One of the great things about college football is the rivalries among schools. Nothing gets fans fired up more than a game against their university’s heated rival. Sometimes, a rivalry can go too far, causing strain to friendships, family relationships and even marriages. Most times, however, fans are able to keep everything in perspective and simply enjoy the friendly competitions. Here’s a look at some of the game’s biggest rivalries:
ALABAMA vs AUBURN
First Game: Nov. 30, 1893
Series Record: Alabama leads, 46-37-1
We’d like to say that the roots of this rivalry run deep, but then we’d worry someone might try to poison them. That actually occurred in 2011, when Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr. poisoned the 80-year-old oak trees on the Auburn campus. He was ordered to serve a minimum six-month prison sentence and pay $800,000 in restitution. Asked why he did it, Updyke said, “I wanted Auburn fans to hate me as much as I hate them.” While the Crimson Tide has the overall advantage in this famed “Iron Bowl” series, the Tigers have won 11 of their last 20 meetings.
MICHIGAN vs OHIO STATE
First Game: Oct. 16, 1897
Series Record: Michigan leads, 58-51-6
Legendary Buckeyes head coach Woody Hayes hated Michigan so much that, whenever he drove in the, to the , he refused to fill up his gas tank. “No, goddammit!” he reportedly said. “We do NOT pull in and fill up. And I’ll tell you exactly why we don’t. It’s because I don’t buy one goddamn drop of gas in the state of Michigan! We’ll coast and PUSH this goddamn car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!” Hayes would approve of the rivalry’s recent years. The Buckeyes have beaten Michigan eight straight times. Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is the first coach to go 0-5 in this series.
OKLAHOMA vs TEXAS
First Game: Oct. 10, 1900
Series Record: Texas leads, 62-49-5
Lasting peace between these two proud states may be a bridge too far. In 1931, a deal between the two states to build a new bridge fell apart after Texas allegedly reneged on paying its share of the tab. Texas proceeded to close the bridge and sent sent the Texas Rangers to enforce a blockade. In response, Oklahoma sent troops to secure the bridge and destroy the Oklahoma side of the old bridge. Today, thankfully, the rivalry between the states is primarily confined to the football field. The Sooners have dominated of late, winning the “Red River Showdown” 13 times in their last 20 meetings.
MISSISSIPPI STATE vs OLE MISS
First Game: Oct. 28, 1901
Series Record: Ole Miss leads, 62-48-6
The 1977 meeting between the two schools was the first time the game was called the “Egg Bowl.” Before the start of the contest, an MSU ran across the field with a furled up Rebel flag. In retaliation, an Ole Miss fan ran up to the MSU’s costumed mascot and ripped its head off. Later, as State fans formed a human wall to greet their team as they ran onto the field, they got too close to the Ole Miss side and were pelted with oranges. This rivalry is heated, bitter…and even: In their last 20 meetings, both schools won 10 times.
FLORIDA vs GEORGIA
First Game: Oct. 15, 1904
Series Record: Georgia leads, 53-43-2
These two rival cant even agree on when their first game occurred. Georgia lists their 52-0 shellacking over the Gators in 1904 as the start to the rivalry, while Florida insists the rivalry actually began in 1915, after Florida’s state legislature consolidated its public universities to form the University of Florida in Gainesville. Lately, the two schools have traded win streaks, with each program alternating three-game win streaks in the rivalry since 2007. Georgia has won the lost three outings.
USC vs UCLA
First Game: Sept. 28, 1929
Series Record: USC leads, 50-32-7
This rivalry is unique in that it doesn’t involve competing states or even cities. In fact, the two campuses are just 12 miles apart from each other in Los Angeles. The Bruins and Trojans compete for the Victory Bell, which is either painted red or blue, depending on who wins the game. While the two schools are close to each other, the same can’t be said for the rivalry: USC has dominated the series. The Trojans, in fact, have emerged the victor 15 times in the last 20 meetings.
NOTRE DAME vs USC
First Game: Dec. 4, 1926
Series Record: Notre Dame leads, 47-36-5
The story goes that this rivalry began as a friendly challenge between the wives of Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne and USC Athletic Director Gwynn Wilson. Since then, Trojan fans have usually viewed the Fighting Irish as their school’s top rival. Said USC super fan “USC Psycho”: “USC has two rivalries, UCLA and ND. One is a rivalry by default because we’re in the same city, but they’re like the annoying little brother you can pretty easily rough up. ND is a truer rivalry because they’re better and the team we have respect for.” Ouch! Notre Dame has beaten USC seven times in their last 10 meetings.
ARMY vs NAVY
First Game: Nov. 29, 1890
Series Record: Navy leads, 61-52-7
The greatest rivalry in all of college football has an Island twist. Former Radford HS and University of Hawaii QB Ken Niumatalolo is the only Navy head coach to start 9-0 against the Black Knights. Overall, Niumatalolo is 10-3 against Army.
# # #