So, as the season approaches, I thought it would be fun to talk about SEC teams most hated rivals! To be fair, the intensity of a rivalry should not be measured by who you want most for your team to beat, but who is it that you would most hate to lose to???
The folks at ESPN took a stab at naming the "hottest rivalries" in the conference. While they do a fine job of just about everything they have their hands on, I think the network pulled a big "whiff" on this one...
Here is their list:
1 - Alabama-LSU
2 - Florida-Georgia
3 - The Iron Bowl
4 - Georgia-South Carolina
5 - The Egg Bowl
ESPN also lists the Bama vs aTm game as a "rising rivalry" and the UF vs UT game as a "falling rivalry".
Bama vs aTm? Really? After just one year? Just because the Aggies won a game? Give me a break...
Like I said, I think ESPN laid an egg with this article. They list the top FIVE rivalries and they have Alabama and Georgia participating in FOUR of them? Like that embodies the conference?
Having said all of that, I will list MY picks of who the most important rivals are for EACH school in alphabetical order.
This list is MY OPINION of what the top 2 rivals are for each school, or who fans of each school would MOST HATE TO LOSE TO.
Auburn - I mean, this is obvious - right? Alabama is certainly the King of SEC football, holding a winning record against EVERY conference opponent, but Auburn has a better record against the TIDE than ANY other SEC squad, Alabama's record against Auburn is 42-34-1
Tennessee - I am giving the Vols the nod over LSU even though they are down and have been for a few years. Historically, this is one of the biggest games on the Bama schedule, to the point where many fans (especially old timers) circle the game on their calendars... This game has been VERY streaky - Bama actually pulled off 11 wins in a row from 1971 - 1981. Tennessee has fared better than anyone except for Auburn against the Crimson Tide with Bama holding a 49-38-7 advantage.
YES - I know that Texas A&M has won 2 and lost 3 against Bama, but I am talking about teams that have played AT LEAST 20 times...
OK, OK - THIS one is hard... Their MOST IMPORTANT rival is probably Texas, but the Razorbacks don't play the Long(w)horn(e)s anymore and have not for quite some time. Old timers will still talk about it, but this one is all but irrelevant now.
LSU - This has turned in to the biggest game on the Razorback schedule. This one, in my opinion, is the game that Arkansas fans WANT the most. There have been 58 games in this series, the first game was in 1901. LSU holds a 36-20-2 advantage in this series.
Ole Miss - another long standing rivalry for the Hawgs, these teams first met in 1908. According to Arkansas, the Hawgs enjoy a 32-26-1 advantage in series. Ole Miss will tell you that the actual record is 31-27-1. Disputed records are a big part of what make rivalries heated! This rivalry game was a little more intense when former Razorback coach Houston Nutt was roaming the sidelines for the Rebels. I ALMOST placed the Texas Aggies above the Rebels in this spot - I do believe that game WILL surpass this one soon, but for the moment, I would say that Ole Miss is in the #2 "rival" spot for Arky.
Alabama - Again, this is obvious right? Like I said before, Auburn has the best record against Alabama of any SEC school. No one like losing to the in state rival, and THIS game is one of the hottest rivalries in the country... The first game in this series was played in 1893 and Auburn (who was known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama) WON that game 32-22!
Georgia - The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Auburn won the first game, which was played in Atlanta, GA in Piedmont Park in 1892. An interesting fact about this game, students for Georgia Tech were actually cheering for GEORGIA - something that didn't really ever happen again. Despite that support, Auburn pulled out the "W", meaning they BEAT their 2 biggest rivals in the 1st meeting. Another interesting fact about this series? There have been more games played in Columbus, GA than anywhere else - most folks don't know that...This has been a VERY CLOSE series. Right now, it is all knotted up at 54-54-8.
Georgia - The older the Gator is, the deeper the hatred for the Georgia Bulldogs runs... Before one Stephen Orr Spurrier roamed the sidelines in Gainesville, FL, the Gators had NEVER won a conference championship. And more often than not, the spoilers were the Georgia Bulldogs. Spurrier even won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback, but as a player, just could not beat the Dawgs when it mattered - he was 2-2 against UGA as a player, but the loss in 1966 cost him the SEC Championship... This is another one of those "disputed series records" - Florida says the series stands at 40-48-2. Georgia claims a 49th victory...
FSU - Younger Gators would say that THIS is their biggest rival. This series started in 1958 and has been played 57 times with the Gators holding a 34-21-2 advantage. Over the last 2 decades, THIS has been a bigger game than the one against UGA, with both teams being perennial powerhouses in the top 10, but the way things are going now, the UGA game may well take the top spot for young Gators as well...
Florida - For what seemed like forever, especially for Gator fans, Florida could be counted on the be UGA's whipping boy. It really didn't matter if it was Wally Butts or Vince Dooley roaming the sidelines, the Dawgs just OWNED this series. And then it happened. Vince Dooley retired. And "the streak" started. Florida won SEVEN IN A ROW from 1990 to 1996 and EIGHTEEN out of twenty one from 1990 to 2010. Georgia did not own this series anymore, in fact, the Dawgs were pretty much owned... NOW, Georgia has won 2 in a row. This rivalry is RED HOT. Even though Dawg fans are not likely to admit it, THIS GAME is in their heads, just as it was for Florida fans in the early 1990's...
Georgia Tech - Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. this rivalry has lost much of its luster as the Yellow Jackets have not been very strong in the last decade, but Bulldawg fans DO NOT want to lose this game. Back in the day, GA Tech was one of the strongest programs in the country, winning SIX SEC Conference Championships and FOUR National Championships. Georgia enjoys a comfortable 63-39-5 advantage in this series and has won 5 in a row, but woe be unto Mark Richt and UGA fans everywhere (especially in Atlanta) if and when the "nerds from North Avenue" pull off a win against the Bulldogs...
Louisville - This is one of the very few SEC teams (and the ONLY founding member) whose biggest rival is not a conference foe. These schools have only met 25 times on the gridiron and the Wildcats enjoy a 14-11 advantage in the series, but there is an uneasy feeling among the Big Blue faithful that the Cardinals are just a little bit better in football... a BIG part of the Wildcat series lead is the 1st six games played from 1912 - 1924 were ALL wins for KY; the recent series has been pretty even. As the flagship school of the state, that is not a very good feeling. Truth is, the round ball rivalry is a little more important to fans of both schools. Big Blue leads the hoops series 30-15, a big double up!
Tennessee - This is almost hard to call an actual "rivalry" as the Volunteers have owned this series and have a whopping 75-24-9 lead in the series. Tennessee has also won EVERY GAME except ONE since 1985. But that one game? Oh what a game! Many folks believe it was THAT GAME that doomed UT football coach Derek Dooley. There was incredible revelry in Lexington and much bourbon was consumed. Wildcat fans are hoping to taste that sweet victory and claim the coveted Beer Barrel again. Who knows, KY is not the strongest team in the conference, but TN is down and another big win seems very feasible in the near future...
Like Arkansas, this one is pretty hard, but for different reasons. The Bayou Bengals, for whatever reason, just have not cultivated that ONE TEAM that ALL of their fans just love to hate. SEVERAL teams could make this list. STRONG arguments could be made for Ole Miss, Arkansas and Florida. but I am calling it like I see it and ranking the LSU rivalries based on fan intensity and history...
Bama - It's kind of weird when your TOP RIVAL probably does not see you as even one of their top 2 rivals. But it is what it is... LSU did win that first game in 1895, but is behind substantially in the series - 25-47-5. HOWEVER, the intensity of this rivalry is strong, primarrily because one of the Tigers most beloved coaches TURNED TRAITOR and landed in Tuscaloosa! LSU fans HATE to lose to Nick STAN, probably more than anyone else, yes even Auburn. (Auburn hates to lose to Alabama, that Saban roams the sidelines is just a footnote for the history books). It also helps this rivalry that the winner has represented the SEC West in Atlanta more often than not over the last decade...
Texas A&M - This was a pretty good rivalry even before the Aggies joined the conference. These teams first met in 1899 and LSU leads the series 28-20-3. Fifty one is a lot of games, especially for an out of conference foe... Given the proximity of the two campuses, I can see this becoming the #1 rivalry game for BOTH schools in the not so distant future. The Tigers faced off against the Aggies for ten years in a row from 1986-1995 losing 6 and winning 4. The addition of Texas A&M to the conference was VERY well received in Baton Rouge. Everyone likes having a close rival - it is good for the fans!
Mississippi State - And it's not even close... Bragging rights in the Magnolia State are at stake. The Ole Miss Rebels lead this series 61-42-6. YES - they have only won 59 games on the field, but I am not interested in talking about NCAA mandated forfeits... Right now, the Rebels own the "Golden Egg"; but the trophy had been in Starkville the previous 3 years. Although I pretty much threw ESPN under the bus for whiffing on the rivalry rankings, I DO have to give them props for being responsible for having THIS GAME moved BACK to Thanksgiving as God so obviously intended for it to be played...
LSU - That's right - the hatred that Rebels have for "Lose" - E - Anna Tigers is 2nd only to their adverse feeling for Bulldogs (of the maroon variety). This game even has its own special name - The Magnolia Bowl - most folks are not aware of that and why would they be - that name came about in 2008 from the students at both schools, we'll see if it stands the test of time... The Rebels won the 1st game back in 1894, but the Tigers have built a 19 game advantage, leading the series 58-39-4. In the early days of this rivalry, the game was played in Louisiana just about EVERY YEAR. Old school Tiger fans probably still consider the Rebs their biggest rival.
Ole Miss - And it's not even close... Bragging rights in the Magnolia State... WAIT A MINUTE! Did I already say all of this? Although the Rebels hold a commanding lead in the series, that was not always the case. Way back in 1925 State held a 17-5-1 advantage in this series. This game is incredibly important to the Bulldog faithful. Despite Mississippi's 17 (or 15 on the field) game lead in this series, the recent history has been pretty even with the schools splitting the last 10 games 5-5...
Kentucky - OK, historically, this one does not register on the radar... BUT - the series is TIED 20-20 on the field and the teams 1st met in 1914! The official record is UK 21 and MS State 19 - did I say that I would not comment on NCAA mandated vacancies?? I really almost put Alabama in this slot, but with the Crimson Tide holding a 75-18-3 lead in the series, I just could not do it. I know, I know, I did it for UK vs UT, but football is a bigger deal to MS State and Kentucky folks HATE Tennessee... Coach Dan Mullen has really changed attitudes in Starkville AND the fortunes of Bulldog football. if his success continues, I could easily see Auburn, Arkansas, LSU or Alabama slide into the #2 rival spot for the Bulldogs.
Another really hard one. Our new conference members are naturally going to be more difficult to tag insofar as "rivals" are concerned...
Kansas - That's right - the Jayhawks hold the number one rival spot for Mizzou. And they don't even play anymore. But it has only been one year. Ask any true blue Tiger fan what school they HATE the most is and they will tell you it is the Kansans. It really is unfortunate that officials at the University of Kansas are being so trivial, dare I say "butthurt"; that they have canceled one of the best rivalries in the NCAA, especially on the basketball court... Odds are, the Border War WILL come back, but the games are off at the moment... The rivalry of these 2 goes waaaay back, all the way to before the War Between the States (which saw a great deal of Missourians doing the right thing and fighting for the Confederacy, they even had MO reps in the Confederate Congress...) I guess the Jayhawks don't ever want to get ahead in this series, as Mizzou leads 57-54-9, although those lying Kansans will tell you that the record is 56-55-9...
Arkansas - OK, ok... These teams have only met FIVE TIMES with Arkansas holding an edge of 3-2. Truth is, Mizzou's BIGGEST rivals NOT named Kansas are Illinois, Iowa State, Nebraska & Oklahoma (not necessarily in that order). ALL are schools they won't be playing anytime soon. And Arky really does need a big rival to call their very own as well. True, aTm has a shared history in the old SWC with AR, but the Aggies are likely to focus their "hatred attention" towards Baton Rouge. MO vs AR as a heated rivalry just makes sense given the circumstances. My money is on this one turning into something special for both schools.
Clemson - The hatred that Gamecock fans have for Clemson is unrivaled. This is actually a pretty weird situation. The University of South Carolina has historically been 2nd fiddle football wise to Clemson. The state's flagship University taking a backseat to a school named after a city? I can't think of any other situation like it... Their first meeting was in 1896 and Clemson holds a commanding 65-41-4 lead in the series. Carolina has not traditionally been a strong football program and Clemson has historically been pretty good. LATELY, Carolina has taken control of this rivalry winning the last 4. Again, we are talking about that one school that a team's fans DO NOT want to lose to; for Gamecocks, it has to be the Taters...
Georgia - It is always one of the first conference games for both schools. It always seems to set the tone for the season and lately, it has played a big role in who will represent the SEC East in Atlanta. These school first played each other in 1894, a game that UGA won 40-0. Carolina is 19 games back in this series at 17-46-2, but has won the last 3 years. That represents their longest winning streak in the series. Like Florida, the football fortunes of South Carolina have turned around since one Stephen Orr Spurrier stepped on campus to take over as the head ball coach. Ask any die hard Carolina fan, one that bleeds Garnett and Black, one that lived through years of football misery; ask him what one team in the SEC he MOST wants to beat and HATES losing to - he'll tell you it is the Georgia Bulldogs.
Alabama - Historically UT and Bama have been the best teams in the Southeastern Conference. This rivalry even has its own nickname - and special date - the Third weekend in October! Yes, Alabama holds an 11 game advantage, but this series has been intense and hotly contested on both sides. Right now, the Volunteers are down and Bama sits atop the football world, but the odds are, this rivalry will heat back up and Tennessee will be back as a conference and national power.
Auburn - I know, they don't even play every year anymore. BUT, from 1956 until 1992, THIS was one of the best and most intense rivalries in the country. I am ranking this as the Volunteers 2nd biggest rivalry for a few reasons - 1 the game with Florida, which WAS for the SEC East crown for a minute, has become very one sided with UF winning the last 8 in a row - 2 I am letting nostalgia get to me... Auburn has faced off against Tennessee FIFTY ONE times, nine more that UT has seen the Gators on the gridiron... 3 - I just can't place Vandy, Kentucky or even UGA over the Tigers for this 2nd spot. The 1st game between the Tigers and Vols was in 1900 - Auburn won 23-LOVE (another 1st game "W" for the Aubs...). Auburn leads this series 27-21-3. The loss of this classic rivalry was the biggest casualty of the SEC expanding to 12 teams and breaking into divisions... In hindsight, I REALLY wish that Vandy had been placed in the West and Auburn in the East, which would have made better geographic sense, but was not done because then the East would have been WAY too much stronger than the West. Put that in your pipe and smoke it boys...
Texas A & M:
Texas - That's right - the Long(w)horn(e)s hold the number one rival spot for aTm. And they don't even play anymore. But it has only been one year. Ask any true blue Aggie fan what school they HATE the most is and they will tell you it is the Teasips. It really is unfortunate that officials at the University of Texas are being so trivial, dare I say "butthurt"; that they have canceled one of the best rivalries in the NCAA... What's that? You are saying that all I just did was cut and paste my comments from the MO rivalry with Kansas/ Well, maybe I did. I am really just so disgusted with the officials from KS & TX that it is worth saying twice... UGA plays GA Tech, UF plays FSU, KY plays Louisville & Carolina plays Clemson. Surely these 2 Big 12 schools can man up and play their biggest rivals?? Oh yeah, Texas leads this series 76-37-5...
LSU - Arkansas, an old SWC foe, is a VERY CLOSE 3rd... but given the proximity and the history, I have to give the nod to the Tigers. Aggie has had success against the Tigers recently and this game has the making of a classic border rivalry game! With aTm on the rise and LSU entrenching itself as a perennial SEC power, I see big things for this game.
Tennessee - Nobody likes playing 2nd fiddle in their own state, much less their own city. But that is exactly the position the Commodores find themselves in. It may be hard to believe, but not only did the Commodores win the 1st game in 1892, but after 12 games, Vanderbilt held an 11-0-1 advantage in this series! ELEVEN wins, NO losses and ONE tie. Now? Tennessee hold the series advantage 73-29-5. Vandy did win last year and they took the Vols to overtime the year before. Dore's fans are very much hoping that a new trend has started...
Ole Miss - Would you believe that not only did Vandy win the first game in 1894, but the Commodores actually won the FIRST EIGHTEEN GAMES in this series? Vandy was a real powerhouse back in the day... These teams have faced off 86 times and the Rebels hold a 47-37-2 lead in the all time series. Vandy has won the last 3 years in a row and 5 of the last 6, but overall, this has been a very tight and competitive match up.
There you have it, the dcbl breakdown of the best football rivalries in the SEC!
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Edited by dcbl, 20 August 2013 - 06:35 AM.