Top 10 Matchups That Could Eclipse the OSU-U of M Rivalry in the Near Future
When college football fans hear the word "rivalry," there is no question that the Ohio State-Michigan matchup pops up in their head. The game is always marked on their respective fan-base's calender, but the Buckeyes have taken the last nine contests out of ten, wining seven of those in a row.
For the past couple years U of M has had rough seasons with a failed coaching venture in Rich Rodriguez, and the final game of the season between these two has lost its relevance nationally.
These 10 matchups have the potential to gain national attention year after year because of a) the rivalry behind the two teams, and b) how much the game will change their conference and even the BCS picture for the whole country.
10. Michigan State vs. Michigan
The Big Ten “Legends” division carries both teams from the mitten state, and there is nothing U of M and MSU love more than knocking each other off their high horse.
The in-state rivalry always holds some water in the Big Ten, but now that they will be fighting in the same division and the Spartans took the last three from the Wolverines, this game will hold national importance every year for the next few seasons. Michigan State was a small reason Michigan got rid of Rich Rodriguez, and they will look to decimate Brady Hoke’s career just as quickly. On the flip side Hoke vies to take Mark Dantonio’s title as best coach in the state of Michigan.
9. BYU vs. Notre Dame
So, you want to be independent? Notre Dame knows a thing or two about that system, but BYU is coming fresh out of a long conference relationship and is now an independent team.
The two religious schools will collide next year and will hopefully schedule each other throughout the next couple of seasons to give the NCAA fan base a great game to watch. If both teams have an exceptional season and the committee is deciding which team to send to the BCS, it will come down to how these teams did in heads up play.
Instead of an annual inner-conference rivalry we are apt to seeing all over the country, we could be seeing the first big independent rivalry between two BCS contending schools.
8. Florida State vs. Miami
What else is there to say other than the fire between these two teams is back. The rivalry has always loomed in the bleachers between these two squads, but this year will be the first time in a while this matchup will be recognized outside of Florida.
The ACC has a couple of other teams outside of Miami that are stronger contenders against the Seminoles this year (who landed the top recruiting class according to ESPN), but the bad blood of the in-state rivalry will be enough to draw in a national crowd. That ratings turnout will be hungry for a great rivalry to be restored and a series of great football games that could make or break either team’s season.
7. Florida vs. South Carolina
In the SEC East, no two teams will be a bigger hassle in the near future than Florida and South Carolina. The Gamecocks just landed the top recruit, Jadeveon Clowney, and have their best shot at the SEC title in years with Lattimore returning to the backfield and the experienced Steve Spurrier guiding the squad.
The Gators, on the other hand, are working from the bottom up with new coaches Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis taking off where Urban Meyer left the program. This season’s matchup between the two will be pivotal, but get ready for these two titans to go at it year after year to be crowned SEC East champs.
6. Notre Dame vs. USC
Right now both programs may be a little below the level of where they are used to being, but once Brian Kelly fully installs his system and USC gets through their punishment, both teams should be clicking on all cylinders again.
This matchup has also held a lot of drama in the past, and sometimes being the deciding factor of who gets to go to the BCS bowls and who is stuck playing before New Year’s Day. In the next couple years I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Irish and the Trojans go at each other’s throats in order to ruin the other team’s year in order to send themselves to a bowl game that could be a diamond in their program.
Pitt vs. West Virginia vs. TCU
No doubt that TCU will make a giant purple and grey splash when they head to the Big East, but who will be the team that will give them a BCS run? Since Pitt and West Virginia are almost equal in the sense of talent and future recruits, these three teams will find themselves playing king of the hill throughout the season.
Will TCU walk in as favorites and leave as champs in their first couple years, or will Pitt and WVU show Big East experience and come away with the coveted BCS births? No one can answer that today, but after a series of these three matchups people will be able to find out what the future will look like.
4. Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
These two Big Ten “leaders” are easily the top two teams in their division, thus causing promising matchups that will be seen by the college football world. Without the two new divisions instated by the Big Ten, this game may not be so big, but it has the highest possibility of choosing who gets to play in the Big Ten Championship game.
For now the Buckeyes seem to have the advantage in the short run, but with Tressel skating on ice thinner than the glass of his bifocals who knows what direction the OSU program could go?
3. Oregon vs. USC
Even under heavy penalty, the USC Trojans still present the biggest threat to the Oregon Ducks who just stated their college football prominence in last year’s National Championship appearance.
Sure the Trojans came off a bad year, but with a penalty that cost them scholarships and bowl game showings, who could be surprised? Despite all of the hoopla USC still landed a top ten freshman class that could give Chip Kelly nightmares in the next few years. The Pac-10 may be growing in teams, but for the meanwhile these two are the most important and dangerous in the conference.
2. Texas vs. Oklahoma
Now that Nebraska has left the Big 12, this leaves only two perennial power houses in the football-crazed conference, and man do they make a great matchup.
Oklahoma will start off the 2011 season on top of the polls and the Texas Longhorns will start just outside the Top 25, but don’t get too comfortable with that image. With a Top Five recruiting class coming in, the Longhorns will dash back to the top of the football world, and this will indefinitely lead to a clash of the two football giants and will ultimately decide the Big 12 champ for years to come.
1. Auburn vs. Alabama
Ahh yes, the Iron Bowl. Just last year the two played in what was arguably the game of the year, and this only increased the intensity between these in-state rivals that can be used to make this the best rivalry in the land.
With the land of “War Eagle” snagging a national championship last year and “Roll Tide” country winning just the year before that, the two have been able to reel in Top Five recruiting classes for the upcoming year. With a recent past of leveled talent and success tied with a promising future for both programs, this matchup in these seasons to come will give teams bragging rights, and more importantly a potential spot in a BCS Bowl.
Oh yeah, and both teams carry incredible supporters that split family, friends and the state into two pride-fueled fan bases. I’d say that’s a good rivalry.