The Wolverines versus the Buckeyes. The Iron Bowl. We will witness two of college football’s greatest rivalries this weekend when Alabama plays at Auburn and Ohio State travels to Michigan. Many pundits and fans argue which of these two games is the most intense and best rivalry in the sport. The Michigan-Ohio State game really flourished during the tenures of Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, especially with the latter’s hatred for the Wolverines. Big Ten supremacy has often been on the line for the last 40+ years when the OSU and Michigan meet. Alabama and Auburn started in 1893 but went on hiatus from 1908-1947 because of disagreements between the two schools. Once it resumed, the Iron Bowl quickly became known as the most important day of the year in the Yellowhammer State. The Tigers and Tide always play one of the hardest-hitting games of the college football season, and the winner of the last two Iron Bowls has gone on to win the national title.
More intense: Ohio State-Michigan or Alabama-Auburn?
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I think it has to be the Iron Bowl. You have to make a decision at an early age in the state of Alabama, “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” Both games have had national significance, Hall of Fame coaches, great players and Heisman winners, but what separates the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is that the fans live in the same state. I don’t want to say the Michigan-Ohio State is overhyped, but their fans do not have as much of the constant hate or frustration that builds up from having to see their rival’s fans on a daily basis. If you have spent any time in the state of Alabama, you know the feeling between the two fan bases. Michigan-Ohio State and Auburn-Alabama are obviously both great rivalries that we all watch intently on Saturday, but I’ll take the Iron Bowl as the most intense.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
You really can’t go wrong with this answer, but I’m going to say Alabama-Auburn. The past few seasons, there has been more on the line between these two teams. The Tigers and Crimson Tide are the last two national champions, so the stakes have been raised in the recent meetings. There’s nothing wrong with the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. I enjoy watching both every year. However, it recently seems there has been less intensity or at least interest nationally, especially with the Wolverines struggling under Rich Rodriguez. With Urban Meyer taking over in Columbus, and Brady Hoke pushing Michigan back into Big Ten title contention, I have no doubt this rivalry will increase in intensity over the next few years.
Last year, Auburn-Alabama was the de facto national championship game. But in terms of pure, intense "rivalry" it does not get any better than Michigan-Ohio State, which dates back to 1897 and has decided multiple national champions and Heisman Trophy winners — with Desmond Howard's Heisman pose against the Buckeyes punctuating his 1991 campaign and becoming one of the more iconic moments in college football history. There is too much tradition and pride. The Wolverines and Buckeyes have combined to claim 18 national championships and 10 Heisman Trophy winners. U-M and OSU have the history, highlighted by Bo vs. Woody, as well as recent relevance, with a combined two national titles and three Heisman winners in the 15 seasons prior to 2011. Last season's unbelievable comeback by the Tigers, who trailed the Crimson Tide 24–7 at the half before riding Cam Newton to a 28–27 win in Tuscaloosa, was one for the ages. But Michigan-Ohio State is the more intense rivalry.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Fan is short for fanatic. Not rational or logical or reasonable. Every fan base in the nation has a portion of insanely passionate, blinded-by-love rooters who wear only one pair of colored glasses. That percentage just happens to be higher in the state of Alabama than anywhere else. So while the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry might have had more national appeal over time, has historically drawn a bigger TV rating and has been a more important game within the landscape of deciding a conference winner, nothing can compare to the fervor and vitriol swirling around the Iron Bowl. In what other rivalry does a man commit a misdemeanor by trying to kill a bunch of trees and then call the most listened to radio station in the state to brag about it?