College Football's 6 Most Intriguing Rivalry Games for 2010
This is the reason that college football is my favorite spectator sport: the rivalry games.
For the next few weeks, schools that harbor a pronounced animosity toward each other will battle for old oaken buckets, egg-shaped trophies and victory bells.
Some of these games will have conference championships and BCS berths on the line, while others will involve teams playing for nothing but pride.
Though these grudge matches have already begun, with Harvard beating Yale in "The Game" and Stanford walloping California in the Big Game, the following contests are what I consider the most intriguing for this season.
1. No. 17 Texas A&M (8-3) at Texas (5-6), Nov. 25
This Lone Star State showdown is unique this year in the sense that for the first time in a long while, the Aggies have a better record than the Longhorns and are the ones with the BCS ranking.
It's incredible to think that less than a year ago, Texas was playing for a national championship.
Now they're playing for bowl eligibility, which is shocking for that flagship program.
Which rivalry game do you think is the most intriguing this year?
That will be a strong motivator for the burnt orange, on top of the fact that they would like nothing better than to knock off their College Station rivals on Thanksgiving Day.
Although this game is in Austin and Texas will put up a good fight, the Longhorns' struggles at quarterback and with their run defense will be the deciding factor.
My pick: TEXAS A&M
2. No. 2 Auburn (11-0) at No. 11 Alabama (9-2), Nov. 26
This year's Iron Bowl is particularly big because of what's at stake.
The "War Eagle!"-chanting Tigers will be playing for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, having had a dream season led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton.
However, the Crimson Tide wants dearly to ruin its enemy's title hopes.
With the game in Tuscaloosa, not only do I think they have a decent shot, I also feel that Auburn's ripe for the upset.
My pick: ALABAMA
3. Michigan (7-4) at No. 8 Ohio State (10-1), Nov. 27
Anytime HBO does a documentary on a college football rivalry, you know it's a significant one.
That certainly describes this hatred between Ann Arbor's Wolverines and Columbus' Buckeyes.
This is the first time in a few years that Michigan has had a winning record going into this game, as their quarterback, Denard Robinson, is the first player in NCAA history to throw and run for 1,500 yards in the same season.
Ohio State is in a three-way tie for the Big Ten lead, and it needs to win to keep its Rose Bowl hopes alive.
Plus they have a maize and blue killer in quarterback Terrelle Pryor; their personnel will ultimately be too much for the Wolverines.
And they'll be at the Horseshoe in Columbus.
My pick: OHIO STATE
4. No. 13 Oklahoma (9-2) at No. 9 Oklahoma State (10-1), Nov. 27
This promises to be the biggest game in the history of the Bedlam Series, because it's not just the Sooners from Norman that are having a good year.
Oklahoma State has 10 wins for the first time ever and is on a roll; the Cowboys the first Big 12 South team outside of Texas and Oklahoma to make the conference title game in 12 years.
Led by quarterback Landry Jones, OU will be no pushover. This is one rivalry game where I feel that the two teams are evenly matched.
This is also a contest that could go down to the wire, but with the game in Stillwater and the Cowboys having the season that they are having, I just think they're destined.
My pick: OKLAHOMA STATE
5. No. 1 Oregon (10-0) at Oregon State (5-5), Dec. 4
On the surface, this latest edition of the Civil War doesn't look like much.
Eugene's Ducks are averaging over 50 points a game and have blown out most of their opponents, and these Beavers from Corvallis, although they did beat USC, lost at home to Pac-10 bottom feeder Washington State.
But as the old cliché goes, anything can happen in a rivalry game, and provided that the Ducks defeat Arizona this weekend, the Beavers would love nothing more than to ruin Oregon's national title hopes.
The folks in Corvallis, where the game will be, feel the same way.
I think that Oregon State will be able to hang with the Ducks for a time, but Oregon's speed and offensive pace will be too overwhelming.
My pick: OREGON
6. Army (6-5) vs. Navy (8-3), Dec. 11
Because of its nature, this will always be one of college football's most intriguing rivalries.
That both teams have winning records for the first time in years only adds to the mystique of this longtime storied series.
Not only are there usually no real NFL prospects involved, but most of those Cadets and Midshipmen will be fighting for their country, most likely in Afghanistan, upon the end of their football careers.
That makes this game in Philadelphia all the more significant.
As for how I think the game will go, those Middies from Annapolis have owned their West Point counterparts for the past several years, and I don't see this year's matchup as being any different.
My pick: NAVY
Well, there you have it.
I only hope that these rivalry battles will be as intriguing as I think they're going to be.
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