It’s time for College Football to finally settle its ultimate rivalry, on the field.
The additions of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC and USC and UCLA to the Big 10 in 2024 will push the two conferences to 16 teams leading to the creation of two superpowers in college football with the level of play and resource gap from other leagues expanding. That brings up an interesting idea where the two super conferences can go head-to-head each September in a battle for conference bragging rights.
We already see this type of format in college basketball with the Big10/ACC and Big12/SEC challenge.
These challenges give exciting matchups where each team is matched up with a team of similar talent level and leads to plenty of compelling games. Think about how fun it was for Penn State Football fans to travel to Auburn last season. Now, imagine being able to do that every other year and to a variety of different SEC stadiums. So what games could we see if this challenge started in 2024?
How a College Football Big Ten vs. SEC Challenge Could Shape Up:
Potential Matchups for 2024:
Georgia @ Ohio State
Michigan @ Alabama
Texas @ USC
Penn State @ LSU
Tennessee @ Wisconsin
Nebraska @ Oklahoma
Auburn @ Michigan State
UCLA @ Texas A&M
Florida @ Iowa
Minnesota @ Ole Miss
Arkansas @ Illinois
Maryland @ South Carolina
Kentucky @ Purdue
Indiana @ Mississippi State
Missouri @ Rutgers
Northwestern @ Vanderbilt
Imagine having all 16 of these matchups scattered throughout the month of September, there would never be a down week again.
In year one we could get a rematch of the incredible semifinal game between Ohio State and Georgia in what is probably a Top 5 matchup. Michigan taking a trip to Tuscaloosa would clash two of the most historic programs in college football history.
A rematch of the 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas would be a perfect combination of nostalgia and star power.
Meanwhile, Nittany Lions fans would get a trip down to Baton Rouge and get to experience the only other environment that many in the media say is comparable or better than the Beaver Stadium Whiteout.
Those are just the Top 4 matchups too, most likely every season the top 8 or 9 matchups will feature at least one ranked team.
That is the reason for this after all to clash big brands together and produce exciting non-conference games. We will get a chance to renew rivalries with teams such as Nebraska and Oklahoma and many more will be created as the challenge progresses and teams play a similar group each year.
While many will look at the top 8 there are still plenty of intriguing storylines in the lower half of the leagues. Such as Brett Bielema and Illinois taking on his former team in Arkansas.
Let’s also not overlook the academic bowl between Vanderbilt and Northwestern, the winner gets promoted to the Ivy League.
Who gets the TV Rights?
With each conference getting 8 home and 8 away games that makes it an easy split for TV networks. Fox will get the broadcast when the Big 10 team is at home, while ESPN will get the games the SEC team is hosting. Since each team will rotate each season, the networks are guaranteed to have each team on their network every other year.
What Would this mean for Penn State Football?
The great part about a challenge like this is it gives you a fresh non-conference opponent each season based on expectations. If the Nittany Lions are competing for conference titles they could play top teams such as Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee.
There is also opportunity for teams to move up on either side so if Florida returns to the top, they would be one of the teams that would be in the primetime games and a potential opponent.
There is a good chance that Penn State fans would be able to visit close to half of the SEC in 20 years with some repeats mixed in that could create new rivals.
Time is Now:
While the SEC and B1G are currently in a battle to prove who is the more powerful conference it can’t be denied what this challenge could do for each. It doesn’t matter how much they disagree because the potential money will be too much to overlook. What a perfect time than in 2024 to start with each conference restructuring and the playoff expanding.
The 12-team playoff starting in 2024 will incentivize more schools to schedule quality teams in the non conference and losing these games won’t hurt the resume as much as it currently does. Most importantly a challenge like this will benefit the fans the most, because it is much more exciting to host LSU than Buffalo.