The Big Ten and the SEC need to create a conference rivalry, and it needs to happen now. Both conferences have fourteen schools with long histories of success. Here are possible match-ups and the story-lines that would surround the games.
Alabama vs. Michigan – Nick Saban has blasted Jim Harbaugh for creating satellite camps throughout the south. This match-up would give the Crimson Tide a chance to show that even though the Wolverines are poaching players, Saban still owns the best of the bunch.
Ohio State vs. Florida – Urban Meyer stepped away from coaching at Florida to spend more time with his family and to live a healthier life. Two years later, he stepped into the vacant coaching seat at Ohio State. Florida would have some motivation to show Urban he made the wrong decision.
Wisconsin vs. Arkansas – Bret Bielema left Wisconsin on good terms, but it was a tough pill to swallow when he went to a rival conference. Wisconsin would be fired up to prove that Coach Bielema is at the wrong program in the wrong conference.
Michigan State vs. Auburn – Both of these programs have been highly successful in recent years, but they are both overshadowed in their respective states. The two programs that serve as the “second fiddle” could duke it out for a little more respect.
Northwestern vs. LSU – The crowd would look like a sea of purple for two programs who always seem to be in the playoff hunt early but fade late. While this match-up seems like an easy victory for LSU, there is one game every year in which Northwestern stuns a much better team. This could be that game.
Iowa vs. Georgia – Both programs have come within a play of advancing to the national championship or the playoff in recent years. This also would have been a match-up of long-tenured coaches, but Georgia fired Coach Richt during the off-season.
Nebraska vs. Tennessee – If there was any way these programs could turn back the clock to the 1990s, they would do it in a heartbeat. These two former dynasties have rabid fan bases that would make this match-up interesting.
Penn State vs. Vanderbilt – James Franklin had moderate success at Vanderbilt before jumping ship to take over a Penn State program coming out of a major scandal. The up and coming coach would need to prove he made the right decisions by leaving Nashville for Happy Valley.
Indiana vs. Kentucky – This game would not provide much in terms of good football, but the fan bases have long hated each other on the basketball court. This is a match-up that needs to happen every year in every sport.
Minnesota vs. Ole Miss – Jump back to the mid-20th century, and this would be considered a great match-up. The ghosts of legends past in both programs can be relived in this game.
Illinois vs. Missouri – The “bragging rights” game needs to be revived. The bordering states have a long-standing feud, and the crowd would be electric.
Purdue vs. Mississippi State – Who has the better percussion instrument? Purdue’s big bass drum is legendary, and Mississippi State’s cowbells are deafening.
Rutgers vs. Texas A&M – Former players are now surrounded in scandals. Ray Rice and Johnny Manziel are former stars at these two schools. They both have become synonymous with bad behavior. Their former schools still struggle to move away from the players that have tarnished their reputations.
Maryland vs. South Carolina – South Carolina left the ACC years ago. Maryland left the ACC more recently. This match-up would prove which former ACC school has the upper hand.
By Ben Billman
B.S. in Sports Management from Taylor University
M.S. in Sports Management from Liberty University
(In progress) Ed. D. in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy
Ben Billman is currently a doctoral teaching assistant at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He lives in Mobile, Alabama with his wife Jennifer and son Derrick. He is originally from Indiana, and therefore has a deep love for the game of basketball.