The popularity of college football is built on its rivalries. Fan bases – right or wrong – often judge an entire season based on how their favorite team performs in its rivalry contests. Just ask Alabama fans – in a season that they won the national title last year, many are still incredibly upset that the team lost to in-state rival Auburn.
The sport features a number of huge rivalries – but the games themselves don’t always deliver. In fact, there are a number of rivalries that have started to get stale.
Some rivalries don’t have great fan support anymore. Some have become lopsided based on team quality. Others could be great, but haven’t been because the two teams haven’t been good at the same time.
Let’s take a look at 10 major rivalry games that actually suck – at least in recent history.
10. Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
Virginia and Virginia Tech have played 99 times, and while the series record isn’t incredibly lopsided (57-37-5 in favor of the Hokies) its recent history has been awful. Virginia hasn’t beaten its in-state rival since 2003.
For those counting, that’s 14 straight victories for Virginia Tech. Not every game has been a blowout, but it’s fair to say that most fans, heading into the game, assume that the Hokies will win.
It doesn’t help that Virginia Tech is no longer considered a national power either. As such, fans are left with a predictable outcome in a game that doesn’t really shape the national landscape.
9. Stanford vs. California
The Big Game, as its called, hasn’t really been a big deal for a while. Why? Because Cal has become somewhat of a second-rate program in the Pac-12. Stanford has actually won the last eight matchups between the two.
From 2002-2009, Cal won seven of the eight contests. Before that, from 1995-2001, Stanford won all seven.
The bottom line? The two programs haven’t been good at the same time in a long time. That makes for a crappy rivalry series – even if fans still remember it as one of the best in college football.
8. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
If you asked the average football fan about the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech, most would assume that the Bulldogs have owned the Yellow Jackets since the beginning of time. That’s because since 2001, Georgia has a 14-3 record against its in-state rival. It’s all that most people remember.
In reality, this was once a great series. The Bulldogs do lead it overall, but it isn’t as lopsided (66-41-5) as many would believe.
Georgia is a full-on behemoth of a college football program. Georgia Tech, while somewhat successful, is not. It’s hard to have a great rivalry when one program is head and shoulders above the other when it comes to fan support, too.
7. Florida vs. Florida State
Some may question why this one is on here, considering both programs have won national titles in the 21st century. The answer? Timing.
Florida and Florida State has essentially taken turns being nationally relevant over the past dozen years. From 2004-2009, Florida won every matchup between these two – with the Gators winning two national titles in that time span.
But since 2010, it has been all Florida State. The Seminoles are 7-1 against their main in-state rival in that span – adding a national title of their own. So yes, these programs are significant. But they haven’t been great at the same time since the 1990s-early 2000s.
6. Florida vs. Tennessee
Tennessee fans probably won’t be thrilled with where this list heads. Their first appearance comes in their rivalry series against the Florida Gators.
Here’s a crazy stat – Tennessee won 13 of the first 15 matchups between the two schools. But Florida owns the overall record, 27-20. That means that the Gators have dominated the Vols in recent history.
In fact, since 2005, Florida owns a 12-1 record against Tennessee. It’s a depressing set of numbers that Tennessee fans are very aware of.
5. Oregon vs. Oregon State
The Civil War was one of the more entertaining college football rivalry games in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But when Oregon became a national power in the late 2000s, it got ugly. Between 2008 and 2015, the Ducks won every matchup between the two.
Oregon State snuck in a win during a down season for Oregon in 2016, but last year, the Ducks won 69-10.
Oregon State is a struggling program right now. Oregon isn’t a title contender anymore. This game certainly isn’t what it once was.
4. Ohio State vs. Michigan
Yes, Michigan leads the all-time series between these two schools. Still, this game is on this list because of Ohio State’s dominance.
Yes, Michigan gave Ohio State all it could handle in 2016. Yes, the Wolverines almost stole a win in 2013 but lost on a failed two-point conversion. But it’s fair to say that this rivalry has fallen off. Michigan has beaten Ohio State just once since 2004. In that time span, Ohio State has been a national power. Michigan has not.
Jim Harbaugh will have Shea Patterson under center this year, so maybe the Wolverines can get this game off the list.
3. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
The casual college football fan hears “Bedlam” and likely assumes that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have been competitive over the years. Nope.
Oklahoma owns an 87-18-7 record against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have been more competitive in recent years, but the Sooners have still been better. Since 2003, Oklahoma has beaten its main in-state rival all but twice. The games are often shootouts, but far more often than not, they end in Oklahoma’s favor.
2. Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Wisconsin has won the last 14 games between these two – meaning Paul Bunyan’s Axe hasn’t switched locker rooms in a very long time. The Badgers actually just took the series lead, too – 60-59-8. Minnesota once owned this rivalry.
Unfortunately, on top of just the recent record, the games haven’t been close. Only four of the 14 straight losses came by one score or less.
Plus, while Wisconsin has been relevant on a national level, Minnesota has not. This one will probably get worse before it gets better.
1. Alabama vs. Tennessee
The Third Saturday in October has not been very entertaining in recent years. From 1995-2006, Tennessee owned a 10-2 record against its cross-division rival. Since 2007, it’s been the exact opposite. Alabama, under Nick Saban, has not lost to the Vols.
The games have been rough, too. Aside from a 12-10 affair in 2009 and a 19-14 game in 2015, Alabama has dominated its rival. Blowouts, as you’d imagine, are an easy way to wind up on top of this list.
Tennessee has a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt, but as long as Saban stays in Alabama, it’s hard to see this series getting any more competitive.