Top Current Rivalries in College Football
Rivalries are one of the truly extraordinary things that make college football so unique. The "us against them" mentality that teams muster up during the week brings with it a fire that has been burning before these young men have even stepped foot on campus. When talking about rivalry games, there's just something that awakens inside fans that makes these games so much more special. Maybe it's the harkening of the youthful spirit, recreating the days of youth and high school sports when all kids wanted to do was to beat their best friends who played for the crosstown school or team, or possibly just genuine disdain for the guys on the other side of the ball. Either way, here are the best current rivalry games in college football that really get fans riled up into a frenzy.
Army vs. Navy
No matter how good or bad each team is year-in and year-out, this game is always one to watch. College football is a sport that is filled with tradition and perhaps there is none greater than this game and the 115 times the two service academies have faced off. It's a storied rivalry that is engraved into its participants the moment they step on campus. Just take a look at what it means to Navy QB Keenan Reynolds.
"It's everything. It's what you see everywhere when you come to the Academy. On your first day here ever, that's the first thing you learn. It's on the back of my workout shirt. It's definitely a rivalry to end all rivalries," said Reynolds.
To these athletes, this is more than just a game. For many of them, it marks an end to their athletic careers, an end that is worth the long and taxing journey. There is perhaps no greater honor for them by playing in this game, other than serving their country. Navy leads the series 59-49-7, a tradition which first began in 1890. Even though the Midshipmen have won the last 12 matchups, it's never easy, and Army plays its heart out until the clock in the fourth quarter strikes zero. This will forever be America's game and no two teams could ever change that.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Although this rivalry has tapered off in recent years, this heated battle between foes has a bright outlook on the horizon. With Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes having just won a national championship, the first in the College Football Playoff era, this rivalry may seem a bit lopsided with Ohio State having won 10 of the last 12 meetings between these two teams. But you should take that with a grain of salt as three of the last four games have been decided by six points or less.
Sure Ohio State has been thriving ever since Urban Meyer took over and Michigan has been a bit of a lame duck these last few seasons, but this rivalry is about to begin a new chapter now that Jim Harbaugh is the head ball coach for the Wolverines. This rivalry hasn't seen a better coaching matchup since the days of the "Ten Year War" when Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes were at each others throats. These are two of the most brilliant minds in football right now and pitting them against one another can only put a good product on the field.
Alabama vs. Auburn
As it stands today, this may be the best current rivalry in college football. But then again, what more would you expect from a rivalry that sent a team to the last five BCS National Championships (2009-13)? This rivalry is definitely at an all-time high with the way both of these teams have been performing over the last few years. There's also the fact that this rivalry just added a "Boom" factor.
Auburn hired former Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp to give its defense an upgrade after it gave up 55 points to the Crimson Tide in last year's version of the contest. With Alabama having Lane Kiffin as its offensive coordinator, this is a matchup of epic proportions between the best dynamic duos of coaches and coordinators. It's like watching Batman and Robin take on Iron Man and War Machine. But let's be real, I think we are all looking forward to the potential nuclear meltdowns each of these coaching tandems could have during this game.
When these two get together you can be sure they won't leave out any drama. Since the game returns to Auburn this year, you can bet there will be non-stop replays of the "kick-six" leading up to the game. This game is always on the must watch list for every fan year-in and year-out, and the 2015 version won't change that.
Oklahoma vs. Texas
As the saying goes, "everything is bigger in Texas," and that bodes well for this rivalry as well. Although the University of Oklahoma is clearly not in the state of Texas, the Red River Showdown, amongst the other monikers it has been known by in previous incarnations, is held annually in Dallas during the State Fair of Texas. Which, when you think about it, isn't that bad considering that if the game turns into a blowout, fans are able to head out and enjoy the fair instead of watching their team get pummeled.
But fans are more inclined to stay for this game since it usually puts two of the top teams in the country on a big stage. In recent years, despite Texas' fall from grace, the series has been relatively even with Oklahoma winning four of the last seven games. However, Texas could've very easily taken that seventh contest last season. The Longhorn defense did a great job of limiting the Sooners all game, surrendering just 232 total yards and only 30 yards in the first half. Oklahoma came in clutch when it needed to, returning a kickoff for a touchdown as well as recording a pick-six.
As long as Bob Stoops remains in Norman as Oklahoma's head coach, and Charlie Strong continues to reboot the Texas program, this rivalry should continue to be healthy for many years, all while providing an unbeatable atmosphere conducive to competition.
Florida vs. Florida State
There some teams that hate each other, and then there are teams that truly loathe each other. When it comes to Florida and Florida State getting together for their annual rumble, fans expect more than just the normal amount hitting on the field to occur. Thanks to two legendary coaches (see: Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier), this rivalry really took flight during the 1990's; it really made things interesting since both teams were consistently ranked in the top-10 when they met from 1990-2000.
Since both coaches have left their respective programs, each school has had its share of success. While Urban Meyer was busy winning two national titles for the Gators, he was also beating the 'Noles year-in and year-out, going 5-1 against the "team from the west" during his time in Gainesville. However, Florida State has had the most recent success, winning four of the last five meetings between these two teams, marking a great start to Jimbo Fisher's tenure.
Each program has each had a polarizing quarterback that brought even more attention to this rivalry, with each being polar opposites as well. Tim Tebow first made headlines in Gainesville, garnering notice for his unorthodox, yet brilliant style of play, while also building a strong following based on his public showing of his faith. Flash forward to a more current time, Jameis Winston was making headlines for all the wrong reasons in Tallahassee. While Winston was remarkable on the playing field, his off-the-field issues were hard to ignore. Having both of these quarterbacks in the last decade has really added another level to this rivalry, with each getting their fair share of haters.
While this rivalry may not be the most prominent on the national scene, it's certainly one of the best this sport has to offer. From the polarizing athletes, to the on-the-field intensity that each team plays with, this rivalry is certainly one of the ones to watch every year.