Sunday, July 13, 2014

Top 50 Rivalries in American Sports History (Part V)

10. Unites States-Soviet Union (International Hockey): A rivalry with roots in the Cold War, the United States hockey team at the 1980 Olympics was not supposed to beat the superior, more experienced Russians in the semi-finals. In what came to be known as the "Miracle on Ice", the United States hockey team, consisting of ammeter and college skaters, beat the Russians by a score of 4-3, as they went on to beat Finland for the gold medal. Russia and the United States had already spent years threatening one another during the Cold War, and the "Miracle on Ice" served as a metaphorical battlefield between these two superpowers.

9. Texas-Oklahoma (College Football): The Red River Rivalry is played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium, a neutral site where the seating is divided equally among Texas and Oklahoma fans. These two bordering states take their football very seriously, and the state schools are both one of college football's most esteemed programs. Texas and Oklahoma have combined for 11 National Championships since 1950. Since the two schools are both currently in the Big 12, a shot at the Big 12 Championship is almost always on the line as the two fight for the Golden Hat Trophy.
8. Dodgers-Giants (Pro Baseball): At the very beginning of this rivalry, both teams were based in the same state, yet a different one from California, where they play today. The Brooklyn Bridegrooms and New York Giants played against one another in the 1889 World Series, yet the rivalry seemed over once the Dodgers moved to the west coast in 1957; however, the Dodgers quickly managed to convince the Giants to move to California as well in order to continue the rivalry. The rivalry has created many fights between the two franchises, both on the field and off. In both 1965 and 1981, fights took place on the field involving the players. Yet recently, the two fanbases have have fought away from the baseball field, where on two occasions, fans were stabbed to death. The fact that this rivalry has led to fights on and off the field makes it one of the most bitter, hate-filled rivalry in sports.

7. Army-Navy (College Football): The Army-Navy rivalry has an incredible amount of tradition that has been created over the past 124 years, seeing how these teams first met in 1890. The inter-service rivalry is more than a football game, but rather, a competition between two inter-service schools whose student body consist of people looking to represent the country in the line of duty. Although Army and Navy rarely have winning records when the two teams play each other, the pageantry and passion seen in every meeting between the two institutions is worth watching once a year. The Army-Navy game is deemed “the most American game”, and rightfully so.

6. Duke-UNC (College Basketball): This in-state rivalry is indisputably the best rivalry in college basketball, seeing how the two schools are less than 20 miles away. UNC and Duke are both top schools in terms of the success of their basketball team, with 9 NCAA Tournament wins between the two. In fact, at least one school has been ranked in the AP Top 25 during the past 139 meetings, a streak that's lasted since 1960. Playing in the same conference has created many memorable games to choose from, whether it be Austin River’s buzzer beater to beat UNC on the road, or the game in 1979 when the score at halftime read 7-0 Duke. Coach K. and Ron Williams are two of the best coaches in the sport, so many more classic moments are sure to come in the future.

5. Ali-Frazier (Pro Boxing): These two boxers have met three times in history, and each fight managed to gain national publicity that has yet to be matched by any other boxing match. The first fight, deemed the "Fight of the Century", resulted in a Frazier win at Madison Square Garden, thus handing Ali the first loss of his career. The next two fights were won by Ali, a boxer known for his trash talk and catchy rhymes. The tensions of this rivalry heightened due to growing unrest taking place in America, such as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War coming to a close.

4. Alabama-Auburn (College Football): This past Iron Bowl game between Alabama and Auburn might just be the best game in college football history, where a 109 yard return by cornerback Chris Davis for the score ended Alabama’s championship bid, thus propelling Auburn into the SEC championship. The state of Alabama is seemingly split down the middle when it comes to this rivalry, and as we know, the south certainly loves their football. Apart from the 2013 Iron Bowl, other memorable games have emerged from this rivalry, such as when quarterback Cam Newton overcame a 24-0 deficit to defeat Alabama by a final score of 28-27, as Auburn eventually went on to win the National Championship.

3. Celtics-Lakers (Pro Basketball): The greatest rivalry in NBA history is a remarkable one, considering that the teams play in different conferences, and thus find themselves playing each other fairly infrequently in the regular season. The postseason, however, has been a different story, as the two teams have been so dominant over the years that they have met a record twelve times in the NBA Finals. The golden age of this rivalry has to be the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson era, but it has also been rekindled in recent years, with the recent dominance of Kobe Bryant in L.A. and the big three in Boston. Though both teams are currently rebuilding, the contests remain heated and competitive in honor of the most legendary rivalry in professional basketball.
2. Red Sox-Yankees (Pro Baseball): This rivalry started when the Red Sox’s owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, ultimately starting the “Curse of the Bambino” once Boston was unable to win their sixth World Series. The rivalry reached its peak in 2004, when the Red Sox became the first team in MLB history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. Following this dramatic series, the Red Sox snapped their 86-year skid, winning their sixth World Series. Violence between fans can be seen on occasion in this rivalry, and seeing how both teams are in the AL East, tensions are always high come September.

1. Ohio State-Michigan (College Football): And last but not least, we believe the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is the greatest rivalry in American sports history. Michigan has the most wins of any school in college football history, whereas Ohio State ranks third all-time in terms of win percentage; as a result, the competitive nature of both schools has formed a bitter rivalry between the neighboring state universities. After first playing each other in 1897, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry reached its peak in a period known as the “Ten Year War”, when Michigan coach Bo Schembechler and Ohio State coach Woody Hayes competed against one another from the sidelines, starting with a Michigan upset over Ohio State in 1969, where OSU was ranked first overall at the time coming off of a National Championship. Flash-forward to 2014, where Ohio State coach Urban Meyer refuses to even say the word “Michigan”, instead referring to them as “that team up North.” There is a different kind of passion among college football fans compared to other American sports, and thanks to the many accomplishments by either school through the years, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has become the most passionate, competitive, and enthralling rivalry in all of sports.

1 comment:

  1. This is garbage, typical sports writers short changing the NHL... An auto racing rivalry in the in the 30s?!?! THATS A JOKE. USA, Soviet Union not in the top 7 and the Bruins, Montreal rivalry not in the 10... Youre a disgrace Jay O'Brien... hang your head and feel bad about yourself.