Brother Against Brother: The Top Intrastate College Football Rivalries In The Country
By War Eagle Atlanta
Last week we took a look at the top interstate rivalries in CFB, but this week, we take a look at the fight for state supremacy, bragging rights over your friends and family for the next 365 days. Rivalries between states are a little easier–all you need are two good teams and a border! But rivals within the state are a different matter. Most states don’t have two well qualified teams to make any one’s discerning list, states like Ohio, Illinois, Louisiana, and Arkansas, among many. Yet others have too many, the big states like California, Texas, and Florida. The results from compiling this list were either feast or famine, but as promised, here’s your smorgasbord.
We’re going to use a little different format to rank the rivalries this time. In the interstate rivalries, I used a matrix based on teams’ historic rankings in relation to all-time winning percentage, strength of schedule, and national championships. I tried the same formula with this poll, but the results came out eerily similar to another thread earlier in the year looking at the best duo of teams coming from one state.
This ranking of intrastate rivalries will have subjective rankings assigned in each of five different categories. Each category will rate from 1-5, with 5 being the highest mark. The totals will then determine the winners. Other basic criteria that must be met: Division 1-A (FBS) teams with a minimum of 50 games played in the series.
Here are the categories:
Competitiveness of the rivalry–this will separate the close ones from the blowouts. Most intrastate rivalries aren’t really that close.
Duration of the rivalry–how long they’ve been playing. The rivalries on this list can differ in age by over 50 years.
Historical Significance of the teams–similar to the standard used for interstate rivalries. Most of these teams will be historical top 25 programs.
What’s at Stake–the fallout from the meeting. Teams that are in the same division and/or conference are going to have more on the line with the match up than teams that are not or teams that no longer play on a regular basis.
Bitterness–Ahhh…What turns a rivalry into Good Old-Fashioned Hate. No further explanation required…
And here are the results, with the leading team in the series listed first, then the scores for each category in order, with the total, followed by my comments. For teams whose scores are tied, I have broken any ties with my own subjective preference.
15) Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, 1-5-3-3-3— 15 points. The most lopsided rivalry on the list. The Cowboys’ weak historical standing doesn’t help either.
14) Notre Dame-Purdue, 2-4-4-2-3— 15 points. Dominance by the Irish and no conference crown at stake against an Independent hurts this one.
13) Virginia Tech-Virginia, 4-4-2-3-3— 16 points. They’ve played this one close for a while. Certainly helps that they’re both in the Coastal Division of the ACC now.
12) Ole Miss-Mississippi State, 3-4-2-3-4— 16 points. They like to tee it up in the Magnolia State, but there’s usually nothing at stake in the SEC west other than pride–and a little Egg…
11) Clemson-South Carolina, 2-5-2-3-4— 16 points. They played this one in Columbia for the first 60 years or so. Didn’t matter. Clemson dominates this one. And it’s been a while since they were conference foes.
10) Penn State-Pittsburgh, 4-5-3-2-3— 17 points. One of the classics for so long, but they haven’t played this century, which kills the stakes. Doesn’t help that Penn State’s in the Big 10 (11) now either.
9) Florida-Florida State, 3-3-3-4-5— 18 points. Not the longest rivalry out there, but the Gators gave the Noles a shot when the Noles were only about a decade into their program. Good thing. The game so nice, they played it twice–within a month to conclude the 1996 season.
8) Michigan-Michigan State, 2-5-4-3-4— 18 points. One of the classics, but the Victors have been hailing this one for so long. Curiously, the only one of the Big 10 (11) states to have a ranked rivalry between two conference teams.
7) Georgia-Georgia Tech, 3-5-4-3-4—19 points. The only two Division 1-A programs in the whole state. This series revolves around momentum, which comes in 4 to 8 year spurts and hasn’t come back around to Tech lately. It also doesn’t help that these two haven’t been in the same conference for 43 years.
6) California-Stanford, 4-5-3-4-3—19 points. One of the longest and closest rivalries–also helps that they play in the same conference. What else would you expect from the series that gave us the greatest play in CFB history in 1982?
5) Oregon-Oregon State, 4-5-4-3-4—20 points. These guys started playing immediately following the formation of their teams. They don’t get a lot of press, but they have very quietly had one of best rivalries in the land for a very long time.
4) USC-UCLA, 3-4-5-5-4—21 points. The battle between the best two historic teams in the Golden State, who just happen to be cross-town rivals. The stakes are always high as UCLA can be a perfect stumbling block for USC’s Rose Bowl’s dreams.
3) Miami-FSU, 4-3-4-5-5—21 points. Again, small Miami gave fledgling FSU a chance years ago–a rivalry that has grown incredibly over the decades. It was the rivalry of the 1980s. It placed special emphasis on the kicking game. Curiously, not as hot as it once was now that the teams are both in the same conference, but a resurgence can’t be far off.
2) Texas-Texas A+M, 2-5-5-5-5—22 points. One of the all-time best, and the longest rivalry on the list. Outsiders can’t even imagine the joy and pain contained in this one. Would seriously challenge for number one except that the Aggies haven’t traditionally held up their end of the bargain and won more games. You can’t say they haven’t tried, though.
And #1) Alabama-Auburn , 5-4-5-5-5—24 points. (you don’t know how it hurts me to put them in that order) You may accuse me of being a total homer for ranking this rivalry number one, but there’s more method here than madness. The only thing preventing this one from being perfect is the duration–these two teams went over 40 years from 1908 until 1948 without playing, due to many disputes. They were finally forced to play again by the Alabama State Legislature and then promptly made up for lost time.
This one ranks #1 because it’s the closest of all the rivalries on the list (5 games) and features the best historic tandem of teams to come out of any state in the whole country. Sure, it gets top billing by many CFB experts, but it does not fail to live up to the hype. They say that upon birth in the state, you have to declare your allegiance–you take it from the cradle to the grave. I’m more like an adopted son, not being an Alabama native, but brother, let me tell you it’s true.
So there you have it. You can see the rankings I gave for each category. I think you guys wanted to see a little subjectivity from me after all…If you disagree with any of the rankings, please back up your assertions with detail.
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