College Football Rivalries: The Greatest Love of FallAngie Lewis, Writer
Ah, fall... That glorious time of year when the weather turns cool, leaves change into brilliant colors, everything pumpkin spice hits the stores — and college football fans lose their freaking minds.
For die-harders, that means no weddings, no funerals, no kids’ birthday parties. During college football season, game days are sacred. Fans are either at the stadium or in front of their TVs, talking trash about the other team.
In fact, the only thing college football fans love more than rooting for their team is booing mocking hating loathing the rival team. And with 130 programs in NCAA football, there’s plenty of animosity to go around!
As the 2019 season kicks off and Rivalry Week quickly approaches, which teams will earn this year’s bragging rights and which will gut-wrenchingly fall to one of their most detested opponents (see: Kick Six - 2013 Iron Bowl) and vow revenge?
A History of Hatred
Built around history, tradition and, most of the time, geography, college football rivalries can come and go because of conference realignments, current coaches and continuing success of teams — but others survive it all.
Here are a few of the most heated ongoing college matchups:
aka: "The Iron Bowl"
Rivals since: 1893 | Games played: 82 (continuous since 1948) | Series leader: Alabama (46-36-1) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Fun fact: In the last nine seasons, Auburn and Alabama have combined for nine playoff or BCS spots, seven Southeastern Conference titles, six national titles, three Heisman Trophy winners and one Kick Six.” (New York Times)
Other notable Alabama matchups:
aka: “The Saban Bowl”
Rivals since: 1895 | Games played: 83 (continuous since 1964) | Series leader: Alabama (53-25-5) | Next meeting: Nov. 2, 2019
aka: “Third Saturday in October”
Rivals since: 1901 | Games played: 101 (continuous since 1944) | Series leader: Alabama (56-37-8) | Next meeting: Oct. 19, 2019
aka: “The Palmetto Bowl”
Rivals since: 1896 | Games played: 115 (continuous since 1909) | Series leader: Clemson (70-42-4) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Another notable Clemson matchup:
Rivals since: 1970 | Games played: 32 | Series leader: Florida State (20-12) | Next meeting: Oct. 12, 2019
Fun fact: “The winner has won the last seven Atlantic Coast Conference titles and qualified for the last five national playoffs or the Bowl Championship Series before that; each has won one national title in that time.” (New York Times)
aka: “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” (unofficial)
Rivals since: 1915 | Games played: 96 or 97 (continuous since 1944) | Series leader: Georgia (51-43-2 or 52-43-2) | Next meeting: Nov. 2, 2019
Fun facts: Georgia counts a game that Florida does not — one that the teams played in 1904 before the Florida Legislature established the current University of Florida in 1905 and before the recognition of UF’s first official football team in 1906. Also, this is one of the few remaining rivalry matchups hosted on neutral territory. Since 1933 (with only two exceptions), the game has been played in Jacksonville, FL.
Other notable Georgia matchups:
aka: “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry”
Rivals since: 1892 | Games played: 123 (continuous since 1944) | Series leader: Georgia (59-56-8) | Next meeting: Nov. 16, 2019
aka: “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”
Rivals since: 1893 | Games played: 112 (continuous since 1925) | Series leader: Georgia (67-41-5) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Rivals since: 1951 | Games played: 63 (continuous since 1969) | Series leader: Miami (33-30) | Next meeting: Nov. 2, 2019
aka: “The Game”
Rivals since: 1897 | Games played: 114 (includes a vacated win by OSU; continuous since 1918) | Series leader: Michigan (58-50-6) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Another notable Michigan matchup:
Rivals since: 1898 | Games played: 111 (continuous since 1945) | Series leader: Michigan | Next meeting: Nov. 16, 2019
Rivals since: 1890 | Games played: 118 (continuous since 1930) | Series leader: Navy (60-52-7) | Next meeting: Dec. 14, 2019
Ole Miss/Mississippi State
aka: “The Egg Bowl”
Rivals since: 1901 | Games played: 114 (continuous since 1944) | Series leader: Ole Miss (62-45-6 or 60-47-6) | Next meeting: Nov. 28, 2019
Fun fact: On the field, Ole Miss' record stands at 60-47-6 because Mississippi State forfeited two wins and Ole Miss vacated two wins.
aka: “The Keystone Classic”
Rivals since: 1893 | Games played: 99 | Series leader: Penn State (53-43-4) | Next meeting: The series was not renewed after the 2019 game.
Fun facts: Penn State has played more games with Pitt than other opponent. Penn State also plays an annual “White-Out” game in which all of its fans turn Beaver Stadium into a monochromatic sea of white — a tradition that started with students in 2004.
Rivals since: 1891 | Games played: 120 (continuous since 1920) | Series leader: Purdue (74-41-6) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Texas Christian University/Baylor
aka: “The Revivalry”
Rivals since: 1899 | Games played: 113 | Series leader: TCU (55-52-7) | Next meeting: Nov. 9, 2019
aka: “The Red River Showdown,” “Red River Rivalry,” “Red River Classic” or “Red River Shootout”
Rivals since: 1900 | Games played: 113 (continuous since 1929) | Series leader: Texas (62-47-5) | Next meeting: Oct. 12, 2019
Another notable Oklahoma matchup:
aka: “The Bedlam Series”
Rivals since: 1904 | Games played: 113 (continuous since 1910) | Series leader: Oklahoma (88-18-7) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Rivals since: 1894 | Games played: 107 (continuous since 1953) | Series leader: UNC (66-36-6) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Other notable UNC and NC State matchups:
Rivals since: 1888 | Games played: 105 (includes three vacated wins by UNC; continuous since 1922) | Series leader: UNC (59-39-4 per UNC or 58-40-4 per Duke) | Next meeting: Oct. 26, 2019
Fun fact: These two rivals dispute an 1889 game in which both schools believed they were the home team and stayed home, so both teams claimed a win by forfeit.
NC State/Wake Forest
Rivals since: 1895 | Games played: 112 (continuous since 1910) | Series leader: NC State (66-40-6) | Next meeting: Nov. 2, 2019
Rivals since: 1929 | Games played: 87 (includes two vacated wins by USC; continuous since 1936) | Series leader: USC (47-32-7) | Next meeting: Nov. 23, 2019
Rivals since: 1895 | Games played: 99 (continuous since 1970) | Series leader: Virginia Tech (58-37-5) | Next meeting: Nov. 29, 2019
Rivals since: 1890 | Games played: 127 (continuous since 1907) | Series leader: Wisconsin (60-60-8) | Next meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
Fun fact: This matchup is the most-played series in the FBS.
(Photo by Ryan Jerz - CC BY-SA 2.5)
Those Trophies, Though!
Rival teams don’t just play for bragging rights — some play for trophies too. For example, Georgia and Florida play for the Okefenokee Oar, Minnesota and Wisconsin play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and Ole Miss and Mississippi State play for the Golden Egg.
Those aren’t even the most unusual awards. Illinois and Ohio State play for Illibuck (a carved, wooden turtle), SMU (Southern Methodist University) and TCU play for the Iron Skillet, Indiana and Michigan State play for the Old Brass Spittoon, Oregon and Oregon State play for the Platypus and Minnesota and Nebraska play for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair.
The University of Nevada and UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) play for the heaviest and most expensive trophy in college football: The Fremont Cannon. This replica of a howitzer, like the one used by John Fremont during an 1843 expedition through the Sierra Nevada mountains, weighs 545 pounds and cost $10,000 to build.
The team in possession of the cannon used to fire it after scoring a touchdown. That is, until 2000. After a five-year losing streak to Nevada, UNLV players and fans were so excited by a win that they tried to lift the cannon — and dropped it. Although the university spent $1,500 to refurbish the Fremont Cannon, it hasn’t been fired since because of the damage.
Another Year, Another Chance
In college football rivalry games, winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.
For players and fans, a loss can be like experiencing the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) all at once. While players can’t wallow in their disappointment because they have to get back to work and focus on the next season, upset fans have many months to stew in their bitterness.
However, when the emotional roller coaster pulls back into the station to take them on another thrilling ride, those same passionate and resilient fans will be fighting for the front-row seat, ready to scream for their team.
Who’s your college football team and which rival do you love to hate? Tag us on your Facebook page! Even better, post a video showing us your team spirit and let us know how you think your team is going to finish this year.
(Editor’s note: Some information may have changed since this article was updated on Sept. 17, 2019.)