College Football 2011: 8 New Rivalries in the Pac-12 and Big Ten
One of the hottest topics of the 2011 college football season will be how Utah, Colorado and Nebraska will do in their new conferences. This season, these teams will have a golden opportunity to prove their worth and to make a statement.
Since these moves appear long term, they will probably start developing rivalries throughout the following seasons. Some of these rivalries could develop during recruiting battles, while others will come to be because of conference standings.
The following are the most likely rivalries that Utah, Colorado and Nebraska could develop in their new conferences.
Utah Vs. USC
This is probably the most obvious choice. Utah will square off with USC in the first ever Pac-12 conference game on Sept. 10. Everyone will be watching, and the Utes will have something to prove.
This could also be a rivalry because these are the two teams that are expected to be near the top of the division in the future. Both schools have a strong tradition and have been known to consistently play in BCS bowls.
If Utah wants to become a major player in the Pac-12, they will need to get by USC first. This inaugural game could affect the entire conference for years to come.
Utah Vs. Arizona State
This rivalry has already begun. It all started during the offseason, when Utah and Arizona State were going head to head for numerous recruits.
Most notable of these recruits are wide receiver Quinton Pedroza, who committed to Utah, and quarterback Michael Eubank, who committed to Arizona State. The decisions of these two future stars have caused fans to already start bickering with one another.
The Sun Devils and the Utes are expected to be the two main contenders (unless USC gets their postseason waiver) to win the Pac-12 South. They will play their first game against each other when the Utes host Arizona State on Oct. 2.
This is a huge game for the two teams; both squads are dealing with a lot of turmoil and are in great need of a breakout season.
Both of the these teams actually used to play each other in the old WAC conference. It is fun to see this rivalry being rekindled.
Utah Vs. Colorado
This is going to be a rivalry by design because every team in the Pac-12 has a pair. Arizona is paired with Arizona State, USC with UCLA, Stanford with Cal, Washington with Washington State, Oregon with Oregon State and now Utah with Colorado.
They are always going to be compared with each other because they came to the conference the same season.
Utah appears to have the stronger program right now, but Colorado is rich in history. This game is almost certain to become a rivalry game if it's competitive.
Colorado needs to make a statement on their Nov. 26 matchup to prove that they will not be shoved around.
Colorado Vs. Washington State
This possible rivalry is very similar to that of USC and Utah because it is Colorado’s first Pac-12 game.
Colorado wants to show their new conference foes that they are going to be a stronger team in the Pac-12. What better way to do this than beat up on the usual last place team, Washington State?
Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, I don’t think that this game is going to be as easy as they think. I see this game turning into the “toilet bowl” of the Pac-12.
The two worst teams from the two divisions square off to decide who is truly the weakest of the bunch. Should be exciting/embarrassing to watch.
Colorado Vs. UCLA
This potential rivalry holds the same significance as the one previously mentioned. UCLA and Colorado appear to be the bottom two teams in the Pac-12 South, and nothing appears to be getting any better for either team.
They play each other in 2011 on the second to last week of the season, Nov. 19.
If either team (or both) have a suspiring season, this could be a game that decides whether or not they go to bowl games.
This game seems to have very little, if any, significance, but things can change.
Nebraska Vs. Iowa
When you think corn, what are the first two states you think of? Nebraska and Iowa. This game almost has to be a rivalry game for that reason alone.
These teams are two of the top contenders in the Legends division and are playing against each other in their last game of the season. Depending on where these two teams are in the standings, it could be a pivotal game.
Another significant key to this matchup is that Nebraska and Iowa border one another, so they go for recruits in the same region.
This game has huge potential to become one of the greatest rivalries in the Big Ten. So who do you side with? Herbie the Husker or Herky the Hawkeye?
Nebraska Vs. Michigan State
This might only be temporary, but Nebraska and Michigan State appear to be the two strongest teams in the Legends division.
The two meet on Oct. 29, a date sandwiched between two easy games for Nebraska (Minnesota and Northwestern).
Over the next few seasons, I see Nebraska and Michigan State battling to get the chance to meet the Leaders division champions in the Big Ten championship game. If Nebraska wants to dominate their new division like they did the Big 12 North, they will need to start with defeating the Spartans.
Nebraska Vs. Ohio State
This game is going to replace the great Oklahoma vs. Nebraska rivalry. Ohio State and Nebraska will probably regularly meet in the Big Ten championship game.
The schools are two of the most prestigious programs in college football. Both have experienced life at the top and rarely have down seasons.
Because the two programs are so popular, this game will be in the national spotlight every time they play.
I expect to see many ESPN college game days held in Lincoln and Columbus when these two college football juggernauts meet up.