The first Saturday of October features three legendary rivalry games that hasn’t made a lot of noise on the national scale lately, but look to restore some of the passion and glory.
There’s plenty of pride and hate when these programs collide, with so much blood, sweat and tears poured into these heated series over the years. There’s nothing like playing in games where you can throw out the records, strap on the helmets, lace up the cleats and leave it all on the field. Proximity is a big deal, with some of the teams being separated by bordering state lines.
A lot of these kids played in high school together, while others competed against each other. As these three rivalries get renewed this weekend, expect a lot of intensity, drama and heartache, but most importantly respect the tradition all three games bring to the sport as a whole.
Oklahoma vs. Texas: “The Red River Rivalry”
The game formerly known as “The Red River Shootout,” is one of the best rivalries in all of sports and not just college football. It’s the time of the year when the State Fair is in town, Dallas is filled with entertainment and the Cotton Bowl is flooded with thousands of fans from both programs. A game that’s huge for the state of Texas, with both team’s rosters filled with several great players from the Lone Star State. This game is a big reason why future recruits sign with the two schools. The first 10 years of the Bob Stoops and Mack Brown clashes were must-see television. During that span both teams were top-five caliber and the game had national title implications. You expected the players that participated in those games to be in the NFL Draft the following year. Oklahoma has definitely held up its’ side of the bargain, but with Texas struggles the past 10 years, this rivalry lost some of its’ luster. The Longhorns haven’t been the same since the 2009 BCS national championship game. The stability from the coaches has been in question with Brown being forced to step down, Charlie Strong fired after three years and Stoops eye-popping retirement. Still, Lincoln Reily and Tom Herman are both in their second year with the programs and look to put the rivalry back on the map. Truth be told, this game is what keeps the Big 12 intact. Take it away and the conference will become defunct. This Saturday both teams aren’t coming into the game undefeated, but the hype and passion is back. This rivalry is always competitive, with the winner representing the golden hat. This game is also sentimental to the starting quarterback for each team, with both being Texas natives. The Longhorns have looked better every single week after their opening-season loss against the Terrapins. True sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger has blossomed into a leader and a huge reason why Texas is enjoying a four-game win streak. Besides the overtime scare from the Black Knights, the Sooners have continued where they left off from their national title run in 2017. Even without last year’s Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield at the helms, Oklahoma’s offense is scary good. Sophomore Kyler Murray filled in nicely, the running backs are legit and the receivers are deadly. Both teams will meet for the 113th time this Saturday and look to lay it all on the line for that Golden Hat. This game is sure to be full of fireworks and likely another high-scoring affair.
Miami vs. Florida State:
Two in-state rivals that have clashed every year since 1969. From the 1980’s all the way through the early 2000’s this game commanded everyone’s attention. The wide rights and wide lefts became synonymous with these classics. Several former players from each school went on to have Hall of Fame NFL careers, but started off making a name for themselves in this rivalry game. The Miami and Florida State rivalry is a shell of its former self, with numerous coaching changes in the last 15 seasons, but after years of taking a back seat to other great rivalries, this game is starting to heat up again. Marc Richt returned to his alma mater, changed Miami’s culture and brought back “The U” swagger with the popular and trendy “Turnover Chain.” Richt has played in this game and knows the passion and hate it brings. The Seminoles may have underachieved during their last 18 games and look mediocre so far this season, but will bring their A-game for the Hurricanes. Head Coach Willie Taggart is a south Florida native and knows how big this rivalry is to the players and the state of Florida. Taggart has had a rough start in his first season, but Florida State has won two-straight games and a win over Miami would go a long way with the buying in process for his players and assistants. Both defenses play with intensity and the players knock the snot out of one another for 60 minutes. Four national championships in the last 25 years exist between these two legendary programs and this Saturday will be the 63rd meeting. 2018’s rivalry revival between the two schools won’t be short on big plays and hard hits. The way Miami stole last year’s victory at the Doak in the final seconds, expect another hard-fought game that’ll likely go down to the wire again. A lot of these players are very familiar with each other and been competing since Pop Warner, so don’t be surprised if this game gets chippy, with several penalties and even a couple of targeting ejections.
Minnesota vs. Iowa: “The Battle of Floyd Rosedale”
This is probably the Big 10’s most slept-on rivalry. It doesn’t move the needle nationally, but is huge for the conference and a must-see game with fans from the midwest. Both teams have been battling annually to hoist that 98-pound bronze pig trophy over their heads since 1935. Iowa has owned this series as of late, winning five of the past six games, including the last three, but they were all by a touchdown or less. This Saturday marks the 112th meeting between the two programs and for the first time in a while, Minnesota has a legitimate chance at winning this game. The Golden Gophers have played better than expected through their first four games this season and also have won three of the last five against Iowa in Minneapolis. Both teams are coming off bye-weeks after losing their first game of the season in week four and should be healthy and prepared. Iowa’s defense is a tenacious group that’s very stingy against the run. Minnesota has a very young team, who some think have overachieved thus far, but in reality the Golden Gophers are a year ahead of schedule. Iowa’s coach Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in the league and P.J. Fleck is an up-and-coming coach in his second season with Minnesota, but both understand the history of this rivalry. Trust and believe the players are going to give it their all. Expect another fun-filled, edge of your seat type of game that goes down to the wire, with the winner having bragging rights and the pig for the next 365 days.