One scheduling element makes the SEC East more difficult than the SEC West—annual rivalry games with teams from other major conferences.
Where the entire SEC West can schedule non-league games with teams from any conference, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida all have a regular meeting with a big-time rival from the ACC.
This of course means that the four ACC schools involved must play an SEC team, every year.
The result is a major imbalance in strength of schedule—especially when it’s a competitive matchup—and it’s one of the reasons the SEC will require its members to play at least one “major non-conference game” beginning in 2016.
Here’s a look at 12 of the annual, non-conference rivalry games in college football, ranked by all-time competitiveness.
12. Colorado-Colorado State
All-Time Series: Colorado leads 63-22-2 (73.6%)
Last 10: Colorado is 7-3, Colorado State last won in 2012.
Colorado and Colorado State’s 87-game series started in 1890. It has been dominated by the Buffaloes who hold an overwhelming 2,115 to 1,007 advantage in all-time points.
11. Purdue-Notre Dame
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads 57-26-2 (68.2%)
Last 10: Notre Dame is 9-1, Purdue hasn’t won since 2007 in West Lafayette.
Though Michigan-Notre Dame seems a lot sexier than the Irish taking on the Boilermakers, Notre Dame has faced Purdue twice as many times as it has the Wolverines.
This year’s meeting—a Week 3 game in Indianapolis—marks the 85th time that the Boilermakers and Irish have battled for the Shillelagh Trophy (not to be confused with the Jeweled Shillelagh that Notre Dame and USC play for).
10. New Mexico-New Mexico State
All-Time Series: New Mexico leads 68-31-5 (67.8%)
Last 10: New Mexico is 7-3, New Mexico State last won in 2011 in Albuquerque.
The Lobos and Aggies first clashed on a football field in 1894 in Albuquerque, a game New Mexico won 18-6.
9. Iowa State-Iowa
All-Time Series: Iowa leads 40-21 (65.6%)
Last 10: Iowa is 6-4 but Iowa State has won two of the last three.
Iowa and Iowa State’s 61-year old series kicked off in 1894 when the Cyclones scored a 16-8 win in Iowa City.
8. Georgia-Georgia Tech
All-Time Series: Georgia leads 64-39-5 (61.6%)
Last 10: Georgia is 9-1, Georgia Tech’s last win was in 2008 in Athens.
Georgia and Georgia Tech have been dishing each other a heaping helping of “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” since 1893.
All-Time Series: Ohio leads 32-19-6 (61.4%)
Last 10: Marshall is 6-4 but have lost the last three straight.
The Thundering Herd and the Bobcats first squared off to “Battle for the Bell” in 1905 and have met 57 times since then.
6. South Carolina-Clemson
All-Time Series: Clemson leads 65-42-4 (60.4%)
Last 10: South Carolina is 6-4 and have won the last five straight.
The Palmetto Bowl kicked off in 1896 when the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 12-6 in Columbia. The game was played exclusively in Columbia until 1960, when the venue began to alternate with Clemson.
5. Florida-Florida State
All-Time Series: Florida leads 34-22-2 (60.3%)
Last 10: Florida is 7-3, but Florida State has won three of the last four.
The 59th meeting between the two powerhouses from the Sunshine State will happen in this season’s finale, Saturday, Nov. 29 in Tallahassee.
4. USC-Notre Dame
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads 45-35-5 (55.9%)
Last 10: USC is 7-3 but Notre Dame has won two of the last three.
USC and Notre Dame have been duking it out for the Jeweled Shillelagh since they first met in Los Angeles in 1926, a contest the Irish won 13-12.
All-Time Series: Kentucky leads 14-12 (53.8%).
Last 10: Louisville is 6-4 and has won three straight.
The Cardinals and Wildcats have played for Governor’s Cup honors on 26 occasions. The series began in 1912 and after six early meetings took a 70-year hiatus until it was re-established in 1994.
All-Time Series: TCU leads 46-40-7 (53.2%).
Last 10: TCU is 8-2, SMU hasn’t won since 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Though SMU and TCU spent almost 80 years as fellow members of the Southwest and then Western Athletic Conferences, ever since 2001 they’ve met as non-conference foes.
1. Cincinnati-Miami (OH)
All-Time Series: Miami (OH) leads 59-52-7 (53%)
Last 10: Cincinnati is 9-1, Miami last won in 2005 in Oxford, Ohio.
The Battle for the Victory Bell dates all the way back to 1888, when Miami and Cincinnati’s first game ended in a scoreless tie in Oxford, Ohio.
Since then, the two programs have met 118 times resulting in what is one of the most closely-contested long-term rivalries.