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Best College Football Rivalries

The Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry is one of the biggest in college footballWith summer upon us we know that football is right around the corner. And that brings up great memories of collegiate heroics and gridiron action. Some of the great moments happen with college football  rivalries. So what are the best rivalries? Here’s a look at some of the best.

Michigan happens to be at the center of several of the biggest rivalries. Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Minnesota all claim rivalries against the Wolverines. Because of Michigan’s on-again-off-again dominance over the last century they have many enemies.  They have been ranked in the top 10 over 35 times since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936 and claim a nation leading 42 conference/league titles. And to top that off they have 11 national championships. That dominance has generated some angry enemies who have been caught in the wake of their football dominance. But it hasn’t been all wins for the Wolverines with big losses coming from their rivals and others including the Division 1 FCS (formerly Division 1AA) Appalachian State Mountaineers who upset the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines in 2007 in a game that has been labelled “The Horror“.  Even though there have been a lot of big games, none of the rivalries quite match up to the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry because of Ohio State’s dominance almost matches up to Michigan’s. Michigan leads all time, but the last 10 years has been largely Ohio State leading to more tension and excitement when the two meet each year.

Oklahoma is next on the list with rivalries against Texas and Nebraska. These rivalries are also tension filled because they often determine conference and national championships. In the last 10 years either Oklahoma or Texas has played in the national championship game 5 times.  The schools go after the same recruits, the fans travel well (especially between the two schools who are very close in proximity).  Over the last 50 years one or both of the teams has been ranked in the top 25 almost every year.

Other big rivalries include Alabama vs. Auburn, Army vs. Navy, USC vs. Notre Dame, Florida vs. Florida State, Florida State vs. Miami,  BYU vs. Utah, Oregon vs. Oregon State, and Virginia vs. Virginia Tech. Each of these rivalries has a long history and great upsets. Tensions run high and schools, students, and communities are put on alert and come together for these big games. Often an item is exchanged (something symbolic that goes to the winning school each year). Most of the teams are in the same conference which adds to the drama of the game since the teams are often competing for a conference championship. However, some teams aren’t in the same conference which adds a new dynamic. For instance, BYU and Utah Utes football teams used to be in the same conference for years, but in 2011 both left the Mountain West. Utah went to the Pac 12 and BYU became an Independent school. The teams have continued the rivalry game although it now happens earlier in the season and lost some of the hype because it is a non-conference game. But at BYU the statues and landmarks are still wrapped in plastic to avoid damage from Ute Students the week leading up to the big game indicating that the rivalry is still alive.  For schools like Alabama and Auburn the rivalry has a long history dating back to 1893 and with one of the schools in every national championship game for the last three years, the game definitely has national implications.

There are so many great college football rivalries throughout the nation and so much history that make college football great. With players coming and going every year the teams are different, but the tension and the excitement of the rivalry games is always there.



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