College Football’s Five Best Rivalries are as follows:
1. Georgia-Georgia Tech: “Clean, Old Fashioned Hate” is the best named rivalry in college football. It had a hold on the people of the Peach State that not even professional sports could break. On Thanksgiving Day 1966, the annual game between UGA and Tech’s freshman teams, the Bullpups and the Baby Jackets, drew more fans than any of the newly christened Atlanta Braves’ games that season. I think Georgia may be the state in which I am most qualified to live. Yes, it has been down in recent years. But like all good things, it will make a comeback.
2. Texas-Oklahoma: I love any rivalry game that is held at a specific venue every year. And what a venue the Cotton Bowl is, Dallas’ art deco jewel.
3. Auburn-Alabama: This is probably college football’s greatest rivalry. I am docking the “Iron Bowl” two spots for moving the game out of Birmingham’s Legion Field.
4. Harvard-Yale: The Yale Bowl and Harvard Stadium evoke the antiquarian affections of college rivalries as well as any spaces on God’s Green Earth.
5. Oregon-Oregon State: I made the mistake of telling one of my colleagues, an Oregon State alum, that the “Civil War” wasn’t that big of a game. I have heard no less than 25 stories about the mutual enmity of this rivalry and grandeur of this game since I made this utterance. Scott, here’s proof that I believe you.
College Football’s Five Worst Rivalries
1. Ohio State-Michigan: Anybody else watch that Amazon series about Michigan football yet? Is it just me or did Harbaugh come off terribly? I found him indecisive, distracted, and peevish. Not at all the alpha I envisioned behind closed doors. There were several instances in which his gasbag stump speeches appeared to have lost the room.
Former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown makes you want to run through a brick wall for him. Assistant head coach Pep Hamilton is a calm, confident teacher-coach in the mold of Bill Walsh. Only Harbaugh comes off poorly among the Wolverines’ coaching staff. Has Harbaugh lost his edge? Is the pressure of coaching at his alma-mater getting to him? Simply agreeing to have your team filmed for this series seems like a self-inflicted distraction. But the distraction of the Amazon film crews was nothing compared to the awful judgment Harbaugh displayed in having his team do spring practices in Rome. The purpose of the trip seemed to be primarily that Harbaugh felt like visiting Rome and the Vatican.
As a side note, the student-athletes come off incredibly well in this documentary. Anyone would be proud to have these young men represent their university.
2. Minnesota-Wisconsin: Not sure this one is even a rivalry anymore with the Sconnies recent dominance. Even Goldy cheers for the Badgers in this one. “That’s where the smart money is,” she tells me.
3. Colorado-Nebraska: Man, was this game a big deal in the 80s and 90s. Played on Black Friday, this game had national title implications every year. I had no connection with either school but I always loved this matchup as an objective battle of football powers. It makes me crying sad that these teams are no longer in the same conference. That conference should be called the Big 8 and that conference should be just north of the Southwestern Conference.
4. Indiana-Michigan State: “The Old Brass Spittoon” is the Jerry Springer version of the “Old Oaken Bucket,” one of college football’s most storied trophies. It just struck me that most of my bottom 5 are Big Ten rivalries.
5. UCF-South Florida: I’m old enough to remember when this was a huge game. Unfortunately, the folks in Tampa decided against football at some point while our colleagues in Orlando are still adamant about the sport.