It’s getting to be that time of year. The hot summer breeze has cooled; green is fading away from grass and trees, and the sound of a whistle echoes faintly in the background. The siren song of college sports is calling you to stadiums across the land.
To celebrate the season, I wanted to take a look at some of the best rivalries out there. So, get up off the couch, throw on your lucky college jersey and get ready to cheer for your favorite team.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
I might as well start off with a rivalry that has become so famous it’s simply called, “The Game.” The two teams have been meeting since 1897, so it’s understandable a little hostility has built up. In fact, The Ohio State University website has a whole page dedicated to Beat Michigan Week. Though Michigan has fallen on tough times, electrifying quarterback Denard Robinson provides hope the Wolverines can snap their seven-year losing streak.
USC vs Notre Dame
Notre Dame and University of Southern California are some of the biggest names in college football, but NCAA penalties and rebuilding years have brought both teams back down to earth. Even so, there’s still a lot of excitement when the two teams battle over the Jeweled Shillelagh trophy. If you’re a football fan, you probably remember the 2005 “Bush Push” play where USC quarterback Matt Leinart barely sneaks into the end zone with a little help from Reggie Bush. Since then, this game has become a favorite of college football fans in general.
Alabama vs. Auburn
When you’re talking about the biggest rivalry in college football, the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn is always near the top of the list. Though the game has been played since 1893, there has only been one tie. In recent years, fans have made headlines for their over-the-top antics. An Alabaman Crimson Tide fan will soon face felony charges for allegedly poisoning a pair of oak trees on the Auburn campus. While I think that’s crossing the line, it’s hard to not be a fan of all the funny T-shirts this rivalry produces. If you think you can come up with something better, you can always find free shipping offers on FreeShipping.org to sites like VistaPrint and Zazzle, and make your own T-shirt.
Oklahoma vs. Texas
Played more than 100 times, the Red River Rivalry often has implications for the Bowl Championship Series National Championship. In 2005, the name was changed from “Red River Shootout” to “Red River Rivalry” to alleviate concerns about promoting gun violence. Currently, Texas has the edge with 18 more wins than Oklahoma in the game’s 110-year history. Don’t expect to see fans of either team crossing the aisle for a congratulatory handshake any time soon. The division between sides is quite clear.
Indiana vs. Purdue
Football, basketball, baseball…it really doesn’t matter; Indiana and Purdue are rivals in just about anything. Sure, Purdue has put more men on the moon, but Bob Knight is one of the greatest basketball coaches in history. The arguments can go on and on. When it comes to both football and basketball, Purdue has a solid lead in victories. However, Indiana does have five men’s NCAA Tournament Championships in basketball to Purdue’s zero.
Army vs. Navy
This year will mark the 112th meeting of these institutions and there’s a strong argument that Army vs. Navy is the best college football rivalry around. While neither is an athletic powerhouse, bragging rights are on the line for all the servicemen and women the teams represent. It’s an especially emotional match-up for graduating seniors. Since very few go on to play in the NFL, it’s often the last game they’ll play so everything gets left on the field.
North Carolina vs. Duke
Even though this is a football-centric list, there’s no way to ignore this legendary hoops rivalry. While the two schools annually meet on the gridiron, fanfare for the game is generally lacking. Duke hasn’t had a ranked team since 1994 and North Carolina has recently been plagued by scandal. Really, all of the good stuff goes down on the hardwood. At Duke, students camp out for tickets in the “Krzyzewskiville” tent city up to two weeks before the big game. School officials have even installed wi-fi and ethernet ports to help students stay on top of school work.
BYU vs. Utah
It’s pretty tough to leave any rivalry known as “The Holy War” off the list. This one is about more than winning a football game though. Fans also see it as a clash of lifestyles and values, as Utah is a public university and Brigham Young is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though both teams have left the Mountain West Conference, they have an agreement to continue the game for at least 10 years.
Florida vs. Georgia
If you’ve never attended the “Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” you might want to brush up on some tailgating tips before you go. However, the “Cocktail Party” aspect of the name has been downplayed by both universities to discourage alcohol consumption. In my opinion, the official name, “Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic,” is seriously boring. At least the game itself is usually exciting. Overall, Georgia has more wins (six or seven, depending on which side you talk to), but Florida has dominated the last two decades.
Lafayette vs. Lehigh
You don’t see a ton of marquee match-ups coming out of the Patriot League, but I can’t have a complete list without including the game known only as “The Rivalry.” It’s the most played match-up in college football history and the 2011 game will make a total of 147 showdowns. Since the schools are located less than 20 miles apart, it’s no surprise this one continues to go strong.
Brandon Farestad-Rittel is a college-savings expert for Kinoli Inc. Based on his own college experiences and extensive research, this recent graduate has covered a variety of topics, including the college selection process, for-profit colleges, and the modern era of textbooks.