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Controversial Top Ten Rivalries List In College Football


Rivalries are not just a part but the essence of what unites us as a community of college football enthusiasts. Our programs' competitive spirit, whether on the field or the recruiting trail, vying for bragging rights over our rivals, fuels our collective passion and love for college football.


I used the games' significance, competitiveness, history quality, and rivalry length for this list. So, with all that being said, let's look at my list of the top ten rivalries and a few honorable mentions.


Rivalries That Deserve Honorable Mentions

The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry
The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry

Auburn-Georgia

California-Stanford

Pittsburgh-West Virginia

Texas-Texas A&M

BYU-Utah


10. Oregon-Oregon State

Oregon-Oregon State Rivalry
The Civil War

The Civil War was first played 130 years ago, in 1894, when the Beavers, known as Oregon Agricultural College, won 16-0.


Both campuses are less than 50 miles apart, and the Ducks have a 68-49-10 advantage. The rivalry matchup has been played annually since 1945. Due to the Pac 12's disbanding and both programs heading to a different conference, people need to enjoy this game while it's here. The Ducks and Beavers are set to play for the next two years, but the future is foggy after that.


9. Army-Navy

Army-Navy Rivalry
Army-Navy Rivalry

The Army-Navy game was first played in November of 1890 and has been played annually since 1930. During the 20th century, Army and Navy programs were national powers, and the games often had implications for the National Championship.


However, since 1963, only the 1996, 2010, 2016, and 2017 games have seen both teams entering with winning records driving down the magnitude of the games.


8. Florida-Florida State

The Sunshine Showdown
The Sunshine Showdown

This rivalry is one of the newer ones on this list. The first game took place in November 1958, and they have played every season except for 2020 due to COVID-19.


The Gators dominated the rivalry, winning 16 out of the 19 matchups, until 1976, when the Seminoles hired Bobby Bowden, who brought more competitive balance to the series. The rivalry peaked from 1990 to 2001, with both programs holding top-ten rankings. During these years, the winners of these games competed for a national title in six seasons (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000).


7. Miami-Florida State

Miami-Florida State Rivalry
Miami-Florida State Rivalry

The first meeting between these two in-state rivals occurred in October 1951, with the Canes winning 35-13.


From the 1980s onwards, these games have consistently held high rankings, and the added national championship implications have intensified an already fierce rivalry. The 1990s, in particular, were a golden era for this rivalry, with both sides boasting NFL talent, making every game a must-watch event.


While it lacks the long history of games like "The Iron Bowl" and "The Game," this rivalry has seen many all-time classic games from 1991, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2018, all featuring games that ended with wide left or wide right field goals costing both programs.



6. Ole Miss-Mississippi State

Ole Miss-Mississippi State Rivalry
The Egg Bowl

The in-state rivals first played in 1901, with Mississippi A&M, now known as Mississippi State, winning 17-0.


This rivalry has been played annually since 1944, making it the tenth-longest uninterrupted series in the country. The game has been linked to Thanksgiving, playing 23 times on Thanksgiving, from 1998 to 2003, in 2013, and from 2017 to 2023. Since 2000, the rivalry has remained evenly balanced, with the Rebels claiming victory in 13 games and the Bulldogs not far behind with 11 wins.


5. Florida-Georgia

Florida-Georgia Rivalry
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

The rivalry between Georgia and Florida started in 1915 and has been played yearly since 1926, except for a wartime interruption in 1943. The game has been held in Jacksonville, FL, since 1933, making it one of the only major neutral site rivalries left.


Georgia dominated the series early on; Florida scored only nine points in the first six games and took four games to score a single point. The Gators finally broke through in 1928 and 1929. After that, Georgia continued its dominance, winning fifteen of the next seventeen games, led by Head Coach Wally Butts.


In the 1950s and '60s, the Gators found success against the Bulldogs until Georgia hired Vince Dooley. The rivalry became extreme until Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990 in Florida and earned an 11-1 record against the Bulldogs. Urban Meyer continued the Gators' dominance over the Bulldogs, posting a 5-1 record.


After Meyer departed from Florida and Kirby Smart was hired, Georgia dominated, winning six of the eight games against the Gators, including three in a row. Georgia also secured six SEC East Titles, two SEC Championships, and two national titles during this period.


4. USC-Notre Dame

USC-Notre Dame Rivalry
The Jeweled Shillelagh

The rivalry began when USC was looking for a national rival. USC sent AD Gwynn Wilson and his wife to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Notre Dame played the Cornhuskers on Thanksgiving.


Initially, Notre Dame Head Coach Knute Rockne wasn't interested in the idea. However, AD Wilson's wife convinced Knute Rockne's wife that a trip to sunny California was better than a trip to snowy Nebraska.


Mrs. Rockne spoke to her husband on December 4th, 1926, and the Irish have become a staple on the Trojans' schedule. They've played every year except 1943-1945 due to World War II, and in 2020, the Pac-12 canceled all non-conference games due to Covid-19.


The Irish and the Trojans are two of the most successful programs in college football. Through the 2023 season, the schools had won 24 national championships and 15 Heisman Trophies.


3. Oklahoma-Texas

Oklahoma-Texas Rivalry
The Red River Shootout

The Red River Shootout game originated in 1900 when Oklahoma was still a territory. The rivalry is named after the Red River, the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas.


Since 1932, the games have occurred at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park, Dallas. The victor is awarded the Golden Hat, a gold ten-gallon hat, and holds onto the trophy until the next game.


Starting from 1936, at least one of the teams has been ranked for 70 matches, including the last 19 meetings. However, in 2022, this streak was broken when both teams entered the game unranked. Although Texas leads the series 63-51, Oklahoma has dominated since 2000, winning 17 games against Texas' eight.


2. Michigan-Ohio State

Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry
The Game

The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines have been competing in a football rivalry known as "The Game" since 1897. The Game has been consistently played at the end of the regular season since 1935, except for a few years.


The high stakes of this rivalry are evident in the fact that Michigan and Ohio State have determined the Big Ten Championship 22 times since 2010, impacting the conference title an additional 27 times. Furthermore, Michigan and Ohio State are highly successful programs, with Michigan ranked 1st and Ohio State ranked 3rd for the most wins in college football.


To illustrate the intense rivalry, Ohio State's mascot, the Buckeye, is said to be poisonous to a wolverine. During the week of the game, Ohio State will cover the letter M around campus to get into the spirit of the rivalry.


1. Auburn-Alabama

Auburn-Alabama Rivalry
The Iron Bowl

The Iron Bowl is considered the most bitter and deep-rooted rivalry in the nation, with no love lost between the two teams. Unlike the Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry, both programs in the Iron Bowl are located in the same state, leading to more overlap in their fanbase and creating frequent run-ins, which is why the Iron Bowl is particularly intense.


The rivalry began in 1893 with the first game played at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL, which is why it's called the "Iron Bowl" due to Birmingham's status as the leading city in the south for industrial production. The rivalry experienced a 41-year hiatus from 1907 to 1948 due to disagreements over player per diems and officiating.


The Iron Bowl was played at Legion Field until 1989, when Head Coach Pat Dye insisted on changing it to a home-and-home series. Over the years, the Iron Bowl has been the setting for some of the best endings in college football, including 1972's "Punt Bama Punt," 1982's "Bo Over The Top," 1985's "The Kick," 2010's "The Camback," and what many consider the greatest ending in any college football game, "The Kick Six."


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