Below is a survey currently being done by our mothership, SBNation.com, about what everyone thinks is the biggest college football rivalry.
Notice that Nebraska is nowhere on this list. There's no Nebraska vs. Oklahoma. There is no Nebraska vs. Wisconsin. There's not even a Nebraska vs. Iowa, even though that concept might generate a lot of web hits due to blasphemy. I find it rather ironic that that biggest argument against Iowa being a rival is that rivalries are supposed to “take time to develop” and “be organic and not forced”, while at the same time Nebraskan fans accepted Wisconsin as a rival without any hesitation whatsoever.
I hate to turn this into a rivalry article, but we have been asked to share the survey to get as many results as possible. It kind of lends itself to the subject without a lot of work.
You might be tempted to add Nebraska vs. Oklahoma to the list, and that's certainly one way you can answer the question, but it still doesn't deal honestly with the problem that Nebraska isn’t on the list in the first place. We tend to cling to Oklahoma, even though the rivalry hasn't existed since the beginning of the Big 12.
Nebraska media brings it up at every possible moment, because the games were great and the times were good, but mostly because we really haven't had anything else to hang our hat on since our move to the Big Ten conference.
That's rather sad given that the football team feeds the ego of the state.
Going down the list there are a lot of good rivalries.
Alabama vs. Auburn, Army vs. Navy, Florida State vs. Florida, Florida vs. Georgia, Florida State vs. Miami, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, Notre Dame vs. USC, Oklahoma vs. Texas (even though they can both go to hell) and UCLA vs. USC.
I'd probably have to pick Michigan vs. Ohio State as the biggest rivalry in college football. You had the 10 year war between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, and now you have the battle between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh (even though Harbaugh hasn't accomplished anything other than a making a lot of noise in the media so far)>
I may be partial to Ohio State vs. Michigan because we're now in the Big Ten Conference, despite the fact that I made fun of the Big Ten for most of my life before we joined it, but I really don't feel like picking someone in the SEC.
Kansas vs. Missouri doesn't really exist anymore either, but it's the only rivalry in college football in which there is real murder involved.
Note that there are no Ivy League teams listed. Harvard vs. Yale and Yale vs. Princeton are two of the longest running rivalries in college football, with Yale and Princeton having played 140 games against each other. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin is up there at 127 and the "Civil War" between Oregon and Oregon State is at 120. The longest running rivalry in college football is Lafayette vs. Lehigh, which started in 1884 and has lasted for 152 games.
It will be interesting to see what kind of data the survey generates. Will college football proved to be as regional as it's always been – they should be able to tell us whether a person's "hometown" correlates to which rivalry they select or not. I would guess that regions play a huge part in which one of these selections you might make, and that’s true for most other people.
If nothing else it's something to hash over in the off-season. We can complain all we want about Nebraska's national irrelevance, but until we win a championship in football at any level it's going to stay that way.
Time may change that. Time and patience - the two biggest things most of us humans are lacking.