SEC football rivalries are in a league of their own. The SEC has some of the most dedicated fan bases in the country, even when compared to professional sports. Fans aside, the high level of football played in the South leads to strong competition within the conference.
Competition means rivalries, and SEC football has plenty of those. It’s easier to name teams that don’t hate each other than the ones that do. But how do you determine the strength of a rivalry?
It would be easy to look at all-time history alone, but who wants to talk about football from the 60s? It’s 2021, and football is drastically different than what it was even 20 years ago, let alone 60.
So, in no particular order, let’s dive into the best SEC football rivalries right now.
Best SEC Football Rivalries Right Now
Alabama – Auburn: 47-37-1
The Iron Bowl is always expected to be competitive regardless of how either team is that season. Auburn has certainly had some down years when it received some beatings from the Crimson Tide, but the Tigers have also dethroned the college football juggernauts on numerous occasions.
Both schools are located in Alabama and are only three hours apart from one another. The tension between both schools starts before students even step on campus as every resident of Alabama has to pick a side early on in their childhood. College football is king in the South, and that couldn’t be truer than in Alabama. Both of these schools truly hate one another, and the fan bases certainly bring this rivalry to the next level.
Alabama has sat on the college football throne for more than a decade now. Over the past 10 years, Auburn has upset the Crimson Tide four times. It doesn’t matter that Alabama consistently has a higher rated recruiting class or more national spotlight, Auburn generally comes ready to play an entire four quarters of football.
The atmosphere of the Iron Bowl is something that only truly be experienced in person, and some amazing games have happened in the series lately. But none are quite as famous as the Kick Six from 2013.
Ole Miss – Mississippi State: 63-46-6
This classic rivalry got a rebirth recently with both schools hiring new head coaches. Lane Kiffin has shown that Ole Miss will be competing for an SEC title sooner than later, and Mike Leach has brought his explosive air-raid offense to the South. Both of these coaches are some of the best in college football, and it’s amazing that they get to duke it out every year in the Egg Bowl.
Similar to Alabama and Auburn, this in-state rivalry holds a high level of importance in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss gained a good lead in the all-time record during the 50s and 60s, but this game has been determined by nearly one possession ever since. This blue collar matchup is always a gritty game regardless of each team’s record. This rivalry will certainly be more high scoring than years past with new exciting head coaches at the helm.
Georgia – Florida: 53-44-2
Florida and Georgia have been the cream of the crop in the SEC East in every year since 2015. Whoever wins this game typically earns a spot in the SEC Championship Game to inevitably lose to Alabama, but that’s beyond the point. This is one the SEC’s football rivalries that seems to always have conference and national championship implications.
One of the most entertaining aspects of this rivalry is that it’s played on a neutral field every year. Out of the 97 games played between these two schools, 89 of them have taken place in Jacksonville, Florida. Both Georgia and Florida fans alike meet in the middle to play this one on a neutral site, raising the stakes a bit more than your traditional home-and-away series.
Normally, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is a matchup of some of the best coaches in college football. While Dan Mullen appears to be out of a job in the coming weeks, Florida is one of the most desirable coaching positions in the sport, and the Gators will certainly land a big name as their next head coach. The rivalry is relevant now more than ever because of Georgia’s recent dominance and Florida seemingly needing a new coach to match the caliber of what the Dawgs have built.
Alabama – LSU: 55-26-5
Although Alabama has dominated this matchup in recent history, this rivalry always brings out the best of both teams. These two Southern powerhouses fight hard for bragging rights in the SEC West, and sometimes for division titles. LSU is always trying to be the next Alabama but struggles to get over the hump, though it famously did so in 2019 en route to a national championship. The culture of both programs is to be No. 1, which leads to an intense game every year.
With Ed Orgeron out of the driver’s seat, the LSU job arguably the most desirable in the country, and the Tigers will definitely hire a big-name coach to fill the vacancy. LSU has all of the tools to be successful, so hopefully a new coach can light a spark to this historic rivalry.
Georgia – Auburn: 62-58-8
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is one of the best rivalries in college football, let alone the SEC. It’s the second-most played series in the FBS with the first game happening in 1892. These gritty, blue-collar teams collide head-to-head every year, even though they play on separate sides of the SEC.
Sure, Georgia has won five in a row and eight of the last nine, but too many historic moments have happened in this rivalry in recent times to be left off the list. From the Miracle at Jordan Hare in 2013 to the huge upset in 2016 to the near fourth-quarter comeback in 2019 and more, the ferocity is still there in a big way.