7 of the fiercest rivalries in college football history


Most rivalries in professional sports do not have the intensity or tradition of historic college confrontations, many of which date from the late 19th century. Almost every college has a rivalry game, but these seven football games stand out from the rest.

1. Michigan v Ohio State

Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Greene faced Michigan in 1973.

Played since: 1897 | Nickname: “The Game”

What makes it special: Intensity, high stakes and a “win or not” mentality.

Head coach John Cooper was 111-43-4 at Ohio State from 1988-2000. But while his Buckeyes were regularly in contention for the National Championship, he was 2-10-1 against the. Michigan. That poor record ultimately cost Cooper, who was sacked after the 2000 season, following a 38-26 loss to main rival Ohio State.

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is also defined by a certain mutual respect. After the death of longtime Michigan coach Bo Schembechler in 2006, a Columbus, Ohio band called “The Dead Schembechlers” wore Wolverines corn and blue and performed the Michigan fight song to a standing ovation. Ohio State fans.

“You see normal people in their jobs from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, then this Saturday of this game, they go crazy in scarlet and gray or corn and blue,” says Jeff Hathhorn, a former reporter for a Columbus Radio Station.

Notable games: The rivalry may have been at its height when Woody Hayes and Schembechler of Ohio state were head coaches. Their series of games from 1969 to 1978 was known as the ‘Ten Years’ War, as each school fielded some of their strongest teams during that time. Schembechler, a staff assistant at Hayes, Ohio before becoming coach of Michigan, had a 5-4-1 advantage.

2. Notre-Dame vs. Southern Cal

Played since: 1926

What makes it special: What this nearby rivalry lacks – the campuses are more than 3,000 kilometers apart – is the power of the stars. Together, the schools have won 22 national championships and produced 14 Heisman Trophy winners.

“When we play them in South Bend, Indiana, it’s the best college football environment for me,” said former Southern Cal offensive lineman Zach Banner. “I loved playing there. They hate us, you hate them.

Notable game: Believing the 2005 game was over, Notre Dame fans stormed their pitch. But due to a clock error, time stuck and the top-ranked USC won, 34-31, on a last-second quarterback by Matt Leinart, with an assist from the runner. Reggie Bush balloon. His shove became known as the “Bush Push”.

After that loss, it looked like first-year head coach Charlie Weis had Notre Dame on the right track. But he was in no mood for moral victories, telling the South Bend Tribune: “If you wait for me to say it’s a great loss, you’ll wait a long time.”

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3. Army versus Navy

In 1963, Navy quarterback Roger Staubach led his team to their fifth straight victory over Army.

In 1963, Navy quarterback Roger Staubach led his team to their fifth straight victory over Army.

Played since: 1890

What makes it special: Besides the game featuring the country’s two main military institutions, the style of football is often a throwback to a simpler time in the history of the sport. Both teams typically use heavy attacks. Even the vocals on each side are simple (“Go Army, beat Navy!” Or “Go Navy, beat Army!”). There are also many good-humored traditions, including a “prisoner swap” involving cadets and midshipmen who study at each other’s academies for a semester.

Notable game: In the first half of the 20e century, both schools were powers and contenders for the national championship. Navy attended the 1926 reunion at Soldier Field in Chicago – the first time the game had been played in the Midwest – undefeated. The army suffered only one defeat against Notre-Dame.

“In a fight as thrilling and sensational as any grill has ever seen, the eleven loyal Army and Navy fought in the dark today in a 21-21 draw in front of a crowd of 110,000 spectators, the biggest outpouring in American football history, ”the Associated Press wrote about the game.

4. Alabama vs. Auburn

Auburn's Chris Davis (center) celebrates after scoring the winning touchdown in the 2013 game against Alabama.

Auburn’s Chris Davis (center) celebrates after scoring the winning touchdown in the 2013 game against Alabama.

Played since: 1893 | Nickname: “Iron Bowl”

What makes it special: This rivalry, perhaps the biggest in the Deep South, features two of college football’s most famous programs. It has divided family members across Alabama for generations and spawned some of the sport’s most memorable moments. Some fans, however, have crossed the line from fandom to criminal behavior.

In 2012, Alabama fan Harvey Updyke confessed to poisoning the famous oak trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn after a loss in Alabama in the 2010 game. Updyke was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay over $ 800. $ 000 in compensation.

Notable game: In 2013, the rivalry produced perhaps the most memorable final in recent college football history. With the score tied at 28 and one second to go, top-ranked Alabama attempted a field goal for 57 yards. But Adam Griffith’s kick failed and Auburn’s Chris Davis returned the 109-yard miss for the winning touchdown as fans at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium stormed the pitch.

“I wouldn’t say I dreamed of it, but it’s a big moment and it will go down in history,” said a stunned Davis. The Star of Anniston (Alabama) after. “It will be something that I will look back on and tell my son about.

5. Cal vs. Stanford

Played since: 1892 | Nickname: “The Great Game”

What makes it special: The rivalry between these academic powers in northern California is reminiscent of Notre Dame-USC. Both are elite institutions that are selective in their admissions. But what makes the West’s oldest football rivalry really special is the proximity to schools, just a 45-minute drive from each other.

Notable game: In 1982, the game produced one of the most memorable plays in sports history. Led by quarterback John Elway, Stanford took a 20-19 lead to a field goal with seconds left. But California returned the ensuing firecracker kick for a touchdown, thanks to five full-backs and accidental interference from the Stanford squad, who had entered the field prematurely.

“It was a game for the ages, perhaps all time, a game that ended in such an absurd way that it had to be the work of witchcraft,” wrote Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner. “It was the only Big Game they’ll remember, whether in triumph, or in Stanford’s case, anger and helplessness.

6. Oklahoma vs. Texas

Played since: 1900 | Nickname: “The Red River Showdown”

What makes it special: For the past few years, the game has been played at the Texas State Fair at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas’ Fair Park, roughly halfway between the Norman, Oklahoma, and Austin, Texas campuses. Fans are roughly split 50-50 at the Cotton Bowl, which seats 92,000 people. The intensity of the rivalry stems mainly from each state’s football obsession as well as each program’s typical status as a major player in the sport.

Notable game: The 1984 game had particularly high stakes – Texas were ranked No.1, Oklahoma No.3. The Sooners held a late 15-12 lead and appeared to have intercepted Texas in the end zone to seal the surprise victory. , but officials ruled on the pass. incomplete. Texas kicked a basket and the game ended in a 15-15 draw.

Subsequently, Sooners coach Barry Switzer couldn’t hide his anger at the officials, telling reporters: “Our football team dominated the game and should have won it, but they got us. removed. These are just a bunch of… circuits. “

7. Harvard vs. Yale

In their rivalry match against Yale in 1968, Harvard scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds of the 29-29 draw.

In their rivalry match against Yale in 1968, Harvard scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds of the 29-29 draw.

Played since: 1875

What makes it special: There is a long history of pranks that accompany this game between schools in the Ivy League. In 1961, Harvard crimson, the student newspaper, printed a fake edition of the Yale Daily News deceive spectators into believing that President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate in 1940, would attend the game.

Notable game: For the first time since 1909, both teams were undefeated heading into the 1968 game, which ended in a 29-29 draw. Harvard needed a miracle comeback, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds. The next day, the Harvard student newspaper headline read, “Harvard defeats Yale, 29-29. It “captured the emotional meaning of the game perfectly,” said the publisher, who endorsed it years later.

About the stunning finish, the Boston Globe reported: “No one on Saturday was really prepared for the nightmare that John Yovvy’s Harvard team – their first undefeated eleven since 1920 – had to visit Yale at sunset.”

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