With all that has happened in college football expansion over the last 5 years we have lost some of the game’s finest rivalries. Missouri vs Kansas, Texas vs Texas A&M, and West Virginia vs Pitt are all rivalries of the past. However college football expansion has also brought on some new rivalries as well. Texas A&M vs Alabama, Iowa vs Nebraska, and Utah vs Colorado are just a few of the rivalry games that have been added to college football Saturdays. All three of those rivalries however have been recently formed or renewed. This had the die hard college football fan inside of me thinking “What are some other games that could become great rivalries?” The criteria for this list was simple the two teams had to have a geographic tie and have the ability to instantly become fierce natural rivals. The teams are allowed to have played before as long as they have not played in three consecutive years in the last ten years. Teams scheduled to have future games played are also allowed to make the list. Each rivalry is given a nickname and a neutral site location if warranted such in the case of Army vs Navy, OU vs Texas, or UGA vs Florida.
#5. Pitt vs Penn State
This once in state rivalry peaked in the 80’s when both programs saw a great deal of success. The Nittany Lions winning two national titles in 1982 and 1986 under Joe Paterno and the Pitt Panthers achieving their own success with a young quarterback named Dan Marino at the helm. In 1982 both teams had one loss heading into a top 5 showdown in Happy Valley. Penn State came out winners and later went on to defeat #1 ranked Georgia on New Years Day to capture the National Title. However these two teams have only played each other four times in the twenty years that Penn State has been in the Big Ten. The two are scheduled to play again starting in 2016 until 2019. But this rivalry is too good to put a start and end date on. This is a game that should be played every year on Thanksgiving. Now that Pittsburgh is in the ACC and no longer plays “The Backyard Brawl” with West Virginia, they need a natural rival to play every year. And Penn State has struggled to find its own natural rivalry as an East Coast team in the Midwest dominated Big Ten. The fans, players, and universities would greatly benefit from the renewal of this in state battle. The two schools would alternate in a home and home format and the rivalry could be dubbed “Hate In The Steel State.”
#4. Tennessee vs Virginia Tech
Though these two teams have only met three times in their history, this game has the makings of a great SEC vs ACC rivalry similar to UGA vs Georgia Tech, South Carolina vs Clemson, and Florida vs Florida State. The two teams proximity, winning traditions, and future neutral site location in place could make this THE inter-conference rivalry of the future. In 2016 the two schools separated by only 239 miles will meet in the middle and face off at Bristol Motor Speedway. Both schools have passionate fans who will be sure that the 160,000 racing coliseum will be filled to capacity in shades of orange. Both schools are in need of a competitive annual rivalry. Tennessee for the most part has been dominated by SEC rival Alabama, and in the ACC Tech has done most of the dominating to in state rival UVA. “The Battle of the Bristol” as it is being called should be played every third year at the raceway with the two school alternating home and home the other two years.
#3. North Carolina vs South Carolina
The second of our ACC vs SEC matchups includes two Carolina powerhouses the North Carolina Tar Heels and the South Carolina Gamecocks. For almost 60 years these two schools played annually as ACC neighbors. But have only played each other twice since USC joined the SEC in 1992, the Gamecocks winning both match ups. The two schools are scheduled to play again in 2015 in Charlotte but not again after that. This rivalry makes too much sense not to be played every year. The two schools are just a three hour drive from each other. South Carolina has found stable success in the SEC under Coach Steve Spurrier while the Tar Heels look to create their own winning ways with Junior Quarterback Marquise Williams at the helm. Spurrier who coached at Duke in the early 80’s would love to schedule his old rival every year. And if anyone can ignite a rivalry Steve Spurrier can. Both of these schools are located on beautiful campuses and play in magnificent stadiums. So it only makes sense that the “Clash of the Carolina’s” be played on the two schools campuses the first weekend of the season under a setting Carolina sun.
#2. Texas vs Arkansas
These two powerhouses once battled for Southwest Conference suppremacy in a heated rivalry. However in 1992 Arkansas bolted for the SEC and Texas found its new home in the Big 12. Since the SWC folded, the Longhorns and Razorbacks have only met four times, both schools winning two games a piece. Both schools are headed in a new directions under new coaches. Texas enters its first season under Charlie Strong while Arky looks to improve under second year coach Bret Bielema. What better way to start a new era than to revive this great rivalry. Both of these schools major annual rivalry game has been shaken up by Texas A&M’s move to the SEC. UT lost their Thanksgiving night classic and Arkansas will no longer play LSU on left over Turkey Day the Friday after Thanksgiving, as the Tigers will now play A&M in their season finale. This magnificent rivalry game should only be played in a magnificent stadium. Which is why the “Southwest Showdown” should be played at Arkansas alum and Texas native Jerry Jones’ AT&T stadium. The winner of the game would recieve the “Jones-RazorHorn Trophy”.
1. Ohio State vs West Virginia
The final game on our list is between Ohio State and West Virginia. The Buckeyes and Mountaineers have only played twice in the last 100 years but georgraphic ties, winning traditions, and similar local economic sturctures could spark an instant rivalry. Now before I go any further there is just one thing I want to make clear. Michigan will ALWAYS be Ohio State’s #1 rival. Nothing will ever change that. But the West Virginia game could be that midseason rivalry game that excites Buckeye nation while they wait for the Wolverines. Similar to the Alabama-LSU game versus the Alabama-Auburn game. WVU on the other hand needs a natural rivalry game since the “Backyard Brawl” with Pitt ended. Both of these schools are in states with a rich history in steel, iron, and coal mills. And nothing is better than a gritty blue collar rivalry. Ohio State has always played a strong non conference schedule, evident in its past games with USC, Miami (FL) and Cal. And as for the Mountaineers, WVU would jump at the chance to find a close proximity rival since as they have struggled to be a regional fit in the Big 12. The “The Coal Bowl” as it would become known as would be played on the third Saturday of September in a home and home format.