Without question, one of the best aspects of college football is its rivalries. These yearly battles for bragging rights bring out the best (and sometimes) the worst in fan bases. Without them, the sport wouldn’t be as great as it is.
We’re inching closer to the start of the 2018 college football season. Pretty soon, it will be time for the latest edition of the greatest rivalries the sport has to offer.
We looked ahead and made some predictions for 12 of the biggest rivalries in college football. Most of these games will have major conference title implications, while some will also impact the College Football Playoff chase.
You can check out our predictions below.
1. Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Winner: Notre Dame
These rivals used to play annually, but that practice has stopped. Still, we can’t wait to see this game, which might have more at stake than any other season opener. We like the Irish, led by a stout defense, to pull out a squeaker at home in prime time.
2. Oklahoma vs. Texas
Oklahoma has clearly been the better program of these two over the last four years, but all four matchups have been close, and Texas even won in 2015. We’ll take OU, but it won’t be long before Tom Herman beats his biggest rival.
3. Penn State vs. Ohio State
Winner: Penn State
This game, scheduled for Sept. 29, will shape the Big Ten title chase. We like the Nittany Lions to win in front of a raucous home crowd.
4. Auburn vs. Georgia
Auburn emphatically took down Georgia at home last season, with the Bulldogs returning the favor in the SEC Championship Game. We’ll take Georgia at home in this year’s meeting of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
5. Michigan State vs. Michigan
Call this one a hunch. Michigan State, coming off a huge road win at Penn State, returns home to face a Michigan team that already has two losses (Notre Dame, Wisconsin). Jim Harbaugh finally gets a much-needed rivalry win.
6. Iowa vs. Nebraska
Scott Frost is going to win some big games at Nebraska, but his first year will be an adjustment period. Iowa closes out the 2018 regular season with a rivalry win over the Huskers at Kinnick.
7. Clemson vs. South Carolina
The Tigers are a national title contender once again. South Carolina looks like a program on the rise, but it won’t be enough to win this rivalry game.
8. Florida vs. Florida State
Winner: Florida State
Both teams should be much better in 2018 than they were last year. We’ll take the ‘Noles at home in a close one.
9. Ohio State vs. Michigan
Winner: Ohio State
Jim Harbaugh has gone 0-fer against his biggest rival. The fourth time won’t be the charm, not in Columbus with a potential College Football Playoff berth on the line for the Buckeyes.
10. Alabama vs. Auburn
The Iron Bowl will decide the SEC West once again. Alabama gets revenge after losing to the Tigers last year by winning in Tuscaloosa.
11. UCLA vs. USC
USC has won three straight against its local rivals. They’ll make it four in 2018.
12. Notre Dame vs. Stanford
Winner: Notre Dame
The Cardinal has crushed Notre Dame’s playoff hopes two of the last three seasons and has won seven of the last nine meetings between the two schools. Notre Dame having this game at home and early in the season (Sept. 29) helps the Irish get the win.