After a 21-month dry spell, college football is back, and fans are arriving days early for tailgate parties prior to flooding into the stadiums each Saturday to root for their favorite team.
And it’s not just students and alumni who are excited. Gridiron fans who’ve been turned off by professional athletes’ growing emphasis on political and social justice causes have turned to amateur sports to get their football fix and are also celebrating its return.
Since the first American football game between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869, traditional rivalries have emerged between teams across the United States. This is Newsmax’s list of the top 10 in alphabetical order, with an honorable mention added at the end.
Alabama-Auburn: The Iron Bowl got its name from former steel industry center Birmingham, Alabama, where the games were initially played.
Alabama’s Crimson Tide enjoys a 47-37-1 record against the Auburn Tigers, going back to 1893 when they first met. After a dispute resulting in decades of not meeting on the filed, an act of the state Legislature reinstated the rivalry in 1948. Each are charter members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and will meet again in the final game of the 2021 regular season.
Every person, upon moving to Alabama, has to make a choice. They either yell “Roll Tide” or shout “War Eagle.” That’s how important college football is to residents of the Yellowhammer State.
Army-Navy: This rivalry is so special it gets its own post-season December weekend slot, and is played on a neutral field outside of Annapolis or West Point — usually in the Northwest.
This year it’ll be held on Saturday, December 11 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and will be televised by CBS.
Although Navy has an overall winning record, dominating 61 games to Army’s 53 (seven ended in ties), Army’s Black Knights have won four of the last five matchups, ending the Navy Midshipmen’s 2002-2015 14-game winning streak.
The Army-Navy game also marks the third and final game of the season's Commander-in-Chief Trophy series, which also includes the Falcons from the Air Force Academy.
Florida-Florida State: The Sunshine Showdown between the Florida Gators and the FSU Seminoles is just one of three major rivalries involving a least one Florida team, giving an indication of how seriously they take their football.
They first slugged it out on November 22, 1958, and since then they generally play it on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Overall, Florida leads the series 36–26–2. However. since 1976 when coach Bobby Bowden brought FSU into the national spotlight, Florida State holds a 24-21-1 advantage.
Florida-Georgia: The late Bill Kastelz, a longtime sports editor for The Florida Times-Union, coined this annual meetup “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in the 1950s. Although the moniker lost favor with the advent of political correctness, it still fits, with the party (for the fans) getting started around Tuesday of game week.
Their first game was in 1904, when Georgia trounced what was then called Florida Agricultural College 52-0. The Gators refuse to acknowledge that thrashing because it wasn’t until the following year that FAC merged with three other colleges to become the University of Florida. The Bulldogs aren’t buying it, though and the “Dawgs” overall 8-game winning record is 52-44-2.
Harvard-Yale: Known simply as “The Game,” this matchup between the two Ivy League schools is always scheduled as the last game of the season for the Yale Bulldogs and the Harvard Crimson.
Although neither football nor even sports comes to mind when thinking about these two teams, they’ve been enmeshed in an intense rivalry since their first meeting on the gridiron on November 13, 1875.
Their 1968 game was especially memorable. The game ended in a tie, 29-29, only after Harvard prevented defeat by adding 16 points in the final 42 seconds of competition.
But their most recent matchup — in 2019 — was just as thrilling. After a double-overtime Yale was declared the winner, 50-43. Yale also owns the all-time lead 68-60-8.
Miami (Florida)-Florida State: The first game between the Miami Hurricanes (the ‘Canes) the Florida State Seminoles (the ‘Noles) took place on October 5, 1951, with Miami winning, 35-13.
Although the rivalry isn’t nearly as old as some of the others, it’s no less intense, with one or both teams highly ranked running on to the field. The fans enjoy the action, too. The 2006 game was the most-watched college football game in ESPN history, including both regular-season and postseason.
Miami leads the series 35-30. There are no ties for these two.
Michigan-Ohio State: Also referred to as “The Game,” these two teams garnered the most Big Ten titles in conference history, with Michigan taking it 42 times, and OSU capturing the top spot 39.
Although the Michigan Wolverines' overall scorecard against the Buckeyes is 58-51-6, their last victory was way back in 2011. Former Michigan star quarterback and NFL player and coach Jim Harbaugh was brought on as head coach in 2015 to bring the team back to its former glory.
So far it hasn’t worked. His record against the Buckeyes is 0-5.
Oklahoma-Texas: Called either the Red River Showdown or the Red River Shootout, this classic is played out each year in October at the Dallas Cotton Bowl inside Fair Park during the running of the Texas State Fair.
The Sooners and Longhorns first met on the gridiron in 1900, making it one of the oldest standing rivalries in the sport. The Longhorns lead the series at 62-50-5; however, the Sooners have won 16 of the last 22 Showdowns since 2000.
This year, the Sooners clawed their way back to defeat the Longhorns 55-48.
The SEC unanimously extended membership in the conference to both teams beginning July 1, 2025.
Oregon-Oregon State: Although this annual contest pitting the Oregon Ducks against the OSU Beavers was first played in 1894 — 127 years ago — it wasn’t until the 2010s that Oregon collegiate football came into national prominence.
Overall, the Ducks have largely reigned supreme (66-48-10), but the Beavers have cranked up interest by winning two of the last five games.
Beginning in 1929 the rivalry was officially known as the Civil War. In 2020, however, both universities bowed to political correctness and dropped the moniker, because of its association with the American Civil War. Liberals.
USC-Notre Dame: This is one of the best and well-known non-conference rivalries in college football, and is generally held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day. After last year’s meetup was called because of COVID, the teams will face off again on October 23.
Notre Dame won its first game with USC in 1926, 13-12. The series was the result of an agreement between USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson and Notre Dame’s legendary Knute Rockne.
Overall, the Irish have reigned supreme in the series at 47-36-5, and won the last three games.
Ole Miss-Mississippi State: Known as the Egg Bowl because the winning team takes possession of the “Goose Egg Trophy” for a year, this meetup is added as an honorable mention.
The Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) Rebels have been pitted against the Mississippi State Bulldogs every year since 1944, although they first met on the field in 1901.
The “Goose Egg Trophy” was added in 1927, and Ole Miss has had the honor of displaying it the most. It leads the series 63-46-6.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.