A terrific Thanksgiving meal isn’t the only thing to be grateful for in November. It’s also the time of rivalry games – those intense college football matchups that put a little more passion into every play. These games are intense, often unpredictable, and full of over-the-top team spirit. No matter how they’re formed, rivalries are the reason we love college football – and, for the fanbase, are easily the most important game of the season.
While the best rivalry is your rivalry, some college matchups are more celebrated than others. Here’s our take on the top four.
4. Oklahoma vs. Texas
Series History: Texas Leads 62-50-5. First game was played in 1990.
Whether you call it a Showdown or a Shootout, the Red River Rivalry is one of the most intense college matchups in history. It’s played at Cotton Bowl stadium during the Texas State Fair, a unique location that only adds to the game’s storied pageantry. It’s an equal distance from each school and tickets are sold 50-50 along the 50-yard line, creating a festive division that brings a fun dynamic to each meeting. The reward for victory? The Golden Hat, a 10-gallon cowboy hat poured in gold and presented to the winner after the game.
3. Florida vs. Georgia
Series History: That depends on who you ask. According to UGA, the first game was in 1904 and they lead the series 54-44-2. UF claims the first game wasn’t until 1915, making the series 53-44-2.
The rivalry between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs – affectionately known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” – is as much about the fans as the football. The neutral-site game is played in Jacksonville, where a stunning sea of RV’s and tailgate sites set up shop along the banks of River City to cheer on their respective teams. The games are intense and the stakes are high – the winner often takes the SEC East and is awarded the Okefenokee Oar, a 10-foot-long trophy carved from an ancient cypress tree that once grew in a disputed swamp on the Florida-Georgia state line.
2. Michigan vs. Ohio State
Series History: Michigan leads 58-51-6. First game was played in 1897.
This historic midwest matchup dates back to 1897, when the first game was fueled by bitter memories of the Toledo War. It was intensified again in 1969 by another war, the ten-year-war, in which coaches Bo Schembechler (Michigan) and Woody Hayes (Ohio State) created an iconic period that pitted some of the schools’ most powerhouse teams against each other. In fact, Woody Hayes is said to have coined the phrase “that team up north” – a term still commonly used by Ohio State fans – as a way to avoid saying the word Michigan altogether.
The rivalry has remained just as strong in recent years, due in part to the two teams’ frequent top-25 rankings. Pomp and pageantry abound at every annual game, which has been the regular-season finale for the schools since 1935. Ohio State has won the last eight meetings, making Michigan hungry for a 2021 upset.
1. Alabama vs. Auburn
Series History: Alabama leads 47-37-1. First game was played in 1893.
You may call us biased, but fans and analysts alike agree that The Iron Bowl is one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in all of U.S. sports. The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have long been bitter rivals – in fact, the early games were so combative that the teams ceased playing one another for 41 years, only resuming the matchup when the Alabama State Congress threatened to cut school funding to both teams.
What causes two state schools to hate so deeply? Unlike other rivalries that have a short-lived weekend run, the Tigers and the Tide are at odds 365 days per year. The state has no professional team to take off the pressure, turning college football into a major religion that divides families, friends, and even church fellowships. The result is a state where “what’s your team?” isn’t just used as an ice-breaker – it’s a way to judge your character.
Want to revel in a rivalry for yourself? WestGate can help you get in on the Iron Bowl action. Our luxurious facility is just steps from Bryant-Denny Stadium and offers the ultimate tailgating experience for all Crimson Tide games. The 2021 Iron Bowl will be held in Auburn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your tailgate on here in T-Town! Book your stay today!