Football season is creeping up on us faster then a Florida Gator running from the po-po’s so now is a great time to look at the top 5 rivalry games you should watch out for this season. Before we jump into it let’s set some guidelines for the list.
History Matters – One of the best things about college football is the rich deep tradition that it has. We care more about rivalries that have spawned tradition for and love the animosity that it brings.
Is the rivalry competitive - If it is less of a rivalry and more like John Matrix blowing heads off in Commando then its not a real rivalry. Take for example USC and Notre Dame. These two teams play every year but it has become such a lopsided rivalry we could care less. (okay, we always like seeing ND get worked but you know what i mean.)
The more parties and pageantry the better – Some of the best rivalries in college football have more stories surrounding them then just the game. OU/Texas play on a neutral field in the big D and the Florida/Georgia game is known as “The worlds largest cocktail party”. All of this adds to the excitement and build up to the game making it more exciting.
Title implications is the mother load of factors - Championships are what these schools work for every year, and when both teams title hopes rest on the outcome of a game nothing is more riveting. Michigan and Ohio State were ranked 1 and 2 when they battled in the last game of the season in 2006 and the winner got the opportunity to play in the National Championship. Ohio State ended up being victorious and ended up playing in the 2006 and 2007 national championships. Michigan on the other hand has been in a downward spiral since going through a coaching change and going an abysmal 12-13 since. Obviously we don’t have a crystal ball to look into the future to see what teams will be ranked when they play each other but we can look at last years record, returning players, preseason rankings, and recent championships to make some educated guesses.
5) Ohio State / Michigan
Historically there is not a bigger rivalry then Ohio State and Michigan which is why even with Michigan’s abysmal season last year it lands on the list at number five. Since 1935 Ohio State and Michigan have waited till the last game of the season to wage their war on the gridiron. The hatred between these two teams in palpable. Heck, there is even a wolverine hate band called The Dead Schembechlers who have such hit songs like “Bomb Ann Arbor Now“.
Although the rivalry has been a bit more lop sided the last two years we feel that Michigan will rise to the challenge this year since Rich-rod has some of his own recruits in the system now. Ohio State is going to be a title contender this year and the Wolverines would love nothing more then to stop them.
4) Florida / Georgia
They don’t call it the worlds largest cocktail party for nothing. Every year tens of thousands of fans flock to Jacksonville to see the two teams play and it is always a spectical of wrestlemania like proportions. The fans of both team party like there is no tomorrow and hang out around a place called the landing getting stupid drunk and party. Here is an example of the utter lunacy. Last year the Gators curb stomped the dawgs 49-10 and Florida is the consensus preseason number one team in the nation with Timmy Tebow coming back. All we can hope for is that Georgia took last years loss to heart and senior Joe Cox can handle the offense after sitting behind Stafford for 3 years and runner Carlton Thomas can step in to replace Moreno.
3) Alabama / LSU
Oh my has this one heated up in the last few years or what? Both teams hate each other for several reasons, one being the Saban factor. I also think a largely underrated reason why this game is gonna be a treat is the Les Miles factor. It’s been awhile since we have had a coach give so much locker room material then Miles. He is sure to serve up some tasty quotes in the weeks heading up to the game.
Both teams are looking to be top 25 and poised to have another classic like last years epic 27-21 OT thriller. Plus, any time you can have a large group of fans walk it out before a game then it has to be in the top 3.
2) Florida / LSU
You are probably asking yourself “why the heck are both Florida and LSU in the top 5 twice?” Well my friends the answer is simple. In the last three years there have only been 2 teams to win a championship with Florida winning twice and LSU once. Two superstar coaches, two superstar programs, and two teams that play each other every year even though they are different divisions makes this game a must watch.
Like two heavyweights slugging it out these two teams have been punching each other in the mouth the last few years with each successive blow more brutal then the last. In 2003 the Gators walked into Baton Rouge and beat LSU 19-7 costing the Tigers an undefeated season. In 2004 LSU answers back by beating the Gators 24-21 in the swamp. 2005 was Meyer’s first year and the Tigers smacked the Gators in the mouth winning 21-17. For the next 3 years both teams alternate wins and championships. You can count on the winner of this game being in the title picture and no other game this season will have more riding on the line…..except for one.
1) Oklahoma / Texas
If there is any rivalry in college football that can compete with Michigan/OSU it is The Red River Rivalry. For over 100 years there has been a border war between the two of the most dominant programs in college football history combining for 11 national championships.
Last year the Longhorns bested the Sooners 45-35 in a shootout and then the controversy began. Texas lost to Texas Tech when Crabtree made probably the best play in college football last year and then the Sooners went on to blowout the Red Raiders at home causing a three way tie in the Big 12 south. With OU edging out Texas in the BCS rankings Texas was in the rearview mirror watching OU run away with the division title and a chance to play in the Big 12 Championship. There were planes with banners and a war of words between the coaches but as the dust settled the Sooners were the ones playing in the National Championship and the Longhorns had to settle for the Fiesta bowl.
If you look at any preseason rankings you will see OU and UT flip flopping between the second and third spots with the possibility of the teams entering the game numbers one and two when it’s all said and done. You also have arguably the two top quarterbacks in college football coming back to their respective teams. Sam Bradford the Heisman trophy winner for Oklahoma, and Colt McCoy Heisman award finalist for Texas which should see both teams scoring early and often.
With the game smack dab in the middle of the Texas state fair, thousands of fans raging in the streets of Dallas, and the cotton bowl being split down the middle 50/50 this should be a clash of titans that we will not soon forget.
So there you have it! Our top 5 rivalry games of 2009. What do you think? Post your thoughts and top rivalries in the comment section.