College Football Rivalry Games with the Biggest 2014 Recruiting Implications
Rivalries are one of the best features of college football. They're deep, passionate and highly competitive not only on the field, but also on the recruiting trail.
Many schools enter games versus their rivals with not just bragging rights, bowl games or conference championships on the line, but also with huge recruiting implications. The 2013 season has several rivalry games that will greatly influence the conclusion of the 2014 recruiting cycle.
A rivalry game between schools only several miles apart could decide if either program signs a top-25 class. A classic rivalry game of Big Ten schools will impact not only 2014 recruiting, but also 2015. And a growing rivalry in the SEC also is on this list.
Florida at Miami, Sept. 7
The Gators and Hurricanes do not like each other at all. They go after many of the same recruits, and their players grow up playing against each other, so personal rivalries also come to a head in this game.
The Hurricanes are in the middle of a fantastic recruiting cycle, but they got their hearts broken when 5-star receiver Ermon Lane chose Florida. Beating the Gators in September would be the best revenge, and it would also help Miami finish strong in the 2014 recruiting cycle.
Alabama at Texas A&M, Sept. 14
The Crimson Tide will head to College Station looking for revenge from last year's defeat. This is a growing rivalry in the SEC, as the programs play contrasting styles.
Alabama is known for its strong defense and conservative offense, while Texas A&M loves to play a fast, high-octane spread offense and use its 4-3 defense to attack.
Whether they are considering both schools, one or neither, every recruit in the country will be watching this game.
USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 19
Perhaps the best cross-sectional rivalry in the country, the Irish will host the Trojans for another mid-October showdown in South Bend this season.
Prospects such as 5-star athlete John Smith, 4-star athlete Michiah Quick and 4-star offensive tackle Casey Tucker are considering both schools. A win over Notre Dame could seal the deal for Smith and Quick to pledge to the Trojans.
Lane Kiffin is on the public hot seat as USC's head coach, so not only does he need a win over the Irish, but he also needs to rebound from a slightly disappointing 2013 class with a strong 2014 group.
Florida vs. Georgia, Nov. 2
The Gators and Bulldogs annually tussle on the field in the fall, which serves as a break for the programs' fighting over recruits off the field.
Florida and Georgia have their sights set on the SEC title as well as top-five recruiting classes. Prospects such as 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and 4-star offensive tackle David Sharpe could be at stake for the pair of SEC powerhouses.
Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 30
The Iron Bowl is annually one of the best rivalry games in the country; however, Alabama is the stronger program at this point.
The recruiting implications in this game will be bigger for Auburn, as new head coach Gus Malzahn must continue to prove he can go head-to-to-head with Alabama head coach Nick Saban for recruits.
A win over the Tide could land the Tigers prospects such as 4-star linebacker Rashaan Evans and 4-star safety/linebacker Ronnie Clark, among several other recruits. If Malzahn truly wants to show Saban he is for real on The Plains, beating him on the field and landing a few prospects Saban wants will get his attention.
UCLA at USC, Nov. 30
The Bruins have signed two solid recruiting classes under head coach Jim Mora but are off to a slow start in 2014.
USC has had a chokehold on the city of Los Angeles' college football talent for a long period of time, but UCLA has made waves the past few recruiting cycles. With the Bruins beating the Trojans on the field last year, another win could result in a recruiting breakthrough for UCLA.
However, a win for USC would re-establish the Trojans as the dominant program in Los Angeles, which would again give them control over the city's recruiting trail.
Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30
The Big Ten's two flagship programs, Michigan and Ohio State, enjoy perhaps the most respected rivalry in the country. It's a bitter relationship, but each program respects the other.
Several elite prospects are considering at least one of the schools, so recruits such as 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 5-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (who could commit to Michigan before this game) will be watching.
Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30
Gainesville will be an intense place during the final week of November, as The Swamp will be hostile grounds once again for Florida State.
The Gators and Seminoles have a bitter rivalry, and it extends to the recruiting trail. Many Sunshine State prospects in the 2014 class and beyond will be watching this game. The winner is usually the team that brings in a stronger recruiting class.
Recruits such as 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, 4-star offensive tackle David Sharpe, 4-star linebacker Dwight Williams and 5-star offensive tackle Damian Prince will be interested in this contest.