Rivalries are undoubtedly among the primary concerns for fans and some media members when assessing realignment in college football.
Rivalries define the sport, and they're certainly at risk depending upon what happens. Nebraska and Colorado, longtime Big 8/Big 12 rivals, both have left for other conferences, leaving their annual series in doubt. There are also nonconference rivalries like Iowa-Iowa State that could be altered or possibly ended if the dominoes don't fall the right way.
This post focuses solely on current Big Ten rivalries (excluding Nebraska). They mean everything in this league, and they will be impacted, one way or another, by the league expanding to at least 12 teams.
“We’re going into this with the idea that rivalries really matter," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Friday. "But not all rivalries are equal.”
We've got a ton of time to look at divisions, championship game possibilities and the like, but here's my take on the rivalries that must be preserved, should be preserved and could be sacrificed for the good of the league.
If you need a refresher, here's the Big Ten's list of protected rivalries and my thoughts on the good and the eh.
OK, let's get going ...
HANDLE WITH CARE
Ohio State-Penn State
Michigan State-Penn State
Indiana-Illinois (should be able to save)
Purdue-Illinois (did you know this is a trophy game?)
Northwestern-Iowa (should be able to save)
Nebraska's entrance into the league certainly changes the rivalry landscape. Is it worth sacrificing a current Big Ten rivalry or two to build some potentially great ones between Nebraska and teams in its new league?
There are some great possibilities out there: Nebraska-Iowa, Nebraska-Wisconsin, Nebraska-Minnesota, Nebraska-Penn State. Wisconsin is already pushing for a late-season rivalry game with the Huskers.
But that's a conversation for another day.
What are your thoughts on which rivalries are worth saving?