Hopefully the Longhorns and Aggies Will Play Again
Hello, college football fans!
Yesterday was for many college football teams their season closer and for many teams their rivalry game.
However, with many conferences switching conferences many rivalries may have ended or will be played earlier in the season rather than at the end of the season.
While many of the unwanted conference switches are too late to change, the rivalries shouldn't have to. In fact, Rivalry Week shouldn't have to either. The SEC and ACC allow their conference teams to play non league games the last week before conference championship games. This past week, USC played Notre Dame.
The Big Ten and Big 12 should allow conference teams to play non conference opponents during Rivalry Week. How are Longhorn fans going to feel if Texas plays Texas Tech or TCU or Baylor next Thanksgiving? When West Virginia joins the Big 12, who in the Big 12 should they play during Rivalry Week? Anyone?
This is a list of games I would like to see played Thanksgiving Weekend in 2012. There will be many non conference games listed, but so what?
Putting these schools together is like arranging dates for a prom.
You have the couples like Michigan and Ohio State you know are going together.
You have couples that have dated and aren't sure they should go to the prom together but should because they belong together.
You have couples that are thinking about breaking up but you don't want them to.
You have couples that broke up but you want them back together.
Finally, you have some single schools that just need a partner and you have to pair them with someone.
So who should be dancing late next November?
Michigan/Ohio State isn't going anywhere
Michigan vs. Ohio State
Indiana vs. Purdue
Wisconsin vs. Illinois or Minnesota
Northwestern vs. Illinois or Minnesota
As an Illinois alum, I would rather see Wisconsin as Illinois's rival than Northwestern. They are two neighboring states and the rivalry could mirror the Bears/Packers NFL rivalry.
If the Big Ten goes to a nine game schedule, I would like to see the Illini and the Badgers play annually in Soldier Field the way Texas and Oklahoma play in Dallas or Florida and Georgia play in Jacksonville.
Since the game would annually be a Thanksgiving weekend game, many students probably will be away from the campuses anyway. Many of my friends from Illinois lived in the Chicago suburbs. My cousin lived in the Chicago area and went to Wisconsin.
The problem with making Illinois and Wisconsin rivals is that it forces Minnesota and Northwestern to play rivalry weekend and I can't imagine either will be thrilled. Wisconsin and Minnesota are neighboring states as well and Illinois and Northwestern are in-state rivals. Illinois and Northwestern did play at Wrigley Field last year so I think they may agree to an annual Chicago game as well.
Anything would be better for the Illini than playing their last game against Minnesota.
Non Conference Rivalries
Penn State vs. Pittsburgh
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
Iowa vs. Iowa State
While others are upset that the Backyard Brawl is ending, Pitt's real rivalry ended back in the 90s when Pittsburgh and Penn State stopped playing.
Before Penn State joined the Big Ten, it was Penn State who played Pitt either the last or second to last game in the season, not West Virginia. Throughout the 1980s, Pittsburgh and West Virginia played in September or October.
Since the Big Ten refused to give Penn State an Eastern rival, they should just let Penn State play Pittsburgh the last week of the season instead of playing some Midwestern Big Ten team that could care less about playing them. We know the ACC will allow Pitt to play non conference during Rivalry Week.
The Spartans want to play Michigan but Michigan "already is taken". I would think Michigan State's next biggest rival would be Notre Dame. Notre Dame usually plays USC or Stanford during Rivalry Week but USC and Stanford should be playing their in-state rivals and not Notre Dame. So if the Big Ten allows this game during Rivalry Week, why shouldn't they play then?
I have said Nebraska was a poor geographical fit for the Big Ten. The only team that would even qualify as a rival for Nebraska would be Iowa and they have hardly played before the Huskers joined the Big Ten.
So just like Penn State and Michigan State, Nebraska goes out of conference for Rivalry Week and reunites the biggest rivalry in the old Big Eight days with Oklahoma. It was a shame that the Big 12 didn't continue the rivalry and allow for permanent cross divisional partners like the SEC and Big Ten do.
As for Iowa and Iowa State, neither of them really have a big rivalry with anyone else in their conferences so they might as well move their annual game to November and it can be just like Florida/Florida State or Georgia/Georgia Tech.
Different Conferences, Still a Bitter Rivalry
Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
North Carolina vs. Duke or NC State
Wake Forest vs. Duke or NC State
Syracuse vs. Boston College
North Carolina and Duke are a bigger basketball rivalry but the two schools would want to beat each other in tiddly winks if they played. On the other hand, North Carolina and NC State are state schools and Duke and Wake Forest are private schools so maybe those rivalries may work as well.
Syracuse and Boston College were former Big East rivals and soon to be ACC rivals. When the Big East first formed, Syracuse and Boston College were the only Division 1-A football teams in the conference (Connecticut didn't start major conference football until after 2000). They are also both private schools.
Non Conference Rivalries
Florida State vs. Florida
Pittsburgh vs. Penn State
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia
Clemson vs. South Carolina
Maryland vs. Connecticut
Miami vs. West Virginia
State rivalries reign here and if Pittsburgh won't be allowed in the Big Ten as I want to see, my hope is Pitt/Penn State will be mentioned in the same sentence as the Florida and Georgia rivalries in ten years.
Before Virginia Tech joined the ACC, Maryland and Virginia used to be rivals. With most of the Eastern schools paired up, Connecticut seems to be the best available. Connecticut's coach Randy Edsall became the Maryland coach so there could be some bad blood from Connecticut. My hope is that Maryland and Connecticut become conference rivals in the ACC one day instead of just non conference rivals.
Miami and West Virginia is another "best available" rivalry. They are reuniting a former Big East rivalry.
Alabama vs. Our Name is Auburn But Our Uniforms are Blue and Orange
Alabama vs. Auburn
LSU vs. Arkansas
Mississippi vs. Mississippi State
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
When it comes to the SEC, the non conference rival games look much more attractive than these do. Alabama and Auburn are big recently because both were in national title contention. If Alabama and Auburn were both .500, they would be Indiana and Purdue. Or Mississippi and Mississippi State. No one outside of Mississippi cares about them. I can't even tell what part of the state Starkville and Oxford are, nor do I care.
This is how backward the SEC is. The SEC has only one school from Florida and Texas, the two most populous states in the conference but has two schools in Alabama and Mississippi.
Florida State and Miami deserve to be in this conference more than half of the schools in the conference now based on football tradition. But Florida won't have either of them in the conference. I'd rather have either of these schools in the SEC than Auburn. I don't want any Mississippi schools in the SEC, let alone two.
Non Conference Rivalries
Florida vs. Florida State
Texas A&M vs. Texas
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
South Carolina vs. Clemson
Kentucky vs. Louisville
Missouri vs. Kansas
If the Florida and Georgia schools can still have their rivalry, Texas and Texas A&M should as well. I know there's politics and bad blood between the two but both schools and their fans will miss playing next year. I think Texas can do without playing New Mexico and/or Wyoming next year.
The same holds true for Kansas and Missouri. The "Border War" will be missed and they should continue as well.
As for Kentucky, Tennessee was never a rival. If you win once in 27 years, it's not a rivalry. Besides, Kentucky is a basketball school while Tennessee is a football school. Kentucky and Louisville should end the season instead of playing a September game (just like Iowa and Iowa State).
Kansas City will miss this rivalry
Texas Tech vs. Baylor
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
This shows you how big of a mess the Big 12 is now. Not only are the out of conference rivalry games better, several of the rivalry games are teams that used to be in either the Big 12 or the two conferences that merged (the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences).
Texas Tech and Baylor are perfect for each other. Both only got into the Big 12 because of political pressure and both are in areas outside the major Texas cities (the four SWC schools left out of the Big 12 when it was first formed are from either Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston). No one outside of these schools care when they play.
Kansas State and Oklahoma State are merely second choice schools. They would love to play their in-state rivals but Kansas and Oklahoma have bigger fish to fry. Oklahoma fans probably wanted to beat Nebraska and/or Texas more than they wanted to beat Oklahoma State. Kansas State and Oklahoma State are paired up simply because "no one else is left".
Non Conference Rivals
Texas vs. Texas A&M
Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
Kansas vs. Missouri
Iowa State vs. Iowa
West Virginia vs. Miami
TCU vs. SMU
The first three games won't be played but should be. Is there any team in the Big 12 that even qualifies as a rival to Iowa State?
As for newest member TCU, SMU is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, they are both private religious schools and former SWC conference mates. If Houston and Rice play each other as they should, the eight former SWC schools from Texas will be playing each other during Rivalry Week.
The Battle of Los Angeles
USC vs. UCLA
Stanford vs. California Berkeley
Oregon vs. Oregon State
Washington vs. Washington State
Arizona vs. Arizona State
While other conferences may have better rivalries, collectively the Pac-12 rivalries are the best IMHO. You have the two LA schools, the two Bay Area schools, the Civil War, the Apple Cup and the Arizona rivalry. You don't have UCLA and USC bickering like Texas and Texas A&M and you don't have schools blocking their in-state rivals like they do in Florida and Georgia.
As for Notre Dame, UCLA is USC's rival and Berkeley is Stanford's rival. Play your California game a week early. California playing Arizona State after playing Stanford is a huge letdown.
Actually, if Notre Dame wants to play Stanford/USC during rivalry week, why not have UCLA play California (UC System) during Rivalry Week? If they aren't scheduled as conference opponents, they should play each other as "non conference opponents".
Non Conference Rivals
Utah vs. BYU
Colorado vs. Colorado State
If it's good enough for the California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona schools, why not have Utah and Colorado play in-state opponents the last weekend as well? Before Utah left for the Pac-12, Utah and BYU played during Rivalry Week in the WAC/MWC. Playing in September is not the same. Colorado and Colorado State is also a rivalry that needs to be in November and not September like Iowa vs. Iowa State and Kentucky vs. Louisville.
Who Can Forget Army/Navy?
Rutgers vs. Temple
Central Florida vs. South Florida
Houston vs. Rice
Akron vs. Kent State
Miami University vs. Ohio University
Bowling Green vs. Toledo
Cincinnati vs. East Carolina
(Honorable Mention) Army vs. Navy
As a Temple alum, I dislike Rutgers and I've made it clear I am bitter that Rutgers was invited to the Big East as a full member before Temple and Temple was kicked out even though Rutgers was just as bad in football as Temple was. Until Villanova upgrades to FBS, Rutgers would probably be Temple's most disliked FBS school.
Central Florida and South Florida are in-state rivals. Both schools are relatively new to FBS football and are in the top ten largest schools by enrollment in the US. It may not be Florida vs. Florida State, but it's still a good rivalry.
Houston and Rice are former SWC rivals and both are in Houston.
I'm not too familiar with the MAC, but they look to be the biggest MAC rivalries.
As for Cincinnati and East Carolina, they are paired because no one else is left.
Army and Navy play after Rivalry Week but you can't discuss FBS rivals without mentioning Army and Navy.