NCAA Football: The 10 Most Lopsided Rivalries in the BCS Era
In college football, being up-ended by a rival carries a stronger sting and lingers longer than almost any other loss during a hard fought season.
It doesn’t matter if it is a close game or a blow out. This outcome leaves you with the feeling that you were just violated in an extremely uncomfortable place (…and I’m not talking about in the back seat of a Volkswagen).
Outside of the obvious fact that this loss hurts your team during its current season, the defeat at the hands of a rival has a set of legs that will not stop running until the next time these two teams meet.
Finding yourself underneath the thumb of the winning side is never a pleasant position.
A loss to a rival could be the only blemish a team suffers during a Championship season, but the winning side will always have the perfect response -“Oh Yeah, well guess who won the last Big Game!”
And no matter how you try to respond to that, the loser of this rivalry game knows that the defeat does actually hurt them somewhere deep inside.
Rivalries all come down to who has done the best head-to-head. Trophies and awards are put aside and the long-standing grudge between the two teams permeates.
However, it is not uncommon for rivalries to lose the spark that past generations were lucky enough to experience.
Since the induction of the BCS era back in 1998, several high-profile rivalries are so unbalanced that the glimmers of these once-heated contests are quickly fizzling.
Here is a list of the ten most lopsided rivalries in NCAA College Football’s BCS era with predictions to which teams might break their current trends.
California vs. Stanford
Stanford began the BCS era owning this cross-bay rivalry, winning the first four games under the “new and improved” system.
The tables quickly turned in 2002 when the Cardinal were absolutely dominated by California in a 30-7 loss.
Since then, Cal has emerged the victor seven of the past eight match-ups. But after last year’s game, Stanford appears to be closing the gap.
Stanford’s progress under Jim Harbaugh is undeniable. He has elevated the expectations of this organization and some may argue that they are the best college football team in Northern California.
The Cardinal are a dark horse pick to win the Pac-10 this season and this sleeping golden bear will be blocking their path.
2010 California vs. Stanford Prediction: Stanford 35, Cal 30
Stanford’s offense is a bit of a question mark this season with the departure of Toby Gerhart, but if Andrew Luck can take complete control of this team, the 2010 Cardinal have a chance to be incredibly dangerous.
Cal is definitely no slouch, though, and depending on how their offense matures, they could be on a hunt for roses as well.
I have to go with Stanford here, solely on the notion that 2010 is their year to catch fire. The Cardinal has great talent on offense and they match-up quite evenly with the returning Golden Bears.
Also, that pick Luck threw to end the last Big Game has got to be eating him alive and he will hopeful use that to seek some redemption.
Michigan vs. Ohio State
The Michigan Wolverines unprecedented slide against Ohio State is approaching the worst losing streak in the history of this rivalry.
Michigan currently rides a six-game skid and another loss to Ohio State in 2010 is highly probable.
Jim Tressel’s squad is a little out of Rich Rodriguez’s league right now and a win at the Horseshoe seems like an extremely tall task for these Wolverines.
This rivalry has a deep tradition and it is difficult watching it in the state that it is currently in.
2010 Michigan vs. Ohio State Prediction: Ohio State 35, Michigan 20
With Ohio State returning so many players from their team that just won a BCS game, it is hard to believe that the rather unpolished Wolverines can come close to contending with this powerhouse.
Michigan will eventually make this rivalry matter again, but it definitely will not start with this season. Give it a couple a years and this game should regain its meaning and swagger.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma/Oklahoma State rivalry dates back to 1912 and the Sooners have dominated from the get go. In the 98-game history of this matchup, Oklahoma has come out on top 80 percent of the time.
After the induction of the BCS in 1998, the Cowboys looked to be turning the page. They won three of their first five match-up with the Sooners, posting back-to-back victories for the first time since 1966.
Unfortunately for OSU, the tide reverted back to its more natural Crimson and Cream quickly thereafter.
The Sooners currently possess a seven-game winning streak against the Cowboys, averaging 42.2 points for and 19.5 points against in those games.
2010 Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State Prediction: Oklahoma 35, Oklahoma State 20
Oklahoma State hasn’t put up a real struggle against their in-state rivals for quite some time.
Oklahoma will definitely be the stronger team heading in this year’s match-up and it will take a little more than a miracle for the Cowboys to emerge victorious.
USC vs. Notre Dame
At the turn of the century, things were looking up for Notre Dame in their rivalry with USC.
As they headed into the 2002 season, they gleefully rode a three game winning streak, but unbeknownst to them, things were about to drastically.
For eight straight seasons, the Irish have been continuously pummeled by the Trojans. During this skid, USC posted an impressive 39.7 points per game, while the Irish could only muster an average of 15.2 points.
Beside the “Bush Push” contest, Notre Dame has not come close to breaking the losing streak, at times looking more like a sacrificial lamb than anything else.
The Irish still have several holes to fill before they can contend in this rivalry again, but things can change rather rapidly when you have the allure of South Bend.
2010 USC v. Notre Dame Prediction: USC 32, Notre Dame 17
While both teams enter this season with their own variety of internal turmoil, USC has a better backfill of players than Notre Dame and should be able to hit the ground running.
USC’s offense has more returning talent and their defense should rank amongst the best in the NCAA for another season.
Notre Dame is surrounded by so many question marks that it is hard to believe that it can keep this one within two scores.
Florida vs. Georgia
Florida has completely manhandled Georgia as of late, outscoring them 90-27 in their past two meetings. This recent walloping is pretty indicative of how this rivalry has gone the past 12 years.
Florida is 10-2 against the Bulldogs following the move to a BCS system, but despite the lopsided record, Georgia has found ways to steal victories within the past six seasons.
Since 2004, Florida has been unable to string more than two wins in a row against Georgia, which happens to be the current streak they are riding.
Florida is in a bit of a transitional year and this could favor the always-rambunctious Bulldogs.
These dogs will need to play rabid if they have any chance of stopping their current skid.
2010 Florida vs. Georgia Prediction: Georgia 28, Florida 27
Georgia’s offensive line could be the best in the SEC but their uncertainties at quarterback raises huge concerns about their ability to consistently put up points.
Their running game does have the potential to be explosive this season and could take advantage of Florida during a slightly vulnerable year at linebacker.
Florida is experience some internal turmoil for the first time in several seasons, and while they definitely have the talent to rotate and move forward, this year could be the best chance for teams like Georgia to steal a victory in what is a rather lopsided rivalry.
USC vs. UCLA
The battle for the Victory Bell has lost some of its luster the past 12 years, largely due to the complete dominance by the USC Trojans.
USC is 10-2 in the BCS era against UCLA and the fact that the Bruins have failed to score more than one touchdown in the past four games may have something to do with it.
While UCLA’s program is slowly moving back towards the right direction, they are still a ways off from making their presence felt in this cross-town rivalry.
The USC/UCLA game seemed to be getting its edge back last season with some unorthodox play calling by both Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel, appearing to deepen the hatred between these two universities.
But until the Bruins can learn how to consistently put points on the board, this rivalry will stay tilted in one direction.
2010 USC vs. UCLA Prediction: USC 31. UCLA 16
UCLA is still too young and inexperienced to have a chance at taking down the mighty Trojans. Even during a season where things are not quite as definite as it has been in years past, USC should not find any traction when facing these inconsistent Bruins.
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
Since the inception of the Commonwealth Cup in 1996, the Virginia Tech Hokies have flat-out dominated the rivalry, surrendering the trophy only three times.
While Virginia Tech seems to always be in contention for an ACC crown, Virginia is more often than not struggling just to become bowl eligible.
This discrepancy in expectations clearly explains the Hokies’ 10-2 record since switching over to the BCS system.
Virginia Tech, currently enjoying a six-game winning streak against the Cavaliers, returns eight players on offense and should be able to mimic the 42-point shellacking that they handed Virginia last season.
2010 Virginia Tech vs. Virginia Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, Virginia 17
The Hokies biggest concern in 2010 is their secondary and I really don’t see the Cavaliers putting a huge strain on them.
Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, and the rest of this experience Virginia Tech offense should not have a problem bringing home the Commonwealth Cup for yet another season.
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
The right to college football supremacy in the Volunteer State hasn’t been much of a contest since the early 1930s.
The Commodores have lost 22 of the last 23 games against Tennessee with their most recent win coming five years ago in Knoxville.
Since that unexpected victory by Vanderbilt, the Volunteers have bounced back from their sudden free fall, regaining their power in this defunct in-state rivalry.
2010 Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt Prediction: Tennessee 32, Vanderbilt 13
Vanderbilt went 0-8 within the SEC last season, showing that they are still nowhere close to contending with the talent that always seems to surface at Tennessee.
The Volunteers would have to completely implode under new head coach Derek Dooley for the Commodores to have any chance this season.
North Carolina vs. Duke
Not exactly the sport that people want to see this match-up preformed, but the football version of this contest is still a heated in-state rivalry.
The Battle of Tobacco Road has predominantly been owned by North Carolina throughout its history, only losing one game in the past two decades.
As North Carolina’s football program continues to grow, the Duke’s program seems to be paddling around in a circle.
Duke has finished 15 consecutive seasons below .500 but, oddly, has increased their win totals for four straight seasons.
2010 North Carolina vs. Duke Prediction: North Carolina 17, Duke 14
The Tar Heels return 10 offensive starters and nine defensive starters in 2010 and will most likely be ranked when the season starts.
While UNC’s offense has failed to find consistency, it should not be a huge deal considering the struggles that Duke will most likely be experiencing.
Plus, North Carolina’s defense is stock piled with enough talent to win this game without their offense.
Tennessee vs. Kentucky
The Battle of the Beer Barrel by far deserves to be called the most one-sided rivalry currently in college football.
Kentucky has not hoisted the Beer Barrel in 26 years, allowing Tennessee to average 37.6 points per game during this annual back alley beating.
However, things might be looking up for Kentucky football. They have become bowl eligible for four consecutive seasons, which is something their program has not done for over 50 years.
Although Kentucky is showing signs of improvement, Tennessee will still be the more talented team on the field when these two meet. But the Wildcats are slowly closing the gap and sooner or later, this streak will reach its end.
2010 Tennessee vs. Kentucky Prediction: Tennessee 28, Kentucky 21
Despite my urge to take Kentucky just to root for the underdog, there is no way in hell that the Wildcats are marching into Neyland Stadium and sneaking out with a win.
Maybe they will have a better chance of breaking this ridiculous streak in 2010 when the game takes place in Lexington.