For all the changes in college football, a number of regional rivalries are still in place. Certainly, some of those rivalries are held throughout the season, but quite a few have been saved for the last full week of the regular season. This year that week follows Thanksgiving where there will be a number of tilts of regional as well as of national interest.
Central Florida at South Florida — Not all rivalries have been around for a long time. UCF and USF are two Florida schools that first met in 2005 and have played just five games since with the Bulls winning four. Now that both teams are members of the American Athletic Conference, the the “War on I-4” or the “I-4 Corridor Clash” should become a regular fixture in the Sunshine State.
Arizona at Arizona State — Some 13 years before Arizona became a state, the now-called University of Arizona and Arizona State University began to meet in football. That 1899 meeting also started the Territorial Cup, a name used to this day. Arizona has won 47 games, Arizona holds 39 victories; there has been one tie in the series.
Virginia at Virginia Tech — These two schools first met in 1895 and have been playing annually since 1970. Virginia Tech leads the series with 53 wins to the Cavaliers’ 37 victories. There have been five ties. The Commonwealth Cup was introduced in 1996 and has served as this rivalry’s trophy ever since. The Hokies have been dominant in recent years and bring a 10-game series winning streak with them this weekend.
Michigan at Ohio State — It is doubtful that there is a Big Ten Conference rivalry that matches Michigan-Ohio State in intensity. For many years the winner of this game ended up representing the conference in the Rose Bowl, the Grandaddy of all bowl games. Michigan has won 58 games; Ohio State has 45 victories. There have been six ties since the teams first met in 1897.
Georgia Tech at Georgia — Known as the “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” rivalry, these two Georgia schools first played in 1893. The Bulldogs have 64 victories to the Yellowjackets’ 39. There have been five ties in the series. The teams are separated by 70 miles and are rivals in other sports despite the Bulldogs playing in the ACC and Georgia in the SEC. The Bulldogs come into this Saturday’s game with five straight wins in the rivalry.
South Carolina at Clemson — Known as the Battle of the Palmetto State, this rivalry got started in 1896 with the Gamecocks vanquishing the Tigers 12 to 6. Clemson, however, leads the series with 65 wins to 42 victories for South Carolina. There have been four ties in the 111 games played. The Gamecocks, however, have won the last five games. As always, the teams play for the Hardee’s Trophy, presented by the fast-food restaurant with the same name.
Kentucky at Louisville — The Bluegrass State is represented by the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville in a series first played in 1912. In reality, the two schools are stronger rivals in men’s basketball, but in recent years the two have found a way to up the football rhetoric. Kentucky has won 14 of the 26 games played between the schools. The winner of this game walks away with the Governor’s Cup.
North Carolina State at North Carolina — Informally known as the “Carolina-State game” this meeting between top Tarheel State schools is just one of many rivalries in a variety of sports. Located just 25 miles apart, the Tarheels and the Wolfpack have no love for each other. UNC leads the series with 64 victories to State’s 32 wins. There have been six ties between them.
Kansas at Kansas State — The Kansas Jayhawks have won 64 times to the Kansas State Wildcats’ 42 victories in a series that started in 1902. There have been five ties. Kansas State has won the last five meetings, however, and is favored again this weekend. The winner of this game is presented with the Governor’s Cup. The two teams have now played for more than a century straight, one of just seven rivalries that have been playing that long.
Florida at Florida State — These two Sunshine State teams first met in 1958. Since then, 34 victories belong to the Gators, 22 to the Seminoles and there have been a pair of ties. Along with the University of Miami, all three teams play for the Florida Cup, created in 2002 and awarded to the team that wins the most head-to-head meetings. Beyond the Florida Cup, this game sometimes determines the top team in the nation; this year the Gators hope to spoil the Seminoles unbeaten season with a win.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss — Earlier in the season, these two Mississippi schools were ranked 1-2 in the nation. Since then, things have settled down with both teams losing and falling down in the polls. Nevertheless, this rivalry — dubbed the Egg Bowl and yielding a Golden Egg trophy — is extremely important to both schools. The Rebels will host the Bulldogs, the latter still in good shape for a college football playoff appearance. Ole Miss leads the series with 61 wins to 43 for the Bulldogs. There have been six ties in a series that dates back to 1901.
Notre Dame at USC — This game between regional powerhouses was first played in 1926. When USC is host, the game follows Thanksgiving. When the Fighting Irish are the host, the game is played in October. That the teams are able to keep meeting despite big changes in college football scheduling is a tribute to the significance of this rivalry. Both teams will play for a trophy — the Jeweled Shillelagh. Notre Dame has won 45 of the meetings; USC has taken 35 games. There have been three ties.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt — It was in 1892 when Tennessee and Vanderbilt first played. Since then, the Volunteers have won 73 games to just 30 for the Commodores. There have been five ties. Vanderbilt, however, has won the last two of the “Hatred in the Hills” meeting. Tennessee is favored this Saturday, however.
Auburn at Alabama — Known as the Iron Bowl, this game pits two teams that are often vying for the SEC championship. Alabama has 42 wins, Auburn has won 35 games and there has been one tie. The Tide are currently the top-ranked team of the nation; the Tigers are ranked No. 15. Last year’s game had the Tigers spoiling the Tide’s season, causing two-time defending national champion Alabama to miss out on a third defense of its title.
Oregon at Oregon State — The two Oregon teams first played in 1894 and after 117 games the “Civil War” series has the Ducks leading with 61 wins. The Beavers claim 46 victories and there have been 10 ties. That both schools are Pac 12 members and North division opponents helps keep this series on top of the rivalries played each year. This year, the Ducks are in the hunt for the college playoff series. The Beavers need a win to finish the season at 6-6 and to gain bowl eligibility.
Washington at Washington State — The Apple Cup pits the Washington Huskies against the Washington State Cougars, a series that dates to 1900. The Huskies dominate the series, winning 68 times to 32 wins for the Cougars. There have been six ties. This year, the Huskies are bowl bound while the Cougars are looking for their fourth win of the season.
Although the 16 rivalries mentioned here are of major importance, there are other games played throughout the season of significance too. With 123 games played, Minnesota and Wisconsin have met the most. Also, Army-Navy shouldn’t be overlooked as the two teams now play on the second Saturday of December. The two military institutions have met 114 times on the gridiron with Navy currently sporting a 12-game winning streak.
See Also — 5 Surprise Teams This 2014 Season