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:
- Ole Miss-Mississippi State
There’s also an Honorable Mention list.
- Ole Miss-LSU
- 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?