Rivalry Week: College Football's Greatest Rivalries

Ryne HodkowskiAnalyst INovember 20, 2011

Rivalry Week: College Football's Greatest Rivalries

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    Rivalries are the single greatest thing about college sports, and they are what set college sports apart from professional.

    Sure, we can fabricate a rivalry in professional sports like Yankees-Red Sox, Redskins-Cowboys or Celtics-Lakers, but those rivalries don't have the roots and traditions that college rivalries do.

    Where do rivalries come from? Usually, but not always, from geography. The universities' close proximity breeds contempt. Sometimes, a historical conflict from the 19th century continues to play itself out annually on the gridiron, while other times, rivalries become a cultural battle, each school representing a stereotype of socio-economic class and stature.

    Whatever started rivalries, they remain great for one reason: They are the games you look forward to the entire season. If you beat your rival, nothing else matters. If you lose to your rival, nothing else matters. When rivals hook up, you can throw out the record books. Whether the teams are playing for a berth in a national title, are winless, or somewhere in-between, you can be confident that each team is going to bring their best effort, and produce some of the most legendary contests.

    Here are the greatest rivalries. Enjoy.

50. Bowling Green vs. Toledo: The Battle of I-75

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    Games played since: 1919

    All-Time Record: Bowling Green Leads 39-33

    Trophy: Peace Pipe, Later, I-75 Trophy

    What better way to get the list started than with two schools just 20 miles apart that downright hate each others guts?

    The rivalry was put on hold in 1935 after a riot began following a 63-0 Toledo win. When the two first hooked up again in 1948, there was a ceremonial smoking of a six-foot long peace pipe at half time. As a result, the peace pipe became a traveling trophy that the two played for every year.

    The Peace Pipe was stolen in 1969 and absent from games until 1980. Then, a scaled-down replica version was introduced and played for until this season. With respect to the Native American community, the peace pipe tradition is no more, and instead, there is the I-75 trophy seen here.

49. Kansas vs. Kansas State: Sunflower Showdown

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    Games played since: 1902

    All-Time Record: Kansas Leads 65-39-5

    Trophy: Governor's Cup

    We were told to "throw out all the records" when these two squared off earlier in the season. Even with the records being thrown out, KSU dismantled Kansas 59-21.

    This game has seen highs and lows. The contest in 1987 was dubbed the "toilet bowl" due to each teams futility. 1-7 Kansas took on 0-8 Kansas State, and sure enough, the game ended in a 17-17 tie.

    1995 saw the only matchup of ranked teams. Kansas was 7-0 and ranked No. 6 in the polls, while KSU was 5-1 and ranked No. 14. KSU would cruise to a 41-7 victory, but both teams would finish the season in the top 10 in the polls.

48. Houston vs. Rice: Bayou Bucket Classic

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    Games played since: 1971

    All-Time Record: Houston Leads 27-10

    Trophy: Bayou Bucket

    This is one of the shorter rivalries on the list, but the proximity and hatred of the two schools qualifies it alone.

    Houston didn't begin playing football until the 1940s. Students at the University petitioned to create a football team capable of challenging cross-town rival Rice. In a way, the team was created just to face off against Rice.

    The two began playing every year when Houston joined the Southwest conference in 1971. Game originally rotated between Rice Stadium and the Astrodome.

    The 1995 contest would go down as the final game in all of Southwest Conference play. Realignment put the series on hold for three years. Now, as members of C-USA, the two play every year once again.

47. Kentucky vs. Louisville

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    Games played since: 1912

    All-Time Record: Kentucky Leads 14-10

    Trophy: Governor's Cup

    This rivalry has oddly been the product of a late 20th-century resurgence. The two first met in 1912. They played half of the season between 1912 and 1924, with Kentucky winning every contest. Then, they took a 70-year break!

    The two have hooked up every single season since 1994. Since then, the contest has been nearly dead even; Louisville leads 10-8.

    Since 2010, the Howard Schnellenberger award has been presented to the game's MVP (Schnellenberger played at Kentucky under Bear Bryant, and later coached at Louisville). The 2010 winner was Kentucky RB Derrick Locke. The award went to Louisville LB Dexter Heyman this past season.

46. Colorado vs. Colorado State: Rocky Mountain Showdown

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    Games played since: 1893

    All-Time Record: Colorado Leads 61-20-2

    Trophy: None

    These two squared off nearly every single year from 1893 to 1958. The series then went on hiatus until 1983, where it developed into the annual rivalry we know today.

    The game is usually played at Mile High Stadium (which I guess is now known as Sports Authority Field at Mile High), but this wasn't always the case.

    The two alternated home venues until around the 21st century. While Mile High has been home to the game most years since then, Colorado hosted CSU at Folsom Field in 2009.

    The two are signed to play at Mile High until 2019. Then, in 2020, CSU can return the favor and host the contest in Fort Collins. Get your tickets now.

45. Grambling vs. Southern: Bayou Classic

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    Games played since: 1974

    All-Time Record: Grambling leads 19-18

    Trophy: Waterford Crystal

    This record between the football teams couldn't be any closer, but who cares about that? This game is known for one thing; the battle of the bands.

    The half-time festivities are like none other. Grambling's "World Famed" band and Southern's "Human Jukebox" band are given an extended halftime to showcase their talents. In many ways, the actual game becomes the sideshow.

    The game is played annually at the Superdome in Louisiana near the end of the season. It has recently been broadcast on NBC.

44. Utah vs. Utah State: Battle of the Brothers

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    Games played since: 1892

    All-Time Record: Utah Leads 77-28-4

    Trophy: Beehive Boot (along with BYU and Weber State)

    The title "battle of brothers" says it all. This rivalry is serious.

    This is one of the older rivalries in the game, dating all the way back to 1892 (press clipping seen here). Additionally, the two have not been in the same conference since 1961. So for 50 years they have made the effort to voluntarily schedule the non-conference game.

    The rivalry lost some luster in the 1970s when Utah began disliking BYU more than their "brother." Despite the transfer of hatred, the two have played every year, and have not shown signs of stopping.

43. Pitt vs. Penn State

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    Games played since: 1893

    All-Time Record: Penn State Leads 50-42-4

    Trophy: None

    I know, I know, the two haven't played in over a decade. Letting that affect this ranking would be ignoring all the great games the two had in the 20th century. Additionally, it would be ignoring the fact that the rivalry is set for a revival, starting in 2016!

    These two played every single year until Penn State's move to the Big Ten in 1992 (and Pitt joined the Big East). They tried a four-year revival in 1997-2000, but the two decided to stop playing each other.

    The rivalry hit an apex in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Pitt won the national championship in 1976 behind the efforts of Heisman trophy winner Tony Dorsett. Penn State would go on to win the title in 1982. In-between were some classic games that featured Pitt QB Dan Marino and PSU QB Todd Blackledge.

    The 2016 game will be at Heinz Field, and the 2017 game will be at Beaver Stadium.

42. Lafayette vs. Lehigh: The Rivalry

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    Games played since: 1884

    All-Time Record: Lafayette leads 76-65-4

    Trophy: None

    The oldest rivalry in all of college football, this one dates back to 1884, and has been played every single year except one.  

    Lafayette, located in Easton, Pennsylvania holds the all-time lead over Lehigh, which is located in Bethlehem, PA (both cities are eastern Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia).

    One of the more notable games occurred in 1995. It was the first year the Patriot League used overtime, and the teams needed two to decide the winner. Lehigh won in double overtime to cap-off a 16-point comeback, and propel them to a Patriot League championship. By the time the game was done, it was dusk. With no lights set up on the field, the teams had to play with the aid of lighting from the scoreboard alone.

41. Miami-Ohio vs. Cincinnati

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    Games played since: 1888

    All-Time Record: Miami Leads 59-50-7

    Trophy: Victory Bell

    Another rivalry that lends itself to a long, storied history, the matchup between these two teams in 1888 was the first collegiate game played in the state of Ohio. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.

    The victory bell hung outside of Miami's Harrison Hall and was rung to commemorate victories by the football team. In the 1890s, someone from Cincinnati stole the bell, but was gracious enough to return it when Miami won their next contest. As a result, the bell was traded off every game for the next 40 years.

    The original bell was mysteriously lost in the 1930s and recovered approximately a decade later. It is currently on display on the campus of Miami-OH, while a replica is passed around.

    The rivalry is the fifth most-played in the nation. It is the oldest rivalry that features two schools both west of the Allegheny Mountains.

40. West Virginia vs. Marshall: Friends of Coal Bowl

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    Games played since: 2006

    All-Time Record: WVU Leads 11-0-0

    Trophy: Governor's Cup

    Don't let the lopsided record and recent inception fool you. These two teams don't like each other.

    You may be surprised to see that despite the proximity, that the two have only squared off 11 times. They battled four times in the early 20th century, but things didn't get explosive until Marshall joined D-I and Randy Moss showed up for the Thundering Herd.

    Marshall led WVU entering the fourth quarter in the 1997 contest. WVU was able to recover and eek out a close victory. Because of the contest, bad blood developed between the two schools.

    Administrators had a difficult time scheduling the games. A simple home-home schedule wasn't good enough for some reason. WVU wanted to play three of four games in Morgantown, while Marshall wanted one of three in Huntington. They agreed that they would play four in Morgantown, two in Huntington, with extra games going towards the winner of the previous games.

    That has gotten us to today. Currently the series has been announced it will continue, but no venues have been set.

    Most rivalries have a long history for what happened on the field. These two dislike each other so much, that more often than not, they haven't been able to negotiate a game!

39. Nebraska vs. Colorado

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    Games played since: 1898 - 2010

    All-Time Record: Nebraska Leads 49-18-2

    Trophy: None

    One of our first currently defunct rivalries, Nebraska and Colorado will not face each other this season, and have no plans to in the future. The day after Thanksgiving isn't going to be the same without these two.

    The series became most contested in the late 1980s. Following 17 straight wins by the Huskers, the 1986 Buffaloes upset No. 3 Nebraska in Boulder, 20-10.

    Close contests followed in 1987 and 1988, but none could match the stakes of the 1989 contest. Colorado entered No. 2 in the nation, Nebraska, No. 3. Colorado won 27-21 and would go on to win the National Championship.

    The Buffaloes would win again in 1990, and the two would tie in 1991. Since then, Nebraska has re-established dominance.

38. Iowa vs. Iowa State

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    Games played since: 1894

    All-Time Record: Iowa Leads 39-20

    Trophy: Cy-Hawk Trophy

    The rivalry has gotten fresh blood in recent years. After Iowa dominance through the 1980s and 90s, a revamped Iowa State team has made it their main priority that they defeat Iowa. Eight of the last 14 years, they have.

    The trophy is a weird combination of a football, a Heisman-esque pose, and apparently contains the likeness of the two mascots, Cy the Cardinal and Herky the Hawk.

    They decided to retire the trophy, and this is what they came up with.

    No, seriously. That's not some birdbath you see in the outdoor garden section at Lowe's. That was the trophy they came up with.

    It was immediately ridiculed and has been taken away. Administrators are working on developing another new trophy for the rivalry.

    Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry was quoted as saying: "The farmer, family and corn is all wonderful, but I don't really get the relationship to a football game." 

37. SMU vs. TCU: Battle for the Iron Skillet

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    Games played since: 1915

    All-Time Record: TCU Leads 44-40-7

    Trophy: The Iron Skillet

    A rivalry that was forgotten about post-death penalty, this contest was heated in the 30s and 40s, and has the potential to reignite.

    The legendary Doak Walker played for SMU in the late 1940s, while TCU's Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien preceded.

    The two were heated Southwest Conference rivals, and are separated by just 40 miles in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area.

    The most recent contest was noteworthy. TCU fell behind early but was able to rally to force overtime. They eventually fell 40-33.

    TCU coach Gary Patterson was irate over the officiating and June Jones' behavior. Patterson stated that the officials would "not come back in this stadium ever again," and added that he was starting to get a feeling that SMU players were looking down their noses at TCU.

    The two are still scheduled to play through 2017. With both teams building successful programs, this could be one to watch.

36. Alabama vs. LSU: Saban Bowl

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    Games played since: 1895

    All-Time Record: Alabama Leads 45-25-5

    Trophy: None

    A rivalry that has been around for a long time, but has certainly picked up steam in recent years.

    Alabama and LSU have been two of the nation's elite programs in the past five years. Factor in that they play in the same division. Factor in that Nick Saban left LSU to go to the NFL, only to quickly come back to Alabama, and you have yourselves a rivalry.

    The teams have both been ranked each of the last five meetings, something that had only occurred twice in the previous 18 years.

    This past year's game was dubbed "Game of the Century," and saw LSU win 9-6 in Tuscaloosa.

    Oh yeah...there's a pretty good chance there's a rematch in a few weeks from now. That will make the rivalry explode.

35. Arizona vs. Arizona State

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    Games played since: 1899

    All-Time Record: Arizona Leads 46-37-1

    Trophy: Territorial Cup

    In the early history of the Arizona region, resentment developed between the cities of Phoenix and Tucson (Tucson claimed themselves part of the confederacy). In 1885, the University of Arizona was founded as the state's first university, but Tempe-Normal School (ASU) was founded one year later, adding to the rivalry.

    The two play annually for the Territorial Cup, which the NCAA has claimed is the oldest rivalry trophy in the business. No one is certain where the cup came from, or where it was missing for years (it's been around since the inception of the rivalry however).

    The cup was found in in the 1970s in a church close to the ASU campus. It was put on display in the archives of each school, until it was decided that it would be played for once again.

34. LSU vs. Ole Miss: Magnolia Bowl

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    Games played since: 1894

    All-Time Record: 57-39-4

    Trophy: The Magnolia Bowl Trophy?

    LSU and Ole Miss are old rivals, their history hitting an apex in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The most notable game occurred in 1959 when No. 1 LSU squared off with No. 3 Ole Miss on Halloween night. Late in the game, trailing 3-0, LSU's Billy Cannon returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown, giving LSU the win.  Ole Miss would go on to face LSU in the Sugar Bowl, and beat the Tigers soundly, earning themselves the National Championship.

    LSU and Ole Miss would compete for a national title throughout the early 1960s.

33. Iowa vs. Minnesota

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    Games played since: 1934

    All-Time Record: 41-34-2

    Trophy: Floyd of Rosedale

    The inaugural 1934 contest between Iowa and Minnesota featured controversial treatment of Iowa RB Ozzie Simmons, who was one of a few African-American players in the nation at the time. In 1935, Iowa threatened that if he wasn't treated well again (late hits, cheap shots), that Iowa's crowd would storm the field and start a riot.

    Minnesota threatened to cease the contest between the two. Instead, Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson wagered a state-grown pig on the contest. Minnesota won, and Iowa had to hand over a live, Iowa-grown hog, which was later named Floyd.

    The two later hooked up in 1960 as a pair of undefeateds. No. 3 Minnesota beat No. 1 Iowa to claim the No. 1 ranking and berth in the Rose Bowl. They would later lose to Washington.

32. LSU vs. Arkansas

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    Games played since: 1901

    All-Time Record: LSU Leads 34-20-2

    Trophy: The Golden Boot

    The game has quietly developed into one of the better-played rivalry games of the past decade (and this week's should add to it). Since 2001, only two games have been decided by more than one score, and six of the games were decided by a field goal or less!

    The Golden Boot made its introduction in 1996, and is nothing more than the outline of Arkansas and Louisiana. Teachers always told me to remember Italy looked like a boot, but paid less attention to the geography of our own country. I needed college football to teach me that.

31. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Bedlam Game

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    Games played since: 1904

    All-Time Record: Oklahoma 82-16-7

    Trophy: None

    As rumor has it, the first Bedlam game featured a...lake?

    The first contest was played at Island Park in Guthrie, OK. There, a high snap went through the back of the end zone. A scuffle for the ball continued until the ball was knocked into a nearby lake. Both teams, wanting to recover the ball, dove into the near-frozen lake to recover the ball. A member of the Oklahoma team came up with the ball and downed it for a touchdown. The Sooners went on to win 75-0!

    OSU had their greatest success in the rivalry in the 1990s while Oklahoma was rebuilding. They won five games out of eight contests from 1995-2002 (the '01 and '02 games featured a top-five Oklahoma team going down).

    Oklahoma has not lost since 2002.

30. Purdue vs. Indiana: Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket

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    Games played since: 1925

    All-Time Record: PUR Leads 70-37-6

    Trophy: Old Oaken Bucket

    A poem from Samuel Woodworth exudes the feelings that the two hoosier-state schools have towards the rivalry, and towards winning the bucket:

29. Harvard vs. Yale: The Game

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    Games played since: 1875

    All-Time Record: Yale Leads 65-55-8

    Trophy: None

    Simply known as "The Game," the two Ivy League rivals have squared off since 1885. We as the public may not know other games in which Harvard and Yale play, but we know when they play each other, which speaks volumes of the rivalry.

    The most notable game occurred in 1968, when Harvard miraculously scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to tie the heavily-favored Yale Bulldogs, 29-29. This led the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, to run the headline: "Harvard beats Yale 29-29."

28. Nebraska vs. Missouri

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    Games played since: 1892 - 2010

    All-Time Record: NEB Leads 65-36-3

    Trophy: Victory Bell

    Nebraska and Missouri had enjoyed one of the nation's longest rivalries. The rivals played every single year since 1894, with the exception of years during World War I. That comes to a total of 104 meetings.

    With Nebraska's move to the Big Ten, the series is on hold. No future meetings have been scheduled as of yet.

    The most famous contest between the two came in 1997. No. 1 Nebraska was down late on the road in Columbia. They needed all the effort they could muster to force overtime, and eventual victory.

27. Auburn vs. LSU

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    Games played since: 1901

    All-Time Record: LSU Leads 25-20-1

    Trophy: None

    The Battle of Tigers has turned out to produce some of the more memorable games of the 21st century. A 7-3 defensive battle in 2006 propelled Auburn to No. 3 in the rankings. A last second pass in 2007 gave LSU the 30-24 win over Auburn. From 2000 to 2005, Auburn or LSU won or tied the SEC West every single year.

    But all that pales in comparison to the Earthquake Game. In 1988, trailing 6-0 in the waning moments, LSU QB Tommy Hodson found Eddie Fuller in the back of the endzone to give LSU the 7-6 victory.

    On Monday morning, students and faculty found that a seismograph in the geological studies building across campus recorded a 2.8 earthquake over the weekend, a rare incident. They soon discovered that the quake occurred the second Fuller caught the TD pass. In short, the stadium was so loud, it created an earthquake.

26. Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: Commonwealth Cup

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    Games played since: 1895

    All-Time Record: VT Leads 50-37-5

    Trophy: Commonwealth Cup

    The cup is a relatively new tradition with these two, originating in 1996. Still, the two have squared off as early at 1895, and have played annually since 1970.

    The game usually takes place Thanksgiving Weekend, and this upcoming weekend's game will decided the divisional champion, which is as much as you can ask for a rivalry.

    In the mid-20th century, the game would rotate between sites at Richmond, Norfolk, and even Roanoke! Since 1964, however, the game has rotated between the campuses.

    Virginia had their biggest comeback in school history against the Hokies in 1998. Down 29-7, QB Aaron Brooks led the Cavs on a charge to win 36-32.

25. Clemson vs. South Carolina: Battle of Palmetto State

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    Games played since:1896

    All-Time Record: Clemson Leads 65-39-4

    Trophy: None

    Another great rivalry from the south, another cartoon program (was it a rule that programs had to be made like this from 1956-1966)?

    The "Battle for Palmetto State" may have the longest history behind it. 

    It is too elaborate to go into here, but Clemson was created to be a superior agricultural school than South Carolina was. It snowballed into a major political debate, led by eventual governor Benjamin Tillman. It wasn't until he was elected governor that he established Clemson University, a move that the other political faction, the Conservatives (who sided with South Carolina) disapproved.

24. BYU vs. Utah: Holy War

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    Games played since: 1896

    All-Time Record: Utah Leads 55-34-4

    Trophy: Beehive Boot (along with Utah State and Weber State)

    Oddly enough, this rivalry advertises the stark difference between the culture, behavior, and religion of the two schools. Utah is the public-owned university, while BYU is privately-owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

    In an era of political correctness, this stands out as odd. The game between Florida and Georgia was once know as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," but was changed due to fears of underage binge drinking. Yet, it is perfectly okay to advertise a holy war, which given the current climate in the world, may not be the best choice of words.

    Both teams have had long runs of success in the past. Jim McMahon and Steve Young helped the Cougars achieve nine straight Holy War wins, and added a National Championship in 1984. Utah, however, has won seven of the last 10, and were undefeated in 2008.

23. Washington vs. Washington State: The Apple Cup

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    Games played since: 1900

    All-Time Record: Washington Leads 66-31-6

    Trophy: The Apple Cup

    Somehow, someway, no matter the records or circumstances, the Apple Cup delivers an enjoyable game every single season.

    There were the good times; early 1990s contests between nationally ranked teams that pitted Mark Brunell vs. Drew Bledsoe. There were the bad times; winless teams facing off in 2008, and they needed OT to settle it (WSU won).

    With both programs on the rise again, the Apple Cup is sure to entertain for years to come.

22. Alabama vs. Tennessee: The Third Saturday in October

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    Games played since: 1901

    All-Time Record: Alabama Leads 48-38-7

    Trophy: None

    I love rivalries that you can set your watch to. Just like Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, we know that Alabama and Tennessee will play the third Saturday in October. It is so well-known that it has become the official title of the rivalry.

    A tradition began in 1950 when Alabama trainer Jim Goostree handed out victory cigars for wins over Tennessee (he's a trainer mind you). The tradition continued for both teams, but was kept secret over fears of extra benefits, and solicitation of tobacco products. Alabama restarted the tradition in 2005, but were subsequently put on probation (for other things, not smoking).

21. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

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    Games played since: 1890

    All-Time Record: Minnesota Leads 59-54-8

    Trophy: Paul Bunyan's Axe

    If we can sum up the rivalry with one clip, it's this. If the winning team was not already the owner of the axe, they will frequently swarm the other sideline to take back possession.

    The battle between Minnesota and Wisconsin is the most played FBS rivalry in history. They have squared off 121 times; every year since 1890.

    Previously the two had played for "the slab of bacon." This was a small paddle with a multi-colored M-W, depending which way you turned it. It was lost in 1943, making way for the axe. The slab later re-surfaced in 1994.

20. UCLA vs. USC: The Battle of Los Angeles

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    Games played since: 1929

    All-Time Record: USC Leads 43-28-2

    Trophy: Victory Bell

    It may go unnoticed in other parts of the country, but the USC-UCLA rivalry is a great one. Separated by just 12 miles, the two schools are as close in proximity as you can get (although in LA traffic it takes about 90 minutes, so it's all even).

    The two shared the Coliseum until 1982 when the Bruins moved to the Rose Bowl. As a result, prior to 1982, both teams wore their home "color" uniforms during the game. The tradition was re-established in 2007 with Rick Neuheisel and Pete Carrol.

    Neuheisel and the Bruins were the visiting team and were informed they would be deducted one timeout if they showed up wearing their powder blue uniforms. Carrol told Neuheisel to do it anyway, and that he would call a timeout immediately to make things even. Neuheisel had the team wearing blue, Carroll took the timeout, and the tradition was re-born without any further incidents.

19. Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State: The Egg Bowl

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    Games played since: 1901

    All-Time Record: Ole Miss Leads 60-46-1

    Trophy: Golden Egg

    The Egg Bowl is the 10th longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football, having been played every single year since 1901.

    Why an egg? Well, it's really a football. But it looks like an egg. And it's better than playing for the golden football, I suppose?

    In 1999, the famous "Pick and Kick" occurred. Down 20-6 late, Mississippi State rallied to tie the game at 20. Instead of kneeling on the ball and going to overtime, Ole Miss decided to throw. The pass was intercepted with just seconds left, giving MSU a chance to kick a field goal and win. They did just that, and stunned Ole Miss.

18. Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia: Backyard Brawl

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    Games played since: 1895

    All-Time Record: Pitt Leads 69-31-3

    Trophy: None

    The schools are separated by just 70 miles of fertile, developed high-school athletes looking for a university to go play football at. As a result, the two schools are generally competing for the same recruits (as a lot of these rivalries are). Of the recruits that considered both schools, 400 have gone on to play in the NFL, including 27 first round picks.

    One of the more notable games occurred just recently. Ranked No. 2 in the nation, WVU needed to beat lowly Pitt in Morgantown to advance to the National Championship game. The Mountaineers were 29 point favorites, but were held to just nine points in the 13-9 upset.

17. Auburn vs. Georgia: The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry

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    Games played since: 1892

    All-Time Record: Auburn Leads 54-53-8

    Trophy: None

    Look at the record between these two! You can't get much closer than that.

    The game has earned the moniker "the deep South's oldest rivalry", mainly in part because that's what it is. The two teams first hooked up in 1892 at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. They've play every year since, save for years interrupted by World War I and World War II.

    The 1996 contest was notable for several reasons. For one, it was the first SEC game to go to overtime. Secondly, UGA was down 28-7, but rallied to tie it at 28. The final TD came courtesy of Mike Bobo as time expired. UGA would go on to win in four overtimes. The game has come to be known as "The Miracle on the Plains."

    If that weren't enough, the 1996 contest is also famous for the photo seen here. After scoring a touchdown, WR Robert Baker was lunged at by UGA V. He narrowly avoided the dog's bite, but the UGA team would come back and win.

16. Kansas vs. Missouri: Border War

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    Games played since: 1891

    All-Time Record: Mizzou leads 56-54-9, or, 55-55-9

    Trophy: Indian War Drum

    One of the oldest rivalries in the nation, this is no doubt full of history.

    The rivalry began before football was ever invented. In 1854, Kansas was set to enter the union, and there was debate whether they would enter as a slave state or a free state. As a result, the entrance became a debated topic between northerners and southerners.

    Where does Missouri come into all this? Missouri, a slave-state, sent border ruffians (actual term) to Kansas to start fights, intimidate and influence votes. Then, John Brown (pictured) came to Kansas to lead an anti-slavery revolt. Open violence ensued, all wrapped up in a tragedy known as "Bleeding Kansas." Approximately 56 people died, and it was a major stepping stone to the Civil War.

    Thirty years later, the two football teams first met, and their rivalry was coined The Border War.

    The teams play for an Indian War Drum. The original was built by Osage Indians, but was lost. A replacement was built by Tao Indians of New Mexico.

15. Michigan vs. Michigan State

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    Games played since: 1898

    All-Time Record: Michigan Leads 67-32-5

    Trophy: Paul Bunyan

    Bunyan is rumored to have been born in northeast America, southern Canada, around the border of Michigan and Canada. Regardless, he has become the representative of the Michigan MSU rivalry due to the state's reliance on the production of timber.

    Two notable games have occurred very recently. In 1990, "No. 1 vs No 1" featured the No. 1 Wolverines hosting MSU. Despite being big favorites, the Wolverines fell 28-27 when Desmond Howard dropped a 2-pt conversion.

    In 2001, we have Clockgate. MSU QB Jeff Smoker was tackled in-bounds, short of a first down with the clock winding down. He went to spike the ball, and it appears that the clock stopped at :01 instead of going to zero. MSU had one last play, and they cashed in, finding T.J. Duckett for a touchdown and a win.

14. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate

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    Games played since: 1893

    All-Time Record: Georgia Leads 61-39-5

    Trophy: None

    The contrast of universities creates a polarized population in Georgia. UGA is the public, liberal arts university, while GT is the technical school. In a word, these two hate each other.

    GT was built nearly 100 years after UGA, and despite concerns, was built in Atlanta (many wanted another school to be built in Athens to coincide with Georgia).

    Georgia was originally crimson, black, and old gold. Coach Dr. Charles Herty felt that gold was too much like yellow, which represented cowardice. As a result, they ridded themselves of the old gold color.

    In an attempt to mock UGA, Georgia Tech then adopted the old gold color. To this day, GT wears old gold and white, a constant reminder to Georgia.

13. Michigan vs. Notre Dame

38 of 50

    Games played since: 1887

    All-Time Record: Michigan Leads 23-15-1

    Trophy: None

    Two of the three winningest programs in college football history took a long hiatus from playing in the mid-20th century (UM is No. 1, ND No. 3). Thankfully, since 1978, the two have only failed to hook up six times.

    To this day, a dispute arose over the 1947 National Championship. Michigan and Notre Dame both fielded undefeated seasons. Half of the weeks leading up to bowl season (which was hardly a season then) Michigan was ranked No. 1, and half the weeks ND was ranked No. 1.

    It turns out that ND was ranked No. 1 when they finished their season, and they did not attend bowls back then. Therefore, they were crowned champions. Michigan, however, would go on to defeat USC in the Rose Bowl, 49-0. ND had only beaten USC 38-7 in their contest, and debate arose over which team was actually better. It continues to this day.

    Thank god they just play each other now and settle it on the field.

12. Cal vs. Stanford: The Big Game

39 of 50

    Games played since: 1892

    All-Time Record: Stanford Leads 57-46-11

    Trophy: Stanford Axe

    It's the most famous play in college football, if not all of sports. It also ruined a rival's season and career. You can't do much better than that.

    Cal knocked Stanford out of a bowl with this famous return. As a result, John Elway was bowl-less in his career at Stanford (but he won two super bowls, so that's okay).

    The result of that game is contested to this day. Stanford maintains that Cal was down, and changes the plaque on the Axe trophy every time they win it back. When Cal wins the trophy back, they change it back to the 25-20 final.

    The contest was heated from the beginning. Future President Herbert Hoover was team manager for Stanford in the inaugural 1892 game. The game was later dubbed "Big Game" when played on Thanksgiving Day, 1900.

    Fears of riots and violence led to a temporary cancellation in 1906. They decided to qualm the violence by doing something else...playing rugby.

    It wasn't until 1919 that both teams resumed football activities.

11. Oregon vs. Oregon State: Civil War

40 of 50

    Games played since: 1894

    All-Time Record: Oregon Leads 58-46-10

    Trophy: None

    Civil War pretty much says it all, doesn't it? The Civil War is the seventh longest rivalry game in the nation, and has picked up steam as of late.

    In 1937, Oregon State fans visited Eugene to hold a pep rally. Eugene police agreed to show the fans around if they behaved, which they did. However, when Oregon students were dismissed from class, they attacked the Beaver fans, pelting them with tomatoes and throwing some into nearby millraces.

    In 1972, Oregon fans stormed the field in Corvalis to tear down a goalpost, celebrating the win. When they went to tear down the other goal post, Oregon State fans defended it. The result was a brawl.

    That's a rivalry.

10. Texas vs. Texas A&M: The Lone-Star Showdown

41 of 50

    Games played since: 1894

    All-Time Record: Texas Leads 75-37-5

    Trophy: None

    Texas is arguably the best state for football, and the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is the best in the state.

    Recently it has been played the day of (this year) or the day after Thanksgiving. The game saw Ricky Williams break the all-time rushing record in 1998, and kidnappings of Bevo. The teams also mention each other in their fight songs; "Goodbye to Texas University, so long to the Orange and White," and "and it's goodbye to A&M."

    The rivalry will be put on indefinite hold as Texas A&M enters the SEC.

9. Florida vs. Georgia: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

42 of 50

    Games played since: 1904 (according to UGA)  1915 (according to UF)

    All-Time Record: 48-40-2 (according to UGA) 47-40-2 (according to UF)

    Trophy: Okefenokee Oar

    Georgia counts the 1904 game between themselves and the "University of Florida" as the first game between the two. UF counters by arguing that was not their team, and therefore that game doesn't count towards the rivalry.

    Sports editor for The Florida Times Union originally coined the title of the rivalry in 1950 when he saw an inebriated fan stumble up and offer a beer to an on-duty police officer. Since then, it's stuck (until it wasn't okay anymore, and is now known as Florida-Georgia Classic).

    A trophy was added in 2009, the Okefenokee Oar. The 10-foot tall oar is made from cypress trees in the Okenfenokee swamp, which is on the border of Georgia and Florida.

    One of the more notable games of the series was "Run Lindsey Run." In 1980, trailing by one, UGA QB Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott across the middle. Scott ran 93 yards for the touchdown, and the win.

    The play is made more famous from UGA announcer Larry Munson's legendary call.  

    UGA would go on to win the championship.

8. Florida vs. Florida State

43 of 50

    Games played since: 1958

    All-Time Record: Florida Leads 33-20-2

    Trophy: Florida Cup (if one team beats other and Miami)

    In the 1990s, Florida-Florida State was the game.

    The teams played six times in four seasons. Every game seemingly brought national title implications, especially in 1996 when the two played in the Sugar Bowl....for the national title.

    FSU won the title in 1993. 1994 saw Florida State coming back and tying Florida in what is known as "Choke at Doak." They would square off again in New Orleans in a game dubbed "Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter."

    FSU would beat UF in 1996, but the two met weeks later for the title at the Sugar Bowl. UF switched to a spread attack, and they dismantled the Noles. The next season, UF ruined No. 1 FSU's season with "The Greatest Game ever played in the Swamp."

    That's a lot of info, but to leave any of those out of the discussion would be asinine.

7. USC vs. Notre Dame

44 of 50

    Games played since: 1926

    All-Time Record: 43-34-5

    Trophy: Jeweled Shillelagh

    As far as hardcore rivalries go, this may be the one in which the teams are furthest apart geographically. In a lot of ways, that's what makes it great. Pacific coast speed and flair clashed with midwest tradition and strength.

    Each school has won 11 national championships and seven Heisman trophies, making it one of the most illustrious rivalries in the game. They have also produced the most college football hall-of-famers, all-Americans, and future NFL Hall-of-Famers (21) out of any rivalry in the country.

    The two play for the jeweled shillelagh, an Irish war club. Either a shamrock or Trojan helmet jewel is added for every victory.

6. Florida State vs. Miami

45 of 50

    Games played since: 1951

    All-Time Record: Miami Leads 31-25

    Trophy: Florida Cup (if one team beats other and Florida in given season)

    As you can tell, this is one of the more recent rivalries on the list. Despite it's short 56-episode inception, the rivalry has produced enough endearing moments for it to be considered one of the best.

    There was Wide Right in 1991, Wide Right II in 1992, Wide Right III in 2000 (pictured), Wide Left in 2002...and before all that, was a classic in 1987.

    Miami came in No. 3, FSU No. 4. A flurry of scores in the final moments of the game ended with Bobby Bowden deciding to go for two, and coming up short. The Noles escaped, 26-25.

5. Army vs. Navy

46 of 50

    Games played since: 1890

    All-Time Record: Navy Leads 55-49-5

    Trophy: None (Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with Air Force)

    Only six of the 111 times this game was played has it been held on a campus of one of the two schools. Traditionally the game is held in Philadelphia, but it's also been played at RFK in Washington D.C., Soldier Field, and the Rose Bowl. No other rivalry can say that.

    The 1926 game in Soldier Field attracted over 100,000 attendees, including Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, who forewent his own game to attend. The teams tied 21-21, and Navy went on to win the National Championship.

4. Oklahoma vs. Nebraska

47 of 50

    Games played since: 1912

    All-Time Record: OU Leads 45-38-3

    Trophy: None

    So often these two found themselves ranked highly in the nation, needing only to get by the other to play for a national championship.  Nebraska gave Oklahoma it's only loss in 1971 and 1978 (and then OU won a rematch in the Orange Bowl), while OU gave Nebraska its only loss in 1964, 1966, 1975, 1979, and 1987.

    The attached image came from Sports Illustrated the week before the 1971 "Game of the Century." No. 1 Nebraska met No. 2 Oklahoma in Norman, and the game lived up to the hype with a 35-31 Huskers win fueled by a Johnny Rodgers punt return for a touchdown.

    Nebraska would win the championship in 1970 and 1971. OU would win in 1974, 1975, and 1985.

3. Oklahoma vs. Texas: Red River Rivalry

48 of 50

    Games played since: 1900

    All-Time Record: Texas Leads 59-42-5

    Trophy: The Golden Hat

    This is one of my favorite YouTube videos in the world. Partially because it describes the rivalry so well, but mainly because it has the music from Rocky IV. 

    The thing that stands out about the Red River Rivalry (besides the usual quality of the teams) is the location and pageantry associated with it. Played in the Cotton Bowl at the Texas State Fair, the game takes on a bowl-game atmosphere. Tickets are sold half-and-half, which creates a division as seen in the photo.

2. Alabama vs. Auburn: The Iron Bowl

49 of 50

    Games played since: 1893

    All-Time Record: Alabama Leads 40-34-1

    Trophy: None

    The Iron Bowl is classically one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports, and is an especially hot commodity now, given that the teams have won the last two national championships.

    The game was once played at Legion Field, which saw classic moments such as Van Tiffin's kick in 1985. Since, it's switched off between Jordan-Hare and Bryant-Denny stadium.

    In 1993, Auburn was on probation, and thus, the contest was not on TV. It was, however, shown on closed-circuit TV in Tuscaloosa. As a result, the game sold out the stadium in Auburn (where the game was) and Tuscaloosa (only place it was on TV).

1. Michigan vs. Ohio State

50 of 50

    Games played since: 1897

    All-Time Record: Michigan Leads 57-44-6

    Trophy: None

    What can be said about this rivalry that hasn't been said already. The rivalry dates back to the Toledo War of 1835-1836. In short, both Michigan and Ohio claimed sovereignty to a small strip of Northern Ohio land (where Toledo is). When announced it was Ohio's, Michigan refused to cede, and the controversy continued.

    That's the basis for the rivalry. It was fueled by another war, the-10-year war, between coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. The histrionics, stories, tales, players, and teams are too plentiful to repeat here. Instead, I'll allow Keith Jackson to do it for me, only better.

    You may ask who would attempt to go for two points when up 48-19, and when asked about it later reply "because I couldn't go for three." Or who would later write the "50-14" score on every piece of furniture and equipment in the locker room. Or who would not refer to OSU as OSU, but as "that school down south," or who would refuse to buy gas in the state of Michigan. Or who, as the clip shows, would arrange for their team to try and tear down the entrance of the opposing team. Who would do such things?

    Only in this rivalry....

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