American football is enjoyed on more than one tier. While fans of the pros have the National Football League, fans of college football have their own leagues. Most schools of any size will at least have one sport; football is a popular one because a successful football team, particularly in the southern states, is a huge boon on prestige and enrollment. In some schools, it's the ''only'' men's sport - the federal Title IX requires equal amounts be spent on men's and women's athletics based on ''gross'' expenditure so a top-tier football program is a major resource hog by that standard even if ''the whole point'' of running it at that level is that it's a profit center for the school and the black from football makes up for the red most if not all of the other sports operate in. A collegiate football player's career begins in high school, with National Signing Day. Prospects, rated on a scale from one to five stars, are selected by the colleges of their choice and are given scholarships.

College football players are not allowed to be directly paid, and schools face harsh punishment if they are found to have paid their players, directly or indirectly. The University of Southern California was found guilty of providing "improper benefits" to football player Reggie Bush in 2004 and 2005, and as a consequence USC was required to forfeit all the games in which Bush appeared after receiving the gifts, including the 2005 national championship game[[note]]The governing body hasn't yet decided whether to strip USC of its championship, but according to official records, nobody won that game. If they do, the 2005 championship will remain vacant[[/note]]. The player himself was [[{{Unperson}} scrubbed from team records and university promotional materials]]. Many other schools have suffered similar fates, most infamously Southern Methodist, which is the only football program to have received the NCAA "death penalty", for over a decade of widespread payments to players. The combination of penalties (including two canceled seasons and 55 scholarships lost) and stigma (few players ''wanted'' to play for SMU after the scandal) was so damaging that it took 22 years before SMU, a former powerhouse, had its first winning season since the scandal (by which point none of the current players had even been born when the scandal broke), and the school ''still'' hasn't come anywhere near its former prominence.[[note]] After the scandal, SMU also significantly increased its academic standards for incoming athletes, which effectively took it out of the running for most of the types of players it had recruited in the past.[[/note]]

College football is played mostly on Saturdays, but there is at least one game every week on Thursday and Friday and often also Tuesday and/or Wednesday, and the opening week of the season sees the remaining two days of the week represented as well.[[note]]This is because the NFL, which traditionally carries those days, generally starts the week after Labor Day weekend, whereas the college football season usually starts the week leading up to it.[[/note]] As with high school football, the playing season is basically the same as the fall semester, but some schools will play a defense vs. offense team scrimmage in the spring to make sure the players are keeping themselves in shape. There is a "bye-week" for most teams to give them some mid-season rest, although some teams use a Thursday for this purpose instead, while others, such as Penn State, play the entire season through without a break. Virtually all college football games are sanctioned by the [[UsefulNotes/{{NCAA}} National Collegiate Athletic Association.]] The NCAA is divided into four divisions: Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A), Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), Division II, and Division III. Each division, in turn, is divided into conferences of about a dozen teams who play most games amongst themselves. A handful of teams (most notably Notre Dame) are independent of any conference.

Division I FBS is the highest level of play and garners the most national attention. There is no officially sanctioned national football champion at this level, with the most widely acknowledged champions being chosen in polls of sportswriters or coaches, with a sole "national champion" being unofficially crowned if both polls agree and a split national championship if they don't. (Originally the sport was primarily played in a number of regional conferences that no one particularly bothered to organize into a coherent whole; the AP didn't start crowning a "national champion" until the 30s.) A number of "bowl games" are played between high-ranked teams at fixed sites in late December and early January, but they don't form any sort of organized tournament. (Originally the bowls were exhibitions; there wasn't even any polls taken after the bowls until the 60s.) The term "bowl game" comes from the earliest bowl, the Rose Bowl Game, which was named after the bowl-shaped stadium where it's played (which in turn got its name from Yale University's stadium, the Yale Bowl; the Rose Bowl was designed as simply a bigger version of the Yale Bowl...and in better climate since it's Pasadena, California). There have been a few systems that have attempted to pair up #1 and #2 ranked teams in a championship bowl game; complaining about the systems is in some circles as cherished a pastime as football itself. Currently, the system is known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which rotates a "BCS National Championship Game" among the sites of four major bowl games functions as a theoretical national championship, and cuts down dramatically on split titles since many of the polls are contractually obligated to vote the winner of that game #1 in the final ballot. Very few actually like the BCS (more on that below), and there has been much debate about a better system, and part of the deadlock was about the large sums of money these bowl games made. Starting with 2014 season, there will be a four team playoff system in FBS football that will crown the National Champion, although this too has already garnered its share of critics before it has even been implemented (see below).

The lower divisions of the NCAA actually have national championship tournaments, and have for decades, but these divisions get little interest except from students and alumni of the participating schools themselves (along with NFL scouts, as many successful pro players have come from the lower-division schools), and sometimes not even then.

The rules of collegiate football are very similar to those detailed on the [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball page about American football]], so we won't go into them here save for the most basic explanation: 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense. Scoring is almost the same as in the professional leagues as well--the defending team can score a point on a blocked PAT and college overtime rules are '''complicated'''[[note]]Each team starts a possession on the opposing team's 25 yard line. The first team posts a score (which can include 0 points), then the other team has to match it to continue OT or beat it to win; otherwise, the first team wins. After the 2nd possession for both teams, the PAT kick on a touchdown is banned; teams must go for two if they score a touchdown.[[/note]]. There are a few different rule changes[[note]]The most obvious ones being that the game clock temporarily stops to move the chain on each first down, the NFL's iconic two-minute warning is not utilized, the ball carrier is down the moment his knee or body touches the ground instead of needing to be touched by a defender, receivers only need to get one foot in-bounds rather than two, and in a recently implemented change, a touchback puts the ball on the 25 yard line for kickoffs (but a touchback on punts is still the 20 yard line).[[/note]], but nothing enough to disrupt the basic flow of the game.

While professional football players can ostensibly play as long as they like (10-15 year runs are not uncommon and 20 years is not unheard of, especially for kickers and punters since they tend not to get hit very often), a college football player's eligibility is more or less limited to four years. We say "more or less" because there is the option of ''redshirting'', where a coach is allowed to stretch a player's eligibility to five years instead of four, with the stipulation that one of those years (most commonly the first, as many freshman are felt to be not quite ready for the collegiate level) will be spent sitting on the bench, and that the player not participate in any games (but can participate in practices, which is the origin of the name; such players traditionally wore a red jersey in practice). Extra redshirt seasons are occasionally granted in extreme cases of injury where a player is sidelined for multiple seasons. Finally, a college player has the option after he is three years out of high school, if he so decides, to forgo the rest of his collegiate eligibility and enter the [=NFL=] Draft early. Also, a player forfeits his eligibility in a sport if he accepts a salary to play the same sport (but not a different sport - mostly notably a few high-profile college footballers have played minor league baseball[[note]]In the past, accepting pay for ''any'' sport would invalidate college eligibility for ''all'' sports, but that rule has since been discarded because it was a stupid rule.[[/note]]), accepts endorsements or signs with a sports agent. A player who leaves early for the NFL Draft but pulls out of the draft before it's held can apply for reinstatement of college eligibility, and the NCAA normally grants it. But once the draft has been held, it's too late even if he isn't drafted.

The Football Bowl Subdivision has quite a few teams, separated, as stated earlier, into a number of conferences. There are a total of 10 conferences in FBS, not including the various independents - such as Notre Dame. You can find a list of the conferences [[UsefulNotes/CollegiateAmericanFootballConferences here]].

The only major independents are Notre Dame, which has had a legendary place in the history of college football (they're the only team, collegiate or otherwise, who have a national television contract for all home games, and still have more national championships than any other team, despite the most recent occurring in 1988) and is the traditional flagship team of American Catholicism (as Notre Dame is a Catholic school), BYU which is a large [[UsefulNotes/{{Mormonism}} Mormon]] university, and Army and Navy, the preeminent service academy teams. The Army-Navy game serves as the traditional last game of the season, and it is still televised despite both service academies having been out of top 25 contention for decades; the service academies have very strict academic and physical requirements (specifically weight limits) that preclude the ability to compete with more forgiving civilian schools. (That hasn't stopped the Air Force from being in contention every now and then, but they're the Air Force.) In 2011, Brigham Young left the Mountain West Conference to become the 4th major independent team. After a major conference realignment that led to the Western Athletic Conference dropping football, Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a football conference and became the 5th and 6th independents in 2013—but were soon rescued by the Sun Belt Conference, which will take them in as football-only members in 2014. Navy will leave the independent ranks in 2015 to join the American Athletic Conference (the league formerly known as the Big East) for football only.

!The Bowl Games
As stated above, the current college football system lacks a true playoff or a true national champion, but that will change in 2014. However, at the end of the season, there are numerous ''bowl games'' that are played between schools. The four largest bowl games are the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the Orange Bowl. A fifth national championship game will be played after these, with the #1 and #2-ranked teams in the nation playing each other. The BCS National Championship Game is played one week after the four largest bowls, and rotates between the stadiums of the four. For the first 8 years of the BCS, one of the four BCS bowls ''was'' the championship game (with the same system of rotation), but the 5th game was added in 2007. These games have conference tie-ins, giving certain conference champions automatic invitations. The Rose Bowl invites the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions, the Orange Bowl invites the ACC champion, the Sugar Bowl invites the SEC champion and the Fiesta Bowl invites the Big 12 champion. When a conference champion is unavailable due to playing in the national championship game, the runner-up traditionally takes their place in the bowl game, although this is at the individual bowl's discretion and they are not strictly mandated to take the runner-up[[note]]At one point the Rose Bowl was actually ''obligated'' to take the champion of a non-AQ conference that had guaranteed its spot the next time it lost one of its auto bids to the championship game; this agreement resulted in Big Ten champion Wisconsin facing Mountain West champion TCU in the 2011 game after Pac-12 (then Pac-10) champion Oregon was selected to the Championship Game[[/note]]. In addition to the conferences with tie-ins, the Big East champion is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, but not in any specific one. These are the "Automatic Qualifying" conferences. The champion of a non-AQ conference can be guaranteed a spot if they're in the top 12 in the year's final BCS ranking, or the top 16 ''and'' is ranked higher than the champion of at least one AQ conference (in practice, usually the Big East). If more than one non-AQ champion meets those criteria, only the highest-ranking one is guaranteed a BCS bowl selection. Non-AQ teams who meet these qualifications are referred to as "BCS busters". If Notre Dame is in the top 8 of the final BCS ranking, they're guaranteed a BCS bowl. No conference can have more than two teams playing in BCS bowls, unless the two teams selected to the championship game are from the same conference and neither is the conference champion[[note]]Because then three teams from one conference would have auto bids--two as the top two teams and one as the conference champion. The only way this is even remotely possible would be if there was only one team still undefeated entering the week of conference championship games, and one of the other teams in the same ''division'' of the same conference was ranked #2 with their only loss coming against that lone undefeated team, and then the #1 team got upset in the conference championship game--and even then it's unlikely. Though this scenario actually had the potential to happen during the 2011 season, ultimately avoided by the #1 team not getting upset[[/note]]. [[LongList If there are any berths remaining after these criteria are dealt with, and the team ranked third in the final BCS ranking is from one of the AQ conferences and is eligible]][[note]]that is to say, there aren't already two teams from their conference who have bids to BCS games[[/note]][[LongList , they get a bid, and if this didn't fill the last bid and the #4 team in the final BCS rankings meets those same criteria, they're given a bid. If there are still any berths in BCS games left, any remaining eligible teams in the top 14 of the final BCS rankings can be given at-large bids to fill them, at the individual bowl's discretion, though if somehow there aren't enough eligible teams in the top 14, this can be extended to the top 18, then the top 22, and so on in increments of four until the bids are filled.]]

The second tier of games consists of lower profile bowls such as the Capital One Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Tangerine Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl[[/note]], Outback Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Hall of Fame Bowl[[/note]], Sun Bowl[[note]]Briefly renamed the John Hancock Bowl, but reverted to its original name five years later[[/note]], Gator Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Peach Bowl[[/note]], Cotton Bowl Classic and Alamo Bowl which are treated with some respect, but usually matchups among the teams in the middle of the pack of their conferences, with mid-major conference champions and major-conference runners-up making the occasional appearance. For many years prior to the implementation of the BCS, the Cotton Bowl was one of the top four bowl games, but was surpassed by the Fiesta Bowl and demoted to second-tier status by the time the BCS came around, mainly because of the condition of the Cotton Bowl stadium and heavy campaigning by the Fiesta Bowl contingent to up their game's reputation (and the fact that when the Big Eight became the Big 12, they switched their affiliation from the Cotton Bowl to the Fiesta Bowl). It still seeks to regain its former status and become the fifth major bowl, and is now played in the showplace Cowboys Stadium (the world's largest dome stadium) to demonstrate this; the Cotton Bowl stadium itself remains in use by the decidedly less tradition-filled Heart of Dallas Bowl Bowl. Like the BCS bowls, these second-tier bowls also have conference tie-ins, but for second or third-place teams in the conferences in question. All of the tie-ins are to the major conferences, making it exceptionally rare for a mid-major team to play in one of these bowls. Which of these games is the most prestigious is debatable. While the Cotton Bowl has strongest tradition and retains its famous name, the Capital One Bowl has the largest cash payout of any non-BCS bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl tends to have the best attendance among non-BCS bowls. Current plans are that when the playoff is implemented, the Cotton Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl (which will regain its old Peach Bowl name) will join the current BCS bowls to form an expanded top tier.

The lower tier of bowl games exists solely as cash grabs and {{Padding}} for {{ESPN}} during the traditionally quiet holiday week in sports, and the stadiums and cities the games are played in (until ESPN grabbed a monopoly on most bowl games in the 1990's, most of these games were still few and far between, aired on syndicated broadcast television and were special). If there was a playoff in college football, the teams in these bowls would be blown out of the first round of the playoffs by the top teams or not even make it, as they usually have records which are only one game above .500 (if that)[[note]]However, since most bowls have a lot of discretion in who they invite, and how much money the bowl thinks they'll make is often the deciding factor rather than trying to get the best team, sometimes actual good teams will get screwed over by the higher-tier bowls and get forced to settle for beating the hell out a scrub team in a bottom-tier bowl. Common victims of this are schools like Boise State, which usually wins its bowl games but is considered a less attractive choice because, being from tiny Idaho, they have a relatively small fanbase.[[/note]]. These games are usually sponsored by NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast, such as the [[OverlyLongName San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl]], Little Caesars Pizza Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Motor City Bowl[[/note]], [[OverlyLongName Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas]][[note]]Formerly the Texas Bowl[[/note]], the Fight Hunger Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Diamond Walnut Bowl; then the Emerald Bowl, which sounds innocuous but was actually named for Emerald Nuts; and still later the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl[[/note]], the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl[[note]]Formerly the [=MPCComputers.com=] Bowl and the Humanitarian Bowl[[/note]], the Belk Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Queen City Bowl, Continental Tire Bowl and Meineke Car Care Bowl[[/note]], the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl[[note]]Formerly the Copper Bowl, Insight.com Bowl and Insight Bowl[[/note]], the [[Series/DuckDynasty Duck Commander]] Independence Bowl[[note]]Historically just the Independence Bowl, notable only because the 1982 edition was the first college football game ever broadcast by Creator/{{ESPN}}.[[/note]] or the [[OverlyLongName Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg]][[note]]Formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl[[/note]]. Many of these bowls ''used'' to have less embarrassing names, before the trend of sponsors using their own name as the ''sole'' name of the bowl instead of just tagging their name in front of the bowl name (something near-universally loathed by football fans) came about[[note]]This also means that when a sponsorship expires, the bowl will pick up an entirely new name. Which means that in addition to all their other shortcomings, these bowls also don't even have a consistent ''identity''[[/note]]. These games are solely of interest to the universities playing only (or will be a future OldShame if your team is invited to the not-very-prestigious-at-all [=GoDaddy=] Bowl[[note]][[RunningGag Formerly the GMAC Bowl]][[/note]]), and about the only accomplishment to be earned by the players outside of a free unwanted trip to Detroit, Boise, Shreveport, Louisiana or Birmingham, Alabama is a CosmeticAward which [[TrailersAlwaysLie means nothing]]. Unless the team lucks out and gets invited to the [[HulaAndLuaus Hawaii Bowl]]. There now so many lower tier bowl games that ''a majority of FBS teams'' will play in a bowl game every year, a fact widely ridiculed by fans. In the 2010–11 season, there was even some worry that there wouldn't be enough bowl eligible teams[[note]]A team must win at least half of its game to be bowl eligible.[[/note]] to play all the bowl games, which would have required teams with losing records to be invited to fill the remaining slots; two years later, this worry resurfaced when four separate teams ended up on postseason bans at once and all four would've otherwise been bowl eligible including one that went undefeated. While ultimately this didn't happen, it illustrates what a meager accomplishment being invited to a minor bowl has become. Once again, there are conference tie-ins for these bowls, but they tend to be a lot less strictly enforced than in higher-tier bowls (especially since a conference might not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all its tie-ins, but also because a major conference probably doesn't care all that much about the tie-in for its 6th place team and a minor conference lacks the influence to do anything about it if their tie-in is ignored). Since non-AQ conferences' tie-ins are exclusively with the bottom-tier bowls, non-AQ champions are almost always stuck in these bowls, but with exceptional seasons they can become BCS busters and jump all the way to the top four bowls.[[note]]Utah in 2004 (beat Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl), Boise State in 2006 (beat Oklahoma in an epic Fiesta Bowl), Hawaii in 2007 (curbstomped by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl), Utah in 2008 (beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl), Boise State and TCU in 2009 (controversially matched against one another in the Fiesta Bowl, which BCS critics declared the "[[UsefulNotes/CivilRightsMovement Separate But Equal]] Bowl", with Boise State winning), TCU again in 2010 (beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl), and Northern Illinois in 2012 (thrashed by Florida State in the Orange Bowl). Two of these schools later joined AQ conferences—Utah joined what would become the Pac-12 in 2011, and TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012.[[/note]]

Obviously, as stated above, it's far from perfect, but it's also difficult for fans to agree on what exactly would constitute a fair playoff system. (Not to mention the difficulty in untangling the tens of millions of dollars in contracts made between the power conferences and the bowls themselves.) Oh, and the discussion is SeriousBusiness. Even the United States Congress has gotten involved in recent years, in college football's own version of ExecutiveMeddling [[note]]In the Congress' defense, ''trainloads'' of money are involved, which can have a huge effect on local and state economies. There's also some definite examples of corruption among the bowls, and the executives of the ostensibly non-profit organizations that run them get ''ludicrously'' huge salaries.[[/note]], with some members proposing a law that would ban the BCS from being advertised as a "national championship" unless it were converted to a playoff system. To the surprise of very few, the most vocal proponents of this idea were Congressmen whose local schools were perceived as having been "screwed" by the BCS. There are [[BrokenBase pro-BCS and anti-BCS parties]], and while the sheer fatigue from injuries might make an elaborate playoff difficult (though lower-division schools manage it), most feel something has to happen.

Things finally came to a head at the end of the 2011 season, when the BCS selected LSU and Alabama, two teams from the same conference (and even the same ''division'' of that conference, meaning that officially one of them was the ''third place'' team of the conference), as the #1 and #2 participants in the championship game, thus effectively snubbing every other conference in the entire FBS. After this, discussion of implementing a playoff system accelerated greatly and, after numerous negotiations between the "power" conferences, a brand new "College Football Playoff" model was formally drawn up and will be adopted beginning in the 2014 season to replace the BCS. The new four-team playoff model will feature the teams being chosen by a selection committee (as in the NCAA basketball tournament) instead of by polls. The sites for the first two semifinal games will be played at existing bowl sites (to be rotated between the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, and Peach bowls), and the Championship game will be awarded to a city based on a bid, much in the same way that the Super Bowl location is decided. Things are still not entirely rosy however. Almost immediately after its announcement however, the new system was met with [[UnpleasableFanbase various criticisms from fans]], ranging from concerns that the new selection committee would be no more unbiased in selecting teams as the old BCS formula (which mixed human polls with a set of complicated computer algorithms that nobody outside the programmers actually understands) to complaints that having only 4 teams compete is nowhere near enough to fairly decide a true champion in the 120-team FBS[[note]]FCS and Division II each have 24-team playoffs, while Division III has a 32-team playoff, significantly more than anyone has seriously suggested for FBS. NAIA has a 16-team playoff. Thus, it's been demonstrated that leagues with considerably less resources than FBS can handle a larger playoff.[[/note]]. The TV deals for this new system extend through the 2025 season, so any hope of expanding the playoff to 8 or 16 teams is a ways down the road.

!Different Levels
Not all American universities, that sponsor varsity football, play within the bowl system. The NCAA has three divisions and Divisions II and III actually have a normal football playoff system. Likewise, Division I has a special subdivision called the "Football Championship Subdivision,"[[note]]Previously, the "Football Bowl Subdivision" and "Football Championship Subdivision" were called Division I-A and Division I-AA. These names are still often used unofficially, as many fans find the new names clunky and stupid. The abbreviations "FBS" and "FCS" are also used more often than the full names due to not sounding quite as lame.[[/note]] where Division I schools, that don't want to put as much emphasis on football as their larger cousins, can play. The current all-divisions record holder for most consecutive winning seasons is Division III's Linfield College, currently at 57. Each of these have their own playoff system to determine a national champion. While most regular season games are done within a division, several teams will play one or two games outside of their division. Teams in the NCAA's Divisions II and III sometimes even play non-NCAA teams. Playing lower-division teams isn't without its risks; when a highly regarded FBS team loses to an FCS team (such as the infamous defeat of then #5 ranked UsefulNotes/UniversityOfMichigan by FCS opponent Appalachian State in 2007, quite possibly the biggest upset in college football history), they become a national laughing stock.[[note]]Amazingly, Michigan has scheduled Appalachian State (a traditional FCS powerhouse that won three consecutive playoff championships in 2005-2007) again for the 2014 season; however, Appalachian State will be a transitional FBS member by then.[[/note]] Also, only one FCS win can count toward bowl eligibility for an FBS team, meaning that if a team schedules two such games they'll need to have at least a 7-5 record instead of 6-6 to qualify for a bowl. By design, this usually discourages FBS teams from playing against more than one FCS team per year. Despite the great majority of these games resulting in a win for the higher-division team, the lower division schools are happy to play them because the higher-division team invariably [[MoneyDearBoy pays them a lot of money to do it]].

There are also smaller college sports organizations outside of the NCAA, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Junior College Athletic Association.[[note]]A "junior college" is a 2-year school attended mostly by people who can't attend a 4-year school due to either poor academic performance in high school or inability to afford the more expensive tuition of a 4-year college. The latter is generally not an issue for football players, who usually have tuition paid by scholarship. Upon graduation, junior college students can transfer to a 4-year college to complete their degree, and usually do.[[/note]] While these organizations are greatly overshadowed by the NCAA, several NAIA and NJCAA football players have gone on to play in the NCAA and/or the NFL.

!Rivalries
While all sports have bitter rivalries, college football tends to have the most pronounced ones in American sports. Some of the more notable have been mentioned above. Rivalries will most commonly feature two teams within a state (like Auburn vs. Alabama), teams whose states border one another (like Texas vs. Oklahoma), and ones with historical significance (like Army vs. Navy).

The following are all notable rivalries. Most feature teams that are frequently in the top 25, and therefore, more likely to put up a good game.

* Harvard vs. Yale (The UrExample, though no longer of much importance except to students at the respective schools. Formerly known as "The Game"[[note]]still known as such by Harvard and Yale students[[/note]] until the more relevant Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry usurped that name.)
* [[InterserviceRivalry Army vs. Navy]] [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg vs. Air Force]] (For the [[OurPresidentsAreDifferent Commander-in-Chief's]] Trophy; Another one of the oldest rivalries, and still going strong. The Army-Navy Game is traditionally the last regular-season game of the year, making it a big draw even when, as is usually the case in the modern era, neither team is nationally relevant.)
* Auburn vs. Alabama ("The Iron Bowl"[[note]]It used to be played in Birmingham, a city known as a major hub of the steel industry.[[/note]])
* Texas vs. Oklahoma ("The Red River Rivalry"[[note]]Formerly the "Red River Shootout", with the old name still frequently used by fans. The Red River forms much of the border between the two states.[[/note]])) - played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, which is almost exactly halfway between the two campuses. Was a non-conference game for decades until becoming a conference rivalry starting in 1996.
* Ohio State vs. Michigan ("The Game" - voted the #1 rivalry in North American sports by ESPN in 2000.) The final game of their regular season since 1935, and before the expansion of the conference and advent of divisional play it was usually the de facto Big Ten championship game. Like many big rivalries, this one grew out of existing animosity between the bordering states.[[note]]Specifically, the "[[UsefulNotes/ToledoOhio Toledo War]]", a dispute over ownership of the economically vital Great Lakes port of Toledo. Ohio got Toledo, but Michigan's had the upper hand in the football rivalry.[[/note]]
* Wisconsin vs. Minnesota ("PaulBunyan's Axe") and [[http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/08/countdown_to_football_31_days.html the ]] oldest annual rivalry in FBS football -- these teams have played every year since ''1907''.
* Florida vs. Georgia ("The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"[[note]]Officially the "Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic" or "Georgia vs. Florida Football Classic" on a rotating basis depending on who the designated home team is (it's always played on a neutral site, so there's no true home team). The schools, the SEC, the NCAA and sportscasters have all tried and failed to remove "Cocktail" from the nickname, seeing it as promoting underage drinking of alcohol.[[/note]]) - Played on a theoretically neutral field in Jacksonville, Florida.
* UCLA vs. USC ("The Battle for the Victory Bell"/"[[RageAgainstTheMachine The Battle of Los Angeles]]")
* BYU vs. Utah ("The Holy War"[[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke BYU is a Mormon university, while Utah is a secular public university.]][[/note]])
* Boston College vs. Notre Dame (also "The Holy War"[[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke Both universities are Catholic; in fact, B.C. and Notre Dame are the only two Catholic schools in FBS]].[[/note]])
* West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh ("The Backyard Brawl", although after WVU left to join the Big 12 Conference in 2012, this series is unlikely to continue) [[note]]The two campuses are less than a two-hour drive away from each other. WVU also draws a significant number of students from the Pittsburgh area.[[/note]]
* California-Berkeley vs. Stanford ("The Big Game"; see also "The Play." Often considered the modern version of Harvard vs. Yale, being played between a pair of very academically prestigious schools... but unlike Harvard and Yale, they still frequently play good football.)
* Kansas vs. Missouri ("The Border War"/"Border Showdown"[[note]]Refers to the conflict between the states over slavery before and during the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar, a history that even in recent years has been directly referenced by the schools' students. Some Missouri students infamously had T-shirts made in 2007 that depicted the burning of Lawrence, Kansas with the text "Scoreboard" underneath, with a quote by pro-slavery militant William Quantrill (who carried out the burning) on the back. Kansas students responded by making their own T-shirts featuring an image of abolitionist leader John Brown with the text "Kansas: Keeping America Safe From Missouri Since 1854." The tamer "Border Showdown" name was introduced in the wake of the [[TheWarOnTerror 9/11 attacks]], on the premise that it was inappropriate to refer to a sporting event as a "war" when the nation was actually at war...[[CriticalResearchFailure despite the old name having been used through every other war the United States fought in the past century]]. Like most attempts to rename rivalries, it never caught on. Former Kansas coach Don Fambrough responded to the attempted renaming by saying "It's a goddamn war. And they started it!"[[/note]]) - Dates back to 1891, and grew out of the considerable animosity that already existed between the states. Though it had been played for 120 years, interrupted only by the 1918 flu pandemic, the annual rivalry ended when Missouri left the Big 12 for the [=SEC=]. Inevitably, fans of each school accused the other of having "surrendered".
* Illinois vs. Missouri ("The [[JustForPun Arch]] Rivalry"[[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke It's played in St. Louis.]][[/note]])
* Michigan vs. Michigan State ("The Battle for the Mitten"[[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke Michiganders frequently call the Lower Peninsula, home to both schools and the vast majority of the state's population, "The Mitten", from its appearance on a map.]][[/note]]/"Paul Bunyan--Governor of Michigan Trophy". Taken more seriously by MSU than UM--as UM has OSU to deal with--with the result that MSU takes it even ''[[UpToEleven more]]'' seriously, in a "what are we, chopped liver?" kind of way. The OSU thing leads to a lot of conflicted emotions for MSU fans, since on the one hand Michigan is the great rival but on the other hand OSU is from Ohio and most MSU fans are Michiganders, leading one to recall Henry Kissinger's comment about the UsefulNotes/IranIraqWar: "It's a shame they can't both lose.")
* USC vs. Notre Dame ("The Battle for the [[FreudWasRight Jewelled]] [[http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-z_dIrTe_D6k/Tp3jo6xvV0I/AAAAAAAAAVc/_ltnviiPVgk/s1600/jeweled-shillelagh_trophy.jpg Shillelagh"]])
* Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss ("The Battle For The Golden Egg"/"The Egg Bowl") [[note]]The "Golden Egg" is the official name of the trophy, first awarded in 1927, consisting of a football-shaped brass piece attached to a wood base. The "Egg" name came about years later—footballs in the 1920s had a much more ovoid and blunt shape than those used today, which means that to more modern eyes, the trophy resembles a large egg.[[/note]]
* Miami [[note]]the University of Miami in Florida, not Miami University, which is in Oxford, Ohio and also has a popular but usually less powerful FBS team[[/note]] vs. Florida State - in addition to being a cross-state rivalry, both teams often vie for the ACC championship
* Florida vs. Florida State - Traditionally the last game of their regular season every year.
* Georgia vs. Georgia Tech ("Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate") Played every year since 1925.
* University of Washington vs. Washington State University (The Apple Cup) [[note]]Washington is of course famous for its apples. The Cascade Mountains keep everything civil during most of the year, with UW fans to the west and WSU fans to the east. Many Washington fans consider Oregon to be their true rival, similarly to how Michigan treats the Michigan State rivalry but not as acute.[[/note]]
* University of Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (Battle for the Commonwealth Cup) [[note]]Virginia is legally known as the "Commonwealth of Virginia."[[/note]]
* Colorado vs. Colorado State ("The Rocky Mountain Showdown")
* Oregon vs. Oregon State ("The Civil War")
* Tennessee vs. Alabama ("The Third Saturday in October"[[note]]An ArtifactTitle, as in the last decade it's usually been played on the fourth Saturday in October.[[/note]]) - Notable for having long winning streaks by whichever team is ascendant in a given decade.
* Tennessee vs. Florida - One of the newer rivalries, but for most of the 1990s it was the de facto SEC championship game. With both teams having declined since then, it's become lower-profile nationally but remains bitterly contested.
* Clemson vs. the University of South Carolina--[[http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/08/countdown_to_football_31_days.html The second oldest annual football rivalry by just two years, dating back to 1909.]] The rivalry between the schools predates their even having football teams, and indeed traces back to before Clemson actually existed, having originally been fueled by post-Civil War state politics.
* Southern Methodist and Texas Christian -- [[UsefulNotes/DFWMetroplex both are in the same metro area]] and both are affiliated with different Protestant denominations (SMU with the United Methodist Church and TCU with the Disciples of Christ). The prize is the Iron Skillet. TCU (Fort Worth) has been more victorious since 1987, since [=SMU's=] (Dallas) infamous Death Penalty judgment.
* Auburn vs. Georgia ("The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry") - First played in 1892 and became an annual game in 1898. But interruptions for UsefulNotes/WorldWarI and UsefulNotes/WorldWarII prevented it from being the oldest annual rivalry.
* LSU vs. Auburn ("The Tiger Bowl"[[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke Both teams are nicknamed "Tigers".[[/note]])
* LSU vs. Arkansas ("The Battle for the Golden Boot"[[note]]The winner brings home the "Golden Boot", a massive solid-gold trophy shaped like a map of Arkansas and Louisiana, thus roughly resembling a boot.[[/note]])
* Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State ("Bedlam Series"[[note]]Actually originated as a rivalry between the schools' ''wrestling'' teams, with the name derived from raucous home crowds at OSU's arena. But between football being a much higher-profile sport and OSU's utter domination in wrestling, the football rivalry has become the main attraction.[[/note]])
* Texas vs. Texas A&M ("Lone Star Showdown"[[note]]They're the two largest schools in Texas, the Lone Star State.[[/note]]) - Dates back to 1894 and is a long-standing traditional UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay game, but like the Border War it may be ending because of conference realignment. With A&M leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, Texas has said they have no room on their schedule for the game until 2018 at the earliest. Both fanbases seem to simultaneously blame the other school for the ending of the game as if this is a bad thing, [[SourGrapes and then claim they didn't really want to play it that much anyway.]] A significantly less tradition-filled game between Texas and either Baylor or Texas Tech (or TCU since their joining the Big 12) has for the time being stood in for Thanksgiving.
* Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (An old Southwest Conference rivalry that was recently revived as a non-conference game played in Arlington, and is now entrenched annually as Texas A&M joined the SEC and was placed in the same football division as Arkansas)
* TCU vs. Baylor (Another old Southwest Conference rivalry with the added enmity that Baylor allegedly played politics to keep TCU out of the Big 12.[[note]]Then-Texas Governor Ann Richards was a Baylor alum and had allegedly lobbied heavily to allow Baylor to join the new conference over other potential schools from the SWC.[[/note]] With TCU joining the Big 12, this rivalry has now come full circle.)
* Iowa St. vs. Kansas St. ("[[{{Pun}} Farmageddon]]")
* Kentucky vs. Louisville (The Governor's Cup) – Although hard-fought on the football field, this matchup is much better known as a men's basketball rivalry. This is a relatively recent rivalry—after the first half of the 1920s, UK steadfastly refused to schedule U of L in either sport for decades. The modern basketball rivalry began in 1983 (after no regular-season games for ''over 60 years''), but the modern football rivalry had to wait until 1994, after a ''70-year absence''.[[note]]Perhaps not coincidentally, U of L's head coach when the football rivalry resumed, Howard Schnellenberger, had played at UK.[[/note]]
* North Carolina vs. Virginia ("The South's Oldest Rivalry", which has been played since 1892, continuously since 1919)
* Arizona vs. Arizona State ("The Duel in the Desert," notable for being played for the Territorial Cup[[note]]So named because when it was instituted, the schools were in the Arizona Territory, which wouldn't become a state for another 13 years. Arizona State was at the time called Tempe Normal School ("normal school" meaning a college for the training of teachers), as being located in a territory it by definition couldn't be a "state university."[[/note]], which has been certified as the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, having first been awarded in 1889.[[note]]Back in 1889 Arizona State was the Arizona Territorial Normal School football team and were awarded the first Territorial Cup after winning the Arizona Territorial Football League Championship after defeating the Phoenix Union High School, the Phoenix Indian School and the University of Arizona. The first game in its modern incarnation, played solely between UA and what would later become ASU, was played in 1899.[[/note]])


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