Top 5 non-BCS in-conference rivalries

August, 22, 2008
8/22/08
12:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Through an informal survey, I have tabbed the non-BCS' top 5 in-conference rivalries. The top choice is predictable, but there might be a few others that surprise you.

1. BYU vs. Utah (The Holy War) -- There is no other in-state/in-conference rivalry that supplies the passion of the game on the field with the passion of religion off it. These teams despise each other so much that BYU fans refuse to own anything red and Utah fans have the same feeling about navy blue. This rivalry will be especially heated this year as the two could be battling for the Mountain West title.

2. Fresno State vs. Boise State (Battle for the Milk Can) -- Fresno State is disliked by many around the WAC, but there are few teams Fresno State dislikes more than Boise State. Perhaps it's because Fresno State is a little envious of Boise State's consistent success. Or it could be the fact that the Bulldogs are 1-6 against the Broncos this decade. To Fresno State's credit, that one win cost Boise State the outright WAC title in 2005 (shared with Nevada).

3.  Army vs. Navy -- This game is not just about braggin' rights on the field, it's about national pride. This game, the most tradition-rich rivalry in the country, usually decides the winner of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, which is given to the best service academy. It started in 1890 when some midshipmen challenged a few cadets to play. An order went out to all cadets weighing more than 180 pounds to join practices to try to learn how to play. Two months later, Navy won, 24-0.

4. Bowling Green vs. Toledo (Battle of I-75) -- Despite Toledo having a couple down seasons, the bout for the Peace Pipe is one that still rages strong in Ohio. The rivalry started in 1919. In 1935, a riot broke out after a 63-0 rout by Toledo. The Rockets removed BGSU from its schedule until 1947. That year, a peace pipe was constructed to restore order, but the pipe was stolen from Toledo in 1980 and a replica pipe was made. Bowling Green leads the series 37-31-4, and nine times the game has helped decide a MAC divisional champion.

5. Middle Tennessee State vs. Troy (Battle for the Palladium) -- I'll be honest, I picked this rivalry because of the story behind the battle's name. According to that mythology, the Palladium is a wooden statue that fell from heaven and was kept at the Temple of Athena in the city of Troy. The Palladium was stolen by a Raider during the Trojan War, which led to the fall of Troy. This is young rivalry -- only seven games -- but a closely contested one. Troy leads 4-3, but this decade the series is split 3-3, which has sometimes cost both teams the Sun Belt title.  

Other notable rivalries: Idaho vs. Boise State (Battle of Idaho), Houston vs. Rice (the Bayou Bucket), Memphis vs. Southern Miss (Black and Blue Bowl), and Akron vs. Kent State (Wagon Wheel).

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