The Top Eight 'Almost' Rivalries of the Last Decade
Traditional rivalries such as Michigan vs. Ohio State or USC vs. Notre Dame make college football the best sport in the country but it's nice to see the rise of newer rivalries that are born out of one amazing game or even one memorable play. Here are eight match-ups that have produced a couple great games or had a lot of hype but never quite made it to Rivalry-status during the last decade.
#8: Iowa vs. Michigan
After Brad Banks led the Hawkeyes to a 34-9 win in Ann Arbor in 2002 it seemed like this had all the making of being the next big rivalry in the Big Ten. Though Iowa won twice more since 2002, Ohio State's stranglehold on the Big Ten and the return of Penn State has kept this match-up from being a true rivalry.
#7: Kansas State vs. Nebraska
Nebraska had ruled the 90's but when Michael Bishop led the Wildcats to a monumental victory over the Cornhuskers in 2000 it seemed the power had shifted in the Big XII North.
By season end Kansas State coughed up the Big XII title to Texas A&M, Michael Bishop didn't win the Heisman, and Kansas State never owned the conference for the remainder of the decade.
Though KSU won the Big XII title with its historic upset over Oklahoma in 2003, they didn't have to play the type of Nebraska team of the 90's to get there.
The Big XII South's dominance also hurt this match-up since the winner of this game never had a clear road to the Big XII title or the National Championship Game. Though Bo Pelini brings passion to the Nebraska program, I don't get the feeling Bill Snyder is going to be giving the Huskers any chalkboard material before these two teams meet. Oh, and Nebraska is leaving the Big XII after this year.
Too bad this game never lived up to the 2000 classic in Manhattan.
#6: Texas Tech vs. Texas
There is no denying that the 2008 match-up produced the game of the year but this match-up usually is ruled by the Longhorns year after year. Every year some experts fall in love with Texas Tech's offense and every year the Longhorns win, usually in blowout fashion. The Red Raiders have only beaten the Longhorns twice since 2002 and still never represented the Big XII South in the conference championship game.
#5: Louisville vs. West Virginia
After Louisville joined the Big East it appeared this would be the game of the year in the conference for years to come. The 2005 and 2006 match-ups decided who claimed a BCS-berth with the 2005 overtime classic going down in West Virginia lore as Pat White's breakout game but as Louisville has regressed and hired their third coach of the decade this game doesn't look like it will be deciding the Big East Champion anytime soon as newcomers Cincinnati and UConn have evened the playing field in the conference.
#4: South Carolina vs. Florida
It feels like you have to call this game a rivalry because of the Ol' Ball Coach's ties to the Gators but the Gamecocks haven't lived up to expectations since Spurrier took over in Columbia. The Gamecocks only win in the decade came in 2005 and Florida's 56-6 beat-down in 2008 didn't help the game's supposed "rivalry" status. Unless Urban Meyer retires I don't see this game earning the rivalry label for a few years.
#3: Miami vs. Virginia Tech
Fans of both teams might argue this is a true rivalry since both teams have continued their yearly battle after moving from the Big East to the ACC's Coastal Division. Even when ESPN's College GameDay makes an appearance for its game of the week (see: 2005), this game usually produces a clunker in terms of entertainment (Miami won that game 27-7). Only in 2004 did the match-up decide the ACC Champion. Sometimes this game has been played too early in the year to have major implications. Hopefully this year's game, played on November 20th, will decide the ACC Coastal Division.
#2: Florida State vs. Clemson
It was dubbed Bowden Bowl. But after Bowden Bowl I, II and III it seemed like the country got sick of this story line fairly quickly. Bobby's wife, Ann Bowden, would wear a sweater, half covered in Tiger paws, half covered in Seminole spears but she didn't know the game lost attention outside the ACC when FSU fell from it's pedestal after the early part of the decade and Tommy Bowden underachieved year after year at Clemson. Just like other ACC match-ups, it lacked national championship implications. Clemson never made it to the ACC Championship game and Tommy Bowden was let go. Bobby was "pushed out" in Tallahassee. RIP: Bowden Bowl
#1: CAL vs. USC
After the Golden Bears landmark overtime victory in 2003 they looked like the team to challenge the Trojans for the remainder of the decade. Lee Corso even drank the Kool-Aid coming out of Berkeley year after year stating this was the year CAL would win the Pac-10 but USC thoroughly dominated their neighbors from the north year in and year out. Aaron Rodgers almost led CAL to another historic victory in Los Angeles in 2004 but a goal-line stand helped the men of Troy begin a decade of dominance over CAL. The Bears never lived up to the hype and USC kept winning Rose Bowls left and right.
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