College Football's Wildest Rivalry Games Since 2010
The real spark behind college sports comes from heated rivalries built off conference battles and in-state matchups. Every year presents new rivalries and must-see games that light up the media highlight reel with ridiculous plays.
Some of the most important factors in creating a rivalry atmosphere include two competitive teams, a blaring crowd and top talent across the field. The build-up that comes from these games leads to a jittery feeling from both the fans and the players, knowing both teams can't end the day with smiles on their faces.
A list of some of the top rivalry games from the past decade has been created, although it's crowded with recent juggernauts like Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State. The result of these matchups led to year-long bragging rights, while some boosted or harmed CFP title chances.
Auburn vs. Alabama (2010)
In November 2010, the "Camback" was born. Alabama and Auburn played their usual rivalry game in the Iron Bowl, but the sequence of events that year was nothing normal. The No. 2 Tigers traveled to Tuscaloosa to play the No. 11 Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn entered the game as the underdog, despite having a perfect 11-0 record (7-0 in the SEC). The game featured future Heisman winner Cam Newton for Auburn and defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram for Alabama. Ingram got the best of the Tigers in the first half, helping UA grab a 24-7 lead heading into halftime.
There aren't many cases in which head coach Nick Saban will give up a lead that big at home, but the Tigers had an exquisite second half on both sides of the ball. Alabama only put three points on the board in the final 30 minutes and couldn't challenge Auburn's run. The Tigers scored in the first minute of the second half, sucking the energy out of the Tide.
Newton struggled throughout the game, but his dual-threat ability helped the Tigers carry the advantage. This game was entirely Alabama in the first half and Auburn in the second half, causing an unusual turn of events that doesn't usually happen in Tuscaloosa. Auburn would go on to win the match 28-27, finishing the season with a 14-0 record and a BCS Championship.
Baylor vs. TCU (2014)
This has to be one of the most exciting college football games of the 21st century. It may not be the most popular rivalry game, but both Baylor and TCU were ranked in the Top 10 at the time, and they did not disappoint.
The Bears were the No. 5 team in the nation, and the Horned Frogs weren't too far behind at No. 9. There was hype surrounding this midseason contest, but a 61-58 finale is a game that one can only hope to witness. TCU went into the locker room with a 31-27 lead on the road, which accounted for one of the highest-scoring halves in college football that season.
The Horned Frogs were carried by four touchdowns on the ground, and wide receiver Kolby Listenbee recorded four receptions for 146 yards and a score. However, the real threats in the wideout game came from the Bears. Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman and KD Cannon each caught six passes for at least 120 yards and totaled five touchdowns.
TCU was running away with the game early in the fourth quarter, holding a 58-37 lead with under 12 minutes remaining. Baylor quickly turned the final stretch of the fourth quarter into one of the most thrilling finishes imaginable, scoring three straight touchdowns and ending the game with a field goal to seal a 61-58 victory.
Auburn vs. Alabama (2013)
The "Kick Six" has to be one of the most iconic plays in American sports history. It's the lifeblood of college football, exemplifying the notorious fan atmosphere and rivalries that build the game. In 2013, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the No. 4 Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl.
A late November matchup happened to have serious playoff implications as both teams were searching for an opportunity to play in the SEC championship game and the national championship. While Auburn jumped to an early 7-0 lead in this contest, Alabama headed to the locker room with a 21-14 lead.
The Crimson Tide were the clear favorites, given that they were 11-0 on the season. Yet, Auburn held home-field advantage, and they were searching for their second BCS Championship appearance in four years.
It seemed like the Tigers were going to fall short in their upset bid, but they tied the game at 28 with 32 seconds remaining following a seven-play, 65-yard drive. On Bama's subsequent drive, it was rewarded with a 57-yard field goal attempt with one second remaining in the game following a challenge by head coach Nick Saban.
Auburn's Chris Davis was in the end zone to catch the ball in case of a miracle. The kick was well short, and Davis made his way to the opposing end zone with a run of 109 yards and ultimately secured the win for Auburn.
Ohio State vs. Michigan (2016)
There's a reason the annual Michigan vs. Ohio State matchup is considered "The Game." Both teams have been consistently competitive for the past decade, and many times, their late-season meeting has had extremely important ramifications in the College Football Playoff.
The 2016 match is the only game in series history to pass regulation after Ohio State defeated Michigan 30-27 in double overtime. The first 60 minutes of the ball game didn't feature much scoring, but it seemed like both offenses were shot out of a cannon after the clock hit zero.
One of the main reasons this game is so iconic was the role the referees played throughout the game. The Wolverines were leading the Buckeyes 17-7 in the third quarter, and multiple flags, along with an interception, had Ohio State knocking at the door to score a touchdown. The Buckeyes played an atrocious game with three turnovers, so they had no business winning.
The game was tied at 17 to end the fourth quarter, and it would soon lie on a spot by a referee whether Ohio State converted on a fourth down attempt. The Buckeyes were down 27-24 in the second overtime, putting officials in a difficult situation to give them the first down or conclude the game in Michigan's favor. Ohio State got a generous boost from the officials, and they eventually converted a touchdown for the victory.
With the Buckeyes winning the contest, Michigan was out of the Big Ten title game and Ohio State's playoff chances were still alive.
Michigan vs. Michigan State (2015)
Michigan seems to play in some of the most heated rivalry games every year. During the 2015 season, the Wolverines had quite the challenge, hosting the 6-0 Michigan State Spartans. Heading into the game, MSU was the favorite, but it was clear that the underdogs were prepared for a battle.
Despite its talented roster, Michigan State never took a lead until the final seconds of the game. The Wolverines were up 10-7 at the halfway point and extended that to 23-14 with under 10 minutes remaining. Yet, the Spartans kept their focus and went on a 13-0 run to finish the game.
All the Wolverines had to do was secure a first down to upset their in-state rival. They began milking the clock when Michigan State turned it over on downs with 1:47 left, but Michigan failed to gain 10 yards and lined up to punt with 10 seconds left in the game. The only thing left for the Wolverines was to stop the return and possibly play a down of defense.
The defense never touched the field after the Wolverines had trouble with the snap, which resulted in a loose ball. Michigan State recovered the fumble from UM and ended the match with a walk-off touchdown. The 27-23 victory for the Spartans preserved their undefeated record.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (2021)
The infamous Caleb Williams game will be known as the time Spencer Rattler took a back seat to a rising Heisman candidate. Oklahoma entered the matchup as the No. 6 team in the country at 5-0. Despite its unblemished record, Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley decided to bench Rattler in favor of Williams late in the first quarter.
Rattler was pulled from the game after completing eight of 15 passes for 111 yards and one interception. He wasn't playing particularly well, but the move seemed abrupt for many football fans. The Sooners were quick to forget his name when Williams completed off one of the biggest comebacks of the season.
Williams would turn the second half of the Red River Showdown into a scoring clinic, notching 35 total points, 25 of which came in the fourth quarter. Though Texas posted just 10 points in the second half, Casey Thompson's touchdown pass to Xavier Worthy with 1:32 left tied the game at 48.
Thompson registered five touchdowns and 388 yards, but Kennedy Brooks' 33-yard score with three seconds left burned the Longhorns and completed Oklahoma's 55-48 win.