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SALT LAKE CITY — There are few things more exhilarating than rivalry week. In Utah, ours comes early this season, and though the implications may be different, the hatred and passion is not. When rivalries are renewed, unforgettable moments are born, every phrase at press conferences are scrutinized, heroes step into the spotlight and goats look for cover … forever.
Here are our top 10 rivalries in sports. This list definitely will not end all rivalry arguments; In fact, it will be sure to start some. On the other hand, maybe hated rivals will unite to argue that their rivalries are better than others.
Yeah, you’re right, probably not.
10. Bears-Packers. This rivalry had waned in recent years until both teams stepped back into the NFL spotlight. There was little doubt that this rivalry was on the big stage again in last year’s NFC Championship game when the Packers knocked Jay Cutler out of the game. The rivalry even spilled into the realm of social media when players began accusing Cutler of faking the depth of his injury. Chicago leads the series 92-84-6.
9. Magic Johnson-Larry Bird. This is the best rivalry between individuals that we’ve ever seen, and it actually burst onto the scene in Salt Lake City at the 1979 Final Four. Johnson and Bird brought interest back to the NBA after they had to show the finals on tape delay because of lack of interest. The two athletes perfectly represented the cities they played for while dominating the game for years.
8. Auburn-Alabama. Football in the Southeast has become a religion. With the resurgence of both teams lately, this rivalry has become the most high-stake rivalry in college football. The rivalry started all the way back in 1893 when the two schools disputed whether or not that game was the last game of the 1892 season or the first of the 1893 season. You have to love the tiny things that rivalries make huge. Alabama leads the series 40-34-1.
7. Utah-BYU. The only thing this rivalry lacks is breadth. The audience isn’t as big as some other rivalries, but the depth of the hatred and intensity is second to none. When someone in the state of Utah gets to know another person, one of the first things they ascertain about each other (whether by stratagem or straightforwardness) is whether or not he/she is a Ute or a Cougar. Other rivalries pit family against family or state against state, but not this one. It splits families and a state for a week every year. Meanwhile, the games make this rivalry even better. No rivalry has the recent history of closeness that this one does. In the last 14 matchups, 12 of them have been determined by less than seven points and eight of which have been decided in the last few seconds of the game. Utah leads the series 54-34-4.
6. Texas-Oklahoma. The Red River shootout takes place during the Texas State Fair every year. This is the only rivalry where an actual river is supposedly up for grabs each year. The winning team’s state apparently takes possession of the Red River for the year until the game the next year. Texas leads the series 59-41-5.
5. Lakers-Celtics. Anything that can get Los Angeles sports fans alive and enthusiastic should be high on any list. This rivalry definitely did that as the Bird-Magic finals essentially brought the game back from the dead. Los Angeles-Boston NBA Finals games brought historic and unprecedented numbers to the TV sets. No one has met in the finals more than these two teams. The two teams also have combined for 33 NBA championships, more than half the amount of finals that have been played. The Celtics lead the postseason series, 43-31. The Celtics also lead the regular season series, 153-121.
4. Giants-Dodgers. This rivalry is so big that the Giants followed the Dodgers all the way across the country from New York to California to keep the rivalry alive. The most famous incident in this rivalry occurred back in 1965, when Giants hitter Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat after Roseboro kept throwing the ball close to Marichal’s head on the way back to the pitcher. The Giants lead this series 1,102-1,082-17.
3. Ohio State-Michigan. Historically, these two teams have been at the top of the polls when they meet at the end of every season in “The Game.” This rivalry has given birth to one of the best coaching rivalries in the history of sports. “The Ten-Year War,” as it was called, between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, included four games between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes in which both teams were ranked in the top five in the country. If the Brady Hoke hype is for real, this may become a big-time rivalry again. Michigan leads this series 57-44-6.
2. Duke-North Carolina. It is very hard to NOT hate a school that plays just eight miles away from you and consistently shares the national spotlight with you. Each win or loss in this rivalry often means the inside track on a No. 1 seed in March Madness. These two teams have dominated the college basketball landscape. North Carolina has appeared in the Final Four 18 times (1st all-time) to Duke’s 15 (3rd all-time). Duke leads this series 131-101.
1. Red Sox-Yankees. Tumbleweeds can be found bouncing down main streets in Boston during a Red Sox-Yankees game … in April. Red Sox fans lament Bucky Bleepin’ Dent, Aaron Boone, and — don’t say it — Babe Ruth. Yankees fans now have to deal with the biggest choke job in the history of baseball from 2004 when the Red Sox came back from down three games to none to win the American League Championship Series and reverse the “curse of the Bambino.” As they read this, Yankees fans are muttering, “There was no curse, the Sox just sucked for 86 years.” With the behemoth fan bases of both franchises that now spread across the country, this rivalry takes hold of the nation for a few days every so often from April to October. It transcends sports and has become a cultural rivalry for both cities and, as things move into late September, we might see another October classic as these two teams edge toward another inevitable ALCS tilt. New York leads the series 1,129-953-14.
Trevor Amicone is the sports director at 88.1 Weber FM "Ogden's Radio Station" and host of the sports talk radio show, "Fully Loaded Sports with Trevor Amicone." To check out more blogs, go to trevorstoptens.com