Perfect non-conference rivalries fans should demand for every SEC team
With the SEC’s new schedule mandate, every SEC team has to play a Big 5 conference member from either the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 annually. Since Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina already play one, let’s look at some perfect non-conference rivalries for the other SEC teams:
Alabama vs. Ohio State: As if you needed any more ammunition: Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer. Enough said. Two powerhouse programs with championship aspirations going head-to-head annually would essentially be an elimination game. Urban Meyer’s lip is quivering as you’re reading this at the mere thought of Saban game planning for his offense.
Arkansas vs. Baylor: In a battle of polar opposites, Arkansas and Baylor would actually renew a Southwest Conference rivalry. The Hogs have played more games against Baylor than any SEC school (69). Bret Bielema vs. Art Briles: the storylines write themselves.
Auburn vs. Oregon: The greatest show on turf could be great every year. Oregon is still pissed off about Cam Newton and Michael Dyer, and the two fastest offenses in college football would turn into a track meet, although Auburn could rent a local youth league team to take care of Oregon in the trenches. I’m only kidding, kind of.
LSU vs. Southern Cal: LSU has thumped nearly every other Pac-12 team they’ve played; now it’s time for one of the biggest players in the league, USC. The Trojans have been a historical NFL producer every year, not to mention a championship contender, as has LSU. Let’s put the Trojans and Tigers on a neutral field and play some power football. This could be a fun annual rivalry.
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma: We can’t have SEC annual rivalries without playing one of the storied powerhouses in college football: Oklahoma. Yes, MSU will always be the underdog, but MSU’s brand could really take off should it defeat the Sooners. It would boost recruiting in Oklahoma and Texas, too. Let’s do this!
Missouri vs. Kansas: Bring back the damned Border War, okay? Gary Pinkel said in May the invitation is open, but there’s still hard feelings in Kansas. Fresh off an SEC East crown, maybe Kansas doesn’t want anything to do with Mizzou at this stage in the game.
Ole Miss vs. Penn State: Two of the up-and-coming coaches in the country in Hugh Freeze and James Franklin are trying to build their clubs into legitimate national championship contenders.
Tennessee vs. Michigan: Two historic but recently fallen programs could clash annually in two of the largest stadiums in college football. Tennessee fans are still bitter over Charles Woodson winning the Heisman over Peyton Manning.
Texas A&M vs. Texas: This doesn’t really need to be explained, does it? Texas still refuses to play Texas A&M, but what Texas doesn’t realize is they need the Aggies more. Both fan bases want it, but leadership at each school doesn’t want anything to do with it.
Vanderbilt vs. Duke: The battle of the academics would be a nice addition to the SEC-ACC rivalries. With similar fan bases and reasonable distance, this could turn into an all-out war. Duke’s David Cutcliffe is offensive-minded, while Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason is defensive-minded. Both schools will have some nice recruiting battles over the same prospects in the future, I’m sure.