What would college football be without its rivalries? From Alabama-Auburn to Washington-Washington State. Here's a look at some already contested this season and some still to come, beginning with the upcoming clash between Florida and LSU. This rivalry gained spice when Nick Saban arrived in Baton Rouge and turned LSU into a powerful recruiter and perennial contender. It has only intensified since, as the winner has gone on to win the past three national championships.
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Many consider the Red River Rivalry one of the greatest in American sports, and for good reason. Since 1945, one or both of the teams has been ranked in the top 25 entering the game, ensuring the rivalry maintains its significance not only in the Big 12 but also nationally. Texas leads the all-time series and beat Oklahoma last year, but will be gunning for revenge after the Sooners sneaked by the Longhorns and into the BCS title game last season.
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When USC began searching for a national rival in 1926, Notre Dame and legendary coach Knute Rockne answered the call. Aside from a break from 1943-45, the great intersectional series has raged on since, producing memorable moments in Heisman-winning and championship seasons.
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Texas A&M-Texas Tech
The longstanding rivalry gained steam this offseason when Texas Tech coach Mike Leach irritated A&M coach Mike Sherman by commenting on A&M QB-turned-Cowboys draft pick Stephen McGee. Tech can't match A&M historically, but the Red Raiders have dominated in recent years, winning four straight.
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Auburn remains Alabama's greatest rival, but Tennessee and Alabama have waged war on the Third Saturday in October for decades. (The teams have not always played on that date since the SEC split into divisions in 1992, but the rivalry retains the name.) Long associated with victory cigars and smash-mouth football, the rivalry (which Alabama leads 45-38-7) sparks ire and joy among SEC fans.
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Provided both teams remain in the Mountain West, this budding rivalry should grow in importance in the coming years. Offseason Congressional hearings regarding the BCS have placed the Mountain West in the college football spotlight, and right now these are the conference's two strongest teams. BYU has already suffered a loss, but the winner of this game will likely be the conference's best chance to earn a BCS berth.
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The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has taken a turn for the dramatic in recent years. In 2007, Georgia performed the now-infamous "Gator Stomp" to celebrate a touchdown. Last season, Urban Meyer retaliated by taking last-second timeouts to rub in the Dawgs' loss. With the SEC crown on the line and tensions high, the 2009 battle promises to please.
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Michigan State's 26-20 victory over Michigan for the Paul Bunyan trophy marked the first time since 1967 that the Spartans have won two years in a row.
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The Midshipmen got a leg up on winning another Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, holding the Falcons without an offensive touchdown and using a field goal in overtime by Joe Buckley to pull out a 16-13 victory, their seventh consecutive over Air Force.
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John Clay rushed for three touchdowns and gained 159 of his 184 yards in the second half, helping Wisconsin beat the Gophers for the sixth straight time. The victors picking up Paul Bunyan's Axe and paraded it around the stadium after Adam Weber lost a fumble at his own 24 with 30 seconds left to kill Minnesota's last-chance drive of overcoming a 31-28 deficit.Don't confuse the Michigan-Michigan State battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy with the Wisconsin-Minnesota battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe. This year the storied rivalry, which dates back to 1890, christens Minnesota's palatial new TCF Bank Stadium.
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