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Top 5 Greatest Team Rivalries In Sports

By Brian Cullen

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Ever since the poet Homer reported about fans eagerly lining the stands to see the Troy Trojans versus the Greek Diners, mankind has been enthralled by rivalries. Sure, it's entertaining enough to see, say, the Padres play the Royals. But isn't it even better when those teams hate each other? Isn't it more satisfying as an entertainment medium when the outcome of the game will determine who's elated -- and who's deflated? I think so.

That's why, today, we're ranking our top 5 favorite team rivalries. Now, there's a HUGE caveat here. These are subject to my personal opinion. So if you get pissed off the Real Salt Lake and FC Walla Walla aren't on here, please feel free to shred me in the comments section.

5. Notre Dame vs. Everybody

Hi! I went to Notre Dame, and even I get sick of our BS from time to time. So it's totally understandable that the Fighting Irish are loathed by (ahem) USC, Michigan, FSU, Miami, Michigan State, BC, Purdue, Stanford, Navy and so on and so forth. Of these, the Navy game is actually one of my favorite games to watch in all of sports.

Notre Dame almost closed down during World War II. They were kept financially afloat only because the Naval Academy opened an ROTC center on campus. They decided they'd honor each other with a game every year. (For a real treat - watch the after-game footage from any ND-Navy game. Both teams take their helmets off and salute both school bands. It's pretty cool.)

But besides Navy? Nothing but bad blood.

4. Duke vs. UNC

Duke and North Carolina are separated by 10 miles of highway and have met on the court 237 times. The rivalry got started 50+ years ago when Duke's Art Heyman and UNC's Larry Brown punched each other in the face. Both teams have routinely been excellent over the years, and both have rabid fanbases who could essentially bike to away games. There are some other notable college basketball rivalries out there, but this one takes the cake.

3. Ohio State vs. Michigan

If asked who I'd prefer to win this game, I'd vote for a miraculous beam of light gracefully dancing upon the heads of both schools' athletic directors, who suddenly decided they didn't want to play football anymore. Instead, we're treated to two large schools with excellent football programs and insufferable fans slugging it out towards the end of every season. The only benefit of this game is that one of these teams has to have their dreams crushed.

Dirt Fest: Hatebreed
(credit: Terry Shear)

2. Red Sox vs. Yankees

What can be written about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry that hasn't been written already? Growing up in Connecticut (as in, the one state the separates these two teams), I got a unique view of everything. People all over the state pick a team and go whole hog; my Red Sox fan-ship led to me becoming both a Celtics and Patriots fan. No Bruins, though (Hartford Whaler 4 Life). Obviously, the Yankees have the all-time record, but the 2004 World Series was something right out of a Hollywood script.

1. Army vs. Navy

Here's where I might take some flak, but whatever. The reason I love the Army-Navy rivalry is because I frequently have to remind myself that, at the end of the day, sports are about entertainment (see: David Tyree helmet catch; my remote control shattered against the wall.) To me, nowhere is this as apparent as the Army-Navy game. The young men on the field and the young men and women in the stands aren't destined for draft day. Plus, tailgates at West Point are supposed to be top notch. For this, we give them the #1 rivalry on our list.

Now again, these are personal opinion. If and when you disagree with me, remember: the comments section is right there.

Check out more of our Top 5 Lists.

Brian Cullen writes vaguely sad comedy articles for Tailgate Fan and Man Cave Daily. Follow him on Twitter @bucketcullen.

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