Rivalries that Could Form Through Conference Realignment


It seems like every year since 2010 now conference realignments have happened, causing fans to worry more about tradition and fading rivalries. However, a few rivalries are being formed thanks to the realignments. Many have been reinstated with much more meaning behind them as well over the past few years including Nebraska-Iowa, Arkansas-Texas A&M, Colorado-Utah, and Syracuse-Boston College. With 14 teams either switching conferences or transitioning into FBS over the next two years, here is a list of potentially new or reinstated rivalries that could result from that.

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Appalachian State-Georgia Southern

They may be in separate states, but to the college football fans who follow the sport at every level this is already a rivalry. The two schools have played each other every year since 1993, with Appalachian State leading the series since then 12-10 and 16-12-1 overall. With nine combined FCS national championships between them and both teams joining the Sun Belt Conference this Fall together, the rivalry should carry nicely into FBS. The instability of the Sun Belt means we don’t know how long this will last, but it’ll be exciting for at least a few years.

Georgia State-Georgia Southern

Once again, there’s no telling how long this will last because they are both in the Sun Belt, but it will be exciting to see a smaller FBS in-state rivalry take place. The rivalry already exists in basketball, and with Georgia State beginning football in 2010 and both teams only recently transitioning to FBS, there may not be much of a gap between them. A long-term rivalry could pop up, but this is only potential. Don’t count on it because if at any point one teams gets significantly better, another conference will pick them up.

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    Maryland-Penn State-Rutgers

    Obviously, the Terps and the Scarlet Knights would have to hold up their ends, but with all three teams now joining the Big Ten and being in the same division, some sort of Mid-Atlantic trophy has to be made for a school to take home each year. They are all less than three hours apart, and they would all border each other if the tip of Delaware didn’t get in the way of Maryland and New Jersey.

    When the initial announcement was made that Maryland would move to the Big Ten, this appeared to be the biggest opportunity for a rivalry to form, one that would hopefully be much more competitive than the initial rivalry between the two schools (Penn State leads the all-time series 35-1-1). However, with the Nittany Lions appearing to recover from the Jerry Sandusky scandal that nearly tore apart the program and James Franklin (former UMD coach-in-waiting) working wonders in recruiting in State College, including making his presence known in the heart of the DMV, the Terps are going to have to work to make this a rivalry. Still, things look encouraging if Maryland head coach Randy Edsall can continue to improve the solid ground the program is on and if his skill players can finally stay healthy enough to make in impact. Winning early in the Big Ten for Maryland could go a long way toward recruiting in the future, and that could make Maryland-Penn State a great battle along the Mason-Dixon Line.

    Rutgers meanwhile has a chance to make a big splash in recruiting as another East Coast school in the Big Ten. The New Jersey-Pennsylvania border allows for the Scarlet Knights to be within close proximity to some pretty good football talent, and playing in the Big Ten makes playing in North Jersey a better sell, especially in an area so close to New York City. Whether or not Rutgers can remain competitive with Penn State is very much up in the air, but like Maryland, a couple of good seasons could also strongly help them in recruiting. A Rutgers-Penn State rivalry could also promote the history of college football. While the first college football game recorded was played at Rutgers, football was a big part of Pennsylvania in the early years as well. The game could be called the College Football Historians game (yes, I’m just throwing things around right now).

    Maryland and Rutgers as a rivalry would speak for itself if both teams became competitive. Plenty of people from New Jersey and the New York area go to the University of Maryland, forging a deep connection between the two schools that could play out strongly on the field. While they will both try to compete with Penn State for recruits, they could also compete with each other for recruits throughout the Mid-Atlantic and northeast. But for both teams, the most important thing this year will be proving they belong in the Big Ten. We’ll see how things play out after that.