College Football's 5 Rivalry Games That Must Be Protected If Expansion Continues

Tom Scurlock@tas1372Correspondent IIISeptember 10, 2011

College Football's 5 Rivalry Games That Must Be Protected If Expansion Continues

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    Evolution is alive and well in college football.  Conference expansion and realignment is in full force and about to explode. 

    Though it has merits, one potential consequence is the loss of tremendous rivalry games.

    Tragically, as the sport is moving forward, it might be moving backward also.  These games are sacred and vital to the health of the sport. 

    If they are played less frequently or not at all, the disappointment will be immeasurable.

Red River Shootout

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    Played annually since 1900, the game between Oklahoma and Texas is a classic.  Texas leads the overall series 59-41, but it is all square over the last 30 years. 

    In the Mack Brown/Bob Stoops era, the game has been elevated to a new level.  With few exceptions, both teams enter the game ranked in the top 10 and are in the hunt for the national championship. 

    The winner has played in the Big 12 championship game 12 straight times. 

    It is likely that Oklahoma and Texas will end up in different conferences.  If they do, these two schools should do everything possible to keep this an annual game. 

Deep South's Oldest Rivalry

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    Most people think of the Iron Bowl when asked about rivalries in the South.  That game is certainly the fiercest, but the annual showdown between Georgia and Auburn is a close second.

    First played in 1892, this bitter rivalry is about as close to even as a series can get.  Auburn leads 54-52-8, but Georgia has won six out the last nine. 

    Despite being a permanent cross-division game right now, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry is at risk for not being played every year if the schools remain in separate divisions, assuming the SEC adds teams. 

PAC 10 Expansion Threatens USC/Notre Dame Rivalry

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    Second only to the Army/Navy game, the clash between the Trojans and Fighting Irish is college football’s premier non-conference rivalry. 

    Played annually since 1926, Notre Dame leads the series 43-35-5. USC has dominated lately winning 11 of 15 by an average of 20 points.

    This might be the game in most jeopardy.  If the PAC 12 becomes the PAC 14, or god forbid the PAC 16, it will be increasingly difficult to keep the Irish on USC’s schedule every season. 

Backyard Brawl May Stall If Big East Gets Robbed Like Big 12

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    In the short term, the Big East appears safe from any major changes.  However, it is not too difficult to imagine either West Virginia or Pitt spinning off separately to the ACC or Big Ten. 

    Played since 1895, the Panthers and Mountaineers really hate each other.  Pitt has a commanding 61-39-3 lead in the series, but West Virginia has dominated lately winning 13 out the last 20.

    The name really tells the story.  Both programs and their fans are blue collar tough.  Winters are brutal for the loser knowing they will have to endure 364 days of ridicule. 

    If they did not play each other each year, what would the locals argue about in the offseason? 

If Big 12 Collapses, Will Border War Go with It?

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    Rooted in arguments dating back to the Civil War, Kansas and Missouri, separated by just 170 miles, detest each other.  That’s the perfect recipe for rivalry game. 

    The Jayhawks and Tigers can’t even agree on who leads the series.  Depending on who is asked, the series is either tied or Missouri leads 56-54-9. 

    The Big 12’s days are numbered and this game might become a casualty if both schools end up in different conferences.