The pageantry, the crazy fans, the magic of watching the next generation of players come to life — college football is one of America’s most engaging sports. Annual rivalries provide excitement and motivation for players, students, and alumni. In honor of another great college football regular season now in the books, here are the sports’ five biggest rivalries:

 

  1. Notre Dame vs USC

All time series: Notre Dame leads 46-36-5

Notre Dame and USC are two of the oldest and most storied programs in college football history. They first met in December 1926 and have played every fall since then. This rivalry goes beyond regional disputes and captures the attention of the whole nation. Regular season stakes do not get much higher than the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

 

  1. Florida vs Georgia

All time series: Georgia leads 49-42-2 (per Florida), Georgia leads 50-42-2 (per Georgia)

The annual showdown between SEC East rivals is one of the few remaining neutral site rivalry games in college football. Every fall, the Bulldogs and the Gators (along with their loyal fan bases) descend on Jacksonville for a game that usually has national title implications for both sides. The city of Jacksonville has even constructed a hall of fame for the best players in the rivalry’s history.

 

  1. Oklahoma vs. Texas

All time series: Texas leads 61-44-5

Named for the river which divides the two states, the Red River Rivalry pits the Big 12’s two most prestigious programs against each other at the Cotton Bowl. The matchup between college football’s fourth (Texas) and eighth (Oklahoma) winningest programs is always an opportunity to shake up the national title race. The game is played on the same weekend as the Texas State Fair, turning the matchup into a cultural event.

 

  1. Alabama vs. Auburn

All time series: Alabama leads 44-35-1

The two largest public universities in the state of Alabama meet on the gridiron every Thanksgiving weekend for one of the most heated rivalries in college football. The Tigers and the Crimson Tide have some of the most loyal fans in all of college football. Every year, the state of Alabama is essentially shut down for the Iron Bowl. Both teams are typically in the hunt for both the SEC West crown and a national title, which gives the game an added layer of importance.

 

  1. Michigan vs. Ohio State

All time series: Michigan leads 58-47-6

“The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan is the most intense rivalry in all of college football. Featuring the winningest (Michigan) and sixth winningest (Ohio State) programs in college football and the largest (Michigan) and third largest (Ohio State) stadiums in the country, everything about this game is big. The teams first met in 1897 and turned it into an annual event in 1918. The most intense period, known as the Ten Year War (1969-1978), saw the winner of the game serve as a de facto elimination match with a coveted trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

 

 

What makes for a better rivalry: history or national title implications? Has conference re-alignment ruined too many of college football’s rivalries? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4