If there's anything we love in college football, it's a good out-of-conference game.
Whether it be a game between two bitter in-state programs, classic rivals or just two teams that are extremely talented, these games are the ones we circle on our calendars and help shape the national title race each and every season.
This year, there are going to be plenty of great non-conference games to watch in 2010, but it makes one wonder:
What are some of the great match-ups that have disappeared over the ages?
What are some new rivalries that should be created?
This list tackles some of the best out of conference games we could hope for not only this season but in the future. In making this list, it was important to find teams that simply would work well together.
Granted, given some of the tough conference schedules these teams play already, it is not very realistic to think that these programs would add another potential loss to their docket each and every season.
Still, let's dream for a minute, as we take a look at some of the classic games/rivalries we hope to see sooner rather than later.
The Black Diamond Trophy needs to be brought out once again.
Before Virginia Tech bolted for the ACC, the Hokies and the Mountaineers clashed for some epic battles. The two schools had a rivalry in one of its best forms, pure and utter hatred for one another.
Considering that both the Big East and the ACC are constantly criticized by outsiders for its supposed inferiority, a rekindling of this game could help raise the respectability of not only both of these teams but also the conferences.
After all, most of Virginia Tech's ACC rivals outside of Georgia Tech cannot seem to give them a good match.
Besides, any game that can get Hokie quarterback Marcus Vick to give the West Virginia fans the bird has got to be must-see television.
West Virginia owns the overall series lead 28-21, but they have not played since 2005. In that game, Hokie players were actually instructed to keep their helmets on as they left as to avoid being hit by batteries being thrown on the field.
If the fans were kept under control, the passion of both of these schools would come shining through.
We all know that Ohio State has dominated the Buckeye State over the years.
Ohio State has not lost to an in-state foe since 1921, but with respect to Bowling Green and Toledo among others, the match-up that we really want to see features the only other BCS competition in Ohio.
Now the Buckeyes and Bearcats have done battle before. In fact, the two teams clashed three times in a five year span to open up the 2000s. In truth, none of them were particularly close, with the Buckeyes winning comfortably.
However, with three straight seasons of double-digit wins, Cincinnati is now in its best shape ever to put a little fear into the boys of Columbus.
Granted, Cincinnati has lost quarterback Tony Pike and the architect of their turnaround, Brian Kelly, but the Bearcats still have quarterback Zach Collaros, who threw for over 1,400 yards in a back-up role and played well when Pike went down with an injury.
They also have Isaiah Pead, a junior tailback who rushed for nearly 900 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
You have to give credit to Ohio State for scheduling in-state duels; now is the time to refresh a rivalry and hope that Cincinnati steps up to the challenge.
The Horned Frogs of TCU have become one of the scariest teams to face in the country. So imagine how that must help scheduling.
The truth is that just about no one wants to set up a game with Texas Christian because the Horned Frogs can play.
There are so many teams that it would be nice to see play the "Cinderella" team of the MWC. However, what would be more fun than seeing an in-state rivalry showdown with the Texas Longhorns?
TCU is no stranger to the Big 12. They have had some duels with Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech and yes, Texas, over the past decade.
However, in the past 15 years, the Longhorns have faced off against the Horned Frogs a grand total of two times.
Considering that we were denied the true BCS buster game we deserved last season when they placed Boise State and TCU in the same bowl, what better redemption than this.
This would be a great game in 2010 for it would pit the experience of TCU and its veteran players against the Texas Longhorns who want to build upon last season's run to the national championship.
It would be the signature win the Horned Frogs would need for another BCS run and it would be a great defensive test for quarterback Garrett Gilbert who had a trial by fire against the Crimson Tide defense in the BCS Championship Game.
This is a budding rivalry that should be fostered because it certainly would garner some nice ratings. As long as TCU can keep Gary Patterson in purple, the Horned Frogs will be a dangerous football team for years to come.
By the way, as long as we're on the subject of teams Texas has not played in awhile...
Arkansas and Texas had one of the best rivalries in all of college football back in the days of the SWC.
These two always had big season aspirations on the line when they fought some epic games.
The greatest game was in 1969 when the Longhorns took out the Razorbacks 15-14 and even the president decided to declare that the eyes of Texas were upon them and their dream of a national championship.
Yet, these two have only battled four times in the past 18 years. Now that Arkansas has rekindled its rivalry with the Aggies of Texas A&M, maybe we can see this rivalry return as well.
After all, considering the offenses returning next season, it would be quite the shootout.
Come on, do I really need to even explain this one to you?
The Lane Kiffin Bowl would be an excellent game to see for it seems clear that Tennessee fans are thirsting for blood after what their former coach did to them.
Besides, Southern California and Tennessee are two of the more storied programs in college football with passionate fanbases and national appeal.
Tennessee may be down as of late, but you better believe that they would be up for this game.
Any guesses as to the last time these two teams played each other?
Over that 29-year gap, Southern California has played Florida (twice), South Carolina, LSU, Alabama, Auburn (three times) and Arkansas (twice).
Heck, they've even played Memphis and Louisiana Tech. I think it's time to bring the game back.
It has enough luster and prestige to it that it will still be good even when Lane Kiffin leaves Los Angeles once he has been handed yet another cushy job for doing nothing.
Oh, speaking of Southern California...
Wouldn't it be nice to see the top two programs of the past decade play each other?
The Trojans fought on to 103 victories these past 10 seasons, including one BCS championship and an AP title in 2003.
The Gators chomped their way to 100 victories these past 10 seasons, including two BCS championships.
Along the way, these two teams played each other a grand total of zero times. I'd say it's time to rectify that.
Considering the talent that both of these teams load up on each and every season, it would be like watching a junior version of the NFL. At the very least it would be like a future rookie challenge for football.
When you consider the elements in play, SEC v. Pac-10, Urban Meyer vs. Pete..err..Lane Kiffin, Los Angeles vs. Gainesville, The Coliseum vs. The Swamp, that would be a match-up fans could really fall in love with.
Okay pop quiz, pick a state, any state.
Now think of the two best teams in college football in that state.
Now imagine them not playing each other for ten years. Pretty ridiculous when you think about it and yet that is the case with the Penn State Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh Panthers.
The all-time series is a narrow edge to Penn State, 50-42. Wouldn't it be nice for JoePa to finish his long and storied career by reigniting this once intense rivalry?
Yes, I know that's all but impossible. Paterno has an axe to grind going back decades ago when Pitt joined the Big East for basketball and ruined some of his best-laid plans to create another conference.
Maybe it will not resume until the old man finally calls it a wonderful career but that would be a shame.
In truth, both programs are in the best shape collectively than they've been in some time.
Penn State survived the down period when people were calling for Paterno's head, and Dave Wannstedt has weathered the storm and appears to have the Panthers back on track for success.
If ever this series should be back on the national scene, it's now.
This is one of those rivalries that seems to have been swept over by the sands of time. However, Georgia and Clemson used to just plain get on each other's nerves.
Back when the ACC was dominated by Clemson, the Bulldogs continually plagued the national aspirations of the Tigers.
Three times, Clemson's only regular season loss came at the hands of Georgia.
On the other hand, Clemson handed Herschel Walker his only regular season loss as a Bulldog during a championship run in the early 1980s.
These games have always been close and competitive. It is a border war and one that should be revived after its death in 2002.
Clemson is still trying to earn national respectability and taking down an SEC foe would do just that. Georgia, conversely, wants to re-establish itself as a front-runner in the power conference and this could go a long way in vaulting its position back to the top of the rankings.
Bring it back, guys!
Two of the most storied programs in the history of college football. Notre Dame has won 837 games over the years, Nebraska has 827 career victories to its credit.
Both of these teams have lofty expectations each and every season, beliefs that have crushed lesser coaches in the past and ones that put immense pressure on its current occupants.
Considering that both schools are constantly harkening back to the past, it makes perfect sense for these two programs to restore a rivalry almost forgotten by history.
Nebraska and Notre Dame last played in 2000-01. In the 2000 game, the No. 1 Cornhuskers needed an option play by quarterback Eric Crouch in overtime to claim the victory. However, their bad blood goes all the way back to a ten-year rivalry near the dawn of the 20th century.
Nebraska was eventually dumped in favor of the Trojans of USC, but the Cornhuskers got the last laugh by giving Ara Parseghian the worst loss of his career at Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl 40-6.
If both schools want to relive their glory days, why not bring back an old rival to replace one of the other fading rivalries on the schedule?
So, I know that technically the Miami/Florida game has not disappeared.
The two teams played last season, with the Gators winning rather convincingly. Yet, these two used to have a bitter and intense rivalry that cannot be ignored.
Consider that while Miami was an independent, they played Florida every single season from 1938-1987.
As a result, the Hurricanes have played no other team more often than the Gators and no other team has beaten "the U" more than the boys from Gainesville.
These games were intense, from the "Florida Flop" in 1971 to the "Peach Pelting" in 1980 and the "Bourbon Street Brawl" in 2001, these teams now how to hate each other.
There was even bitterness over how things ended, when Florida claimed they wanted to play a "national schedule" and then replaced the 'Canes with mighty Montana State.
It is really a crime that these two teams never got to face off during the prime of either of these two program's history.
However, with Randy Shannon slowly bringing the swagger back to Coral Gables, maybe it is to play the game more often than the occasional occurrence to round out a schedule.
A series like this could liven up the recruiting battles in the state of Florida and complete the loop between the annual FSU/UM and FSU/UF games year in and year out.
In a Tebow-less world, it would be interesting to see what Jacory Harris and Co. could do. Too bad we'll never know.