Monday, August 26, 2013

My Favorite College Rivalries

John Marine | 8/26/2013 12:23:00 AM | | | | |
I'm excited for a new year of college sports to unfold. With this said, I'd like to share some of my favorite collegiate rivalries. The lifeblood of college sports is in rivalries. You know there's one or more schools you just don't like. You want that school to lose EVERY TIME they meet. This blog post takes a look at some of the rivalries I usually like. You may have your own rivalries, but I have mine. I have MANY of them I like as an avid college sports fan.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that this is about rivalries among colleges with sports programs. So obviously, those of you who think I'm going to post the University of Phoenix vs. DeVry University as one of my rivalries, you're sadly mistaken. ITT Tech doesn't get any college rivalry love either. Sorry... ;)

--- Collegiate Rivalries at a Glance ---

College sports are the most popular battlegrounds for bragging rights among colleges. Many collegiate rivalries are started based on dislike among students. Some college rivalries are all about pride among schools in close proximity to each other. Some college rivalries are even immortalized and symbolized by battling for a certain trophy or prize. No matter what, when two (or more) schools don't like each other, they'll do whatever they can to prove which school is better. Rather than risk doing something dumb or illegal, sports usually provides the best outlet for taking out your frustrations with a certain college or university.

So with that said... long live college rivalries! :)

--- My Favorite College Rivalries ---

Here is the real meat of this blog post. You may have your favorites, but here are (some) of mine. I am not listing each rivalry in any particular order or in any favorite order. Take a look at some of my favorite rivalries:

Houston vs. Rice.

I am not listing this one because it's is my favorite. I am simply listing this one because it is the biggest rivalry in my hometown. Two wonderful universities separated by about five miles in your hometown usually means you won't be exchanging gifts and having sing-a-longs with that school. The rivalry is perhaps best known in football, where the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls play for the Bayou Bucket. As a University of Houston fan, I usually cheer on the Cougars. The only sport Rice usually has an edge on Houston is in baseball.

Texas Southern vs. Prairie View A&M.

The Labor Day Classic pits two of Texas' historically-Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The Texas Southern Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers have their rivalry in other games, but they are better known for their rivalry in football. Part of me usually goes for Texas Southern because I graduated from High School with a program on the Texas Southern campus. I've had family members who graduated from Prairie View A&M. So this one kind of hits home for me.

Texas vs. Texas A&M.

I hate that this rivalry no longer exists. The Lone Star Showdown involves Austin's University of Texas and College Station's Texas A&M University. The rivalry is no more since Texas A&M moved on to the SEC. There are already various non-conference rivalries in college sports. Why this one isn't still played out is beyond me. But usually, the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies put on quite a show. I even want to know what it would have been like in the 2012 season of college football to see Johnny Manziel's Aggies take on Texas.

Sam Houston State vs. Stephen F. Austin State.

Known as The Battle of the Piney Woods, the Bearkats of Sam Houston State University and the Stephen F. Austin State Lumberjacks battle for state pride. While I love the University of Houston, I also have a soft spot for Sam Houston State University, which I once wanted to apply to back in my college days. Sam Houston State is usually great in football and basketball. The university is in Huntsville, Texas. Stephen F. Austin State University is a school I don't know much about. Stephen F. Austin State University is located in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Lumberjacks of SFASU are popularly known for their rivalry against Northwestern State, in which they battle Natchitoches, Louisiana's Northwestern State University for Chief Caddo- a large 7.5-foot, 330 lb. wooden trophy. The Battle of the Piney Woods is a great in-state rivalry between these two Texas schools.

Texas vs. Oklahoma

This one is perhaps one of my true favorite rivalries. Texas and Oklahoma are rival states. They are also pretty good in almost any sport they play- especially football. There's NOTHING like seeing the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners settle their differences in Dallas during the Texas State Fair. In... a different kind of football, you may see teams divide a stadium with certain colors and flags. The Red River Rivalry is like that. Oklahoma fans rock the Crimson and Cream colors, and Texas rock Burnt Orange and White. I usually root for Texas.

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State.

Bedlam. That's what you can expect when the University of Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys meet in a sporting event. They are the two best programs in the Sooner State. Both are very talented in almost every sport.

Grambling State vs. Southern.

In the Pelican State, two of Louisiana's finest Historically-Black universities compete year after year in the game known as the Bayou Classic. Grambling State University of Grambling, LA and Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA clash in the Bayou Classic. This is another rivalry best known in the football ranks. My sister-in-law is a Southern alum, so I often root on the Southern Jaguars to take down the Grambling State Tigers.

Auburn vs. Alabama.

Welcome to the Iron Bowl. Auburn University and the University of Alabama play for pride in the Yellowhammer State. The Auburn Tigers have faced off against the Crimson Tide of Alabama since 1893. These two teams completely don't like each other. Here's something I didn't know- the game is called the Iron Bowl because of the iron deposits in the Alabama hill country.

Florida vs. Georgia.

Formerly known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," the University of Florida and the University of Georgia play in one of the nation's most heated rivalries. Both states are best known for producing quality talent not only in football, but also basketball. They are also the best schools for each respective state. The Florida Gators usually are powerful in football and men's basketball, especially of late. The Georgia Bulldogs are usually a powerful football program, and they have a powerful women's basketball team. Both of these border states put on a great show in almost any sport they compete in against each other.

Auburn vs. Georgia.

How else would you think of a rivalry simply called "Clean Old Fashioned Hate?" That's what Auburn and Georgia have, as the Auburn University Tigers and the University of Georgia Bulldogs simply do NOT like each other. Both are usually pretty good in football.

Florida vs. Miami vs. Florida State.

I included all three schools for this one. It doesn't matter if it is Florida vs. Miami, Miami vs. Florida State, or Florida vs. Florida State; all three schools simply don't like each other in becoming the best university in the Sunshine State. Miami and Florida State battle for the Seminole War Canoe in football. Many people regard the 2001 Miami Hurricanes as one of the all-time greatest teams in college football. A lot of football fans famously know the 1994 game between Florida and Florida State as the "Choke at Doak," a game in 1994 at Florida State where the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles played to a 31-31 tie. Florida State mounted a rally that year to stage an epic comeback after being down 31-3 early in the 4th Quarter. Unfortunately, the game ended in a tie. The biggest rivalry among the three schools is the Florida vs. Florida State rivalry.

Duke vs. North Carolina.

This is easily my favorite basketball rivalry. Duke University and the University of North Carolina make up some of the toughest programs. Both teams love the same color- blue. They battle for the Victory Bell in football, and they basically battle for state pride in every other sport. Many people know and regard the rivalry in basketball more than any other sport. A lot of players in the NBA past and present have been to either school. A number of college sports fans usually hate Duke University. Some even call Duke as "Dook." One of my online friends, who is a Kentucky fan, really hates Duke, especially Christian Laettner stomping on Aminu Timberlake in the Duke vs. Kentucky game in the 1992 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. The Blue Devils are almost unbeatable at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina have loads of history and have won their fair share of championships in various sports. Both schools are incredible in sports.

Louisville vs. Kentucky.

The Battle of the Bluegrass involves the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. Their rivalry is pronounced in a variety of sports, but best known in basketball. Louisville currently has three National Championships in men's basketball (including winning the 2012-2013 season), and Kentucky has eight National Championships in men's basketball- only three less than UCLA's 11 National Championships. I usually root on Kentucky in honor of my online friend, who is a Kentucky alum.

Michigan vs. Ohio State.

Perhaps THE rivalry of college sports is when the University of Michigan and [THE] Ohio State University clash. These two schools just don't like each other. Michigan and Ohio State are competitive in just about every sport. You are either with the Blue and Maize (Michigan) or the Scarlet and Gray (Ohio State). Both teams have many different quality alums in sports and not in sports. This rivalry to college football is like Duke/UNC in college basketball.

Cincinnati vs. Xavier.

This is the first rivalry I've mentioned in which a non-football school is mentioned. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are known for their rivalry in basketball. These two schools are crosstown rivals in Cincinnati, Ohio. Xavier, unlike Cincinnati, is a non-football school. The Xavier Musketeers and Cincinnati Bearcats have a pronounced rivalry in basketball. On December 10, 2011; Cincinnati and Xavier had a heated basketball game which led up to an on-court brawl. Xavier won that game 76-53 as the game was called because of the brawl.

Philadelphia's Big Five and City Six.

This is perhaps the best rivalry in college basketball besides Duke vs. North Carolina. Imagine when six area universities in the greater Philadelphia area all have a pronounced rivalry among themselves. The Big Five consist of five schools in the area, and the City Six consist of those five schools and Drexel University. Here are the schools that make up this big rivalry:

• University of Pennsylvania
• Villanova University
• La Salle University
• Saint Joseph's University
• Temple University
• Drexel University (makes up the City Six)

Pennsylvania, Villanova, and Temple are all football schools. La Salle had a football program until dropping it a long time ago. The basketball rivalry usually is held at The Palestra- often called the "Cathedral of College Basketball." It is usually home to the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats, usually known for their basketball, is a very good football school. Temple University is currently the only current NCAA FBS football school. The Owls of Temple are powerful in basketball and okay in football. The Hawks of Saint Joseph's University are usually a powerful team in basketball, but so are the Dragons of Drexel University. The La Salle Explorers are also a fine program.

Boston College vs. Boston University.

The city of Boston, Massachusetts has two schools whose rivalry is best known in hockey. Boston College is the most popular Jesuit institution which has a very rich football history. Perhaps its most famous football alum is Doug Flutie, known for his very famous "Hail Mary" touchdown pass in 1984 as Boston College defeated the University of Miami, stunning Miami on their home field (the Orange Bowl). Boston University doesn't have a football team, but the Terriers love nothing more than to shut up the boys from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (where Boston College is located). Boston College and Boston University have clashed for a long while.

Harvard vs. Yale.

Rather than all-out hate, Harvard University and Yale University not only represent two of America's finest universities, but these two Ivy League schools make up one of the best NCAA FCS division rivalries. This is a more gentleman rivalry among these two. You're fortunate if you are even academically adept to go to either school, let alone be good enough to play for either school's athletics programs. Their rivalry is pronounced well in a variety of sports.

Maryland vs. Johns Hopkins.

This is a lacrosse rivalry between two in-state rivals. Johns Hopkins, usually an NCAA Division 3 school, plays NCAA Division 1 lacrosse. The University of Maryland Terrapins are usually a great basketball school (men and women). They are good in football and fire-breathing in lacrosse. Johns Hopkins University is a university located in Baltimore, Maryland. Both are football schools, but this rivalry is a lacrosse rivalry.

Syracuse vs. Georgetown.

This basketball rivalry was one of the best between two powerful basketball programs. The Syracuse University Orange and Hoyas of Georgetown University are two incredible schools back when both were part of the Big East. The last game between these two was a memorable one. I don't think I saw that game, unfortunately.

Syracuse vs. St. John's.

Nothing like an Empire State rivalry that pits New York City (St. John's) against upstate New York (Syracuse). The St. John's I am referring to is St. John's University, located in Jamaica, New York. You can kind of call them the Kings of Queens. The university nicknames their teams as the Red Storm, though they've long been known as the Redmen. The Syracuse Orange are a basketball power in their own right. Both teams are two of the best in basketball. St. John's used to have a football program in NCAA FCS level, but it was discontinued some time in about 2002. So this is basically a basketball rivalry Syracuse and St. John's have.

Iowa vs. Iowa State.

The Cy-Hawk trophy is up for grabs in football when Iowa's two finest schools collide. The Cy-Hawk trophy is named for the schools' two nicknames- the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones. The University of Iowa is often favored over Iowa State in multiple sports. The Cyclones of Ames, Iowa's Iowa State University have gotten better in football and basketball lately.

Minnesota vs. Iowa.

Floyd of Rosedale is on the line when the University of Minnesota and University of Iowa collide. Floyd of Rosedale is a pig named after Governor Floyd B. Olson and the pig's birthplace of Rosedale, Iowa. Minnesota and Iowa have battled each other in football for a bronzed version of Floyd of Rosedale since 1936. If you're interested on a deeper look at Floyd of Rosedale, read this article: The 'Real' History Behind Floyd of Rosedale.

Nebraska vs. Creighton.

While the Jesuit institution known as Creighton University doesn't have football, Nebraska and Creighton have a hard-hitting rivalry. Their rivalry is actually best known as a baseball rivalry. The Cornhuskers of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln usually are great in just about every sport they play. Creighton University represents Omaha, and their Blue Jays are powerful in basketball and baseball. Nebraska and Creighton are powerful in baseball. The College World Series is often played at Creighton's ballpark.

BYU vs. Utah.

The Beehive Boot is on the line in the Holy War when Brigham Young University and the University of Utah collide. The rivalry is best defined in football. The Cougars of BYU have famous football alums such as Heisman winner Ty Detmer and the "Cougar Comeback" hero of the 1980 Holiday Bowl- Jim McMahon. One of the most popular alums of the past 10 or 15 years of the University of Utah is Alex Smith, who led his Utah Utes to an unbeaten season in 2004 despite not playing for a National Championship or getting a share of the National Championship. Then, Utah was part of the Mountain West Conference. BYU and Utah are great programs both in football and men's basketball. And unless you're a fan of Utah State University, then BYU and Utah are the two most powerful programs in the state of Utah.

Arizona vs. Arizona State.

Arizona has two quality universities who settle their differences quite often. They play for the Territorial Cup in a game simply called "The Big Game." Both are fairly good in all sports, but there is usually a mismatch in this rivalry in men's basketball. Arizona is one of the best basketball schools in the nation. I've almost always regarded Arizona State as a football school. If you love Arizona, you love either the University of Arizona or Arizona State.

Nevada vs. UNLV.

If it is the Fremont Cannon that has you jacked for football, then the University of Nevada system has you covered. The Wolfpack of the University of Nevada-Reno and the [Running] Rebels of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas represent Nevada's biggest sports rivalry. The two teams have battled each other since 1969, and they've played for the Fremont Cannon since 1970 (when it was built).

USCal vs. UCLA.

NOTE: I use "USCal" to differentiate between the University of Southern California and the University of South Carolina.

The city of Los Angeles is divided among two major schools- the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). Almost every sport is intense when the USCal Trojans and UCLA Bruins clash. The rivalry is most intense in football. An improving UCLA football team once had a mantra which stated that "the Football monopoly in Los Angeles is over." UCLA definitely has an advantage in basketball, whereas the men's basketball team has over 11 National Championships. Many of their National Championships in basketball were under the coaching of one of the all-time greatest coaches- John Wooden. Whether you love the USCal Trojans or the UCLA Bruins, it doesn't matter because the city of Los Angeles wins. Two of Los Angeles' finest institutions make up the biggest rivalry year after year.

USCal vs. Notre Dame.

This is one of the most unusual rivalries in college sports since most rivalries happen between teams not too far away from each other. In football, the rivalry between the University of Southern California and the University of Notre Dame is most unusual and unique. Both programs are usually two of the more powerful programs in the nation year after year. They first played each other on the gridiron in 1926. Both teams play in football for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

San Diego vs. San Diego State.

Both schools have football, but the University of San Diego plays on the NCAA FCS level while San Diego State plays on the NCAA FBS level. The Aztecs of San Diego State University and the University of San Diego Toreros have their rivalry in basketball. San Diego usually has a great football program and a very good basketball program. Pride in San Diego is best defined in basketball between these two.

California vs. Stanford.

If USCal vs. UCLA is the best rivalry in southern California, then Northern California's best rivalry includes the University of California-Berkley and Stanford University. This is a rivalry best played in and best known in football. The most infamous moment of the rivalry was the football game between these two in 1982 in a moment simply called "The Play." The Stanford Band went out onto the field as the University of California was trying to score a touchdown late to win the game. The Golden Bears ended up winning that infamous game on their home field. I usually like the blue and gold colors of the University of California. Stanford has lately been the better football team of the two. Usually, the Stanford Cardinal is more of a basketball power than a football power.

Oregon vs. Oregon State.

There is nothing civil about the rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State, even though their rivalry is called the Civil War. Oregon and Oregon State are pretty competitive in almost every sport they play. The University of Oregon is very famous in football because of the many uniforms and uniform options they have. Then again, they have a great partnership with Nike. I personally most love their Stealth uniforms. The stealth uniforms the Oregon Ducks wear are these carbon fiber black uniforms with neon green accents. The association between Oregon and Nike leads some people to call Oregon as the "University of Nike." Because Oregon is the Beaver State, Oregon State should be the state's powerhouse team. Both teams are still very good in just about every sport they play.

Washington vs. Washington State.

Apple Cup rivals compete in the Emerald State's fiercest rivalry. Seattle's University of Washington and Pullman's Washington State University make up the state's two premier schools. The Washington Huskies are usually a very good school in football and basketball. A split National Championship in football led many to believe that the University of Washington should be outright champions and not the University of Miami, who they were tied with. Washington State usually has their moments, but are usually in the shadow of the University of Washington. Both teams play for the Apple Cup in their sports meetings.

Washington vs. Gonzaga.

This is a basketball rivalry since Gonzaga University does not have a football program. Gonzaga is a Jesuit university based in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga University to men's college basketball is like Boise State to college football. Since the University of Washington is pretty good in basketball, this rivalry is most popular in basketball.

Alaska-Anchorage vs. Alaska-Fairbanks.

Neither school have football programs. The University of Alaska system has three universities, two of them participate in college sports. Both UAA and UAF compete in NCAA Division 2 for most of their sports. Many people know of the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks as two venues that play host to two different college basketball tournaments. Many more know Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks as two rivals in NCAA Hockey. The Seawolves are what the University of Alaska-Anchorage call themselves. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks call their teams as the Nanooks. UAA and UAF are big time rivals playing for pride in The Last Frontier State.

I have one last rivalry I want to mention. It isn't saving the best for last, but just one more rivalry that deserves special attention. Which is THIS one:

Army vs. Navy vs. Air Force.

Three of America's finest military academies make up the battle for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. It doesn't matter if you love Army vs. Navy (as I usually do), Army vs. Air Force, or Navy vs. Air Force; the real winner is the United States. These men and women who play for these three institutions ultimately will play for the ultimate teams- the various United States military groups. The most popular form of this rivalry is when Army and Navy collide. The Army vs. Navy rivalry is one of the oldest in college sports. Even though Navy usually has a better team than Army in football, the Black Knights (also nicknamed the Cadets) United States Military Academy has three things the United States Naval Academy's Midshipmen doesn't have- three National Championships. The United States Air Force Academy usually has a great football program and are pretty good in basketball as well. No matter which of these Service Academies you are a fan of, all of these schools play for the greatest team of all- the United States of America and its military forces.

Those are among my favorite college sports rivalries. What about you?

Those are a LOT of rivalries I've listed! I tried to be as diverse as possible to express my love of college sports. What are some of your favorite college rivalries? Thank you for reading!

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