The 11 Best Rivalries in College Football

With a bunch of huge college football rivalry games set to take place this weekend, we’re running down the best rivalries ever.

By Lyle Zimskind

Best college football rivalries: Lehigh vs Lafayette

First Game: 1884
Series Standings: Lehigh leads 77-65-4
The most frequently played rivalry in college football hasn’t missed a season since 1896. These two schools are only 17 miles away from each other and therefore share the particular competitiveness that arises when their fans see each other in the same restaurants and movie theaters on a regular basis. Still, modernity and technology have sadly eliminated the old-time tradition of the schools’ fans rushing the field to tear down the goalposts, not after, but during the game, sometimes as early as the second quarter. (That was back when the goalposts were made of wood and shaped like an H.)


First Game: 1891
Series Standings: Clemson leads 65-39-4
The source of the conflict is … well, frankly, the conflict is so tied up with politics and socio-cultural pecking orders within South Carolina that we can’t really understand it. It has to do with farmers being made to feel like second-class citizens back in the 19th century. We think. Anyway, this rivalry has long gone under-recognized by the nation’s college football pundits, but that could change soon as both teams are presently undefeated and this year’s game might have national title implications.

TAGS: college, college football, football, NCAA, rivalries, sports


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Mark Jaffe (Sat, 26 Nov 2011 21:01:35 +0000): Mich vs OSU - another entertaining battle today. Go blue!
Doug Barry (Sun, 27 Nov 2011 17:37:29 +0000): I call BS. USC v Notre Dame? No way! UCLA v USC is the rivalry. Sport Illustrated said it was one of the top 10 rivalries in all of sports. Right up there with Dodgers v Giants and Yankees v Red Sox.
Harrison Hoss (Sun, 27 Nov 2011 17:56:28 +0000): No red river rivalry? The only rivalry to split the tickets up 50/50 to both sides, an article about rivalries that doesn't include ou/texas is a joke..
Jarrett Gateley (Sun, 27 Nov 2011 22:49:55 +0000): Hey Lyle, You should spend less time at the opera house and more time watching college football. You clearly should not be writing on this subject. Best, Jarrett
Josh Yochem (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 02:39:07 +0000): Minnesota and Wisconsin. Oldest rivalry in sports.
Jonathan Carpenter (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 02:40:22 +0000): How can you leave off Williams / Amherst? First game played in 1881. It's probably the biggest rivalry in division III.
Mike Adrihan (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 03:02:18 +0000): I was surprised I didn't see this one in there because of it being the longest. Fail list is fail
Michael Poessnecker (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 03:54:18 +0000): Where is Oklahoma v. Nebraska, Oklahoma v. Texas, UCLA v USC? How can you leave those off this list?
David Jean (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 17:17:07 +0000): Michigan vs Ohio - will always be #1.
Modern Man (Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:09:14 +0000): We love the Badgers (our editor-in-chief grew up in Wisconsin), but we couldn't forgive the schools for what happened in the 1940s: The uptight Gophers' coach refused the trophy one year, and Wisconsin then "lost" the trophy. That trophy happened to be the coolest trophy in all of college sports: The Slab of Bacon. (Seriously.)
Ralph Brooks (Tue, 29 Nov 2011 14:45:14 +0000): This top 10 rivalry list is a joke just like the BCS National title we all seen the LSU vs Alabama match up why see it again! The game worth watching would be Les Miles LSU vs Les Miles past college team Oklahoma State.
Dennis Scanlan (Thu, 01 Dec 2011 21:34:56 +0000): Minnesota/Wisconsin? Oh sure..
Lyle Zimskind (Sun, 11 Dec 2011 05:17:41 +0000): I'd put WV-Pitt in the top 15 for sure.
Lyle Zimskind (Sun, 11 Dec 2011 05:29:46 +0000): I'd take the Bedlam series over the other two Sooner rivalries these days. UCLA-USC isn't in its prime right now.
Joey De St Aubin (Tue, 13 Dec 2011 03:57:12 +0000): To Hell With Georgia.
Rodney Lowery (Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:38:21 +0000): Guess you've never paid attention to the Georgia/Florida rivalry. Every game played in Florida, but an even number of tickets on both sides. Plenty of info out there about it. I think you definitely missed this one?
Rodney Lowery (Tue, 27 Dec 2011 16:07:07 +0000): ga/fl splits half-sies too
Matt Richardson (Thu, 10 May 2012 00:20:32 +0000): Lyle Zimskind 21-0? if anything OKST should be playing us, it would have been a better game
Lyle Zimskind (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:32:45 +0000): Agreed, I wrote that one up. Editor didn't include it in the post.
Lyle Zimskind (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:41:57 +0000): A cocktail party isn't a rivalry.
Lyle Zimskind (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:46:08 +0000): OU-Texas is a mutual party. OU-Okla State is a hate-fueled *rivalry.*
Lyle Zimskind (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:49:15 +0000): I'm guessing, RB, that you're wondering why no Okla vs. Okla St. "bedlam" game. I wrote it up, I assure you, but the eds left it out.
Lyle Zimskind (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:50:34 +0000): Presumably you're just annoyed there aren't any OU rivalries here. As it happens, though, I did write up Sooners vs. Okla State, but the editors left it out.
Rodney Lowery (Tue, 13 Nov 2012 13:24:12 +0000): Anywhere else, it called tailgating....give the south some respect Look it up on Wikipedia
Joshua Pittman (Sun, 08 Sep 2013 08:27:00 +0000): how is ucla and usc not on here? The most unique rivalry in college sports and the fact that both in the top 3 for national championships in general?
Eric Klausmeyer (Thu, 19 Sep 2013 18:43:56 +0000): How in the world did FSU - Miami not make this list? What rock do you live under?


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