Welcome to Hate Week, the weekend when lots of FBS teams play their biggest rivals. This college football season hasn’t really been great, but there’s something in the big-name rivalry games every year. Regardless of how few teams are in Playoff contention, everybody has something to play for in rivalry weekend.
While there’s plenty of debate on the best rivalries played each year over Thanksgiving weekend, here’s a question: which conference has the best overall group?
Let’s run through how each Power 5 league does Hate Week, listing the most notable annual games.
Illinois vs. Northwestern
Purdue vs. Indiana
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
Michigan vs. Ohio State
I don’t have to sell you on Michigan-Ohio State. That game stands on its own, whether a fourth down spot is determining a Playoff berth or not.
Illinois and Northwestern is a football game.
Minnesota-Wisconsin has a damn axe.
And talking about Purdue-Indiana is an excuse to bring up a game so petty that, besides being one of the most-played games in the history of the sport, also involves one of our blogs BOFAing another.
Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss
Arkansas vs. Missouri?
Auburn vs. Alabama
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
If you want Egg Bowl context, we made a TV show about how wild that got, and it has literally nothing to do with what’s happening on the field.
The Iron Bowl has all the craziness of the Egg Bowl off the field, but with actual epic season-altering games recently on the field.
Arkansas and Missouri is the SEC’s extremely desperate attempt to create a rivalry game where there isn’t one (there’s even a fun trophy), and Tennessee-Vanderbilt is a series defined by the fact that the Dores got most of their 32 wins by 1927.
Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
NC State vs. North Carolina
The North Carolina-NC State game features one team that cares way more about another sport, and out Virginia Tech blog says this about the Commonwealth Cup:
PLEASE STOP BEING EXCITED OR CROWING ABOUT BEATING THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA AT FOOTBALL. WE SHOULD PILEDRIVE THEM. THEY STINK. AND IT STINKS.
ACC and SEC games
Florida State vs. Florida
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia
Kentucky vs. Louisville
South Carolina vs. Clemson
We can’t really attribute these games to either league. They hang in conference limbo. Louisville and Kentucky is a basketball-only hate fest, but the football game has enough hatred there make it fun. Florida-Florida State hasn’t had national stakes for both teams since the ‘90s, but there’s a bowl streak on the line for the Noles this year and Florida’s offense is actually watchable — sometimes. Clemson-South Carolina has been hilariously unbalanced through the years, but it’s an agrarian culture clash.
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate (between the Dawgs and the Jackets) often gives us horticultural animus, and that cannot be ignored.
At least the Baylor-Texas Tech Bu-TT Bowl’s here, because nothing else is any more, from a true rivalry standpoint. Bedlam got moved due to the new Big 12 Championship, and Texas-Texas A&M got moved due to conference realignment.
Oregon vs. Oregon State
Washington vs. Washington State
BYU vs. Utah
Arizona State vs. Arizona
Notre Dame vs. USC
Thank God the Holy War is on Hate Week because oh boy is it a spite-filled game. Who knows how many Holy Wars we’ll get in the future, so let’s treasure the 2018 version. It’s a rivalry game with real religious implications, and what could be better than that?
The Civil War, Territorial Cup, and the Apple Cup are good in-state battles, and while Notre Dame-USC features tons of history, if you’re looking for actual hatred, it’s not exactly the place to go (and every other year it’s played in October because USC got too cold in the ‘60s).
Rivalry Week really has something for everyone.
If you’re looking for real good in-state wars, the SEC, ACC, or Pac-12 is probably your bag. The SEC has incredible off-field drama to spice its games up. The ACC has, well, some games outside of the ones it shares with the SEC. The Big Ten has tons of trophies, and the Pac-12 manages to have religion as a stake. And that’s before we even get into the annual rivalries in the Group of 5 conferences.