What Are the Nation's Oldest Rivalries in College Football?

What are the oldest rivalries in college football?

Minnesota v Wisconsin
Dylan Buell / Getty Images

The all-time longest rivalry in college football isn’t Harvard-Yale. It isn’t Ohio State-Michigan. It’s not even Army-Navy.

No, the longest rivalry in college football is a small-school series between two schools that most college football fans know almost nothing about.

Lehigh University (located in Bethlehem, Pa.) and Lafayette College (located in Easton, Pa.) have met every year since 1884—a total of 145 meetings.

That makes the Lehigh-Lafayette series the longest in any division of college football.

But what are the longest continuous rivalry series in every division of college football? Let's take a look

Football Bowl Subdivision: 

Minnesota vs. Wisconsin 

  • First Meeting: 1890
  • Total Games Played: 119
  • Series Leader: Minnesota, 59-52-8

One of the longest-running rivalries in the nation, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have been meeting each year since 1890. The winner of the battle between the two Big 10 Conference rivals gets 'Paul Bunyan's Axe,' a trophy that was originally introduced in 1948. Prior to Bunyan's ax, the winners actually used to get the 'Slab of Bacon,' but that trophy mysteriously disappeared in 1948. 

Truth be told, the first time the two teams played it didn't seem like a rivalry would last. The Theron Lyman-led Golden Gophers handed Wisconsin a 63-0 defeat. In fact, Minnesota won six of the first seven meetings between the two schools before Wisconsin rattled off four-straight victories.


Football Championship Subdivision: 

Lafayette vs. Lehigh 

  • First Meeting: 1884
  • Total Games Played: 145
  • Series Leader: Lafayette, 76-64-5

Want tickets to the longest-running rivalry in the nation? You best start looking now as tickets sell out months in advance. The two schools are located just 17 miles apart and the game between the two has been nicknamed, simply, 'The Rivalry.' 

While the two schools have been playing every year since 1884, it wasn't until 1887 that Lehigh grabbed a victory. There was a 6-6 tie in 1885, though. 

Division II: 

Emporia St. vs. Washburn 

  • First Meeting: 1899
  • Total Games Played: 106
  • Series Leader: Emporia State, 51-49-6

Division III: 

Williams vs. Amherst 

  • First Meeting: 1881
  • Total Games Played: 106
  • Series Leader: Williams, 70-49-5