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Best College Football Rivalries of All Time

Stadium Talk logo: MainLogo Stadium Talk 5/30/2023 Ross Kelly

When you think about great football rivalries, most people likely think of classic NFL rivals. The Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears or Steelers vs. Ravens are two that come to mind, but fans’ connections to those rivalries only run surface deep. Even the biggest Packers or Steelers fans wouldn’t necessarily call themselves a Packer or Steeler, unless they played or worked for the teams at some point. But that’s what makes college football connections so different, as alums are the school they once attended. 

College football rivalries are like two peas in a pod, and these are the best ones we’ve seen on the gridiron. © Andy Manis/AP Photo College football rivalries are like two peas in a pod, and these are the best ones we’ve seen on the gridiron.

An Alabama alum saying “we” in reference to the football team seems much more appropriate than a Steelers fan saying “we” in regard to his favorite team that he likely spent lots of money to see in person but was never an employee of the organization. Thus, in regard to college football rivalries, there’s a built-in passion and disdain for the other side that pro sports can’t emulate. 

There are many ways in which these college football rivalries were formed, whether it be through being conference foes, through geographic locations or even via parallel eras of success. College sports and rivalries are like two peas in a pod, and these are some of the best ones we’ve seen on the gridiron. 

31. Alabama vs. Georgia

Nickname: N/A

Trophy: N/A

Total meetings: 72

All-time series: Alabama leads 42-26-4 (.611 W-L%)

These two were matched up for the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship, and Georgia won the high-stakes game for the first time in 41 years. It was a perfect way for both teams to celebrate their more than 125-year anniversary playing one another. The two southeastern teams first faced off in 1895 in Columbus, Georgia, and they’ve continued to meet regularly for decades.

In the beginning, Georgia had the lead, but Alabama’s since beaten out the Bulldogs almost twice as much. A division split in 1992 made this rivalry less frequent, but it’s still as fun as ever to watch, especially when they’re matched up in championship games.

30. Iowa vs. Iowa State

Nickname: El Assico

Trophy: Cy-Hawk Trophy

Total meetings: 68

All-time series: Iowa leads 46-22 (.677 W-L%)

Since Iowa State is known as the Cyclones, and Iowa is known as the Hawkeyes, the trophy name is a combination of the two nicknames. This rivalry is known for the various winning streaks that occurred during its history. 

Iowa State won the first three games followed by a five-game winning streak by Iowa. Then, during the 1980s and ’90s, the Hawkeyes won 15 consecutive only for the Cyclones to win five straight immediately afterwards. After the 2021 game, Iowa is on another streak, winning an impressive six straight.

29. Florida vs. Georgia

Nickname: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Trophy: Okefenokee Oar

Total meetings: 100

All-time series: Georgia leads 54-44-2 (.551 W-L%)

When it comes to the locations that produce the most four- and five-star recruits, four states are a cut above the rest. They are Texas, California, Florida and Georgia, and only two of those four share a boundary. That would be Florida and Georgia, which has an intense recruiting battle every year and a heated rivalry involving the Gators and Bulldogs. 

Their annual game has been played in neutral-site Jacksonville since 1933, and the series has been virtually even since then, with Georgia having 45 wins and Florida having 42 wins.

28. Michigan vs. Notre Dame

© Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Nickname: N/A

Trophy: N/A

Total meetings: 44

All-time series: Michigan leads 25-17-1 (.593 W-L%)

Despite not having a nickname or a trophy, there is no older major rivalry in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) than Michigan vs. Notre Dame. It was first competed in 1887, which Michigan won, and the Wolverines have held the lead during the duration of the series. Michigan won the first eight meetings, but the teams are 17-17-1 since then. 

Despite being such a historic matchup in college football, neither program has any plans to make this an annual or biannual rivalry. The last game took place in 2019, and the next ones will be home-and-home series in 2033 and 2034.

For more college football rivalries, check out Stadium Talk.

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