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SEC Football Must Establish National Rivalry Games

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SEC Should Establish New National Rivals

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone can debate until they are blue in the face on why their conference is the best in College Football, but the SEC has proved for the past decade that it has figured out how to dominate the BCS.

And because of this, those who are not getting a chance to highlight their “talented” teams have finally pushed the NCAA to create a four-team playoff to settle the score once and for all. But is this really going to solve this issue to determine the four best teams? Or is this simply another government type mandate where the successful are supposed to dumb down their level of play to match those who think they deserve a shot at the title without working for it?

As the 2013 season nears kick off, the SEC is going to face a harsh reality as it heads into the final season of the BCS. The elite teams in the conference are playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation along with the grueling SEC slate. Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes are playing teams that resemble 5-A high school teams in Texas.

This has been the biggest problem that has crippled the college product over the past 30 years and one that even a playoff will not cure. All that the playoff can do is ensure the Big 12, Big 10, ACC and Pac-12 get their shot at a title game. And don’t be surprised if the immensely talented SEC is left on the outside looking in because of its conference depth that is turning into a murderer's row of yearly games.

So with the SEC already nervous about trends in the decline of attendance, there is one thing that it needs to do to ensure its place as the elite conference in the game moving forward.

Drum roll please!

Scrap the proposed ninth conference game they can’t agree on and develop a natural national rival game among all 14 member schools. That’s right. The SEC already has an amazing natural regional rivalry with ACC Football. So if they want to remain the innovators of the game, they are going to have to scrap the Sun Belts of the world and create a must watch buzz game against the other conferences.

This is a goldmine for the SEC for a few reasons. First, this immediately creates a specialized product of games for the SEC Network to market in its first years. The attendance at these home and homes would boost revenues for sure, but having the rights to these games from an advertising standpoint would be epic. Second, without computers telling everyone how special the SEC is, it will need something to measure itself to this “unbiased” committee that will select the final four teams. There's no better way to see how your conference stands up than with yearly games against a specific opponent from another. At that point the SEC is comparing apples with apples instead of bananas to ice cream.

So of course you are asking how will all of this work? Click on and keep reading for the detailed look at these new national rivals that need to be created.

You are welcome in advance for this idea and expansion of the greatness that is college football and the SEC.

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Missouri Tigers vs Nebraska Cornhuskers

Dak Dillion-USA TODAY Sports -- Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers versus the Nebraska Cornhuskers kicks off this epic list. A pair of teams from the old Big 12 would be a great yearly match-up that will be extremely marketable.

Missouri and Nebraska first played in 1892 with the Cornhuskers leading the all-time series 65-36-3 so there is a ton of history here with this one. Add to the fact that the country can gauge the power of one of the top to middle teams in the Big 10 versus one of the middle to bottom teams in the SEC and it's a very interesting game to watch each season.

This would be pure gold for College Football fans.

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Kentucky Wildcats vs West Virginia Mountaineers

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports -- Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This one might be hard to sell to the average fan for a few reasons, but regionally it would be huge for both the Kentucky Wildcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers to battle each season.

Kentucky is hoping to rise from the ashes of mediocrity in the SEC, and a big yearly game versus one of the better teams in the Big 12 would be epic for the Wildcats.

There is even some good history with the rivalry already in place. Kentucky leads the all-time series 11-8-1. West Virginia won the first ever game played in 1905 as well as the last game in the All American Bowl in 1983.

So after 30 years, it’s about time to resurrect this rivalry for the greater good of the game and for a yearly comparison between these two conferences.

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Vanderbilt Commodores vs Stanford Cardinal

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports -- Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Of course you have to have the yearly match up to see who is smarter with the Vanderbilt Commodores battling the Sanford Cardinal.

Just the thought of the medical research that can be done alone in this game is worth the home and home match up. And after an hour of research, this guy cannot find any record of Vandy and Stanford playing a football game ever in the history of both programs.

No better time than now to start a new tradition!

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Tennessee Volunteers vs Oklahoma State Cowboys

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports -- Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

What better can you ask for in a new rivalry series than one of the all-time winningest teams in the Tennessee Volunteers who have fallen on hard times versus one of the up and coming powers in the current game in the Oklahoma State Cowboys?

The Vols and the Cowboys have only faced each other once in their history. Tennessee shut out Oklahoma State 31-0 back in 1995.

This would be another game to gauge just how good the SEC is in relation to a consistent power team in the Big 12.

There are also two passionate fan bases that will travel and make this one of the great games to watch live each season.

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Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Michigan State Spartans

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports -- Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The yearly battle between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Michigan State Spartans might just be one of the best games of all of these match-ups.

Why? Simply because neither team has played the other since 1947 with the Spartans holding a 2-1-1 advantage. To make the game even more intriguing the average score of those four games was 11-7.5. Michigan State and Mississippi State tied in their first meeting 6-6 in 1928. The Spartans won in a shootout 33-19 in 1929. The Bulldogs got revenge in a 6-0 victory in 1946 only to have Michigan State return the favor with a 7-0 win.

And despite the 50+ years since their last meeting, both teams would still bring the defensive battles they started back in the 1920s and 1940s.

Plus this would be another great comparison between middle to upper crust teams in both the SEC and Big 10 for us all to stake our opinions too.

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Ole Miss Rebels vs UCLA Bruins

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports -- Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a rivalry that is going to be one to watch. The Grove and its bourbon and beautiful ladies of the Ole Miss Rebels versus the beach, martinis, and starlets of the UCLA Bruins.

The Rebel fans can show LA how to party and the Bruin fans can experience what real southern hospitality is all about.

Plus you have one of those good guy versus bad guy contests in Hugh Freeze and Jim Mora. The Bruins and the Rebels have never faced one another making the good southern guy versus the bad Hollywood beach bum even better.

Add to the fact that both programs have been bringing rock star type recruiting classes and this is the battle of two programs on the rise to give the Selection Committee a great barometer of where the SEC and Pac 12 stand.

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Arkansas Razorbacks vs Wisconsin Badgers

Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports -- Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s simply a no brainier that the Arkansas Razorbacks would become a national rival with the Wisconsin Badgers. And it became even more of a done deal when Bret Bielema left Madison for Fayetteville a few months ago.

Think about it. You have a coach in Bielema who wants to stick it to Barry Alvarez and his former school and a fan base at Wisconsin that would love to prove their old coach is a bum while beating the SEC.

Add to the fact Arkansas is 0-2 lifetime against Wisconsin and it's on. The last meeting was a 17-14 loss to the Badgers in the 2007 Capital One Bowl.

This is perfection in a new rivalry game in the new world of College Football if you ask this guy.

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Auburn Tigers vs Penn State Nittany Lions

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports -- Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

This is the game that would have been epic if we all could just go back to the 1980s and 1990s, right?

But one has to think the future of the new look Auburn Tigers facing the resurrected Penn State Nittany Lions will be a series even the random College Football fan would watch year in and year out.

Somehow, someway these two teams have only faced each other twice in their storied history and both were in Bowl games. Penn State took the first game with a 43-14 win in the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1996. Auburn evened the series in the Capital One Bowl in 2003 with a 13-9 victory.

And neither team has thought much about the other since. But for a pair of teams that played its first football games around 1890, history is calling them to begin a new era of gridiron battles.

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Florida Gators vs Ohio State Buckeyes

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports -- Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Seriously, how amazingly awesome would it be to have a yearly battle between the Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes?!

Urban Meyer’s former dynasty against his current project would feature pure SEC hatred from the Big 10 and vice versa.

In the long and rich traditions of both the Gators and Buckeyes, they have only faced one another twice and both times were in the past six years with Florida holding a 2-0 lead. The Gators first took out Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship, 41-14 and followed that up with a 24-17 victory in the 2012 Gator Bowl.

Sounds like the right time and the right school for Ohio State to play every year to prove its worth or lack thereof to all of College Football.

Plus, can you imagine the atmosphere of The Swamp and The Horseshoe every other year? This is a series everyone would love to see!

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LSU Tigers vs Oklahoma Sooners

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports -- Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Now think how awesome it would be to showcase one of the powers of the Big 12 in the Oklahoma Sooners year in and year out against the LSU Tigers and the mighty SEC.

Bob Stoops probably would whine about not being able to draw the Alabama Crimson Tide every year since the rest of the SEC sucks. But something tells this guy the first year Stoops brings his Sooners and its fans to the rabid and crazy Cajuns that make up a Saturday night in Baton Rouge, he will realize just what SEC football is all about.

This is also a perfect regional rivalry. It makes simply no sense that the Sooners and Tigers have only played twice in their history and both games have been in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma won the first meeting in 1950, 35-0, and LSU evened the series with a 21-14 win in 2004. The proximity of these two schools and the fact they recruit the same kids makes this a yearly game that could pull huge ratings.

Again, the fact that these two have only played twice needs to change and change quickly. There will be no better way to gauge the power of Oklahoma, LSU and their conferences than with this yearly game.

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South Carolina Gamecocks vs Michigan Wolverines

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports -- Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Next on the list will be a classic yearly battle between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the great Michigan Wolverines.

Steve Spurrier and Brady Hoke have done a great job in making their programs relevant once again, and after the fantastic game that was this year's Outback Bowl it is safe to say we all want more.

Plus it will be awesome to see the Wolverines try and handle the heat and humidity of Columbia and the Gamecocks try and handle the million fans that pack into The Big House in Ann Arbor.

For the record, South Carolina does lead the all-time series 2-1. The Gamecocks won the first meeting in 1980, 17-14, and the aforementioned bowl game in January on the last play, 33-28. Michigan won in 1985 in Columbia, 34-3.

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Georgia Bulldogs vs Oregon Ducks

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports -- Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

This is the game that could generate some of the biggest returns of any of the new national rivalries. Trust this guy when he says Phil Knight would make this the ultimate event each year as Nike East in the Georgia Bulldogs would battle with the Oregon Ducks and the marketing factory that is Nike West.

The sad thing is that this series was ready to roll for 2015 and 2016 only to have both sides mutually agree to cancel it due to costs and travel considerations for the student-athletes. Yeah. Whatever, right? It’s all fine and dandy to be mindful of a cross country trip, but the last time I checked most of the programs in the athletic departments that aren’t making your school a dime fly cross country all the time. A game like this with Knight’s blessings could mean huge residuals for both schools. Can you imagine the merchandise and the uniforms for the games!?!

Oregon and Georgia have only met once and that was a win by the Bulldogs in 1977, 27-16. That was before Nike even existed and Georgia fans had never heard of some kid named Herschel Walker.

Again, that is proof this needs to be a new rivalry that has to happen. It's truly a game for the ages each and every year and one that could make the SEC Network billions, and don't forget the impact it would have on the committee selecting the final four too!

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Texas A&M Aggies vs Texas Longhorns

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports -- Brendan-Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody and their brother who has never watched a College Football game knows that the Texas A&M Aggies and the Texas Longhorns must find a way to play every year until the good Lord calls us all back home.

These two schools played their first game in 1903 and unfortunately said they had played its last forever in 2011 as the Aggies bolted the Big 12 for the riches of the SEC. Its was a petty argument of brothers over the Longhorn Network and TV contracts that led to the end of a traditional rivalry like few in the nation.

So what better time to get the family back together for the greater good of the game than now, right? Texas pretty much owns the all-time series at 69-36-4, but it is only 3-3 since 2006. Add the magic of the SEC and its money in College Station and there would be no greater game in the state of Texas and the nation than this yearly battle to be reignited.

The recruiting swing with wins and losses each game would be a reality series in its own right folks would pay money to watch.

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Alabama Crimson Tide vs USC Trojans

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports -- Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

And we end with two of the winningest programs in the history of College Football in a yearly home and home with the Alabama Crimson Tide and the USC Trojans.

Nick Saban and his faithful “Roll Dam Tiders” against the jewel of the west coast in the Trojans of Southern Cal. Lane Kiffin couldn’t hack the SEC for one season and hasn’t really mastered the Pac 12 yet either despite having amazing talent making this a must watch game.

Plus from a ratings standpoint it is huge as the Trojans always pull a national audience, and you know the entire world stops to see what the Crimson Tide are going to do.

This is simply a perfect game for fans and for the committee to determine the strength of both conferences. Bama and USC are two polarizing teams that always find a way to make the headlines, and they are two teams everyone would love to see fall on their faces each season.

Someone get SEC Commissioner Mike Silve on the phone and tweet this to him. Let's make this a reality!.


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.