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Top Sports Rivalries of All Time
Rivalries in sports are what define athletes and the spectators.
31. Indiana Hoosiers vs Purdue Boilermakers
In the 1980s and 1990s, the state of Indiana had two of the nation s best basketball programs no wonder the movie Hoosiers was released in 1986. In Bloomington, Bobby Knight was the king and would win two national championships and seven Big Ten titles during those two decades. A hundred miles north, in West Lafayette, Gene Keady put together a great program of his own, winning six regular season Big Ten championships during the 80 s and 90 s. In the winter of 1987, the two met twice in the span of a month, with both teams ranked in the top 10. Fittingly, Indiana successfully defended their home court in the first showdown, while Purdue did the same a month later. Although Purdue would finish with a great 25-5 record and took a share of the Big Ten title, they lost in the second round of the NCAA tourney, while Knight s Hoosiers earned their third NCAA championship in 12 years.
32. Australia vs England
Over 130 years ago, the Australian and English cricket teams met at the Kennington Oval. Australia shocked the British and took home victory. A mock obituary written in a British paper said the English body was to be burned and the ashes taken to Australia. This began the Ashes, a rivalry between England and Australia which continues to this day. Since 1882, well over 300 Ashes matches have been contested with Australia winning 128 and England 103. In addition to having the most overall match wins, the Australians also take pride in holding the Ashes for all of the 1990s and the early 2000s. The dominance was such that it led to much questioning in England over what was wrong with its team and leadership.
33. Miami Hurricanes vs Florida State Seminoles
It s not as old as many of the other great rivalries in college football, but in the last quarter-century, the Seminoles and Hurricanes have fielded some of the greatest teams in the game s history. And since both programs are now in the ACC and one of these days could meet in the conference title game, it has a great future. The 1980s and 1990s showdowns were great, with all of the nail-biting finishes and Heisman Trophy winners. But the 2000 edition should be considered the greatest Not only did it come down to the last play (another missed field goal attempt, this time by FSU), but both teams would finish that season with 11 wins and trips to BCS bowl games. In 59 meetings, Miami leads, 31
34. USC Trojans vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh has featured a handful of absolute thrillers, whether they were in South Bend or Southern California. The 1968 tie that featured Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson and Irish legend Terry Hanratty was a great one, as was the 1978 edition in which the Trojans came back to beat Joe Montana in his last game against USC. But the infamous Bush push in 2005 was the best. A back-and-forth affair that hinged on a string of big plays (a punt return by Tom Zbikowski, a long touchdown pass from Brady Quinn to Jeff Samardzija and two long touchdown runs by Reggie Bush), the game ultimately came down to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart capping off a 75-yard drive with a one-yard run that was aided by a quasi-legal push from eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bush. In 85 meetings, Notre Dame leads, 45
35. Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens
Only in an extremely rare case would a rivalry less than 20 years old make it this high. But the Steelers-Ravens are an exception. They play in the same division, so they meet twice a year, but because they often have two of the best defenses in the NFL (six of the last 14 Defensive Player of the Year Awards have went to Steelers or Ravens), so it s obviously a special, extremely hard-hitting affair. Now, they ve met in the playoffs four times in the past decade and a half and they are almost always classics. This matchup is one of those that all NFL fans mark on their calendar in the preseason, you don t even have to be a Steelers or Ravens fan.
36. Chicago Cubs vs St Louis Cardinals
The Cubs vs. Cards rivalry is one of the best in all of sports. But because there hasn t been a single postseason contest between the two and they only have a few one-two finishes in their 100-plus years of battling, we can t declare it one of the top three baseball rivalries of all time. How often has the pennant hinged on a late-season Cubs-Cardinals showdown? Not very often. But in early September 2003, St. Louis held a one-game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central race, when the Cardinals went to Wrigley for an incredible five-game set. Chicago took four of five to leap over the Cardinals and eventually claim their first division title in nearly two decades. But of course we all know how that ended.
37. Army vs Navy
Certainly, this is the most poignant rivalry in all of sports. Presidents routinely attend and the patriotism on display is unequaled. But the game has lost some of its importance in the college football world since the 1960s neither team is a national championship contender. Still, the series is extremely close, with Navy holding a slight edge, 59-49-7. One of those Navy victories came in 1963, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach led the 8-2 Midshipmen to a 21-15 victory over the 8-2 Black Knights, two weeks after former Navy Lt. President John F. Kennedy who was supposed to be in attendance was assassinated.
38. Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys
The team of America s capital versus America s team. This rivalry began even before the Dallas Cowboys franchise existed. Clint Murchison Jr. was a Texas oil tycoon who wanted his own NFL team in the 1950s. Murchison tried buying the Washington Redskins from George Preston Marshall but the deal fell through. He then pushed for the creation of an expansion team which was blocked by Marshall until the Redskins owner found out Murchison owned the rights to Washington s fight song. A deal was reached and the Cowboys were born. In the expansion draft, the Cowboys picked the Redskins star quarterback who was left unprotected. This rivalry has deep roots and, after 100 head-to-head games, favors the Cowboys who are 65-43-2.
39. Oklahoma Sooners vs Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Big Eight turning into the Big XII in 1996 slowly watered down one of college s best rivalries. And Nebraska heading to the Big Ten in 2011 was effectively the death knell. Still, for decades, the annual Sooners-Huskers game was often an audition for the national championship. The Sooners owned Nebraska throughout the 1950s, just like they owned virtually every other team in the nation. But Nebraska began to catch up in the late 1960s. The famous Game of the Century in 1972 pushed the annual battle to the forefront, but with Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne becoming legends during the 1970s and 1980s, the rivalry became one of the most anticipated showdowns on the college football schedule. Incredibly, the Sooners and Huskers have played one another nine times with both teams ranked in the Top Five or better. And although this rivalry is done since the NCAA and colleges royally fucked up with all the conference changes, this series will always be remembered. It ended with Oklahoma leading 45
40. Oklahoma Sooners vs Texas Longhorns
As great as the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry was for many decades, the Red River Shootout is better barely. And not just because it is still alive and well today but almost every year, both teams are ranked and lately both programs are also national championship contenders when they meet in early October(usually). The Sooners and Longhorns have played each other nine times with both teams ranked in the Top Five or better, matching the OU-Nebraska rivalry s mark. As it stands today, Texas leads, 60
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