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Betting on College Football Rivalry Games

Want to watch an exhilarating game? Try watching college football! It has a lot to offer that the NFL simply can’t, both on and off the field. Many people claim that college football blows the NFL away in terms of pure entertainment, and we have to admit that part of us definitely wants to agree with them.

The games clearly won’t be played at the same standard, but that’s to be expected. We have to remember that these players are only students, not professionals. Regardless, the games will still be of decent quality and there will still be some exceptional players just waiting to blow us out of the water, as this is where professionals launch their careers after all.

I guess the point we are trying to get across here is that the quality of a football game isn’t directly related to the quality of its entertainment. College football games can still be exciting to watch, even if they aren’t played to the same standard as the NFL.

Not every game will be exciting. Both college football and the NFL have their fair share of dull games each season. To us, it doesn’t really matter which one is better. We love college football AND we love the NFL. We don’t feel the need to compare the two, and we’re quite sure that many football fans feel the same way.

With that being said, there is one area where we have no problem stating that college football is hands down better, and that is rivalry games. There are some pretty intense rivalries in the NFL, but they don’t even compare to the biggest rivalries in college football.

College football rivalry games tend to be extremely exciting and very entertaining. They’re the heart of college football, and they’re easily the most anticipated games of each season. They can also offer some excellent betting opportunities. It’s important to understand that these games are unique in many ways though. If you take the right approach, there’s no reason why you can’t make money from them.

That’s why we’ve written this article. We start by looking at some of the key characteristics of college football rivalry games, and how they differ from “normal” games. Then we provide a few basic tips for betting these games, which should help you make the most out of the opportunities they present. We also explain four specific strategies that we like to use when the circumstances are right. We close by giving an overview of the biggest rivalry games in college football.

Characteristics of College Rivalry Games

The way we see it, there are two main types of college football rivalry games. First, there are what we like to call the “standard” rivalry games, which you’ll be able to find in any team sport. They might be between teams that have a recent history with each other or between teams that are rivals solely because of where they are located geographically. They could even be between two teams that are regularly found competing for the same conference.

Then there are the REAL college rivalry games. Most of these meet some or all of the criteria outlined above, but there’s more to them than that. These games are often between teams that have had fierce rivalries for decades. They have historic significance, and are steeped in tradition. There’s often genuine bad blood between the two opponents, that can even extend to pure hatred. These games are recognized nationally as highlights of the college football calendar, and they’re typically played at the end of the regular season to further heighten their impact.

These types of rivalry games will be the central focus of this article. Before we get started, we’ve provided a list of criteria that sets these games apart from the rest.

  • Motivation is high
  • Pressure is intense
  • There’s often real hostility
  • The crowds are very fired up
  • They’re very hard to call

Now let’s take a look at each one of these points in detail, and explain why they’re relevant.

Motivation is high

Motivation is an essential betting factor for most football games, as there’s often a disparity between the two sets of players. It’s not uncommon for one team to be significantly more motivated than the other. They might have just suffered a heavy defeat, for example, and be eager to redeem themselves with a good performance. They might be playing to impress a new coach or they might just simply have more at stake than their opposition.

A disparity in motivation levels can be a good indicator of the way a game is going to play out. There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s reasonable to expect the more motivated team to put in a stronger performance. We like to take motivation into consideration when making our betting decisions, but we can’t do that when it comes to college rivalry games for one simple reason.

College teams almost always give 100% in their main rivalry games.

Rivalry games are generally viewed as the biggest games of the season for most teams. Regardless of how they’ve been playing during the season, or what’s at stake, players can typically be expected to try their best for these games. They truly give it their all. There are VERY few exceptions to this, so motivation is hardly ever a factor worth considering. We can safely assume that both teams will be as motivated as possible.

You might think that this would make betting on these games easier. If both teams are equally motivated, then whichever team is the most talented should win the game. Right? We wish it were that easy, but it’s not. There are just so many other factors to consider, like how being highly motivated is not ALWAYS a good thing for example.

It seems counter-intuitive, but an extreme determination to win can actually have a detrimental effect on football players. They can end up trying too hard, and losing their natural rhythm and flow. So although we can assume that players will give their all in rivalry games, we have to be aware that this doesn’t always mean they will be playing to the best of their ability.

Pressure is intense

To say that the pressure is intense in college football rivalry games would actually be an understatement. We’re talking EXTREME pressure here. It’s not unheard of for a coach’s job to be on the line. The fans, the whole school, maybe even the whole town will be demanding a victory from their team. Even when a team technically has nothing tangible to play for, the expectation is still huge. Pride and bragging rights are at stake if nothing else.

Of course, that pressure dramatically increases when there IS something at stake. And there often is. Remember, most of these big rivalry games are played at the end of the season. It’s not uncommon for these games to decide who wins a spot in a bowl game, who makes it to the playoffs or even who takes home the conference title. The pressure goes off the scale in those scenarios.

This level of pressure obviously affects the way these games are played. Some teams rise to the challenge, while others crumble under the weight of expectation. This makes mental strength a very important factor to consider.

There’s often real hostility

A big rivalry game can be a very hostile event that’s way beyond the normal competitive nature of a football game. You’ll know exactly what we mean if you’ve ever attended such a game, as you can literally feel it in the air. Often times, it’s possible to sense the hostility when watching it on TV too. You can’t help but get the sense that the opposing players genuinely hate each other. They don’t just want to win; they want to destroy their opponents. This is what makes these games so exciting to watch!

This hostility can also effect how the players play. A little raw aggression can go a long way on the football field, but too much aggression can be a bad thing. Some players are so focused on hurting their competition that they are sloppy on the field and end up being a liability to their team. Other players can control their aggression and channel it, making them a real asset.

The crowds are very fired up

The intensity of rivalry games goes beyond the field, and makes its way to the crowd. The fans typically get fired up for most games in college football, but they take it to a whole new level for rivalry games. The passion gets ramped up by several notches, and so does the noise. The pure emotion that the fans invest in these games is amazing. It makes for an incredible atmosphere.

A college football crowd can be quite the sight to behold.

This atmosphere can obviously impact the players. The home team can feel incredibly inspired by faithful fans cheering them on. The road team, on the other hand, is forced to face a brutal crowd that wants nothing more than to see them lose. Every solid play of theirs will be booed and every mistake will be mocked. This can easily cause players to feel intimidated.

A passionate crowd is not ALWAYS an advantage for the home side though. With so much emotion flying around, the crowd is more than capable of turning on their team when things aren’t going well. If there’s a few missed tackles, misplaced passes or badly timed runs, the atmosphere can soon change. While this is good news for the road team, the home team will suffer.

They’re very hard to call

Upsets are always a possibility in football. Football is an unpredictable sport, at both the college level and the professional level. That’s partly why it’s so popular. One of the many reasons we all enjoy watching football so much is the simple fact that we’re never sure what’s going to happen. Favorites win more than often than not, of course, but underdogs win their fair share too.

While this is great for us as fans, it’s not so great for us as bettors. It makes it very hard for us to consistently make accurate predictions and win money. Since college football teams are even more unpredictable, it’s even harder to make money from them.

Having read through what we’ve covered so far, the unpredictable nature of college rivalry games should come as no surprise to you. Let’s quickly recap what you’ve already learned.

  • Teams are typically very motivated for these games, but the extra motivation can potentially be more crimpling than helpful.
  • There’s a lot of pressure in these games, and we don’t know how that pressure will affect the teams.
  • These games can be very hostile, which can result in players being overly aggressive.
  • The crowds get very fired up, which helps the home team in most, but not all, circumstances.

Do you see the common theme here? The key characteristics that define these college rivalry games all contribute to their unpredictability. So even though we’re fully aware of these characteristics, that doesn’t appear to help us from a betting perspective. If anything, it just creates more uncertainty. This highlights exactly why it’s so difficult to bet on college football games.

Don’t give up on the whole idea just yet though, as things aren’t exactly as they seem. Yes, the characteristics we’ve just outlined do add to the unpredictable nature of college football rivalry games. But understanding them CAN still help us. We just have to be willing to think about things differently and pay more attention to certain factors.

The tips we offer shortly will help with this. Before we get to them, however, there’s one more characteristic of college rivalry games that you need to be aware of.

They attract a LOT of attention.

Most college football games are relatively obscure. Apart from those directly involved in those games, and the fans of the relevant teams, they don’t generate much attention. The higher profile games, such as those featuring the better known teams, get a lot more attention, but even then it’s on a relatively localized basis.

The big rivalry games, however, regularly attract attention on a national basis. People from all over the country find themselves interested in the outcomes of these games, even when they don’t have any real affiliation with the teams involved. As a result, these games tend to generate much more betting action than the typical college game.

This means that the bookmakers and betting sites have to pay very close attention to the odds and lines that they set. It also means that, unlike a lot of college games, public opinion can have a significant impact on the way the odds and lines move. This is something we can use to our advantage. We’ll explain how in the next section of this article, where we offer some useful tips for betting on these rivalry games.

Tips for Betting College Rivalry Games

By now it should be obvious why betting on college rivalry games is so challenging. From here on out we will be focusing on how to help you overcome that challenge. We have no miracle system that is guarantee to help you consistently make money, but we can offer you some valuable advice.

Below is a list of our top tips for betting on rivalry games, followed by a detailed explanation of each one. We strongly recommend following the advice we have to offer here, as we’re confident it will help you make good betting decisions.

  • Be very cautious
  • Don’t ignore conventional handicapping
  • Don’t overvalue recent form
  • Study past results
  • Consider what’s at stake
  • Try to understand player mentality
  • Get to know the coaches
  • Don’t overvalue home field advantage
  • Pay close attention to line movements

Be very cautious

Our first tip is a very simple one. Don’t underestimate its importance though. It’s vital that you proceed with caution when betting on college rivalries. These are typically high risk from a betting perspective, because of their extreme unpredictability. In our opinion, you need to be more confident than usual to justify putting money down on these games.

With that being said, rivalry games typically present at least a few, good betting opportunities each season. Wait for these opportunities and you’ll be sure to make a profit in the long run. If you instead choose to bet when you’re not especially confident or when no obvious value exists, your chances of losing money substantially increases. Playing it safe is definitely the way to go.

Don’t ignore conventional handicapping

We’ve talked about how college rivalries require a different approach than normal. While this is absolutely right, it doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore ALL the handicapping techniques you usually use. These games do have some unique characteristics, but they’re still football games nonetheless.

It will always be important to consider the quality of the players, how well they play as a team and how their coach tends to set them up. It’s also helpful to consider their consistency, their strengths and their weaknesses. Basically, you still need to consider most of the factors that affect the outcome of a football game. The way you think about these factors is all that needs to change; some will be more relevant than usual, while others will be less.

Don’t overvalue recent form

Recent form is a great example of a betting factor that has less relevance than usual. Typically, recent form can tell us a lot about how an upcoming game is likely to play out. If one team is in excellent form and their opponents are in awful form, then we’ve immediately got a pretty good idea about which way to bet. There’s obviously still more to think about, but recent form can certainly tell us a lot.

It tells us very little when it comes to rivalry games though.

Recent form is almost irrelevant for these games. Not completely, but almost. Teams that are in awful form are more than capable of raising their performance for a big rivalry game. Likewise, teams that are in excellent form could easily be negatively affected by the occasion and end up playing terribly.

Now, there’s no harm in looking at how teams have been playing prior to a rivalry game. It’s still useful to understand what kind of form of they’re in, as long as you don’t read too much into it. Recent form should be given very little weight when it comes to rivalry games.

Study past results

When we refer to past results here, we mean past results in the specific fixture. So if you’re looking at betting on the “Holy War” (Utah versus BYU), you’d check the historical results for this particular game. In this case, Utah leads 59-34 and has won the last six.

This doesn’t mean that you should automatically assume Utah would win again of course, but it’s certainly good to know how the fixture has gone historically, and what has happened in the past few years. This will give you some insight into how the teams will approach the game, what sort of pressure they’ll be under, how confident they’ll be and how the fans will be feeling. You can then use this insight to predict how the game is likely to play out.

Consider what’s at stake

When describing the characteristics of college rivalry games earlier, we explained that they’re intense even when nothing tangible is at stake. So, in some respects, it doesn’t really matter what’s actually on the line.

Everyone is going to be pumped up to win regardless.

However, it’s still worth considering what the two teams have to play for. This can affect the dynamic of a game. For example, imagine a game where one team is going for the conference title and the other one is out of contention. There’s a lot more pressure on the team that’s playing for the title than there is on their opponents. Ponder what kind of impact that might have.

Try to understand player mentality

This is one of the most important pieces of advice we have to offer in this article. The mental strength of the players is a vital factor to consider when betting on college rivalry games, because it can play a very significant part in determining which team wins and which team loses.

Think back to some of the characteristics of these games that we described earlier. We talked about the role motivation plays, and how it has the potential to be both positive and negative. We discussed the immense pressure and weight of expectation that the players are under. We even touched upon the idea that the hostile nature of these games can lead to over aggression.

How well the players deal with all this ultimately comes down to their mental strength. Those who can cope with the occasion, and focus solely on putting in the best possible performance, are the ones who will shine. The same can’t be said for those who get overexcited, too fired up, or wilt under the pressure.

Now, it’s not easy to assess the mental strength of college football players. However, if you watch them closely enough throughout a season, or at least read as much as you can about their performances, then you will gain perspective. This will be invaluable when it comes to betting on rivalry games.

Get to know the coaches

The bond between a college football player and his coach can be very strong. Some coaches have a real talent for establishing excellent relationships with their players, and bringing out the best in them: as men, as well as football players. These kind of relationships can prove instrumental throughout entire seasons, and especially for the major rivalry games.

As we’ve just mentioned, how the players cope mentally can have a significant impact on what happens on the field. And, as a general rule, players cope much better when they have a solid relationship with their coach. If they have respect for their coach and sincerely look up to him, then he’ll probably be able to influence their mental state.

A good coach will go out of his way to make sure his players remain calm in high-pressure games like this.

Of course, it’s very difficult to know what kind of relationship a coach has with his players. It can help to watch the games and see what kind of interaction there is. It’s also possible to judge a coach’s demeanor this way, and start to form opinions about what kind of coach he is.

With a little additional research, you can probably find interviews with a coach and/or his players. The way they talk about each other will give you insight into what kind of relationship they may have. You’ll never know for sure of course, but any insight here can be useful.

It’s also useful to consider a coach’s experience. A seasoned coach who’s been involved with lots of big rivalry games is at a distinct advantage to one who hasn’t. He’ll know what to expect, and he’ll know how to prepare his players. Remember, there’s as much pressure on the coaches as there is on the players. Maybe even more. How well they deal with that pressure will definitely affect how well their players do.

Don’t overvalue home field advantage

Earlier we discussed how crowds could potentially affect rivalry games. Specifically, we explained how a passionate and emotional crowd isn’t always an advantage for the home team. While it has the potential to be an advantage, there’s always a chance that it can have the adverse effect. It can add to the pressure and burden of expectation felt by the players, which can make it even more difficult for them to play to the best of their abilities.

That’s why when it comes to rivalry games, we ask that you don’t give too much weight to home field advantage. It’s easy to expect the home team to have an edge over the road team when both teams are equal in every other way, but we can’t be sure of that. So although you should definitely take the venue into consideration, we recommend that you don’t automatically assume that the home team will gain any notable advantage.

Pay close attention to line movements

Watching for movements in the odds and lines is always a good idea, regardless of what football game we’re betting on. It can tell us a lot about what the bookmakers think, where the smart money is going, and what the public is betting on. This information then helps us determine where the value might lay.

It’s vital that you pay particularly close attention to these movements when betting on big rivalry games. This is because they attract a lot of interest and a lot of betting action. Most of that action is coming from recreational bettors, who typically bet with their hearts and not their heads. They tend to back mostly favorites and the over.

While this is a general rule to keep in mind, it’s important to remember that it’s not set in stone. Specifically, you’ll want to look for spots where the odds and lines are moving steadily in favor of the favorite and/or the over for a rivalry game. Chances are high that these sharp moves are the result of public money rather than smart money.

Why is this relevant?
It affects the best time to place your bets

If you’re planning to back the favorite or the over, then get your money down as soon as possible. It’s likely that odds and lines will move further against you as the game gets closer, as there will be even more money going down on those selections. Conversely, if you like the underdog or the under then you should wait until the last possible moment to bet. You’ll usually get better value this way.

That was our last tip, but we’re not done yet. Now we want to spend some time looking at specific strategies that you might want to take into consideration.

Our Preferred Strategies for College Rivalry Games

We’ve already referred to the fact that college rivalry games are still football games, and that a lot of our usual handicapping techniques are still valid. So you don’t necessarily need to use or develop brand new strategies just for betting on these games. Much of the football strategy advice we have to offer throughout our football betting guide still broadly applies here. You’ll just have to make some minor adjustments, based on the unique characteristics of this game that we have covered in detail. The tips we provided will also be helpful.

Making those adjustments should be enough to help you identify some good spots to get your money down on rivalry games. To help you even further, we’ve also listed our preferred strategies for these games. Please note: these are NOT perfect systems that work in any and all situations. They’re just some fairly straightforward strategies that we like to use when the right situations present themselves.

Here’s a list of the four strategies we typically use, followed by details of when we use them and why.

  • Backing small road underdogs
  • Backing big home favorites
  • Backing big road underdogs
  • Betting on a spoiler

Backing small road underdogs

This strategy is based on two simple principles. The fact that most bettors (and even some bookmakers) overvalue the importance of home field advantage, and the fact that most bettors blindly back the favorites.

The result of the first fact is that when two evenly matched teams are about to play, the home team is almost always favored. Even if there’s absolutely nothing between the two teams, the road team will still probably be given points on the spread. The result of the second fact is that most bettors will still back the favorite, which then moves the odds and lines further towards the favorite and away from the underdog. This will naturally create value in backing the underdog.

This is the easiest strategy to use for college rivalry games. Based on our experience, we have reason to believe that you would probably come out ahead if you simply looked for ANY big rivalry game where there was a small road underdog and then backed them. Even though this is true, we still can’t advocate taking that approach. Being selective and looking for potential spots that offer value will always work out best.

To get a little more specific, you’ll be looking for games between two teams that are almost even in terms of pure talent and ability. Other than home field advantage, there should be no other reason to believe that the home team would have any kind of edge.

To ensure that you’ll be getting maximum value, it would be better to take the underdog on the moneyline rather than the point spread. While it’s possible that you might lose your wagers a little more often this way, you’ll get better odds and payouts when you do pull off a win. This should work to your advantage in the long run.

Backing big home favorites

We use this strategy when we feel like playing it safe. The downside is that this strategy offers very low odds and very small payouts. The plus side is that this is a very low risk strategy that contributes to a very high win rate.

The basic idea here is to look for spots where the home team is a big favorite, and then assess the reasons WHY they’re such a big favorite. If we think that they’re being significantly overvalued, and shouldn’t actually be such big favorites, then we move on. But if there are genuine and valid reasons why they’re heavily favored to win, then we back them on the moneyline.

Why the moneyline and not the spread?
To reduce the risk.

We rarely feel comfortable backing a team to cover a big spread in a rivalry game. Even if the favorite is significantly better than the underdog, there’s so much pride at stake that the underdog will do everything it can to at least keep the score respectable. Plus the large amounts of money coming in for the favorite will cause the spread to be inflated anyway.

Backing big road underdogs

This might seem a little confusing. We’ve just explained that we like to back big home favorites, and now we’re recommending backing big road underdogs. Isn’t that a bit contradictory?

At first glance, yes. Ponder what we are really trying to tell you though. We like to back big home favorites on the MONEYLINE, because there are often spots where we’re confident that they’ll win but not so confident that they’ll cover the spread. When we find these spots, it’s often right to back also back the underdog: on the spread though, not the moneyline. This means we’re guaranteed to win at least one of our wagers, with a chance of winning both of them.

If the favorite fails to win, then the underdog will have covered. We lose our moneyline wager on the favorite, but win our point spread wager on the underdog. If the favorite does win, but fails to cover, we win both of our wagers. If the favorite wins AND covers, we win our moneyline wager but lose our point spread wager. So, obviously, we’re looking for games where the most likely outcome is the favorite to win but not cover. These are actually not too hard to spot.

Be aware that we don’t ALWAYS back the underdog on the spread every time we back the favorite on the moneyline. We only do this when we’re confident that the spread is higher than it should be. The important thing to remember about this strategy, and all the others, is that the circumstances must always be right.

Betting on a spoiler

We quite frequently see big rivalry games where one team has everything to play for, and the other has nothing but pride to play for. For example, we might see a game where one team needs win to advance to the championship game while the other has had a poor season and is out of contention. These games generally represent good betting opportunities.

The team with everything to play for will obviously have had the better season, which means they are going to be the favorites. Most people will consider them very likely to win, and that will be reflected in the odds and lines. It makes sense to back them, and that’s exactly what most of the betting public will do. What most people don’t realize is that this scenario actually creates real value in backing the underdog.

The underdog will practically be written off, and given absolutely no chance of being able to win. This is a huge mistake. NEVER write off a team in a rivalry game, especially if they have a chance to ruin their rival’s season. Seeing as how they have nothing to lose, they may just rise to the occasion. The increased pressure that will be on the favorite can have a huge impact on the dynamic of the game and it might even be enough to make backing the underdog a viable option. It won’t be effective in all situations, but we ask that you at least consider using this strategy.

By combining the tips we offered earlier with the recommended strategies we’ve just discussed, betting on college rivalry games should become a lot easier for you. Never forget just how unpredictable these games can be though. There is definitely value to be found, but you must pick your spots VERY carefully.

The rest of this article features information on some of the biggest college football rivalries of all time.

The Biggest College Football Rivalries

There are almost too many college football rivalries to keep track of. There are over 150 between teams from the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision alone, and many more between teams from the other divisions. Some of these rivalries have been formed in relatively recent years, but the most famous ones have been around for a very long time.

Below we’ve provided details on a small selection of some of the biggest and best-known rivalries.

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines

vs

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeyes
  • First Played: 1897
  • Number of Games: 112
  • Largest Victory: Michigan 86, Ohio State 0 (1902)
  • All Time Victories: Michigan 58, Ohio State 46 (6 Ties)

When the Michigan Wolverines go up against the Ohio State Buckeyes, fans typically refer to this event as, “The Game.” First played in 1897, this fixture grew in popularity and quickly became an annual affair in 1918. The initial rivalry between these two Midwest schools was fueled by memories of the Toledo War, a short war caused by a boundary dispute between the State of Ohio and what was then known as Michigan Territory.

The rivalry intensified throughout the 20th century, and has now been of national interest for many years. This is because these games are played at the end of the regular season, and many of them have been to decide to winner of the Big Ten Conference title and the subsequent Rose Bowl matchup.

An especially notable period in this rivalry was between 1969 and 1978. This period has become known informally as the “Ten-Year War,” and it was notable because of the two head coaches in charge at the time. Woody Hayes was head coach of Ohio State, while Bo Schembechler was head coach of Michigan. Schembechler had previously worked under Hayes as his assistant at Ohio State, so their meetings were always advertised as “teacher versus student.”

California Golden Bears

California Golden Bears

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Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Cardinal
  • First Played: 1892
  • Number of Games: 118
  • Largest Victory: Stanford 63 – California 13 (2013)
  • All Time Victories: Stanford 61, California 46 (11 Ties)
  • Trophy: Stanford Axe

California Golden Bears versus Stanford Cardinal is one of the oldest and most played rivalry games in US college football. It’s known as “The Big Game,” and it’s played annually in late November or early December. The Stanford Axe trophy has been awarded to the winner of the game since 1933. It’s an axe-head mounted on a wooden plaque, and features the scores of all past games.

This rivalry is famous for what is widely considered one of the most amazing plays in the history of college football. In 1982, California were leading coming into the late stages of the game. Stanford then scored a field goal, giving them a 20-19 lead. As one might expect, they celebrated enthusiastically. They must have gone a little over the top though, as they drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This was enforced on the subsequent kickoff.

With just four seconds left on the clock, Stanford did the unthinkable. They kicked off with a “squib kick.” This gave California the opportunity to pick up the ball and after just five passes score a touchdown. One can only imagine the controversy surrounding this game. The Stanford band had entered the field believing that a player had been tackled and the game was over. But the play had managed to throw a pass first, so the ball was still in play. Stanford claimed that the pass was illegal, and that what happened afterwards shouldn’t count. Regardless, the touchdown was awarded, and California won the game 25-20. Stanford is still bitter about the outcome.

Army Black Knights

Army Black Knights

vs

Navy Midshipmen

Navy Midshipmen
  • First Played: 1890
  • Number of Games: 116
  • Largest Victory: Navy 51 – Army 0 (1973)
  • All Time Victories: Navy 60, Army 49 (7 Ties)
  • Trophy: Thompson Cup

Army Black Knights versus Navy Midshipmen is usually the last non-bowl game each season. It marks the end of the regular college season, and it’s one of the most traditional rivalries of all. Reflecting the inter-service rivalry within the US Armed Forces, it typically attracts national TV audiences.

This rivalry game has been played in several different locations, but most commonly in Philadelphia. It’s also part of a three-team rivalry series which includes the Air Force Falcons. The winner of that series is awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, which is often presented by the President himself. The winner of the Army versus Navy game is happily awarded the Thompson Cup.

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma Sooners

vs

Texas Longhorns

Texas Longhorns
  • First Played: 1900
  • Number of Games: 111
  • Largest Victory: Oklahoma 64 – Texas 13 (2003)
  • All Time Victories: Texas 61, Oklahoma 45 (5 Ties)
  • Trophy: Golden Hat

Oklahoma Sooners versus Texas Longhorns is commonly known as the “Red River Showdown.” It’s played annually at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, usually during the State Fair of Texas in October. This is a major rivalry, partly because of the historical conflicts between the states of Texas and Oklahoma.

The main trophy for this game is the Golden Hat, awarded to the winning school and kept by their athletic department until the following year. Since 2003 there’s also been the Red River Rivalry trophy, which is exchanged between the two student governments. Then there’s also the Governor’s trophy, which is exchanged between the two state governors.

A tradition of this rivalry is for the two state governors to place a bet on the game. This is usually something like the losing governor having to “pay” the winning governor a side of beef. Whatever the proceeds of this bet are, they’re typically donated to charity.

Notre Dame Fighting

Notre Dame Fighting

vs

USC Trojans

USC Trojans
  • First Played: 1926
  • Number of Games: 86
  • Largest Victory: Notre Dame 51 – USC 0 (1966)
  • All Time Victories: Notre Dame 46, USC 36 (5 Ties)
  • Trophy: Jeweled Shillelagh

Notre Dame Fighting Irish versus USC Trojans is one of the most important rivalries in college football. These two teams are among the elite, and the winner of this game has often won or played for the college football national title. The two teams have won 11 national titles between them, and they are currently tied in first place for the most players taken for the NFL draft.

This rivalry game is played on the third Saturday of October when it’s played at Notre Dame, and on the Saturday following Thanksgiving when it’s played at USC. It’s one of the few major rivalries involving two teams from different conferences.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

vs

Auburn Tigers

Auburn Tigers
  • First Played: 1893
  • Number of Games: 80
  • Largest Victory: Alabama 55 – Auburn 0 (1948)
  • All Time Victories: Alabama 44, Auburn 35 (1 Tie)
  • Trophy: James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy

Florida Gators

Florida Gators

vs

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs
  • First Played: 1915
  • Number of Games: 93
  • Largest Victory: Georgia 75 – Florida 0 (1942)
  • All Time Victories: Georgia 49, Florida 42 (2 Ties)
  • Trophy: Okefenokee Oar

BYU Cougars

BYU Cougars

vs

Utah State Aggies

Utah State Aggies
  • First Played: 1922
  • Number of Games: 85
  • Largest Victory: BYU 65 – Utah State 6 (1977)
  • All Time Victories: BYU 47, Utah State 35 (3 Ties)
  • Trophy: The Old Wagon Wheel

Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers

vs

South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina Gamecocks
  • First Played: 1896
  • Number of Games: 113
  • Largest Victory: Clemson 51 – South Carolina 0 (1900)
  • All Time Victories: Clemson 67, South Carolina 42 (4 Ties)
  • Trophy: Hardee’s Trophy/Palmetto Bowl Trophy

UCLA Bruins

UCLA Bruins

vs

USC Trojans

USC Trojans
  • First Played: 1929
  • Number of Games: 85
  • Largest Victory: USC 76 – UCLA 0 (1929)
  • All Time Victories: USC 45, UCLA 31 (7 Ties)
  • Trophy: Victory Bell

Florida Gators

Florida Gators

vs

Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles
  • First Played: 1958
  • Number of Games: 60
  • Largest Victory: Florida 49 – Florida State 0 (1973)
  • All Time Victories: Florida 34, Florida State 24 (2 Ties)
  • Trophy: Florida Cup