What are the best college football rivalries

Big Four - The US Sports Column : At the epicenter of college football

The invitations have been issued, the appointments are in place. Shortly before Christmas, the American college football season traditionally approaches its climax: the bowl series. Then the best teams in the country meet to celebrate the end of the season with a game, mostly under the sun of California, Florida or Arizona. Due to the increased number of sponsors and the great interest in television, there is now an inflationary number of bowl games, which does not detract from the enthusiasm of the Americans. You are excited about the school you attended years ago or stick to a team due to regional proximity. The enthusiasm is especially great in the south. So big that it sometimes turns into fanaticism.

The epicenter of college football is Alabama. Nowhere else in the United States can one better understand the American enthusiasm for university sports, which is difficult to understand from a European point of view, than here in the Southern Province. Alabama has almost five million inhabitants in an area that corresponds to about a third of Germany. There are no big cities and consequently not a single team in one of the four major professional leagues, so there is little interest in professional sport. But that's what college football is for. Due to the respective universities, there is a high regional identification factor and deep social roots. In contrast to many NFL teams with their highly paid and interchangeable mercenary troops, whose owners may also pack their bags with their team if they sense a better market elsewhere. College football is closer to the people. Auburn's average viewership of 85,000 speaks volumes. The University of Alabama with its colossal Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa has had over 100,000 spectators for years.

It's hard to find someone in Alabama whose heart doesn't beat either red and white for the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide or blue and orange for the Auburn Tigers. The rivalry is enormous, and arguments keep making headlines. Cars were smeared, waiters were refused tips, and marriages are said to have broken up as a result of the football rivalry. In 2010, Auburn fans hung a jersey from their quarterback on the statue of Alabama's coaching legend Paul Bryant. In response, an Alabama fan poisoned the two Virginia oaks at Toomer's Corner in Auburn with chemicals. The trees are a kind of sanctuary for Auburn fans and the square is a traditional meeting place for celebrations after the games. The emblematic oaks did not survive the poison attack; they were felled in April of this year.

So you can roughly imagine what's going on in Alabama when the annual Iron Bowl is on the program. There have been many gripping duels between the two rivals, in which not only the supremacy in Alabama, but also the chance of the national championship is at stake.

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