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Which traditional rivalry games matter more this season?

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If you went to Apex University, then you obviously hate Apex State. It’s just the way it works.

You tell you Apex State jokes, some of which end with “you want fries with that?” You refer to Apex State as the cow college, whether it’s ever had a cow around campus or not. You make fun of the mascot. Think the women are dense and the men are Neanderthal.

Why? Because you went to Apex, of course.

And because of that, you are certain that your rivalry is the best, because your school is so pure and Apex State is so, well, Apex State.

But what are the most essential rivalries, really? And which of them matter more this season?

1. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State: To outsiders, the Sooners-Cowboys match has never really mattered that much (Oklahoma has won 84 of the games, Oklahoma State 18). We think of Oklahoma’s rivalry as Texas (and for a while, Nebraska). But the college football playoffs have made this one bigger. Oklahoma is third in the country. Oklahoma State is 11th. That’s a lot of reason to dislike the other team.

2. Ohio State-Michigan: The Buckeyes and Wolverines, in the worst of years, are filled with intense emotions about this game. It’s Woody and Bo. It’s 10 Heisman Trophies. It’s 19 national titles. But this year, the college football playoffs have both teams in the top 10. Ohio State is eighth and Michigan is 10th.

3. Florida-FSU: Florida is ranked 11th in the college rankings. FSU is ranked 12th. Add that to a history of ranked teams playing against each other, of Bobby Bowden vs. Steve Spurrier, of Charlie Ward vs. Danny Wuerffel, and you can see why the teams dislike each other.

4. Alabama-Auburn: It hasn’t been a very good year for Auburn, but a victory over second-ranked Alabama would change that. There is no pro football in Alabama, and so the teams have long disliked each other. Pull into a gas station in the middle of the offseason, and you’ll discover why.

5. Army-Navy: Once, these teams were powerhouses and played for massive stakes. That isn’t true anymore. Instead, the teams have begun to represent something more noble. This year, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds keeps his hopes of a high Heisman finish alive. They don’t play until Dec. 12.

6. Clemson-South Carolina: Don’t you miss the old ball coach already? Steve Spurrier would have said something irritating this week, and on Saturday, his team would give No. 1 Clemson a good shot. The Tigers have all the pressure in this one. But Carolina is unranked and frankly, has had an awful year.

7. Ole Miss-Mississippi State: Both teams are in the top 21 of the college playoff rankings, but neither of them are high enough to do something about it. Still, both teams have mattered more for the last couple of seasons. It’ll be interesting to see them again.

8. Georgia-Georgia Tech: Will Bulldogs’ coach Marc Richt remain employed?

9. Oregon-Oregon State: They’ve been playing The Civil War for a long time. But with seven straight wins, Oregon is taking a lot of the hostility out of it.

10. UCLA at Southern Cal: Most rivals share a state. These two share a city. Alas, the USC-UCLA rivalry has seen days when it mattered more. For UCLA, it doesn’t matter. The Bruins have won three straight.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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