Rivalries are one of the trademarks of college football. Historic matchups are routinely the most important games of the season, and fans are the most passionate during rivalry week, no matter the record of both teams.
Frequently, rivalry matchups are also some of the most viewed games of the college football season, and in sports overall. Despite that, there are some rivalries that could be affected by conference realignment, here is a look at a few of them.
When Oklahoma and Texas announced they were departing the Big 12 for the SEC, one of the first major questions was what would happen to Oklahoma’s rivalry game with Oklahoma State. The two teams would have to continue the series as a non-conference game, but it was unclear whether or not either program, particularly Oklahoma State, would be interested in continuing the series.
The worries over whether or not the series would continue have not subsided, even as Oklahoma and Texas’ departure nears. Of all the rivalries in college football, the Bedlam Series may be the closest to ending.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State first played in 1904, and have played 116 times overall. The two programs routinely play each other in almost every sport the two programs share. Oklahoma leads the series 90-19-7.
During the last several years, Oklahoma State has had incredible success under Mike Gundy, and the rivalry has become one of the most notable in college football. It is known for being high scoring and frequently competitive, and the 2018, 2017, and 2021 games are among the most memorable games in recent college football history.
If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State no longer play every season, it would mean one of college football’s most significant rivalries would come to an end. However, it isn’t the only rivalry series at risk.
The State of Florida
Florida, Florida State, and Miami, and the rivalry games between them, have been among the most important storylines in college football over the last 40 years. Between them, the programs have 11 national titles and countless All-American selections.
As Miami and Florida State contemplate leaving the ACC, the system of rivalries within the state could be significantly changed. Florida and Florida State are required to play each year by state law, and if Miami and Florida State move to two different conferences, the two teams may not be able to play each other annually.
The two programs have played each other 66 times, and every year since 1969. Florida State and Miami games were some of the most iconic games in the 1990s and 2000s, with the game often having National Championship implications.
Miami and Florida used to have an annual football rivalry, but the two teams have only played seven times since 2000. If Miami moves to the Big 10, the expanded conference schedule in the regular season could mean the two programs rarely play each other in the future beyond a home and home series scheduled for 2024 and 2025.
While Florida and Florida State’s rivalry is protected by state law, conference realignment could mean that Miami no longer plays one of the programs in the future, or possibly both.
The State of North Carolina
Duke, UNC, and N.C. State, like Florida, Florida State, and Miami, have had an iconic group of in-state rivalries over the last several decades. UNC, along with Miami and FSU, is now considered one of the teams most likely to depart the ACC in the next few months or years.
The move will put both basketball and football rivalries at risk. It is unclear if Duke or NC State would seriously consider departing the ACC, or how UNC departing the conference would impact how the rivalries could or would be scheduled. However, as with the group of Florida rivalries, due to the limits of scheduling in this new era of college football, it is likely that, at most, UNC could only maintain one of their annual games against Duke and NC State.
As with the state of Florida, the state of North Carolina gives an example of how dramatic the impacts of conference realignment could be on college football and its rivalries. Bedlam, Florida, and North Carolina are far from the only examples of the issue, and it remains to be seen how different scheduling could be in the future after realignment ends.
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