Ranking the rivalries

A fun post over at For Whom the Cowbell Tolls ranking the SEC’s top conference rivalries got me to thinking what my list would look like.

Their top five list reads this way:

  1. Alabama-Auburn
  2. Georgia-Florida
  3. Ole Miss-Mississippi State
  4. Florida-Tennessee
  5. Alabama-LSU

There’s also an Honorable Mention list.

  • Ole Miss-LSU
  • Auburn-Georgia
  • LSU-Texas A&M
  • Florida-South Carolina

Naturally, some of the debate has to start with what makes a good rivalry.  History, passion, stakes — all of that goes into it.  I’d argue that a series able to generate spontaneously a nickname is strong evidence of a spirited rivalry.

That being said, it’s hard to argue with the top three games listed there.  From there, it gets a little murkier for me.

To start with, I don’t see how you can rate Florida-Tennessee ahead of Auburn-Georgia.  No question the former has been a high stakes game on and off over the past 25 or so years, but the two schools have faced off fewer than fifty times.  Compare that to the 122 times Auburn and Georgia have played, the closeness of the series (the Dawgs lead by mere two games) and the maybe more obvious than clever “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” nickname and it’s hard to see how it ranks as the inferior of the two.

And Florida-South Carolina?  How does that come out ahead of the most glaring omission from those lists, Alabama-Tennessee?  Florida-LSU is a bigger rivalry than Florida-South Carolina, which is only memorable lately because South Carolina’s last two head coaches had previously coached at Florida.

(Now that I think about it, another sign of a big rivalry is a cross-divisional game important enough for the SEC to protect by locking it in annually.)

The other game I’d add to the honorable mention list is one that’s sadly been a victim of conference expansion, Auburn-Florida.  The two have played 83 times and Auburn holds a narrow five game lead in the series.  Wikipedia notes that thirty-three of the games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less.  Shame you dropped that one, SEC.

Anyway, what’s on your list?

60 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

60 responses to “Ranking the rivalries

  1. 81Dog

    Ole Miss v Miss State? Who cares about that outside of Mississippi? Two miles fighting over a turnip. If national significance is a factor, it’s about on a pair with Georgia State v Georgia Southern. The Alabama spring game is a bigger rivalry than the Egg Bowl (that name screams testosterone, doesn’t it?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I give points for nastiness. And if there’s one thing about the Egg Bowl, it’s nasty. Those two hate each other with a passion.

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      • You’re right about Auburn-Florida. It was nasty and the Saturday before the Cocktail Party. If they still played annually, it would be my meteor game of the year hands down.

        Damn you, Arkansas and South Carolina.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 81Dog

        Bah. It’s like midget wrestling to me. They’re really into it, but it doesn’t matter who wins, nobody gets hurt, and they’re just so darned cute…..

        Non SEC, but the most underratedly vicious rivalry of which I am aware is the Chiks and Clemson. You’d think the NC was on the line every year from the way those folks hate each other.

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    • Russ

      Disagree. That’s a pure CFB rivalry. Those two teams have played forever and the absolutely hate each other. In my book, that’s a good rivalry.

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  2. CPark58

    UGA/Auburn definitely deserves a spot in the top 5.

    Tennessee/Vanderbilt looks to be a blossoming rivalry with bowl eligibility implications for years to come.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry should now be called The South’s Oldest Rivalry. When we played Auburn in the SECCG, the number of games became equal to the series between those two pointy headed intellectual schools (Blutarsky I know you a Hoo), and Georgia played Auburn earlier. Ergo, Georgia-AU is The South’s Oldest Rivalry.

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  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    Florida-Tennessee is at the top of any meteor game ranking, if not rivalries.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1) Iron Bowl – the only day the sporting world focuses on the state of Alabama
    2) Cocktail Party – the annual celebration of the repeal of Prohibition
    3) 3rd Saturday in October – yes, it has become one-sided, but it’s big on both sides
    4) The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry – it used to be friendly, but $Cam & Fairley changed everything
    5) The Egg Bowl – only because of the hate and not because the game means anything

    Honorable mentions:

    Florida-Tennessee
    LSU-Florida
    LSU-Ole Miss
    Georgia-South Carolina
    LSU-Alabama

    Liked by 1 person

    • AusDawg85

      You nailed it. Nationally I’d add in no particular order:

      OSU – Michigan
      Army – Navy
      USC – ND
      Texas – OU
      OU – OSU
      USC – UCLA
      Texas – TAMU (so fierce they now refuse to play)
      Stanford – Cal
      Oregon – OSU
      Harvard – Yale

      Not sure Nebraska, Arkansas, Miami, FSU, or Clemson have one that stirs national interest. Who’d I miss?

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      • Got Cowdog

        Notre Dame versus anybody.

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      • FSU/UF and FSU/Miami – both are downright nasty especially Noles & Gators
        Pitt/WVU – the backyard brawl
        OU/Nebraska – used to be one of the games of the year (another rivalry end to blame on Texas)
        UNC/NCSU – very underrated but the hate is there like USCjr/Clemson

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        • AusDawg85

          The State of Florida ones all seem like scenes from The Longest Yard…just prison brawls. Missed Pitt/WVU and should maybe then add PSU/Pitt to the list. Sad that Nebraska doesn’t really have one anymore.

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    • Russ

      Yep, that’s the proper list in my view.

      Like

  6. MDDawg

    I think there first needs to be a clear definition of who is a rival or what constitutes a rivalry. It seems like those words get thrown around a lot more often than they used to. Take Georgia-South Carolina for example. Its status was elevated by virtue of Spurrier being there, but I don’t consider it a rivalry in the same sense as Georgia-Florida or Georgia-Auburn, yet many websites and commentators refer to the Gamecocks as our rivals or to that game as a rivalry game. There’s a difference between a traditional rival such as Florida, Auburn, or Tech compared to an SEC East rival which could technically include teams like Kentucky and Vanderbilt. For that matter, I know at least one Bama fan who doesn’t consider LSU a rival in the same sense as Auburn or Tennessee.

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    • Georgia-South Carolina is a rivalry game … in Columbia.

      I consider Clemson a bigger rival than South Carolina. They are about #6 on my hate list. I hate some schools we don’t even play more than I hate the Lamecocks.

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      • Raleighwood Dawg

        I agree about Clemson. When I married an NC State grad, I was already accustomed to despising the Tigers and their abusive fans. As NCST had to play them every year without much success, my distaste for them has grown exponentially.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    A little trivia. The title “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” was bestowed on The Carolina Cup in Camden SC before attaching to the game in Jax. You’re talking 1930’s and 1940’s here so the crowd sizes have changed and the football game is certainly bigger now, but the alcohol saturation level between the two events is still probably competitive.

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    • Russ

      What, pray tell, was at stake during the “Carolina Cup”? It sounds like a polo match.

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      • Sanford222view

        I believe it is a horse racing steeple chase event.

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        • JCDAWG83

          Big steeplechase event in Camden, SC. Nowadays it’s better described as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Fraternity Party”. College students from SC, Clemson and all the SC schools flock to it and drink like it’s going out of style. We went for a few years 20 or so years ago and it was a fun event. Some friends went a couple years ago and said it was a disgusting display of over served college students now.

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          • Got Cowdog

            Amazing how time changes your perception, huh?

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          • I went to school in SC and that’s an accurate assessment. When we went in the 90s the unofficial slogan was that “If you saw a horse, you missed the point”. It was just an excuse to get drunk as hell and for the ladies to wear hats in addition to getting wasted. First time I ever went a horse broke its leg in the very first race pretty much in front of the area where our frat set up and they brought out the tent to put him down. Didn’t go over so well with some of the ladies.

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  8. 92 grad

    I know the “it just means more” thing is kind of cheesy, but, I truly enjoy the notion that there is so much emotion attached to virtually any conference matchup.

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  9. Bigshot

    That’s Georgia-Auburn by the way.

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  10. Noonan

    If the SEC would catch an f@&$n clue, and put Alabama and Auburn in the East, and Missouri and Kentucky in the West where they belong, then we could bring back a couple of these great rivalries, and have more cross-division games as a bonus. This is so logical that the conference will never consider it, because the two divisions were written on stone tablets in 1991.

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    • Dawg1

      Really,

      Tenn
      Florida
      Auburn
      Alabama
      UGA
      USC
      Vandy

      On one side and

      LSU
      TAMU
      Ark
      Mizzou
      UK
      Ole Miss
      MSU

      On the other?

      Why not just pencil in LSU to Atlanta EVERY year and everyone else play everyone else for fun? (Vandy might as well quit the sport as well).

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      • Noonan

        Why does it matter? The traditional rivalries are preserved, we get more cross-divisional games, and the best team will still win the conference championship 9 times out of 10. The SEC championship game is meaningless: see Alabama 2017.

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        • Otto

          Meaningless? The SECCG was a playing game for both teams. Bama getting in with 1 loss does not take away from it being a play in game. It just makes the Big10 champ meaningless.

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    • If you’re going to do that, kick the 4 interlopers out, go back to 10 and play a round-robin to determine the champion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • JCDAWG83

        ^^Best idea yet^^

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      • I am 100% in on this idea. None of those 4 additions really feel like they belong.

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        • Otto

          100% disagree

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          • JCDAWG83

            SCU=ACC school
            Arkansas=Big 12 school
            Texas A&M=Big 12 school
            Missouri=who gives a damn school

            None of those programs feel like an SEC program in any way. Maybe FSU and Clemson to the SEC would make some sense but none of these four do.

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            • Otto

              A&M especially was a SEC School stuck with their Texas neighbors same with Arkansas. They always put more emphasis on defense than the Texas schools, and Oklahoma.

              SCU was in the ACC it didn’t fit. Clemson possibly should have bailed with SCU which they threatened to but backed out.

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    • stoopnagle

      Pods are the answer. There’s a way for everyone to play the teams they need to play and rotate more than one game. It’s been posted to the internet before, but there’s no reason to juggle the divisions if you can think outside the box just a bit.

      Like

        • Otto

          Interesting Idea I would lean toward more permanents. College fans gripe when Kentucky is moved and they don’t get their every other year fall leaf trip. Tradition is very important.

          If divisions were dropped I would like to see the Auburn, Florida, UGA triangle return.

          I disagree with their statement every major SEC rivalry is maintained. LSU Florida is dropped. The series has been played annually since 1953. It is Florida’s 4th most played SEC game behind UGA, Auburn, and Kentucky.

          I would not be completely opposed to this style of conference play if they kept more permanents. I would trade keeping more annual games and playing less traditional more often than now but less often than their scenario.

          I would like to see the same idea but with 5 permanents to see how that would play out.

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      • Otto

        If playoff expansion is indeed inevitable, 16 school Conferences with 4 pod of 4 teams does get interesting.

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  11. Go Dawgs!

    I love the year 2018 and what has happened to the University of Tennessee’s football program SO MUCH. No mention of Alabama-Tennessee? Amazing. There was a time when you could say the words “Third Saturday in October” or “Fourth Saturday in October” depending on when the schedule changed and everyone knew what you were talking about. Now? It’s just penciled in as yet another Alabama win over Tennessee.

    Go Vols. LOL.

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  12. That list is dumb beyond 1-2-3. #4 and #5 are only important because of recent vintage moments of divisional race implications.

    We could gain so much back if we would just DROP divisions. It’s amazing how many old rivals Tennessee and Auburn both had. Tennessee use to play Ole Miss every single year when the league only had 10….. for several years, they would play it in the liberty bowl in Memphis with a GA/FLA esque split setup…………it was such a great rivalry game for the city of Memphis.

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  13. Russ

    Auburn-Florida should never have been dropped.

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    • The only way that would have happened would have been to flip Auburn and Tennessee in the divisional alignment in 1992. Then you would have had people say why is Tennessee in the West when Vandy is in the same state and further west but in the East.

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      • Otto

        Who really cares about the specific Geography? Dallas has been in the NFC East. Rivalries and balanced scheduling is more important than geography. The current split is 2 triangles North East and Southwest with a diagonal dividing line from UF to Mizzou.

        UT belonged in the West looking at Rivalries more than Auburn. The catch is with the original 2 the permanent cross division games UT gets Auburn and Vandy if they are in the West. However, when it dropped down to 1 in state ties to Vandy creates what in theory would be a lopsided rivalry with Vandy dropping Auburn.

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  14. Hill Billy Dawg

    When a man lives 15 miles from the 10rc line; When a man works in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Oak RIdge, Sevierville, Tri CIties, on a weekly basis; When a man travels east 10rc trying to make a living from the peasantry. That man years to see the vawls pounded into the earth relentlessly. Driven into submission like fleas drowned in a bath. I wait to see them grovel and moan in pain every time they see the G. There is no greater satisfaction in my life than seeing the vowels ground under the heels of Chubb and MIchel, and how I long to see that again on the hallowed greens of Sanford. I long for the 50-0
    Oh….did I mention that I hate Tennessee?

    Like

    • Got Cowdog

      Uncle Cowdog has been in Memphis long enough to be a native. We have uncles and cousins that are Razorbacks, Tigers, Bizzaro Bulldogs, and Nebraska fans. We have our moments, Mike the Tiger and the “woo pig sooey” crowds clash colorfully and profanely at times. Last season’s dismantling of MSU resulted in a 2 day social media funk from that faction. However, Nothing draws the clenched jaw of “we will not speak of this” from all parties more than success by the University of Tennessee and their volunteer assholes against any of our clan’s chosen alliance.
      We are one blood, Hillbilly.

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    • Erk's Forehead

      Amen. I hope Tenn forever stays in the crapper. Forever. I also hope their national embarrassment only gets weirder and more miserable each time. Like an extended episode of The Office with the weird uncomfortableness lasting the entire time with no relief. Of course, I also wish this on Alabama.

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  15. The 984

    South Carolina/Florida isn’t even South Carolina’s most important series in the East. They’re number three or number four in terms of SEC annual games for us, but we’re clearly they’re #1 in the SEC.

    The Deep South’s Oldest Non-Rivalry.

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  16. Erk's Forehead

    I agree with you. Those first 3 are all definite. If you base it off of history, fan disgust with each other and domestic abuse on gameday, the Iron Bowl is definitely #1. If you base it on gameday experience, I’d put the WLOCP at #1. When the Iron Bowl gave up the neutral site, it lost a ton of gameday momentum. I’ve been to both and the atmosphere at UGA/FU is much better, imo.

    Tenn/Ala should definitely be included over anything with SC.

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  17. Erk's Forehead

    I’ll add this. I attended a Tenn/Ala game in Knoxville once as a neutral observer. It’s the only game I’ve been to where an entire stadium chanted F@%$ You for several minutes to an opposing fan section.

    Like