Whether it’s bowl season or the beginning of the season, there’s something intriguing about non-conference college football games. In fact, some programs have been able to carry on long-standing rivalries with teams that play in other conferences. It’s not always easy to keep these rivalries alive, but administrators usually try to make it happen because they know what the rivalry means to both programs. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of the best non-conference rivalries in college football.
Notre Dame’s affiliation with the ACC has made it a little more difficult for them to keep the Wolverines on their schedule every year. In fact, this rivalry appears to be on hiatus until 2033 unless something happens.
However, the rich history of both programs and the incredible games they’ve delivered over the years are too much to ignore.
Every college football fan knows that there isn’t a rivalry that measures up to the one between Army and Navy. There is both a massive desire to win and mutual respect between the two teams, which isn’t always the case with bitter rivalries.
The two military academies first met in 1890 and have played one another every year without fail since 1930. Most years, it’s the only game scheduled on the weekend after the conference championship games, which speaks to how special it is for both teams and fans across the country.
In close to 100 all-time meetings, the Fighting Irish and the Trojans have given unless countless memorable moments. These teams aren’t regional rivals, Notre Dame and USC always go out of their way to keep the other on their schedule. It helps that both teams have an incredible tradition and are always eager to play against the best.
In addition to the long string of competitive games in this rivalry, the Trojans and Irish are always getting in one another’s way. On multiple occasions, one team has spoiled the other’s hopes of playing for the national championship, which is how you know it’s a great rivalry.
The sheer intensity every time the Gators and Seminoles meet is something special. In-state bragging rights are always on the line, and the fact that most plays hail from the Sunshine State and were recruited by both schools only adds to the hatred between the two teams. While most years both teams are among the elite teams in the nation, you can always throw out each team’s record for this matchup.
This game ends up being more about desire and passion than talent or scheme. Most importantly, a global pandemic is literally the only thing that can keep the Seminoles and Gators from playing one another every year.
To be fair, these teams used to play in the Mountain West Conference together. Fortunately, the Holy War has continued as a non-conference rivalry because both schools recognize how important it is inside the state of Utah. The hatred between the Cougars and Utes, not to mention their respective fanbases goes beyond what you’ll find in any other college football rivalry.
Over the years, there have been incredible games on the field, harsh words said off the field, and even contentious moments between the two fanbases. Even if there’s no guarantee that they’ll play every year, BYU and Utah still have one of the most intense rivalries in college football.