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The 7 Most Underrated College Football Rivalries, Ranked
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Every sports fan has a team that’s public enemy No. 1. Facing off against these rivals is more than a game. They’re an event, and they’re circled on the schedule every year. It doesn’t matter if your team is having an abysmal season. If they beat a rival, it absolves everything.

Some rivalries are more well known than others. There’s no love lost between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The same can be said for the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

College football is a different animal because rivalries are more personal than anything. A lot of them stem from sheer proximity but don’t have recognition outside the region. Sure, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines as well as the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide are appointment television whether you’re a fan of the teams or not.

However, there are seven underrated rivalries that are just as heated.

The 7 Most Underrated College Football Rivalries

7. “The Border War”: Oregon vs. Washington

College football is known to have an east coast bias. Sorry Alabama fans, I still believe Christian McCaffrey should’ve won the 2015 Heisman Trophy over Derrick Henry.

Anyway, Oregon and Washington is one of the oldest rivalries in all of college football, yet we rarely hear about it. Washington held the upper hand in the rivalry until 1994, when Oregon cornerback Kenny Wheaton returned an interception for a 97-yard touchdown to seal the win in the final minute of the game. Some say this was the turning point for the Ducks’ recent rejuvenation.

“The Border War” has had huge Pac-12 North implications since the conference realigned in 2011.

6. “Bedlam”: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State

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The Oklahoma Sooners are more well known for their rivalry against the Texas Longhorns. However, the in-state rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State has just as much fire.

The Big 12 schools are located about 80 miles away, and as much as OSU fans don’t want to admit it, this is a big brother/little brother situation. Oklahoma leads the series 82-18-1, but the battle for the Sooner State is usually a shootout and carries a lot of animosity.

5. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

Speaking of historic rivalries, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers first played nearly 130 years ago. Although Wisconsin has only lost six times since 1990, they only lead the all-time series 62-58-8.

As if bragging rights weren’t enough, the winner receives Paul Bunyan’s Axe, arguably the coolest rivalry trophy in the country. The Big Ten matchup always takes place on the last week of the regular season when the weather is nice and frigid, making for some tough, hard-nosed football.

4. “The Game”: Harvard vs. Yale

RELATED: The 25 Best Rivalries in College Football, Ranked

Harvard and Yale go way back, like way way back. The Ivy League schools played their first football game against each other in 1875. On top of the matchup being attended by U.S. Presidents and shaping the sport, the series is fairly even with the Yale Bulldogs holding the slight edge, 67-60-8.

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The rivalry has also featured a fair share of pranks such as releasing pigs onto the field and sabotaging each other’s fans.

3. “The Holy War”: BYU vs. Utah

BYU and Utah can’t seem to agree on anything. They dispute when the series started–Utah says 1896 while BYU says 1922–and the religious undertones are obvious. Bring that onto the football field and you have a classic rivalry.

Normally, even in hostile matchups, coaches and players will hide their true feelings when speaking to the media. That’s not the case for the Utes or the Cougars. Multiple players, including Utah quarterback Alex Smith and BYU quarterback Max Hall, have expressed their disdain for the other side over the years. The two school’s couldn’t be more opposite, making victory ever so sweet.

2. “The Backyard Brawl”: Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia

Some 75 miles is all that separates Morgantown, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh. The tension can be cut with a knife every step of the drive along Interstate 79. Saying there’s no love lost would be putting it lightly. These schools hate each other.

The old Big East rivals first squared off in 1895 and played regularly until West Virginia joined the Big 12 and Pittsburgh moved to the ACC in 2012. Perhaps the most notable matchup is Pittsburgh playing spoiler to West Virginia’s national championship hopes in 2007. The 4-7 Panthers beat the Mountaineers 13-9 and WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez took the Michigan job shortly after.

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Fortunately for us, the Backyard Brawl is coming back for a four-game series starting next year.

1. “100 Miles of Hate”: Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky

Any rivalry that has a name like “100 Miles of Hate” immediately catches my attention. The best part is the series began in 1914 and is pretty much dead even with Middle Tennessee holding a 34-32 advantage.

The hate has lived on despite both schools changing conferences over the years and going on a 16-year hiatus from 1991 to 2007. The matchup was reignited when Western Kentucky joined Middle Tennessee in Conference USA in 2014. Even more fuel could be added to the rivalry with rumors of Middle Tennessee holding both teams’ fates in potentially moving to the MAC.

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Tension is at an all-time high when the rivalry game rolls around. The hatred for the other team kicks up a notch as soon as you start the 100-mile trek.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Notre Dame vs. USC
  • Clemson vs. South Carolina
  • Alabama vs. Mississippi State
  • Iowa vs. Iowa State
  • Indiana vs. Purdue
  • Oregon vs. Oregon State
  • California vs. Stanford
  • Miami vs. Virginia Tech
  • UCLA vs. USC
  • Michigan vs. Michigan State
  • Army vs. Navy
  • Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
  • Lafayette vs. Lehigh
  • LSU vs. Texas A&M
  • North Carolina vs. Virginia
  • Florida vs. Florida State
  • Ole Miss vs. Memphis
  • Baylor vs. TCU

MORE: The 8 Most Bizarre College Football Rivalry Trophies, Ranked

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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