If students unfamiliar with football were to walk into a stadium hosting rival teams on a game day, the screaming might make them think a colossal war was occurring.
Indeed, college football is similar in some ways to the Roman games. You have screaming fans out for blood and fierce competition at the stadium’s center.
But some college football rivalries are more intense than others. Want to know which are the best? Read on to find out!
The 13 Biggest College Football Rivalries
From the most known to some that might surprise you, we’ve ranked the 13 most intense rivalries of all time.
1. OSU vs. Michigan
Intense doesn’t quite cover the spirit of the long rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan.
OSU has taken the cake with 62 to 39 wins, but blue-state fans are far from giving up. This rivalry is so prevalent it’s often referred to as “The Game.”
It’s regularly ranked as the greatest sports rivalry in North America and commercials often make light of the competition.
2. Miami vs. Florida State
Do you want competition? This is it.
At 27-28 at the end of 2018, the Miami Hurricanes took the lead over the Florida State Seminoles. Miami currently leads overall.
Television ratings for this rivalry are through the roof. In 2006 and 2009, it was among the most-watched games in ESPN history.
3. USC vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame and USC are both elite teams, frequenting the national championships each year. Further, their players usually find their way to the NFL.
Where older years saw one team triumphing over the other, however, the winner has been back and forth since 2010. Adding to the festivities is the frequent nature of USC’s visits to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which encourage good times before viewers head to the stadium.
4. Oklahoma vs. Texas
The Red-River Rivalry got its name from the Red River that runs along the border between Texas and Oklahoma. Throughout history, the river caused continual bloodshed, but Oklahomans and Texans butted heads all throughout history.
It all began when a Texan judge didn’t get nominated to a platform committee thanks to an Oklahoman governor.
If you want a long-standing feud, then, you need look no further. This game began in 1900 and has been played every year since.
5. Georgia vs. Florida
The Georgia-Florida rivalry has been part of the football culture since 1915. Most decades saw either the Florida Gators or the Georgia Bulldogs taking a clear lead.
More recently, the rivalry is intense, with both teams winning at an even pace. For that reason, it made our top-13 list of best college football rivalries.
6. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
One of the oldest college football rivalries involves the Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The rivalry began in 1806.
Although Wisconsin took home the trophy every year since 2004, Minnesota stole the game in 2018, leaving fans to wonder what 2019 will bring.
7. Alabama vs. Auburn
No list would be accurate without discussing the Iron Bowl. The Iron Bowl is the nickname for the intense rivalry between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers.
Their competition began for political reasons, specifically the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. The Alabama state legislature wanted the location of a land-grant college, which was promised to Auburn, to be located somewhere where the University of Alabama could control it.
Let’s just say the feelings haven’t died away.
8. Army vs. Navy
Nothing is more intense than branches proving their worth, and that is why we’ve ranked the Army Black Knights (also called Cadets) versus the Navy’s USMA rivalry as number one.
The show begins before the game with an official flyover by the Super Hornets and Army paratroopers sailing from the sky. And it’s frequented by US presidents.
So far the Navy’s come out on top, but we’ll see what the future brings.
If you want traditional, there’s no other rivalry like it.
9. Oregon vs. Oregon State
University of Oregon’s Ducks and Oregon State University’s Beavers have faced each other more than any other inter-state college football teams. Their rivalry is so well known it is dubbed “The Civil War.”
The competition between the schools is so fierce it extends to all other sports as well.
10. The University of California, Berkeley vs. Stanford University
The Cal-Stanford rivalry also has a nickname: The Big Game.
Let’s just say it’s a big deal. The week prior to facing off, both universities host bonfires, fireworks and even war dances.
The Stanford Cardinals are on a winning streak, but the California Golden Bear fans are hopeful things will turn around.
11. UCLA vs. USC
A mere 12 miles apart, things between the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angelos are so heated the schools may as well be from different planets.
The competition heated up after the UCLA Bruins stole USC’s Victory Bell, a nearly 300-pound bell. Pranks between the schools intensified until the presidents threatened to end the rivalry altogether.
Today, the winners take home the Victory Bell.
12. Harvard vs. Yale
Classy and friendly, the Harvard-Yale rivalry is a long-standing tradition. It’s been around for almost half a century.
Because of the frequent turnarounds in wins, these games draw large crowds. Although Harvard went on a winning streak in 2001, the 2016 and 2017 games saw Yale snatch back the metaphorical trophy.
Harvard responded with vengeance in 2018, winning 45-27.
13. Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
Finally, there’s the Backyard Brawl, which is so famous the universities have a registered trademark on the nickname. The competition is akin to the Lakers-Celtics rivalry in the NBA.
The Backyard Brawl ended in 2010 when Pittsburg joined the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia joined the Big 12 Conference. Although the competition between the Pittsburgh Panthers and West Virginia Mountaineers is over, it is a legend among college football fans.
Pittsburgh led 61-40 in the series, but West Virginia ended strong. They won the last three games the teams faced off in.
College football rivalries have defined the sport since the 1900s and sometimes before. There’s nothing like watching a game between two rival schools.
But it’s much better to watch it up close.
Order college football tickets to your favorite football rivalry and see the action up close. Don’t miss out as your teams make history.