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Molly Sequin | | November 22, 2022

The 19 oldest rivalries in college football

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The first known college football game was played in 1869 and it wasn't long before rivalries began to develop between the earliest football teams.

Here are the 19 oldest rivalries in Division I college football, across the FBS and FCS, beginning with Yale vs. Princeton in 1873. These are taken from official NCAA record books, which you can find here on

Teams first played
Yale-Princeton 1873
Yale-Harvard 1875
Princeton-Penn 1876
Princeton-Harvard 1877
Yale-Brown 1880
Harvard-Dartmouth 1882
Lafayette-Lehigh 1884
South Dakota St.-South Dakota 1889
Cornell-Columbia 1889
Penn-Cornell 1893
Harvard-Brown 1893
North Dakota-North Dakota St. 1894
Montana-Montana St. 1897
William & Mary-Richmond 1898
Dartmouth-Cornell 1900
Illinois St.-Eastern Ill. 1901
North Dakota St.-South Dakota St 1903
New Hampshire-Maine 1903
Western Ill.-Illinois St. 1904

Here's more on the oldest rivalries:

Yale vs. Princeton

Yale Athletics Yale upset No. 18 Princeton 51-14 in 2019Yale upset No. 18 Princeton 51-14 in 2019.

The Yale-Princeton rivalry is the oldest in college football, dating back to 1873. Yale and Princeton dominated the college football scene when this rivalry began, with Yale claiming 13 outright national titles and Princeton claiming eight between 1869 and 1894.

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Yale vs. Harvard

Harvard Athletics The 2018 game was played at Fenway Park.The 2018 game was played at Fenway Park.

One of the more well-known rivalries, simply called "The Game," has been around since 1875.

Princeton vs. Penn

Princeton's third-oldest college football rivalry with an Ivy League opponent is the Princeton-Penn series. This one began three seasons after their rivalry with Yale was born, in 1876. 

Princeton vs. Harvard

Princeton Athletics Princeton won its third-straight game against Harvard in 2019Princeton won its third-straight game against Harvard in 2019.

As you can tell, Princeton takes part in a lot of the oldest rivalries. This one, versus Harvard, has been going on since 1877. 

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Yale vs. Brown

Yale Athletics Yale rolled over Brown 59-35 in 2019Yale rolled over Brown 59-35 in 2019.

This rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Bears began in 1880 and adds another to the list of Ivy League matchups that make up the oldest rivalries in college football. 

Harvard vs. Dartmouth

Dartmouth Athletics Dartmouth beats Harvard 9-6A Hail Mary gave Dartmouth a 9-6 win over Harvard.

This rivalry, which started in 1882, is played between the Crimson and the Big Green. Dartmouth faced an extremely rocky start to the rivalry, not posting a win until 1903 (21 years into the rivalry). 

Lafayette vs. Lehigh 

Lehigh defeated Lafayette in 2018Lehigh held Lafayette to a single field goal in 2018.

The rivalry between Lafayette and Lehigh isn't the oldest one in college football, dating back to 1884. But the game known as "The Rivalry" is the most-played rivalry across both the FCS and the FBS. These two teams have played 158 times as of this writing (Nov. 22, 2022).

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North Carolina vs. Wake Forest

Wake Forest Athletics Wake Forest beat North Carolina in 2019Wake Forest outlasted in-state rival North Carolina in 2019.

This North Carolina rivalry started in 1888. 

Miami (OH) vs. Cincinnati 

Aaron Doster | USA TODAY Sports Images Cincinnati topped Miami (OH) 35-13.Cincinnati topped Miami (OH) 35-13 in 2019.

The rivalry between Miami of Ohio and Cincinnati is known as the "Battle for the Bell." The in-state, non-conference game was originally played in 1888. 

Cornell vs. Columbia

Columbia Athletics Columbia beat Cornell in 2018.Columbia came out on top 24-21 against Cornell in 2018.

The final Ivy league rivalry in the 15 oldest in college football is the Cornell-Columbia game. The rivalry was born in 1889.

South Dakota State vs. South Dakota

South Dakota Athletics South Dakota State won the 2018 game 49-27.South Dakota State won the 2018 game 49-27.

Known as the "South Dakota Showdown Series," this rivalry got its start in 1889.

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Navy vs. Army

Danny Wild | USA TODAY Sports Images Army beat Navy in 2018Army celebrates a 17-10 victory over Navy in 2018.

Army and Navy have been meeting since 1890. This rivalry (in addition to Air Force's performance against these teams) is one factor in who will take home one of the more regal trophies in college football — the Commander-in-Chief's trophy. 

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota

Minnesota Athletics Minnesota took the win after 13 years of the axe staying in Madison.Minnesota took the win after 13 years of the axe staying in Madison.

Every season, the Badgers and the Gophers play for one of the stranger rivalry trophies in college football — Paul Bunyan's Axe. Although it's not the oldest rivalry overall, it has been played more than any other rivalry in the FBS. 

Minnesota vs. Iowa

Iowa Athletics Iowa beat Minnesota in 2019.Iowa spoiled Minnesota's dreams of a perfect season in 2019.

The Gophers and the Hawkeyes have been meeting in this rivalry since 1891. The winner takes away a bronze pig trophy called Floyd of Rosedale.

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Purdue vs. Indiana

Purdue Athletics Purdue won the rivalry game to close out the 2018 regular season.Purdue won the rivalry game to close out the 2018 regular season.

This rivalry between the Boilermakers and Hoosiers began in 1891, and also boasts a somewhat strange trophy. Each year, the winner of the rivalry takes home the Old Oaken Bucket. 

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