The best thing about college football is the intense intra-conference rivalries. But which one is best? Each conference boasts one or two premier rivalries every year, so I've chosen the best one from each conference and ranked them against the other conferences.
Extra curricular activity always is a bonus when evaluating the magnitude of a rivalry, and it was taken into consideration.
Other metrics used were parity of winning, fan involvement, and overall presence of the rivalry within the conference.
Be sure to mark these games down on your 2011 college football calendar!
The Mid-American Conference has a lot of budding rivalries but has yet to reach any significant level on a national stage yet.
That being said, the three-headed rivalry for the state of Michigan is pretty good. The winner of the series--if there is one, which is not a mathematical certainty--is awarded the Michigan MAC Trophy.
When Dan LeFevour played at Central Michigan, the Tuesday night games on ESPN were actually quite exciting.
The Western Athletic Conference has been ripped to shreds with the departure of Boise State and the impending departures of Nevada and Hawaii.
But the 2011 WAC rivalry will be about who can win the conference one last time.
Nevada is the defending champion, having been the only team to beat Boise State in 2010. Hawaii seems to always be a prolific offensive team and is a threat to the Wolf Pack.
This one-year rivalry is fairly weak, though.
The Mountain West Conference is in a transition state with the addition of Boise State and the loss of Utah and BYU.
But like the Nevada-Hawaii rivalry that will determine WAC champion, the Holy War, as it is called, can determine a lot for the 2011 MWC.
The game has been played 92 times with the first in 1896. Utah owns the rivalry with a record of 54-34-4 but is only 6-4 over the last 10 games.
Boise State is the immediate favorite to win the conference, but with years of rivalry on and off the field, the game between Utah and BYU will still reign supreme.
This Sun Belt Conference rivalry is very underrated. Having grown up about 15 minutes from Floyd Stadium where the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders play, I've been able to see some great games between the two schools.
Just three years ago, the campus of MTSU was ecstatic to host a Tuesday night ESPN game against Florida Atlantic. The Blue Raiders scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 32-yard touchdown pass as time expired to win 14-13.
That game solidified the match-up as the conference's best.
For such an incredible basketball conference, the Big East is sorely lacking in any big football rivalries.
Connecticut has recently made a run in football and actually won the conference last year before being dismantled by Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Otherwise, the two most consistently good teams in the conference are West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Over the past seven seasons, the record of this rivalry known as the Backyard Brawl is 3-4, so at least there is some parity.
Most of the parity, though, comes from the drop-off in football success that West Virginia has felt since the departure of players like Pat White and Steve Slaton and former coach Rich Rodriguez.
Maybe the entrance of TCU in the Big East will shake things up in 2011.
Rice and SMU have been in the same conference since the 1910s. There have been 88 Battles for the Mayor's Cup times with SMU leading the series by a slight margin of 47-40-1.
The rivalry was born because Rice and SMU were two of four private schools in the defunct Southwest Conference.
They were the two smallest schools in the conference and were located in the two largest cities of any teams in the conference, Dallas and Houston.
I hope to see this old rivalry continue to be reignited.
The is an intense, underrated rivalry. The new Pac-12 will center around this game for years.
Oregon has emerged as a legitimate threat to USC's recent dominance over the conference and ran over the Trojans last year 53-32.
USC coach Lane Kiffin won't stand losing to a potential recruiting competitor for long, and his mouth is sure to keep this budding rivalry growing for a long time.
Even though neither team has won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game since they started playing it in 2005, the Florida State and Miami rivalry is the best in the ACC.
The tension goes back decades to the 1950s and has always been one of runs put together by both teams.
Miami won eight of the first nine games. Florida State copied that and won the next eight of the nine match-ups.
Miami won the series from 1975 to 1984 by a close 6-4. Then they won eight of the next 10 until 1994.
Florida State then won five in a row, followed by six in a row for Miami.
And now Florida State has won four of the last six.
Did I mentioned these teams have high school teammates playing against each other?
There is no other game that even comes close in the Big Ten in terms of a rivalry than the Ohio State versus Michigan game.
In fact, it's simply known as The Game to many.
It's the personalities of the coaches that have really made this game what it is today.
Ohio State's legendary coach Woody Hayes coached Michigan's legendary coach Bo Schembechler as a player at Miami of Ohio.
Hayes was known for his tremendous fire on the sidelines, which occasionally got him into trouble. Schembechler was certainly as passionate but was more reserved than his counterpart.
Jim Tressel and Lloyd Carr has a good run at each other in more recent years, though Tressel's Ohio State Buckeyes were 9-1 against the Wolverines during his tenure.
It's likely that Tressel's desire to beat Michigan indirectly led to his resignation because he wanted to make sure he had the better players on the field no matter what.
That's what a rivalry is.
The infamous Red River Rivalry between the Big 12's Texas and Oklahoma may have saved the conference during a tumultuous period when there was rumors of several big players leaving.
Nebraska and Colorado did end up leaving, but the conference's best rivalry game remains intact.
The thing that makes the Red River Rivalry so good is the nuances in it the way the game is put on.
First, the stands are completely 50-50, with the tickets for each school being divided straight down the middle of the 50-yard line.
Second, the game is played at a neutral site in Dallas. It has been played in the legendary Cotton Bowl since 1932.
Finally, it's one of the great games for watching pro prospects. Though that shouldn't affect college rivalry's status, there is something to be said for the hundreds of NFL players who have gone to war in the Cotton Bowl against their nemesis.
The Iron Bowl has been one heck of a game the past few years in the SEC.
As if it needed it. The game has been recognized as one of the most vicious rivalries in the country since its inception in 1893. The record now sits at 40-34-1 in Alabama's favor.
The game usually ushers the winner into the driver's seat of the SEC West if not farther. The winner of the Iron Bowl for the past two seasons has gone on to win the National Championship.
The bitter in-state rivalry got a little too far out of hand this past year when a rogue Alabama fan poisoned the oak trees on Auburn's Toomer's Corner. The trees are rolled by Auburn when the team wins.
When you go so far as to hurt a tree in the name of a rivalry, you've at least put your game near the top of this list.
Maybe it's because my grandfather graduated from West Point, or maybe it's because next week is the Fourth of July, but I can't help but rank the Army-Navy game at top of the college football rivalries.
No matter who you are, you always keep tabs on this game. You watch the pregame ceremonies at the very least and check in periodically. Do you do that for the other rivalries? No. This is Army-Navy.
Navy has owned Army as of late, winning nine in a row with their version of the triple option.
But it's the pregame ceremonies, the understanding that players from both teams will soon be serving our country in uniform, the witnessing of soldiers at work that makes this game an eternal classic.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the game is how each team stands and listens to the other team's band play its fight song, with the winner getting to go last.
That's what it's about. Bash each other's heads in for 60 minutes, and then congratulate each other for their grit.
While Army hasn't been able to notch a win since 2001, they remain close in the overall record of 55-49-7. Maybe 2011 will be different.
Go Army! Beat Navy!