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Fiu makes good call on top-10 CFB rivalries

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by BB73, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. BB73

    BB73 Loves Buckeye History Staff Member Bookie '16 & '17 Upset Contest Winner

    Pete Fiutak's top-10 rivalries in college football, from

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    Nov. 17


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    The Ten Best D-I Rivalries ... 1-3

    1) Michigan vs. Ohio State, 2) Florida State vs. Miami, 3) Alabama vs. Auburn

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><HR>The rest of the world might have Yankees-Red Sox, Bears-Packers, Coke-Pepsi and Christina-Britney, but the real rivalries are in college football. With no playoff system, rivalries define seasons as the biggest of the big showdowns that often decide conference and national championships. Other rivalries simply give one team’s fan base bragging rights for a year. The old saying is true; a 1-10 season is a success if that one win is over the hated rival.

    Here are the ten best rivalries in college football (D-I only) based on how much they’ve mattered, the bitterness of the feud, and what they mean to the college football landscape. Remember one fact while reading this: just because your favorite team’s rivalry is the be-all-end-all of your existence, that doesn’t mean that it’s important to anyone else. Think globally and get jacked up locally.

    <TABLE cellSpacing=7 width=301 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD align=middle width="100%"><!-- ---------- 300x250 Code -------------- --><!-- ---------- Copyright 2000,---------- --></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>1. Michigan vs. Ohio State
    (Michigan leads all-time 57-37-6)
    Alabama-Auburn is meaner and Florida State-Miami has meant more, but no rivalry has a better combination of history, animosity and championship implications than Michigan vs. Ohio State.

    How dominant have these two teams been in Big Ten play? Since 1913, the two teams have combined for all or part of 70 Big Ten titles and the have finished 1-2 in the standings 15 times since 1968. Everyone else, including the University of Chicago, has combined for 81 Big Ten titles. Michigan’s all-time Big Ten winning percentage (not counting 2004) is .730; Ohio State’s is .716. Number three? Illinois at .462. In other words, the showdown between these two has meant everything to the Big Ten race for almost a century.

    How important is beating the other team? John Cooper won 71% of his games as the OSU head coach with a string of four ten-win seasons in the late 1990s, but he went 2-10-1 against Michigan. Five of those losses cost Ohio State the Big Ten title and one cost a national championship. Cooper was gone in 2001.

    As the legend/myth goes, Woody Hayes was on his way back to Columbus from a recruiting trip in Michigan when his car ran out of gas. He ignored a gas station and ended up pushing his car over the border rather than spend money in Michigan.

    The Signature Game …
    Michigan 24 … Ohio State 12 November 22, 1969
    Ohio State was the defending national champion and had its most dominant Buckeye team yet under Woody Hayes having outscored their opponents 371 to 69. The closest anyone had come to touching the No. 1 Buckeyes was Northwestern in a 35-6 loss. Michigan was on a roll of its own with a 7-2 record and a No. 12 ranking beating its last four opponents 178-22. Even after the Buckeyes got on the board early, it was Michigan's game as its defense showed early that it wouldn’t be intimidated and stopped the juggernaut costing Ohio State the national title. For Michigan, this was one of the great wins in school history paving the way to the Rose Bowl and a 10-3 loss to USC to finish 8-3 and ranked ninth. Ohio State didn’t go to a bowl and finished fourth.

    <TABLE cellSpacing=6 width=120 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width="100%"><!-- ---------- Banner Code -------------- --><!-- ---------- ---------- --></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>2. Miami vs. Florida State (Miami leads all-time 29-20)
    Don’t confuse quantity with quality. No matchup has been more important to the entire landscape of college football for a 25-year span more than this one. The rivalry really took off into the stratosphere in 1987 (more on that in a moment), but it was strong once Bobby Bowden made Florida State a power as a 23-17 loss to the Canes in 1977 was the first time an elite Seminole team lost to Miami. It’s been an interesting ride ever since.

    In 1980, Miami handed FSU a 10-9 defeat for Bowden’s only regular season loss before playing Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. In 1983, the Canes won a narrow 17-16 dogfight that almost cost them the eventual national championship. But from 1987 on, this rivalry has been played at a higher level and with more at stake than any in college football history.

    Since the classic 1987 26-25 loss to Miami, Florida State has lost out on playing for the national championship five times because of losses to Miami and a defeat in 2000 almost cost Bowden a chance at another national championship slot. The two teams have met 13 times in the last 18 years when both were ranked in the top ten while at least one of the two has been ranked in the top six in 20 of the meetings.

    Signature Game:
    Miami 26 Florida State 25 October 3, 1987In a rivalry marked by missed kicks, it was a decision not to kick that cost Florida State in the biggest matchup between the two. There were more heralded games between Miami and Florida State, but the 1987 classic was when this became MIAMI vs. FLORIDA STATE. Tied at 19 with 2:32 to play, Miami had it third and seven on its own 27 when Steve Walsh audibled out of a short pass and floated a throw up the right sideline hitting Michael Irvin in perfect stride for a 73-yard score. The Noles came back with a gut-check drive converting one clutch fourth down pass and finished with Ronald Lewis making a diving catch in the back of the end zone. Bobby Bowden had said before the game that if it came down to a late decision, he’d kick the extra point and take the tie instead of going for two. But when the pressure was on, QB Danny McManus and the other FSU players lobbied furiously with Bowden to go for two and the win. Bowden relented. McManus had Lewis wide open in the middle of the end zone, but he didn’t see him choosing to try a pass in the right corner of the end zone, but it was underthrown and broken up. Miami recovered the onside kick with :42 to play and went on to win the national championship. Florida State rolled through the rest of its schedule without a problem and finished number two.

    3. Alabama vs. Auburn (Alabama leads 38-28-1 according to Alabama, 38-29-1 according to Auburn)
    As far as the pure definition of a college football rivalry game, this is number one as the fire and passion between the two schools is unlike any other in any sport. 365 days a year radio talk shows discuss this game and people who grew up and live in Alabama are defined by their allegiances. There’s no debate about it; this one is the nastiest of the bunch as the only thing the two sides can agree on is that they hate each other and that they think their rivalry is the biggest and best in college football. Why isn't it higher? There's little interest on a national scale compared to Michigan-Ohio State and Miami-Florida..

    The rivalry began with a fight. The legend has it that the battle between the two halted between 1908 through 1947 because of a fight after a 6-6 tie after the 1907 game, but in reality, the two didn’t play because they couldn’t decide which referees to use and how much each of their players could get for expenses. After 41 years of bickering, the presidents of the two schools decided enough was enough and said the two schools should play again.

    With a few notable exceptions, the games were relatively average until the 1980s when the rivalry started to really hum with several heart-stopping finishes and close battles. The rivalry took another major turn in 1989 when, after years of playing in Birmingham, Alabama went to Auburn for the first time and saw its national title hopes dashed as the Tigers won 30-20.

    Signature Game:
    Auburn 17 … Alabama 16 December 2, 1972
    Just before going on a nine-year Iron Bowl winning streak, the Tide lost to their hated rivals after Bear Bryant made the pregame statement that he’d “prefer to beat that cow college once than beat Texas ten times.” The No. 2 ranked and unbeaten Tide was up 16-3 with 5:30 to play and the game in hand, but Auburn pulled off a miracle blocking two Bama punts for touchdowns for a 17-16 win. Had Alabama beaten Auburn, it would’ve been playing for the national title. Oddly enough, the Bear didn’t only lose to the Cow College, but he also later lost to Texas 17-13 in the Cotton Bowl.

    4. Army vs. Navy (Army leads 49-48-7)
    What other rivalry stops the most powerful men and women in the world in their tracks for one day a year? This isn't just the battle for a state or for a national title; this is for national supremacy. The rivalry started when Cadet Dennis Mahan Michie challenged the Naval Midshipmen for a football game in 1890. The more experienced Navy team won 24-0, but Army would soon get the hang of the sport and even dominate at times over the next century. This rivalry brings together generations of people and none have the emotional ties like this one.

    It begins with the
    Army Corps of Cadets and Navy Brigade of Midshipmen marching onto the field before the game in most unique pageantry in all of sports, and it always ends with the two sides showing mutual respect no matter how the outcome turns out.

    It all started in 1890 when several midshipmen challenged some cadets to play. Almost no one at Army had ever seen the game of football before, but that wasn’t about to get in the way. An order went out to all cadets weighing more than 180 pounds to join practices to try to learn how to play. Two months later, Navy, who had been playing football for a few years, had won 24-0 and the rivalry was on. Army won the following year 32-16.

    Signature Game:
    Navy 21 … Army 16 December 7, 1963
    It takes a classic to be considered the best Army-Navy game off all-time. This might have been it due not only to the spectacular play, but also the circumstances surrounding the times as it was postponed a week due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Navy was 8-1 going against a 7-2 Army team that was a decided underdog. Tied 7-7, Navy’s Pat Donnelly tore off a 20-yard touchdown run and would later score third touchdown of the day to give the Midshipmen an apparently insurmountable 21-7 lead. But Army would come back. Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh marched the Cadets down the field for a touchdown and tacked on a two-point conversion to get within five points with six minutes to play. Following the score, Stichweh recovered the onside kick and Army was in business again. With just over a minute and a half to play and the crowd going crazy, Stichweh completed a fourth down pass to get down to the Navy seven. A few plays later, Navy was on the two with twenty seconds to play and the noise so deafening that Stichweh asked the referee to quiet the crowd before each play. Army came to the line but since no one could hear. Again, the referee stopped the clock to get the crowd to quiet down. Army went back into the huddle, but the referee had started the clock again. One more time, Stichweh asked to stop the clock due to noise. It was stopped but when it restarted, to the amazement of the Army offense, the clock ran out. Game over. Navy would finish the season ranked No. 2 in both polls. While this wasn’t the most significant Army-Navy game, it was the most exciting. This was also the last real gasp for these two service academies as neither would ever regain such a lofty status on a national scale.

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    5. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Texas leads the series 55-39-5)
    The Red River rivalry is as fierce and angry as any in college football with only Auburn-Alabama ranking higher on the meanness scale. During the second weekend of October both teams travel to Dallas, a site equidistant from both schools and with each getting an equal number of tickets, for the last day of the State Fair of Texas. Only the Army-Navy games has a better atmosphere as one side of the stadium is totally clad in burnt orange while the other is in crimson and white.<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O /><O:P> </O:P>

    How old is this series? It started in 1900 before Oklahoma was even a state. There were, possibly, lost political elections because of this game as former OU head coach Bud Wilkinson lost a Senate race after his number one Sooner lost to the number two Longhorns 28-7 in 1963. There have been incidents of spying by the Oklahoma coaches causing former Texas head coach Darrell Royal to call them “sorry bastards” before the 1976 showdown. And there have been tarnished legacies on both sides for failing to win this game. As the two programs have reentered a place reserved for only the elite of the elite in college football, this is getting even more heated.

    Signature Game:
    Texas 26 … Oklahoma 20 October 12, 1968Down 20-19 with only 2:37 to play, Texas quarterback James Street connected on four passes to get down to the Sooner 21 with 55 seconds to play. Going back to the running game, UT won when fullback Steve Worster ran seven yards for the final score. Texas would follow this by winning 28 straight games giving validity to its strange new offense that would dominate college football for the better part of the next two decades: the wishbone.When this offense was run to perfection, it was one of the most dominating forces in all of sports. Teams with superior ground attacks were able to put up numbers equal to any high-octane passing attack nowadays. It all started here.

    6. Notre Dame vs. USC (Notre Dame leads the series 42-28-5)
    It’s the glitz of Los Angeles vs. the hearty Midwest in a rivalry that captures the nation at the end of every college football season. Love them or hate them, Notre Dame is most popular team in the nation and USC has been its most enduring rival. The Irish tore off a 12-0-1 record from 1983 to 1995 before the Trojans won four straight. USC was 12-2-2 from 1967 to 1982.

    As legend has it, in 1925 a USC graduate assistant met legendary Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne and bragged about how wonderful the weather was in Los Angeles and that it was a far better place to play a game than other destinations on Notre Dame’s schedule. Mrs. Rockne agreed and a rivalry was born. The Irish won the first ever meeting 13-12 in 1926.

    Signature Game: Southern Cal 55 … Notre Dame 24 November 30, 1974This game falls under the all-time monster momentum swing category. Notre Dame rocketed out to a 24-0 lead with only a minute to go in the first half as it appeared the Irish were on their way to an easy win. Trojan quarterback Pat Haden hit Anthony Davis on a scoring pass with six seconds left in the half providing a glimmer of hope for the second half. Davis, who burned the Irish for two touchdowns on kickoff returns two years earlier, took the opening kickoff of the second half 102 yards for a touchdown to gave the Trojans momentum. Some momentum. The Trojans would go on to score 28 more points in the quarter as part of a 55 unanswered-point run over less than a 17-minute span. The Irish had only given up eight touchdowns in the previous ten games, but allowed four Anthony Davis touchdowns and four Pat Haden touchdown passes. The Trojans would finish 10-1-1 and were named UPI national champions finishing No. 2 in the AP poll. Notre Dame finished 4th in the UPI poll and 6th in the AP poll.

    7. Florida vs. Georgia (Georgia leads 46-35-2. According to Florida, Georgia leads 45-35-2)
    The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has been the Florida Invitational in recent seasons, but now it’s back in Georgia’s favor after a 31-24 win. As far as rivalries go, this one is mega-heated as the two sides hate each other for 364 days and three hours. But all is congenial just before and just after the game as fans tailgate for days in college football’s greatest party.

    Signature Game:
    Georgia 26 … Florida 21 December 2, 1980It was a spectacular game with superstar freshman running back Herschel Walker riddling the Gators for 238 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries. Nobody seems to remember his outstanding performance though. In Georgia’s dream season, it was a pass play that the college football world, and historians of the Cocktail Party, will remember forever. There was only one minute and 35 seconds to play and Georgia was down 21-20 on its own seven-yard line. The Bulldogs ran two plays to no avail. On third and ten and with only 1:04 to play, Georgia was still on its seven yard-line. Quarterback Buck Belue completed threw in between several Gators completing a pass to wide receiver Lindsay Scott. Scott turned up field by a Gator defender and ripped up the sideline going 93 yards for the improbable Bulldog win. Georgia went on to win the national title.Florida all but fell apart after this game losing two of its final four games. Georgia had survived a scare the week earlier against South Carolina, but it was relatively smooth sailing after this game beating Auburn, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame to win the national title. Because of the implications (as opposed to Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary against Miami), this was the pass of the 1980s.

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    8. UCLA vs. USC (USC leads the series 39-27-7)
    The battle for The Victory Bell is a wee bit different than most rivalries because it involves a major metropolitan city; there are other sports in L.A. other than college football to get excited about. But that doesn’t mean the two sides aren’t fierce about this battle and aren’t above being creative with various pranks. Throughout the years, USC’s Tommy Trojan statue in the middle of the USC campus has been mutilated, painted, and buried before the big game by UCLA fans. USC fans have had their moments highlighted in 1958 by getting a phony story in the UCLA student newspaper quoting UCLA head coach George Dickerson saying, “I can’t see any hope for our team.” The game ended in a 15-15 tie.

    Signature Game:
    Southern Cal 21…UCLA 20 November 18, 1967It wasn’t just for the honor of winning a crosstown rivalry. It wasn’t just for the Rose Bowl. This was, possibly, for the national title as No. 1 UCLA and star quarterback Gary Beban squared off against No. 2 USC and its young tailback O.J. Simpson. Beban was magnificent as he threw for 301 yards even though he was playing with bad ribs. Tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter, Beban hit Dave Nuttall with a 20-yard TD pass to take the lead, but the Trojans blocked the extra point.

    And then it was showtime.

    In the history of Trojan football and all the spectacular tailbacks, there has been no greater run than the dash that was to come from Simpson. It was third and eight on USCs own 36. The Trojans had replaced Steve Sogge at quarterback with Toby Page to get the better passer in the game. With a pass play called, Page changed the call at the line of scrimmage to Red 23-Blast when he saw the Bruin linebackers drop back into pass coverage. The play call would go to an exhausted Simpson, who cut through the line before bouncing left. He then cut back right appearing to be shot out of a cannon as he tore up the field for a 64-yard touchdown and the win. The victory gave the Trojans the Pac 8 title and a birth in the Rose Bowl where they beat Indiana and won the national title. UCLA would finish tenth, but Beban would win the Heisman Trophy. Simpson would win it the following season while this play, and this game, made him a superstar

    9. California vs. Stanford (Stanford leads 54-41-11)
    It takes a long-running rivalry to be called The Big Game. It’s the tenth most played rivalry in college football dating back to 1892 when Stanford upset Cal 14-10 on a field in San Francisco. Unbelievably, the game drew enough fans to generate over $30,000 in revenue as reported by Stanford team manager Herbert Hoover.

    The two teams play for The Stanford Axe, which was used during a baseball game in 1899 by Stanford fans to rip apart a blue and gold ribbon, leading the chant of “Give ‘em the axe” after big plays. Cal ended up rallying for a win inspiring a group of fans to run over and rip the axe away from the Stanford students. They took it on a ferry across the bay to be put in a Berkeley bank for safekeeping. In 1933 the axe was brought back and used as the trophy for the winner.

    Signature Game:
    California 25 … Stanford 20 November 20, 1982
    In the 1982 edition of the Big Game, Stanford was on its way to a hard-fought, comeback 20-19 win after Cardinal kicker Mark Harmon hit a 35-yard field goal to put away its archrival. After he hit the kick, Stanford went nuts running on the field and getting nailed with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Who cares? The Cardinals were going to finish 6-5, go to the Hall of Fame Bowl, and beat Cal all in one play. Star quarterback John Elway, in his final game, threw for 330 yards capping a very successful season. All Stanford had to do was kick it off from and the game would be over.

    What would follow would be the most amazing and bizarre finish in college football history. Harmon, not wanting to give up a big return, squibbed his kickoff into the hands of Kevin Moen. About to be tackled, Moen tossed the ball to Richard Rogers. Rodgers lateraled the ball to Dwight Garner. Garner was tackled but desperately got the ball away pitching it back to Rodgers. The Bears were still around midfield. Rodgers then lateraled the ball to Mariet Ford. The ball was still alive. Unfolding in front of the college football world was the embodiment of moments played out on sandlots and playgrounds as long as kids have played football, rugby, and Kill the Quarterback games.

    The band and the Stanford fans were on the field thinking the game was over, but Ford flung the ball wildly into the hands of Moen, the man who started it all, who weaved and raced his way to the end zone dodging Stanford defenders and band members before crushing a trombone player. Did they really do it? After a huddle by officials for more than five minutes, they declared the impossible play a touchdown. Stanford missed out on a winning season, a bowl game, and a win over Cal.

    Lost in this final play was a great game leading up to it. Elway marched Stanford on an epic drive for what appeared to be the game-winning points, but no one ever remembers that. Its a fun trivia question: How many bowl games did Elway go to? Zip.

    10. Florida vs. Florida State (Florida leads 27-19-2)
    There’s not a real history here and each team has bigger rivals, but this is growing into a bitter feud thanks to current status of the two schools. At least one of the two teams were involved in the national title mix throughout the 1990s, and now it has become one of the year’s most exciting and anticipated showdowns. Former Gator head coach Steve Spurrier took it too another level when he called Florida State “Free Shoes University” adding some fire to the showdown raising this from a good annual game to a solid rivalry. Now the two programs compete for area recruits and in-state status.

    Signature Game: Florida 32 … Florida State 29 November 22, 1997The number one Florida State Seminoles had been rolling through their schedule going into the showdown in the Swamp against Florida. The Gators were ranked tenth after a couple of early season losses. The Noles had the nations top ranked run defense (Florida’s was No. 2), but the Gators would test them early as head coach Steve Spurrier was determined to run the ball and thanks to Fred Taylor, they did. Rotating quarterbacks Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise on every play, the Gators combined an interesting mix of run and pass plays that gave the Seminole defense fits. But Florida State would be heard from.

    FSU running back Travis Minor had a huge day running for 129 yards and a touchdown, but the game would belong to his counterpart, Taylor. In a seesaw game, Taylor tore off a 61-yard touchdown run putting the Gator crowd into a frenzy as they now believed the Gators might actually be able to pull off the upset. But when PK Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 20-yard field goal with less than three minutes to play to go up 29-25, it looked like the Seminoles would get the win and be off to the national championship. And then came what might go down as the biggest pass in the storied rivalry.

    Trying desperately to get a final drive going, Johnson hit Jacquez Green, who would finish with seven catches for 145 yards, up the sideline for a 63-yard gain down to the FSU 17. Taylor followed it up with a run to the one before plunging in for the game-winning touchdown. He would finish with 162 yards and four touchdowns.

    The Seminoles, in the new era of the Bowl Championship Series, were passed over for Tennessee to play Nebraska in the mythical national title game. Michigan and Nebraska ended up splitting the national championship while the Noles throttled Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Florida beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.


    7) Florida vs. 7) Florida vs. Georgia, 8) UCLA vs. USC, 9) Stanford vs. Cal, 10) Florida vs. Florida State Georgia, 8) UCLA vs. USC, 9) Stanford vs. Cal, 10) Florida vs. Florida State

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