FSU-Miami Is the Greatest Rivalry in College Football
The Miami-FSU game doesn't come with a cutesy nickname. It's not played on a set weekend or at a neutral location. The campuses, despite sharing a state, are hardly geographically close. Both teams have a rival they hate more (in fact, the same rival). Players seem to have a mutual respect for each other. Calling the other the "little brother" is the biggest insult traditionally flung about. The traditions are low-key. There's not even a trophy exchanged between the two.
It lacks just about everything we expect of a traditional college football rivalry. It doesn't need it. Just the words "Miami-FSU" says it all, and that's why its the best college football rivalry in the nation.
The Intertwined History
For a state whose teams have combined to win a full third of the last thirty national championships, its easy to forget that before the Hurricane's 1983 national championship the Sunshine State was in the business of producing some pretty "meh" college football teams. Florida State had a few top ten finishes in the late '70 and early '80s, but it wasn't until Howard Schnellenberger came to Miami that anyone cracked the code of how to produce a national championship here.
FSU paid notice, and stole a few pages from the Miami playbook in both recruiting, on-filed product, and, uh, hip-hop swag (*cough* *cough*). These are two programs that came of age and into national relevance together, and that's why even Jameis Winston knows FSU will forever be the "little brother."
"It's a brotherly game," he said earlier this week. "Miami is obviously down South. It's a big rivalry. It's just like we're going to be in the back yard, playing against each other. We want to beat our brother and if they want to be the big brother, we want to be the little brother, it's still a friendly competition. It's going to be a battle."
The TV Ratings
It may be a brotherly game, but its certainly not just the family that's watching. Two of the top five highest rated regular season college football games ever broadcast on ESPN are Miami-FSU games (2009 and 2006). The 1991 matchup between the teams set a then-record for the highest regular season game ever broadcast on ABC. And 22 years later it still stands as the fifth most watched in the network's history. When these two teams meet when they're both good the world watches, and its no mistake its getting the primetime ABC slot this weekend.