College basketball’s Big 10/ACC Challenge has been a great event for fans of both conferences and their teams, providing exciting, early season non-conference games every year. With the new playoff system placing an extra emphasis on scheduling, a similar series in football would be equally entertaining and beneficial.
With two of the game’s winningest programs, the Oklahoma Sooners and Michigan Wolverines, recently announcing a home-and-home series scheduled for the 2025 and 2026 seasons, it’s the perfect time for the power conferences they represent to consider annual clashes on the gridiron.
While the Big 10 has historic ties to the Pac-12 with the Rose Bowl, the conference does not typically play teams from the Big 12 — and that’s a shame. Each conference boasts a few of the sport’s greatest programs and a couple others that have made recent rises to gain position among the college football elite. There are also a couple existing inter-conference relationships between schools that can serve as springboards for the challenge with Iowa and Iowa State and ex-Big 12 member Nebraska and the rest of its former conference mates.
This season, the game between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones will be joined by a battle between the Maryland Terrapins and West Virginia Mountaineers, but there are a few others planned for future seasons, including Texas vs. both Maryland and Ohio State, Kansas vs. Rutgers and Illinois, Oklahoma vs. Ohio State and Nebraska and West Virginia vs. Penn State.
While these matchups will all prove to be a good time for those involved, as we have seen with many other future series, these games do not always survive the years between the initial agreement and the actual kickoff time, robbing fans of a present they were told they could unwrap if they waited patiently.
As we continue into the new age of college football playoffs, schools will learn to challenge themselves year in and year out. These matchups aren’t just about preparing teams for bigger goals; they bring eyeballs to television sets, rear ends into stadium seats and extra recruiting advantages to coaches who dare to look for talent out of their geographic regions.
Time for Jim Delany and Bob Bowlsby to pick up their phones.