The most common category of rivalry, probably because it requires the least amount of reasoning, is the classic border battle.
The classic moniker “big brother, little brother” stems from this category, and is the main fuel behind winning this rivalry. While there can only be one national champion, there can be fifty state champions.
While this category is the easiest to fall into, creating a unique rivalry that stands out among the nation’s best requires a distinct cultural difference or strikingly similarity between the two schools.
The Iron Bowl
No land dispute is more heated than the blood feud between Alabama-Auburn. In a football-crazed state too small to host a professional team, college football is next to religion in the state of Alabama.
The feud commonly boils over into violence, as former Alabama coach Bill Curry witnessed.
“When Bill Curry was coaching at Alabama, he went to a Birmingham elementary school one day to speak with children about football and life. Upon entering the classroom, he saw a boy standing in the corner, sobbing. Curry wondered what was going on, and a student told him, “Jason is an Auburn fan, and we took care of him”(Athlon).
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate
This common trope of violence is shared by another rivalry across the eastern border of Alabama in the state of Georgia, between Georgia Tech and Georgia.
While this rivalry has gradually faded off the national radar ever since Georgia Tech left the Southeastern Conference in 1951, the name still fits the rivalry’s bitter existence between the only two power five schools in the state.
This rivalry has too much petty nonsense to detail in such a short amount of space, but the acidity of the rivalry was apparent in the 2019 meeting between the two schools.
Georgia’s star wide receiver George Pickens was ejected from the game after getting into a fistfight with Georgia Tech corner Tre Swilling.
The Egg Bowl
During the last half-decade, the Egg Bowl has epitomized the definition of pettiness.
The in-state feud between aristocratic Ole Miss and blue-collar Mississippi State has fueled a contentious rivalry between the two schools that has reached new heights over the last few years due to off-the-field issues.
The feud has not been hidden on the field either, which was made clear in the 2019 edition of the Egg Bowl, in which star Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after “relieving” himself after a touchdown late in the game, dubbed the “Ole Piss”.
In the 2018 edition, every single player on each team was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a brawl broke out mid-game.
Unlike most of the rivalries on this list, hostilities in this game have risen to new heights in modern history, instead of just having relatively ancient beef.
What’s a good sign that a rivalry is fierce?
The two schools dislike each other too much to cooperate and schedule each other.
As is the case in the nameless rivalry between the state of Texas’ two most prestigious football programs.
The two schools have not played each other since 2011 when Texas A&M decided to leave the Big Twelve Conference and join the Southeastern Conference instead.
Texas A&M athletic director, Ross Bjork, has attempted to reach out to Texas to renew the rivalry, but Texas has rebuked any offer at this point, most likely due to the rift still felt after Texas A&M left the conference.
The Holy War
These two schools fight not only for land rights to the state of Utah but as the name suggests, BYU and Utah play for a greater purpose in a state known for a large Mormon population.
The University of Utah serves as the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while BYU serves as the flagship university for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Such similarity between the two schools instantly sparks a need for one to be better than the other, instantly creating a rivalry that lasts 365 days a year.
The rivalry does not garner substantial national attention due to both BYU being independent, and Utah just recently elevated to a power five conference, but the beef between these two schools is as prevalent as any rivalry across the nation.