Of many things to like about college football, the natural rivalries that have developed are among the best. Michigan and Ohio State. Alabama and Auburn. Texas and Oklahoma. USC and UCLA. Oregon State and Oregon. Miami and Florida State. We as fans get caught up in the tension between schools, between people who share a lot in common except their colors on a particular Saturday.
A lot of rivalry games are set for this and the following weekends, and I can't help but be excited.
That said, two rivalries stand out to me as almost comical. Those are the ill feelings between Auburn and Alabama and USC and UCLA.
Most rivalries have both schools on some kind of level ground. That is, Michigan fans can make a lot of claims that they're the best, but so can Ohio State fans. But with these two specific rivalries, there's a certain big brother/little brother feel to them that cracks me up. Not surprisingly, USC and Alabama play the big brother roles. They've had a lot more success over the years, have owned the rivalries and their fans approach the rivalry a little different than those on the other side.
For simple proof, I present to you two blogs, one by a USC fan and the other by UCLA fans. The USC fan is his usual cool cucumber, relaxed about his place in the world and oblivious to the presence of his rival. The UCLA fan, however, has worked himself into some kind of lather, absolutely frothing three whole weeks before the game against his big brother. This stuff is hilarious. I wish I could find a similar example between Auburn and Alabama blogs, but have yet to notice it. I've talked to Auburn and Alabama fans before and I can tell you it's much the same on their end. It's like to one side they're just happy with the obligatory win just to shut the other guys up, and on the other side their whole existence is built into the outcome. I don't think these are exactly the healthiest or more traditional rivalries around, but while they exist I remain entertained.
Getting back to the other rivalries, we have a handful of the very best this weekend, including Ohio State/Michigan and the aforementioned Auburn/Alabama "Iron Bowl" to go along with "The Big Game" between Stanford and California, Clemson and South Carolina, Oregon and Oregon State's "Civil War", and several other intriguing instate matchups. Good times, and certain to provide a few upsets.