ACC (and SEC) Season-ending Rivalries
By Jacob Shoor
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College football has lost certain rivalries from conference expansion, and a good way for the ACC and SEC to do their part to try to replace what has been lost is to arrange annual season-ending games across the leagues.
CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler reports from the ACC meetings that the league may be attempting to arrange regular season-ending rivalries for all members. I have always opposed teams being able to arrange a bye week, or a 1AA team, before league championship weekend, and I have always felt that teams in opposite divisions should not play each other the final two, maybe three, weeks of the season. Equally important, season-ending rivalries provide something special to the sport. College football has lost certain rivalries from conference expansion, and a good way for the ACC to do its part to try to replace what has been lost is to arrange annual season-ending games across the league. Fans would then be able to see every season as moving toward the same goal (other than to win championships): to face the annual season-ending rival.
The starting place is easy: ACC vs. SEC. Florida State and Florida, Georgia Tech and Georgia, Clemson and South Carolina all conclude the season Thanksgiving weekend. I suggest that Louisville and Kentucky, who have been playing early, should move their game to Thanksgiving weekend as well.
If the Cards and Cats move to Thanksgiving weekend, that will leave 10 ACC teams who need to be paired. As there are three teams in the Atlantic division with an in-state SEC rival, only four remain. Boston College and Syracuse make an obvious pair to close every season, as do North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
The six teams in the Coastal also present two obvious pairs: Virginia versus Virginia Tech and North Carolina versus Duke. That leaves Miami and Pittsburgh. The geography is not conducive to a blood and guts rivalry, but only Florida State, Florida, and Notre Dame could provide that for Miami, and only Penn State, West Virginia, and Notre Dame could fill the shoes for Pitt. Thus Miami and Pitt, who have a twenty year history in the Big East, seem to be necessary pairs.
For the SEC, Kentucky playing Louisville Thanksgiving weekend would mean that Tennessee and Vanderbilt can get back to closing the season. That's how it was when I was growing up, and college football in TN will always seem to me to need to be headed toward shepherd boy David Commodores facing Goliath Vols.
As Alabama versus Auburn and Ole Miss versus Mississippi State are in-state rivalries, they will remain season-ending games. But Arkansas versus LSU could shift. Perhaps the SEC would benefit more by having Texas A&M face LSU every Thanksgiving weekend, with Arkansas going against Missouri in the Battle of the Ozarks.