Top 10 College Football Rivalries Needing a Revival
Longtime USC coach John McKay once commented on the challenge of preparing a team to win the national championship by describing the role played by the schedule.
"You either get out there and play teams from around the country, see if you can compete with them, or find out when it's too late that you can't" replied the brilliant McKay following his masterful direction of the Trojans' 1967 national championship.
Winning a conference title is where a school makes its name, but it is success in the Intersectional and out of conference contests where programs make their fame.
One of the effects of the BCS era is the recognition of a return to the idea that schedules matter.
Just defeating conference foes each week fails to create the perception of being the nation's best team. Take for instance Boise State last year, Auburn in 2004, or going back to Alabama in 1966.
All three complained they had been passed over for the national title despite undefeated seasons, but undefeated against who? The '66 Tide's four out of conference opponents that season won only 14 and lost 26.
In retrospect, all coaches wish they had scheduled differently, one way or the other, when a season is over. It may be a fear of losing a game or the coach's fear of losing his job; we can only guess.
What we do know is fans pay for the tickets, buy the team paraphernalia, give money to the schools, and want more interesting opponents than Low Valley State and Cardboard Tech.
With this in mind, here is a list of 10 old time rivals who need to begin playing again.
Get out the phonebook, the number is listed.
No. 10: Southern California and Alabama
For all the shared history of these two longtime powerhouses, it is unfortunate they have not been able play each other in the past 25 years.
There have been seven games in the all-time series, five won by the Crimson Tide.
This may be the ultimate intersectional rivalry that needs to be renewed.
No. 9: Ohio State and Syracuse
The East versus the Midwest. What could be a better advertisement for a game to kick off the season?
Syracuse and Ohio State played five times between 1979 and 1992, and there was no love lost between these two schools.
Why not renew this competition? The Orange are on the way back and the Buckeyes should be able to handle anyone, including eastern invaders.
A tough rivalry for 15 years in the recent past which should be renewed.
No. 8: Tennessee and North Carolina
These two bordering states have met 31 times in the past, with the Volunteers owning a healthy 20-10-1 series lead.
It may seem that the Volunteers and UNC face each other in football on a regular basis, but the truth is, they have not met since 1961.
Forty-nine years of trying to get these neighbors together is long enough.
Pick up the phone, make the call.
No. 7: Brigham Young and Colorado
Another pair of teams who sound like they play every season.
For those who follow mountain rivalries, this was one of the best for a long time in the pre-World War II era. They have met a dozen times over the years but only twice since 1947.
As hard to believe as it sounds, these two teams do not wish to have anything to do with each other on the football field. It was a strange and intense rivalry that had to be stopped so long ago, hardly anyone remembers why the series ended.
Another case of when two teams sound like they should be playing then they should be playing.
No. 6: Iowa and Kansas
Yes, yes, no doubt another set of combatants who have a long and emotional history.
They have played one time in the past 100 years, and that was 50 years ago.
How can this be? There must be a mistake; surely we've all watched the Hawkeyes and the Jayhawks play many times on the television.
In a word, no.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this inactive rivalry cries out to be renewed.
Last season Iowa won the Orange Bowl. Three years ago Kansas won the Orange Bowl. Development of each program is evident.
During the 10 game history between these schools, the Jayhawks have the overall lead, 6-4.
Surely that fact should inspire the Hawkeyes to put them on the schedule in the immediate future.
And let's put some corn on the grill.
No. 5: Penn State and Maryland
These bordering states met 30 of the 33 years between 1960 and 1993.
They have not met since.
Penn State has always been a measuring stick for Maryland progress on the football field. The two schools have met a total of 37 times with the Terrapins winning only once.
The Terps won in 1961 when the "Old Line State" featured a receiver named Gary Collins, a quarterback named Dick Shiner, and an assistant coach named Lee Corso.
Despite the lopsided edge of the neighbor to the north, the games have mostly been close affairs that are highly competitive.
With the incredible career of coach Joe Paterno coming into his final era, it would seem reasonable for the Nittany Lions and Maryland to find the time to renew their border rivalry.
Let's do it guys, at least once more for old time's sake.
No. 4: Oklahoma and Southern California
Rugged line play accented by powerful ground games and run defenses, that is what past games between these two powerhouses produced.
Until the 2004 season Orange Bowl.
The Sooners and Trojans should meet once more just to get the bad taste of that game out of everyone's mouth, a rout which resulted in USC players actually asking the Sooners "what is wrong with you?"
Even Southern California knew the game should have been far more competitive based upon the history of this rivalry which reached its zenith in the glory days of Anthony Davis (see picture) and the Selmon brothers in the 1970s.
Seven times the Sooners and Trojans met between 1963 and 1992, almost each time with tremendous stakes on the table.
Looking at the most recent meeting in the Orange Bowl, we see a rivalry that has extended from Bud Wilkinson versus John McKay to Pete Carroll versus Bob Stoops.
There is no reason young Lane Kiffin can't join in the fun.
No. 3: Texas and Auburn
In the 17 years between 1974 and 1991, the Tigers and the Longhorns met five times. In all, these two football giants have met on eight occasions with Texas holding a slight 5-3 edge.
In the ever changing world of the SEC and Big 12, it seems likely there will be adjustments of schedules in coming years.
This would be a renewal of a series that would capture the attention of football fans far and wide.
No. 2: Nebraska and LSU
Here are two schools that have almost nothing in common except that they have shared some of the most spectacular moments in the history of football.
The schools have met six times, all in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Cornhuskers never losing a game in this series.
In the bruising and physical 1970 season Orange Bowl (see picture), quarterback Jerry Tagge scored late to lead the Cornhuskers to a 17-12 victory over the Bayou Bengals and secure the first ever national championship for Nebraska.
These are two football programs that know how to play rugged football, and when they meet, the result is a list of legendary games.
Now that former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is the head coach of Nebraska, there is no reason these titans cannot clash again.
No. 1: Alabama and Miami
True, we are talking about two southern teams located in bordering states, but the ancient rivalry between these juggernaut programs is of national interest.
Miami defeated Alabama to win the national championship in the 1989 season Sugar Bowl, and three years later Alabama defeated Miami in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship.
Paul Bryant enjoyed an edge in the superb Tide and Hurricane rivalry. Ten times from 1962 through 1979 Alabama and Miami met on the football field, and 10 times the Tide walked away the winner.
Bryant was able to win despite the huge talent of Hurricane quarterback George Mira in 1962 and '63.
In 1968 the Bear defeated Ted Hendricks (The Mad Stork) in front of newly-elected President Richard Nixon with the rock n' roll group Steppenwolf singing "Born To Be Wild" as the halftime entertainment.
Bear, Mad Stork, Nixon, and Steppenwolf.
Who can top that?
While they have met 17 times, the only meetings since Coach Bryant retired have been the two national championship meetings.
It is time for both of these giants to arrange a renewal in this rivalry which would have enormous repercussions in the college football world.
Epilogue: What About The Others?
We have concentrated on long established rivalries which have grown dormant for one reason or the other in the recent past.
In addition, we have taken the view of selecting a group with an intersectional slant. For this reason such obvious choices as Georgia versus Clemson, Pittsburgh versus Penn State, and South Carolina versus Georgia Tech have been put on the shelf for another time.
It is understood that there are "one night stand" affairs that some fans wish to see rekindled into a rematch such as Alabama versus Utah, Oklahoma versus Boise State, and Georgia versus West Virginia, but these are not rivalries.
Consequently, they too have been put on the shelf for another story at another time.
So there we have it, and perhaps if enough trouble is "stirred up", we could see the renewal of some of these rivalries if schools can find the time to not play Morgan State.