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Published: May 27, 2015 at 06:47 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2015 at 12:02 p.m.

15 for '15: College football's best rivalries

» Complete 15 for '15 series

One of the special things about college football is how important -- and sometimes personal -- annual rivalry games become for fans. It's not only one team against the other -- it's decades of history wrapped up into a single game every year. While it was difficult to narrow the list down, CFB 24/7's "15 for '15" series continues with a look at the sport's greatest rivalries.

15 Photos Total

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1895. Alabama leads series, 49-25-5. <br>There's no catchy name or fancy rivalry trophy, but make no mistake -- this is a bitter rivalry and the stakes are often extremely high. The schools are two of the most successful programs in the SEC and the divisional matchup has been hotly contested, particularly in the past decade. Things have been pretty even in the series since Bear Bryant retired as coach of the Crimson Tide, and the teams have even met in a national title game, which added even more fuel to the fire. 15

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    15. Alabama-LSU

    Series history: First meeting in 1895. Alabama leads series, 49-25-5.
    There's no catchy name or fancy rivalry trophy, but make no mistake -- this is a bitter rivalry and the stakes are often extremely high. The schools are two of the most successful programs in the SEC and the divisional matchup has been hotly contested, particularly in the past decade. Things have been pretty even in the series since Bear Bryant retired as coach of the Crimson Tide, and the teams have even met in a national title game, which added even more fuel to the fire.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1894. Oregon leads series, 62-46-10. <br>The fifth-oldest rivalry game in the books is one that few fans outside the Pacific Northwest knew much about until recently, but it has been an important part of college football in the region. The two schools are separated by roughly 50 miles, and there have been a number of fights on and off the field over the years that have shown how tense things are between the Ducks and the Beavers. Being labeled the "Civil War" only adds to the lore of this rivalry. 14

    Troy Wayrynen/Associated Press

    14. Oregon-Oregon State

    Series history: First meeting in 1894. Oregon leads series, 62-46-10.
    The fifth-oldest rivalry game in the books is one that few fans outside the Pacific Northwest knew much about until recently, but it has been an important part of college football in the region. The two schools are separated by roughly 50 miles, and there have been a number of fights on and off the field over the years that have shown how tense things are between the Ducks and the Beavers. Being labeled the "Civil War" only adds to the lore of this rivalry.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1901. Ole Miss leads series, 62-43-6. <br>The two Magnolia State SEC teams play for one of the more unique trophies in college -- The Golden Egg -- and things are as bitter as you would expect between two schools located so close together. The recent success of the two teams has only helped increase the stakes and visibility of this game. 13

    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    13. Ole Miss-Mississippi State

    Series history: First meeting in 1901. Ole Miss leads series, 62-43-6.
    The two Magnolia State SEC teams play for one of the more unique trophies in college -- The Golden Egg -- and things are as bitter as you would expect between two schools located so close together. The recent success of the two teams has only helped increase the stakes and visibility of this game.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1899. Arizona leads series, 48-39-1. <br>People outside the Copper State might not realize just how nasty this rivalry is -- and not just on the field. Both teams have been pretty competitive in the series and, while the game hasn't meant much to the national college football picture, it means plenty for bragging rights inside the state. The winner gets the Territorial Cup, one of the oldest rivalry trophies in college football. 12

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    12. Arizona-Arizona State

    Series history: First meeting in 1899. Arizona leads series, 48-39-1.
    People outside the Copper State might not realize just how nasty this rivalry is -- and not just on the field. Both teams have been pretty competitive in the series and, while the game hasn't meant much to the national college football picture, it means plenty for bragging rights inside the state. The winner gets the Territorial Cup, one of the oldest rivalry trophies in college football.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1951. Miami (Fla.) leads series, 31-28. <br>One of the more youthful rivalries on this list makes up for a lack of deep history with its big stakes and some legendary teams on both sides. This is one of the most-watched games every year. In the 1990s, this contest often pitted teams with national-title hopes against each other; their games in the series that came down to the final seconds are etched into college football lore. Both teams are now in the ACC, which makes up for some of the recent lackluster battles between the schools, considering the game extends beyond bragging rights in the state to the conference standings. 11

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    11. Florida State-Miami (Fla.)

    Series history: First meeting in 1951. Miami (Fla.) leads series, 31-28.
    One of the more youthful rivalries on this list makes up for a lack of deep history with its big stakes and some legendary teams on both sides. This is one of the most-watched games every year. In the 1990s, this contest often pitted teams with national-title hopes against each other; their games in the series that came down to the final seconds are etched into college football lore. Both teams are now in the ACC, which makes up for some of the recent lackluster battles between the schools, considering the game extends beyond bragging rights in the state to the conference standings.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1929. USC leads series, 46-31-7.<br>Proximity plays a hand in many rivalries, but it's hard to top how close these two universities are to each other in Los Angeles (less than 10 miles as the crow files, 14 miles via the city's clogged freeways). The battle for the city's bragging rights often splits families and offices down the middle, and there have been plenty of occasions when the teams have played for a berth in the prestigious Rose Bowl. Losing is even tougher when you have to see the other side every single day. 10

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    10. UCLA-USC

    Series history: First meeting in 1929. USC leads series, 46-31-7.
    Proximity plays a hand in many rivalries, but it's hard to top how close these two universities are to each other in Los Angeles (less than 10 miles as the crow files, 14 miles via the city's clogged freeways). The battle for the city's bragging rights often splits families and offices down the middle, and there have been plenty of occasions when the teams have played for a berth in the prestigious Rose Bowl. Losing is even tougher when you have to see the other side every single day.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1896. Clemson leads series, 66-42-4.<br>The Palmetto Bowl has more layers than an onion when it comes to rivalries. There is, of course, the historical aspect that fans the flames, dating back in many respects to tensions rising from the Civil War. Add in how close the campuses are to each other along with the SEC vs. ACC aspect, and this is one nasty back-and-forth showdown. Things have certainly escalated recently due to the potshots that Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier have taken at the opposing schools the past few years. 9

    Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

    9. Clemson-South Carolina

    Series history: First meeting in 1896. Clemson leads series, 66-42-4.
    The Palmetto Bowl has more layers than an onion when it comes to rivalries. There is, of course, the historical aspect that fans the flames, dating back in many respects to tensions rising from the Civil War. Add in how close the campuses are to each other along with the SEC vs. ACC aspect, and this is one nasty back-and-forth showdown. Things have certainly escalated recently due to the potshots that Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier have taken at the opposing schools the past few years.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1958. Florida leads series, 34-23-2.<br>This is another contest that has made up for its short history with its high level of play. Games in this series often pitted teams with national-title hopes against each other, and few rivalry games have had head coaches with as much personality as Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier. It's been a remarkably even series and there has even been a postseason rematch with the national title on the line (1996). 8

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    8. Florida-Florida State

    Series history: First meeting in 1958. Florida leads series, 34-23-2.
    This is another contest that has made up for its short history with its high level of play. Games in this series often pitted teams with national-title hopes against each other, and few rivalry games have had head coaches with as much personality as Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier. It's been a remarkably even series and there has even been a postseason rematch with the national title on the line (1996).

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1892. Stanford leads series, 60-46-11.<br>The oldest rivalry out West and the eighth-most played in college football is the battle for Bay Area supremacy, affectionately called "The Big Game." The annual rivalry game produced perhaps <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfebpLfAt8g" target="new">the most famous single play</a> in college football history in 1982 when, on the final play, four Cal players lateraled their way through the encroaching Stanford band and into the end zone for the win. Academics might be more important to both universities, but they are quite bitter toward one another when it comes to football. 7

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    7. California-Stanford

    Series history: First meeting in 1892. Stanford leads series, 60-46-11.
    The oldest rivalry out West and the eighth-most played in college football is the battle for Bay Area supremacy, affectionately called "The Big Game." The annual rivalry game produced perhaps the most famous single play in college football history in 1982 when, on the final play, four Cal players lateraled their way through the encroaching Stanford band and into the end zone for the win. Academics might be more important to both universities, but they are quite bitter toward one another when it comes to football.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1896. Utah leads series, 57-34-4.<br>One might think a rivalry between the religious private school and the public state school would be fairly well-behaved, but one would be wrong in assuming that about the aptly named "Holy War" -- one of college football's nastiest intrastate rivalries. The two schools are located fairly close to each other in the Salt Lake City area, and that only adds to the divided nature of the bitter rivalry that is known to split generations of families. The annual rivalry is on hiatus in 2015, but the series will return in 2016. 6

    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    6. BYU-Utah

    Series history: First meeting in 1896. Utah leads series, 57-34-4.
    One might think a rivalry between the religious private school and the public state school would be fairly well-behaved, but one would be wrong in assuming that about the aptly named "Holy War" -- one of college football's nastiest intrastate rivalries. The two schools are located fairly close to each other in the Salt Lake City area, and that only adds to the divided nature of the bitter rivalry that is known to split generations of families. The annual rivalry is on hiatus in 2015, but the series will return in 2016.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1890. Navy leads series, 59-49-7.<br>This has been lopsided as of late (13 straight wins for Navy), but remains one of the best rivalry games due to <a href="http://www.nfl.com/photos/0ap2000000292778" target="new">the fantastic pageantry it provides</a> to cap off the regular season. There was a time when national titles were on the line during the annual game, but that era ended long ago. Still, interservice bragging rights and, in many years, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy mean plenty to the Midshipmen and Black Knights, who will eventually go from the gridiron to protecting the country at home and abroad after the game is played. 5

    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    5. Army-Navy

    Series history: First meeting in 1890. Navy leads series, 59-49-7.
    This has been lopsided as of late (13 straight wins for Navy), but remains one of the best rivalry games due to the fantastic pageantry it provides to cap off the regular season. There was a time when national titles were on the line during the annual game, but that era ended long ago. Still, interservice bragging rights and, in many years, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy mean plenty to the Midshipmen and Black Knights, who will eventually go from the gridiron to protecting the country at home and abroad after the game is played.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1900. Texas leads series, 60-44-5.<br>If you want to put attending one of these rivalry games on your bucket list, it should probably be this one. Set at the historic Cotton Bowl in the middle of the Texas State Fair, there are few places where the football game inside the stadium is matched by the excitement outside of it with all of the deep-fried delights available at every turn. The crowd is split down the middle at the 50-yard line, and one side often has had plenty to cheer for after a victory considering how frequently national-championship-game bids and conference titles have been on the line. 4

    LM Otero/Associated Press

    4. Oklahoma-Texas

    Series history: First meeting in 1900. Texas leads series, 60-44-5.
    If you want to put attending one of these rivalry games on your bucket list, it should probably be this one. Set at the historic Cotton Bowl in the middle of the Texas State Fair, there are few places where the football game inside the stadium is matched by the excitement outside of it with all of the deep-fried delights available at every turn. The crowd is split down the middle at the 50-yard line, and one side often has had plenty to cheer for after a victory considering how frequently national-championship-game bids and conference titles have been on the line.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1900. Notre Dame leads series, 45-36-5.<br>The Saturday after Thanksgiving in Los Angeles or the third Saturday of October in South Bend is home to the greatest intersectional rivalry in all of college football. National-title hopes and Heisman-Trophy bids are naturally part of the fabric interwoven in the long history of the games between these two historic powerhouses, as are the incredible coaches that have been involved, from Knute Rockne to Pete Carroll. 3

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    3. Notre Dame-USC

    Series history: First meeting in 1900. Notre Dame leads series, 45-36-5.
    The Saturday after Thanksgiving in Los Angeles or the third Saturday of October in South Bend is home to the greatest intersectional rivalry in all of college football. National-title hopes and Heisman-Trophy bids are naturally part of the fabric interwoven in the long history of the games between these two historic powerhouses, as are the incredible coaches that have been involved, from Knute Rockne to Pete Carroll.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1897. Michigan leads series, 58-46-6.<br>The battle between these Midwestern behemoths has been annual viewing for many college football fans. Much of the lore stems from the battles of the "Ten Year War" between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes back in the 1970s, but famous games dot the landscape from the beginning to the present. With Jim Harbaugh back at Michigan and Ohio State's Urban Meyer fresh off a national title, it shouldn't be too long before this is back at No. 1. 2

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    2. Michigan-Ohio State

    Series history: First meeting in 1897. Michigan leads series, 58-46-6.
    The battle between these Midwestern behemoths has been annual viewing for many college football fans. Much of the lore stems from the battles of the "Ten Year War" between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes back in the 1970s, but famous games dot the landscape from the beginning to the present. With Jim Harbaugh back at Michigan and Ohio State's Urban Meyer fresh off a national title, it shouldn't be too long before this is back at No. 1.

  • <b>Series history:</b> First meeting in 1893. Alabama leads series, 43-35-1.<br>It's not the oldest rivalry, but it's the most heated in the country given how much it means to Alabama residents and how high tensions run before, during and after the Iron Bowl. The winner from the past six contests in the series has had a shot at the national title, and there have been some legendary recruiting battles between the two schools that add to the layers of a historic rivalry. 1

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    1. Alabama-Auburn

    Series history: First meeting in 1893. Alabama leads series, 43-35-1.
    It's not the oldest rivalry, but it's the most heated in the country given how much it means to Alabama residents and how high tensions run before, during and after the Iron Bowl. The winner from the past six contests in the series has had a shot at the national title, and there have been some legendary recruiting battles between the two schools that add to the layers of a historic rivalry.