The best college football rivalries can change over time depending on the state of the programs involved.

Go back 25 or 30 years and Miami-Florida State probably would have been near the top of most lists. Nowadays, while still heated and entertaining, ‘Canes-’Noles just doesn’t capture the attention of the nation the way it did when at least one those two was at the top of the sport.

Of course, some rivalries have just gone away altogether. For decades, Nebraska-Oklahoma was a lock to be one of the biggest games of the season. Texas-Texas A&M, too. Conference realignment has relegated those to the history books.

The Associated Press asked 42 sports writers and broadcasters to rank the five best rivalries in college football, with points given on a sliding scale (five for a first-place vote, four points for second, etc.).

Four longstanding series separated themselves from the rest according to the results released Tuesday. The top two, as it happens, will be renewed this weekend, with high stakes on the line for three of the four teams involved.

ALABAMA-AUBURN (165 points, 18 first-place votes)

Nickname: Iron Bowl.

Trophy: Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy, named after James E. Foy, a former dean at both schools.

Meetings: 85, Alabama leads 47-37-1.

Signature moment: The Kick-Six, one of the most memorable plays in the history of college football. Top-ranked Alabama was tied with Auburn at 28-28 and challenged to get 1 second put back on the clock for a 57-yard field goal try that came up short. Auburn’s Chris Davis fielded the kick from the back of his own end zone and sprinted up his own jubilant sideline for a touchdown on the final play to send the fourth-ranked Tigers to the 2013 Southeastern Conference title game and eventually the BCS championship game.

Biggest upset: In 1972, No. 7 Auburn beat No. 2 Alabama on the strength of two blocked punts in what would become known as the “Punt ‘Bama Punt” game.

MICHIGAN-OHIO STATE (150 points, 10)

Nickname: The Game.

Reward: Before the Big Ten split into divisions in 2011, the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game earned the conference title 22 times. Bragging rights for these two massive fan bases also cannot be underestimated.

Meetings: 116, Michigan leads 58-52-6.

Signature moment: No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan played to a 10–10 tie in Ann Arbor in 1973, creating a deadlock atop the Big Ten standings. The treasured Rose Bowl bid came down to a vote of conference athletic directors, won by Ohio State. Michigan’ coach Bo Schembechler never got over it.

Biggest upset: In 1969, the Buckeyes entered the season finale No. 1 in the country and unbeaten, with eyes on a national titl. They were knocked off by a Michigan team that came in 7-2. This game kicked off what is known as the Ten Year War in the rivalry between Schembechler and Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.

ARMY-NAVY (125 points, 12)

Nickname: None needed.

Reward: Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, though Air Force also gets a say in where that resides.

Meetings: 121, Navy leads 61-53-7.

Signature moment: Less than a month after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Army-Navy played what turned out to be one of their most memorable games. Trying to upset Heisman winner Roger Staubach and the second-ranked Midshipmen, Army reached Navy’s 2-yard line, trailing 21-15 in the closing seconds, but time ran out

Biggest upset: No. 2 Army was unbeaten under Hall of Fame coach Red Blaik entering the 1950 game with 2-6 Navy and carrying a 28-game winning streak. The Midshipmen won 14-2 and the rivalry began to shift in Navy’s favor after a string of six years when Army didn’t lose.

OKLAHOMA-TEXAS (88 points, 2)

Nickname (unofficial): Red River Shootout.

Reward: Golden Hat.

Meetings: 117, Texas leads 62-50-5.

Signature moment: Texas coach Darrell Royal accused Oklahoma and coach Barry Switzer of spying on his practices leading up to the 1976 game, which ended in a 6-6 tie and wound up being Royal’s last in the rivalry. Years later, Switzer conceded in his autobiography, that, yes, there was some spying going on for OU. The 1984 game was a memorable 1-2 matchup that ended 15-15. This year’s wild Sooners’ win deserves an honorable mention.

Biggest upset: In what turned out to be Mack Brown’s last season as Texas coach, the 3-2 Longhorns beat the No. 12 Sooners 36-20 behind backup quarterback Case McCoy.


Nickname (unofficial): World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Reward: Okefenokee Oar.

Meetings: 99 or 100, depending on which school you ask. Georgia leads either 53-44-2 or 54–44–2.

Signature moment: The Gator Stomp. After scoring a touchdown early in the 2007 matchup, Georgia players participated in a full-team, end-zone celebration, incurring a 15-yard penalty that didn’t bother Bulldogs coach Mark Richt one bit. The next season, Florida coach Urban Meyer used two late timeouts with his team up 49-10.

Biggest upset: Florida was ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history when No. 17 Georgia beat the Gators 24-3 in 1985.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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