Rivalry week is by far my favorite week in college football. The only reason I hate rivalry week is because it is the last week of the regular season and this means the season is coming to a close. Rivalry week is filled with numerous memories, some good and some bad. Growing up an Ohio State fan, most of my memories are good on this weekend. My first experience with the Ohio State vs Michigan game comes in 2001. Jim Tressel’s first Michigan game and Craig Krenzel’s first start to upset the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. I am bias on this list as these are how I rank the rivalries. You are more than welcome to disagree. Actually, I encourage you to disagree in the spirit of rivalries.
10: Miami vs Florida State – When looking at this rivalry, both teams have won in stretches. Miami has four win streaks of at least four wins while Florida State has three streaks of such. The games between Miami and Florida State have featured some of the best players to play the sport and numerous missed field goals. The series has only played 66 total match ups but the rivalry became iconic under Bobby Bowden. The current state of the rivalry is on a down slope but with the amount of talent in Florida we could see the tides change quickly.
9: Mississippi State vs Ole Miss, The Egg Bowl – The 2019 game is possibly one of my favorite results in a rivalry game of all time. Elijah Moore infamously pretended to be a dog peeing after scoring a touchdown which resulted in a 15 yard penalty for Ole Miss. The Rebels would miss the extra point and Mississippi State won 21-20. One great part of a rivalry is when they are played the same time each year. The Egg Bowl has become a staple of Thanksgiving and all college football fans should join me in hoping this tradition continues.
8: USC vs Notre Dame – The past two decades of the USC and Notre Dame rivalry have lacked excitement. The Fighting Irish have won seven times in the past decade over the Trojans. The previous decade USC won eight games over Notre Dame. We have seen the infamous “Bush Push” which helped USC top Notre Dame in 2005. The part I dislike about this rivalry is how it caters to the weather. When the game is at USC, the teams play in late November. When the game is at Notre Dame, the game is scheduled in October. I believe USC should have to travel to Indiana in November as well.
7: Minnesota vs Wisconsin, Paul Bunyan’s Axe – Paul Bunyan’s Axe is one of my personal favorite trophies. I have memories of teams hoisting the axe and pretending to swing it. Wisconsin and Minnesota have met 130 times and the rivalry has been incredibly close. The Badgers leads the series 62-60-8. Minnesota did have a commanding lead over Wisconsin until the Badgers rattled off 14 straight victories starting in 2004. This may not be the sexiest rivalry, but the game is full of passion and hate.
6: BYU vs Utah, The Holy War – This rivalry easily has the best nickname in the entire sport. BYU and Utah have taken breaks from playing each other including this upcoming season. The two schools are not scheduled to play each other in 2022 or 2023. When asked about BYU, Tyler Huntley once said “We never gonna lose to them. They so poo-poo.” If this quote does not scream tasteful hate, you may never understand. The two schools hate each other so much they cannot agree on the overall series record. Utah believes they lead 62-35-4 while BYU believes Utah only leads 59-32-4.
5: Georgia vs Florida, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party – The first match up between the two schools happened in either 1904 or 1915 but it depends which university you ask. One of my favorite memories from this rivalry is the 2007 game. Mark Richt instructed his players to draw an excessive celebration penalty but instead the entire team rushed the field resulting in two excessive celebration penalties. Urban Meyer responded in 2008 by winning 49-10 and calling two timeouts with less than one minute left in the game. Since 2003, the lower ranked team has won 7 times. An upset is always ready to happen in this rivalry.
4: Oklahoma vs Texas, Red River Showdown – The Sooners and Longhorns have met a total of 117 teams with the first game coming in 1900. Next year’s game between Texas and Oklahoma will be their 100th meeting at the Cotton bowl. The two programs have some of the richest and most storied tradition in all of college football. Texas and Oklahoma met in the Big 12 championship in 2018 to add another chapter to the storied rivalry. The Sooners and Longhorns will continue their rivalry in the SEC in the coming years. When I think of the Red River Showdown, I think of the Texas State Fair and this game is on my bucket list.
3: Alabama vs Auburn, The Iron Bowl – The Iron Bowl is one of the most hated rivalries in all of sports. Alabama and Auburn refused to play each other for more than 40 years until the state legislature threatened to withhold state funding unless the two schools played each other. Alabama and Auburn ended the series after 1907 because of a $34 dispute in the game contract. The Kick 6 has added an additional level of hate in the rivalry and added a legendary moment. Anyone who watched the game live remembers exactly where they were when Chris Davis returned the kick.
2: Army vs Navy, America’s Game – I had the opportunity to experience the Army vs Navy game back in 2013 and I would highly recommend anyone attend this game if you ever have the chance. The tradition of singing the alma matres second is one which is held sacred. The winner of this game commonly wins the Commander-In-Chief trophy. The rivalry game may not be filled with the most exciting plays, as both teams run the triple option, but the game is full of respect. I truly cannot describe the ora of the game but it is truly one of a kind.
1: Ohio State vs Michigan, The Game – Surprise. I bet you had no idea the Ohio State fan would pick the Ohio State vs Michigan game as the top rivalry game. I fondly remember the 2004 game where Troy Smith had his coming out party. I remember doing a lap around the outside of my house after Curtis Samuel scored the game winning touchdown after J.T. Barrett reached the first down marker. I remember falling to my knees after Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner to preserve an undefeated record. As a born and raised Ohio State game, this game is held to a different standard.