Conference Realignment Era: The Matchups
Old traditions have died, but new ones will emerge as the result of realignment.
One of the byproducts of conference realignment is a change in scheduling. Old rivalries get thrown out the window and new rivalries emerge. Here's a look at how the matchups have changed -- both for better and for worse -- as a result of recent realignment moves:
Goodbye to tradition
The shift of teams from one conference to another has resulted in the end of some great rivalries. Say goodbye to these annual traditions:
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers -- These two teams first met in 1895. Now, with West Virginia's move to the Big 12 and Pittsburgh heading to the ACC, the Backyard Brawl is no more. Two schools just 70 miles apart that often compete for the same recruits will no longer have a place on each other's schedule.
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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers -- The Buffaloes and Cornhuskers first met in 1898, but the rivalry really intensified in the mid-1980s as Colorado emerged for a time as a national power. As members of the Big Eight and then of the Big 12, they produced some epic battles. But with Colorado in the Pac-12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten, the Rose Bowl might be their only real chance to meet any time soon.
Texas Longhorns vs. Texas A&M Aggies -- The third-longest rivalry in college football closed up shop as a result of A&M moving to the SEC. Was there a better way to spend Thanksgiving than to watch these two in-state rivals going toe-to-toe while laying on the couch in a turkey-induced food coma? The Aggies and Longhorns first met in 1894, but the lure of conference realignment has ended this tradition.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Missouri Tigers -- How many rivalries have their roots in an actual state vs. state conflagration? The real Border War between Kansas and Missouri thankfully resolved itself after the Civil War, but the moniker endured as an excellent football rivalry that started on Halloween night in 1891. But with Missouri now in the SEC, this "war" has dissolved without so much as an armistice.
Brigham Young Cougars vs. Utah Utes -- The "Holy War" has been disrupted due to Utah's move to the Pac-12 and BYU's shift to independent status. While an effort is being made to match these two teams up in the non-conference slate from time to time, the year-in, year-out aspect of this bitter rivalry has gone away.
Hello to new (and old) traditions?
Conference realignment isn't all bad for those who cherish tradition. New rivalries will no doubt emerge and some old rivalries will be renewed:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes -- It seems natural that the top universities from two of the most productive farm states should form a rivalry. The Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes are just 191 miles apart, less than a three-hour drive down Interstate 80 (six hours in a tractor). The two teams played quite often in the 1930s and 1940s and Nebraska holds a 28-12-3 edge in the series after winning the first two Big Ten matchups.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies -- These two schools are no strangers to each other, having met many times as members of the old Southwest Conference. In fact, Arkansas and A&M played every year between 1934 and 1991. Arkansas fled to the SEC and A&M went to the Big 12 and an 18-year gap ensued between meetings. That changed with a non-conference series in 2009-11 followed by A&M's move to the SEC West. Arkansas leads the series, 41-25-3, and this has the potential to turn into quite a rivalry again.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Baylor Bears -- As further proof that conference realignment can sometimes renew old traditions, these two rivals from the Southwest Conference can finally continue their series thanks to TCU's jump to the Big 12. The two schools -- just a 90-minute drive apart -- first played in 1899 and the Horned Frogs lead overall, 51-50-7.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions -- These programs squared off a lot in the 1980s and 1990s, with the Nittany Lions dominating (they hold a 22-2 overall lead in the series). Both teams are now in the same division in the Big Ten and, with just a three-hour drive separating them, this could turn into a rivalry with a special "Northeast" flavor.
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Utah Utes -- Between 1903 and 1962, the Buffs and Utes played each other almost every year, with Colorado holding a 31-25-3 advantage. Thanks to both teams moving to the Pac-12, they've now renewed their Rocky Mountain rivalry.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide -- The Aggies laid down a marker in their first season in the SEC, beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. With the Tide coming to College Station in 2013 and both programs expected to be ranked in the top five in the polls, this has the potential to become an annual war between two of Paul "Bear" Bryant's former teams.
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