You can google college football rivalries, and 999 out of 1,000 returns will mention Ohio St.-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn, or Army-Navy. These blood matches have transcended time, despite the landscape of football changing drastically over the last 20 years. Today, we are going to look at some of the newer conference matchups that are sure to be heated for 2009.
Ohio St. at Penn St. (Nov. 7)
With Michigan experiencing a downturn of late, OSU/PSU is by far the hottest ticket in the Big Ten. 2009′s installment will once again decide the conference championship, and both teams should still be ranked in the top 15 when they face off . The Nittany Lions went away from Columbus last year with a victory, and you can be sure Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes will be ready to return the favor in Happy Valley.
Iowa at Penn St. (Sept. 26)
The Hawkeyes spoiled the Lions perfect season in Kinnick Stadium last year, and these two have been slugging it out with fervor (on and off ) for the last decade. Expect another hard fought battle between two of college football’s most revered smashmouth teams.
Illinois at Ohio St. (Sept. 26)
Illinois pulled off a miracle in Columbus two years ago, and that has helped fuel the hatred between the always powerful Bucks, and the upstart Illini. Zook’s boys celebrating after the heroic victory at midfield also adds some spice to this normally one-sided annual affair. If Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn are clicking on all cylinders, we may see another shocking upset in the Horseshoe.
LSU at Alabama (Nov.11)
The Nick Saban led Tide, after a decade hiatus, are officially back in the SEC picture. His presence only adds fuel to a great rivalry. LSU has been pre-occupied with Florida and Auburn the last 5 seasons, so Bama’s resurgence makes this game meaningful again. The Tigers would love to stick it to their old coach, and people in Tuscaloosa would love to send the Bayou Bengals faithful home unhappy for the second straight year. Another factor that will make this rivalry sexy is Auburn looking poised for another dissappointing season, so these two can focus on each other in ’09.
Arkansas at Ole Miss (Oct. 24)
You can bet your bottom dollar that Rebel coach Houston Nutt has this game circled on his calendar. Ole Miss is heading up, and Nutt’s former employer (Arkansas) is heading down, so it will be fun to watch him remind the Razorbacks of this current predicament for four quarters. Cross-state rival Mississippi St. is going through a transitional phase, so Colonel Reb looks to Arkansas as a suitable rival in ’09.
Florida vs Ole Miss (SEC Championship)
Ole Miss making the championship might be a bit of a stretch, but this matchup would surely generate alot of feelings from both sides after the Rebs emotional win last year in The Swamp. Urban Meyer is the type of guy who has a good memory, so it’s a foregone conclusion the Gators would be out for revenge in this matchup.
Texas Tech at Texas (Sept.19)
The Red Raiders shocked the Longhorns last year with Michael Crabtree’s electrifying touchdown catch, and for the first time in awhile, people in Lubbock began to feel the playing field being leveled. Although UT is still head and shoulders in front of TT, Mike Leach has the Raiders believing that they can win. This game should be a fun one.
Missouri at Oklahoma St. (Oct. 17)
Forget Kansas, the Cowboys are a hot new rival for the Tigers. These two programs were on the cusp of Big 12 greatness last year, but share the same plight: Being in the shadow of powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas. Missouri has an opportunity to avenge last year’s home loss, and the Okies will be ranked as high (as the Tigers were) when these two clash.
Oklahoma at Nebraska (Nov. 7)
Before you blast in with, “How can one of college football’s oldest rivalries be considered new? ” let me explain. This game hasn’t meant much the last few years, but with the Huskers re-establishing themselves as a powerful program, this game will be meaningful on a national stage once again. Oklahoma has been feuding with Texas (while Nebraska slept), and Nebraska with Colorado (while Oklahoma slept), so it will be nice to see this rivalry ascend to the heights it once attained.
Florida St. at Wake Forest (Nov. 14)
If someone told me 10 years ago that Wake Forest would beat the Seminoles three times in a row, I would have gave them $10,000,000-1 odds on that ever happening. Oh, how the times have changed. Make no mistake, the Deacons have had FSU’s number lately, but this formerly useless matchup has become a pretty solid one indeed.
Boston College at Virginia Tech (Oct.10)
These two teams have played in the ACC Championship the last two years, and the Hokies have come away champs the last two years. You can imagine how pumped up the Eagles will be to invade Blacksburg in October. Tech should be heavily favored, but this rivalry is heating up, and anything’s possible.
Miami at North Carolina (Nov. 14)
Beggars can’t be choosers, and after a 7-6 season in 2008, the Hurricanes will again have their hands full (and then some) when they take on the Tarheels. UNC squeaked out a victory in Coral Gables last year, but much more will be at stake for both programs this year: credibility.
Oregon St. at USC (Oct. 24)
The pesky Beavers have taken two out of three from the Trojans, and single-handedly ruined USC’s title hopes (to the delight of many) last season. Expect Pete Carroll to have his team ready for this matchup, and USC to pound out a 20+ point win in the Coliseum. It’s the following year’s return to Corvallis that keeps Carroll awake at night.
Oregon vs WAC/Mountain West Conference (Sept.3, Sept.19)
Boise St. strolled into Autzen Stadium and did something not many others have this decade: Left a winner. The Ducks plan to show their gratitude by accomplishing an equally difficult feat: Beating the Broncos on the infamous SmurfTurf. The Ducks vendetta against the WAC and MWC extends till the end of the month, when Oregon takes on last year’s BCS busting Utah. If the Ducks contiune this trend of scheduling solid mid-major opponents, the west coast may get treated to some good football (for once).
Arizona at California (Nov. 14)
This series has been nip-and-tuck lately, with the home team usually winning. The Wildcats upset the Bears in Tucson last year, and coming off a bowl victory, look confident to win again. With Arizona St. falling from grace, and U of A climbing towards the top of the Pac Ten, the Cal game will be a bitter matchup for years to come.
West Virginia at South Florida (Oct. 30)
This rivalry is about as new as it gets, but it is already as heated as it gets. Ever since USF clipped the (then) undefeated Mountaineers in an epic Thursday night game, there has been some serious intensity between the programs. Expect another “slobberknocker” in this year’s installment.
Louisville at Cincinnati (Oct. 24)
This matchup has typically been considered a rivalry on the hardwood, but it has spilled over onto the grass. The two programs are in very close proximity to each other, and with Cincinnati’s coming out party last year, this game takes on a whole new meaning. This contest will have years to simmer, and then burn out of control.
Rutgers at UCONN (Oct. 31)
Two schools that have made leaps and bounds in the world of college football in a short amount of time. The Scarlet Knights and Huskies have cracked the polls, so now it’s time to take the next step. Some people consider this matchup a “poor man’s Army/Navy” (if you can believe that), but judging on the direction these up and comers are headed, this rivalry should get pretty interesting.
Feel free to add any new rivalries you feel I ommitted….
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