.
This rivalry is an absolute classic with 39 games being decided by seven points or less, and seven ties.
Occasionally, this rivalry will be played for more than the Thompson Cup. Army, Navy and Air Force all play for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy and that award is often at stake during this game.
The rivalry will resume on Dec. 10 in Maryland however, Air Force has already claimed the Commander-in-Chief Trophy.
7. Megaphone Trophy: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
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Series Record: 32-26-1 Notre Dame
Still a young rivalry, but a great one at that.
Michigan State won a majority of the games after the series' conception in 1958, jumping out to an 11-2 game advantage. However, Notre Dame won in 1968 starting a 28 year span in which the Fighting Irish went 24-4 and took the series lead.
Since the end of the Notre Dame reign, the Spartans have taken 10 of 15 from the Fighting Irish to make for a very close rivalry record wise.
The 2011 meeting ended with Notre Dame earning their first win of the season in 31-13 fashion, although the Spartans outdid the Fighting Irish with the ball gaining 83 more yards and turned over the ball less.
Although it is in its infancy, this rivalry is building up to be a classic.
6. The Battle of the Palmetto State: Clemson vs. South Carolina
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Series Record: 65-39-4 Clemson
This series has been played every year since 1909, making it the longest uninterrupted series in the South and the second longest overall.
The Battle of the Palmetto State, or the Palmetto Bowl as some call it, was first played in 1896 when South Carolina earned a 12-6 victory over the team from 132 miles down the road.
The rivalry has many moments to call upon, from South Carolina's first game as the Gamecocks in 1902 to "The Catch" in 1977, to the 2004 brawl between the two sides. This interstate rivalry has been heated since its conception.
Recently, South Carolina has been in control of the series, winning the last two games although Clemson had won seven of eight before that stretch. The Tigers also hold the longest winning streak in the series' history with seven consecutive wins over the Gamecocks from 1934-40.
The two teams will meet on Nov. 26 for the Hardee's Trophy. Currently, Clemson is ranked ninth in the country and South Carolina sits at the 15th spot in the polls.
5. Florida Cup: Florida vs. Florida State
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Series Record: 33-20-2 Florida
Another great interstate rivalry.
The Gators and Seminoles played for the first time in 1958 in Gainesville, where Florida won 21-7. The start of the series was dominated by Florida who won 16 of the first 19 meetings between the two schools.
In the history of the rivalry, the two schools have played twice in a season on two occasions. The first, in 1995, the third ranked Gators defeated the No. 6 'Noles 35-24. However, it would be Bobby Bowden and Florida State who would have the last laugh, winning the Sugar Bowl 23-17.
The second two-meeting season was very different. In 1997, Florida won by a field goal in Gainesville. The next meeting of the two teams would be in the Sugar Bowl with a National Championship on the line. The Gators won this game much more handedly, obliterating the Seminoles 52-20.
Before the 2010 meeting, Florida had won six straight games in the rivalry, tied for second longest in the series' 53-year running. However, FSU took back the Florida Cup in 2010 with a 31-7 stomping in Tallahassee.
The 2011 edition of the rivalry will be in The Swamp on Nov. 26. Florida is currently 5-4 and struggling for bowl eligibility while Florida State is fighting their way back into the Top 25 at 6-3.
4. Michigan vs. Notre Dame
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Series Record: 23-15-1
That is not a mistake, there is no name for this prolific rivalry.
The Wolverines and Fighting Irish played for the first time in 1887 for Notre Dame's first ever football game. Michigan won the first eight meetings before the Fighting Irish won a 11-3 game in Ann Arbor in 1909.
Those first eight games are the difference in the series. Without those first eight, this series is dead even at 15 games a piece with the lone tie coming in 1992.
Without those eight games, the longest winning streak in the series is four games, held by Notre Dame from 1987-90. Recently, however, Michigan has won the last three games and five of the last six.
2011's game was an instant classic. Going into the fourth quarter, Notre Dame led 24-7. Denard Robinson and the Wolverines came climbing back however, taking their first lead of the game with 1:12 to go in the game with a 28-24 lead.
Notre Dame responded with 30 seconds on the clock only to have Michigan score the decisive touchdown with two seconds left in the game in a 35-31 thriller.
In 2010, both schools signed a 20-year contract keeping the rivalry going every year until 2031.
3. Backyard Brawl: Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
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Series Record: 61-39-3 Pittsburgh
A new qualifier for this list thanks to all of the conference realignment in the last few weeks.
If this rivalry is non-conference, it belongs on this list.
The first meeting of this historic rivalry took place in 1895 when West Virginia beat Pitt 8-0. In only a few weeks, the two teams will play the 104th game of this classic showdown and the last before West Virginia becomes a member of the Big 12.
Admittedly, this series record gives an impression of a lopsided history. However, these numbers are reflective of a 25-year span where the Panthers went 23-2. While this quarter-century long dominance should not be ignored, without it, this series is nearly even.
Recently, it has been the Mountaineers on the brighter side of things, winning 15 of the last 23 meetings.
While the Backyard Brawl will likely lose some of its flair with the change in conference affiliation for West Virginia, this rivalry will remain a classic, bigger than conferences, and a yearly must-watch game.
2. Border War: Kansas vs. Missouri
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Series Record: 56-54-9 Missouri
In the 119 meetings between the two schools, only two games separate them from a dead even heat. The two schools' stadiums could not hold enough people anymore, forcing games to be played in Kansas City.
If you think this rivalry is over just because Missouri is headed to the SEC, you're crazy.
This is one of the most storied rivalries in college football with classics throughout.
In 1911 in Columbia, Miss., the two schools played in the first ever homecoming game, a 3-3 tie.
Both teams have won five in a row, but neither has ever won the sixth.
This is about as evenly matched a rivalry as you will ever find. Even recently the series has been nearly deadlocked with Missouri winning four of the last five but only six of the last 10. Meeting number 120 takes place Nov. 26 in Kansas City.
Only one rivalry can make a claim to be above this.
1. Jeweled Shillelagh: Notre Dame vs. USC
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Series Record: 43-34-5 Notre Dame
Not hard to pick the top rivalry for this list.
This rivalry features two of the top football programs in NCAA history, with the two schools combining for 22 National Championships.
The rivalry's yearly meeting is always one of the most attended games in college football. The second ever meeting between the teams, a 7-6 affair, had an estimated 120,000 people in attendance. Two years later, the two teams met at Soldier Field in Chicago and played in front of the second largest verified crowd in NCAA history with 112,912 people in the audience.
The two teams have both had their periods of dominance in the rivalry. From 1970-82, the Trojans won 11 of the 13 meetings, however the Fighting Irish responded with 15 straight seasons of defeating Southern California.
In recent years, USC has dominated the rivalry. The Trojans have won eight of the last nine meetings with their lone loss coming last season at the Coliseum in a 20-16 game.
In the latest installment in the legendary rivalry, USC took care of business in South Bend, winning the game 31-17. In the game, the Trojans amassed 443 total yards and forced three turnovers. The Trojans led the entire game, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and never relented.