Can you feel it? There’s already a slight rumble in the ground as the college football season draws nearer and nearer. What better way to get excited for the upcoming action on the gridiron than taking a look at best games of the season? Nothing’s sweeter than college football rivalries, and there’s plenty listed below as your guide to the ten best rivalry games in the upcoming 2015 NCAA Football season.
Don’t get lost in all the hullabaloo. Check out our guide for the key dates for the upcoming college football season. If you’re looking for a nice conference to sink your teeth into, then check out our complete preview for the Big Ten, featuring the national champions the Ohio State Buckeyes.[sc:NCAAFArticles ]
The Top 10 Rivalry Games of the 2015-2016 NCAA Football Season
10. Red River Showdown (Texas vs. Oklahoma) – October 10
[sc:NCAA240banner ]The Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners may be far from national powerhouses in college football right now, but they still put on quite a bang in their annual Red River Showdown. This rivalry has been tight in recent years, with the two teams splitting their past 10 games down the middle. Take for example last year’s game: the Sooners built a comfortable 31-13 lead with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns responded with a passing touchdown and a running score from quarterback Tyrone Swoopes to pull within five points. But it was too little too late as the Longhorns suffered a 31-26 loss.
9. Egg Bowl (Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss) – November 28
The Egg Bowl has been pretty exciting these past few years. Mississippi State has won four of the past seven games against Ole Miss. The Rebels had the last laugh in 2014, though, beating the then-No. 4 ranked Mississippi State 31-17 and out of contention for the College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs could get their revenge this time around behind senior quarterback Dak Prescott, who became the first Bulldog to have more than 3,000 total yards in a single season in 2014. Prescott produced 4,435 yards of total offense last season as a dual-threat quarterback.
8. Michigan vs. Michigan State – October 17
Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio doesn’t like Michigan. Especially not after the Wolverines called Michigan State “little brother” after a 28-24 win in 2007. The Spartans have trounced Michigan since then, winning six of the past seven games. It gets even more interesting this year with Jim Harbaugh taking over the head coaching job at Michigan.
Harbaugh has made a name for himself in his head coaching career, winning the Woody Hayes Trophy in 2010 and the Orange Bowl Championship in 2011 (both with Stanford). He’s also had plenty of experience in the pros, leading the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship in 2012. It’ll be interesting to see how this rivalry plays out now with Harbaugh in the mix.
7. Florida vs. Florida State – November 28
One of the best non-conference rivalries is that of the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. They’ve been at each other’s throats recently. The Gators won five straight against their rivals from 2004 to 2009. The rise of Jimbo Fisher as Florida State’s head coach, however, turned the tide as the Seminoles won four of the last five matchups to date.
Florida State had been unbeaten in 29 consecutive games before losing against Oregon in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl last season. The Gators gave Fisher and the ‘Noles quite a scare in the regular season too. Florida took the defending champions to the limit in a closer-than-expected 24-19 loss.
6. Civil War (Oregon vs. Oregon State) – November 27
The battle for football supremacy in Oregon is contested year-after-year by last season’s national championship runners-up the Ducks of the University of Oregon and the Beavers of Oregon State University. It is the fifth-most played college football rivalry game in the United States.
The Oregon Ducks have dominated this rivalry in recent years, winning the past seven matchups, and they still end their regular seasons against the Beavers. If Oregon manages to find itself at the top of the College Football Playoff picture this season, then this game becomes even more important.
The Ducks can’t afford to lose against Oregon State with so much at stake. The absence of last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota opens the door for a Beavers upset. Mariota, who was drafted into the NFL this summer, passed for 367 yards and four touchdowns while adding two more scores with his legs in his last Civil War appearance last year, a 47-19 Oregon triumph.
5. USC vs. Notre Dame – October 17
Notre Dame vs. USC is one of college football’s most storied rivalries. Each school has won 11 national championships and produced seven Heisman Trophy winners. The winner of this rivalry game would often go on to play in the college football national championship game, although this wasn’t the case in last year’s matchup.
Notre Dame and USC were unranked sporting identical 7-4 records, but still put on quite a show. The Trojans trashed the Fighting Irish 49-14. USC scored the most points in the series in the past 40 years. It was also the first time in Notre Dame history that any opponent had made six touchdown passes against its team. The Trojans had quarterback Cody Kessler, a Heisman Trophy contender this year, to thank for that.
4. The Game (Michigan vs. Ohio State) – November 28
A very special game is played in the Big Ten with conference rivals Ohio State and Michigan set to clash for “The Game.” The Buckeyes have dominated this series in recent years, winning nine of the last 10 matchups. The arrival of Jim Harbaugh and his awesome defensive mind in Ann Arbor could shake things up in the current season.
Don’t be surprised to see the Wolverines competitive this year even after Ohio State shellacked them with 42 points last season. Harbaugh has been an excellent defensive coach, leading his Stanford Cardinal to rank in the top 10 nationwide in scoring defense in his final year with the team in 2010. He also had a bang in the pros leading San Francisco to rank in the top five of total defense in his four years as the 49ers’ head coach.
3. Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate (Georgia vs. Georgia Tech) – November 28
The Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hate each other, that’s for certain. Georgia is a liberal arts research university, while Georgia Tech is a science and technology research university. The differences don’t really translate to the football field. Both teams had some of the best rushing offenses last season with Georgia Tech ranking first nationally with 4,789 yards, while Georgia ranked 13th with 3,321 yards.
Expect a thrilling Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate this season, especially after last year’s 30-24 overtime victory in favor of Georgia Tech.
2. Iron Bowl (Auburn vs. Alabama) – November 28
The Iron Bowl may just be one of the best rivalries in all of college football, which is contested between the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. Their recent matchups have been mind-blowing. The best edition of the rivalry possibly came in 2013 with the infamous “Kick Six” that sent Auburn to the SEC Championship Game.
Auburn and Alabama were tied at 28-28 with one second remaining. Alabama decided to attempt a 57-yard field goal to ice the game, but kicker Adam Griffith missed the potential game-winning kick. Auburn captain and cornerback Chris Davis then caught and returned the missed field goal for 100 yards and the 34-28 victory.
Last year’s Iron Bowl didn’t have the same drama, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Alabama and Auburn combined for 99 points in a 55-44 victory for the Tide.
1. Army vs. Navy – December 12
Nothing’s more special than the annual college football regular season curtain closer, the Army-Navy game. The game gets its own weekend in December, with no other contest scheduled. It hasn’t been competitive, though, with the Navy winning the past 13 games, but the game is still a pretty big deal. What happens on the field is more of a celebration of the players’ service and patriotism, as plenty of them end will up serving in the U.S. military sooner or later.
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