Thanksgiving means it’s rivalry week in College Football, with late season BCS implications and conference titles on the line. It’s a difficult question to ask, what is the best or fiercest rivalry is in the United States. It usually depends on where you live.
Three games – Michigan vs Ohio State, Texas vs Oklahoma and Auburn vs Alabama rise well above their regional importance into national spotlight almost every year. The other two games featured, Oregon vs Oregon State and Georgia vs Georgia Tech are more of a ‘you gotta be there to understand’. Still, it doesn’t make them any less fierce.
Red River Rivalry – Oklahoma vs Texas
Unlike most rivalry games, this one doesn’t take place on Rivalry week weekend, a distinction they keep for Texas A&M (Lone Star Showdown) and Oklahoma State (Bedlam Series). The name of the rivalry is derived from the Red River the is part of the boundary between the states of Oklahoma and Texas.
The game was known as the R.R. Shootout until it was renamed as to not conveying anything implying violence and guns. The two schools usually meet with national significane or at least Big 12 championship implactions on the line. The game has been played in Dallas, a neutral stadium consecutively since 1923. The two schools have played each other 106 times, with Texas leading the series 59-42-5. The last six meetings have been with both teams ranked within the top 25, including a #1 (Sooners) vs #5 (Longhorns) in 2008. The two schools combine for 11 claimed national titles, 7 for Oklahoma and 4 for Texas.
The Game – Michigan vs Ohio State
The Game of the Big Ten Conference nearly every year, and more than once with national implications. The two schools first played each other on October 17, 1897 in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines winning 34-0.
The two schools combine for 18 national titles (11 for Michigan, 7 for the Buckeyes) and have played each other 107 times, with Michigan leading the overall series 57-44-6, without omitting the 2010 vacated Ohio State win. Still, Michigan haven’t beaten Ohio State since a 35-21 win in the Big House.
In 2006, a ‘Game of the Century’ took place in Columbus, with the #1 Buckeyes beating #2 Michigan 42-39, sending Ohio State into the National title game while the Wolverines had to settle for the Rose Bowl, losing to USC.
Iron Bowl – Alabama vs Auburn
Two schools separated by 127 miles and a lot of hate. That’s what usually happen in State rivalries. The last two winners of the BCS Championship game and two schools that share 15 claimed national titles (13 for the Tide, 2 for the Tigers).
They played their first game in 1893, and since 2000 have rotated the games between Auburn (Odd years) and Tusculoosa (Even years). During the past decade this has been mostly an Auburn won fixture (winning eight of the last 11 meetings). Alabama lead the all time series 40-34-1.
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate – Georgia vs Georgia Tech
My favorite named rivalry doesn’t have national implactions usually and the two schools don’t even reside in the same conference – The Georgia Bulldogs play their football in the SEC while the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets play in the ACC.
There’s an argument between the schools regarding how many times they’ve played. According to Georgia Tech, it’s 105. According to Georgia, it’s 103, discounting the two meetings (which the Yellow Jackets won) in 1943 and 1944. The NCAA considers the GT count.
The all time record is 61-39-5 with a clear Georgia lead, with the two schools sharing six national titles (4 for Tech, 2 for Georgia). Georgia have also won the nine of the last ten games. This year, both schools arrive ranked to the game, not a common thing in recent years.
Civil War – Oregon vs Oregon State
A game dominated by the Oregon Ducks the past three years, the two schools have a knack of spoiling it in the right moment for their in-state rival.
The two schools have played each other 114 times since 1894 and is the third oldest rivalry in the First Division of College Football among Western schools. Oregon lead the series 58-46-10 and was named the Oregon Classic or State Championship game until 1937.
Both teams have never won a national title with the OSU Beavers rarely ranked in the top 25, unlike the Ducks who have won the conference title nine times (including the last two) and have become quite a national force under Chip Kelly and at times under Mike Bellotti.