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The Dormant College Football Rivalries We Most Want to See Come Back

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Much to the delight of notorious fabulist Mark May, Notre Dame and Michigan are set to renew their gridiron rivalry in 2018 and 2019. The two winningest programs in college football history last met in 2014, and although Brian Kelly downplayed the rivalry in 2013 — then–Wolverines coach Brady Hoke accused Notre Dame of “chickening out” of the matchup, which was discontinued in large part due to tension between the schools’ ADs — ND–Michigan is officially back on, putting Jim Harbaugh’s Catholic faith to the test.

Alas, many of college football’s most storied rivalries remain dormant. Tradition is no match for the scourge of conference realignment, and the few new rivalries to emerge have been hellaciously lackluster (looking at you, Bob Diaco). Nevertheless, the revival of Notre Dame–Michigan (and the briefly-dormant Holy War between BYU and Utah) offers hope for a brighter, rivalry-laden future. Herewith, then, is The Ringer’s official power rankings for dormant college football rivalries we’d like to see resumed.

5. Kansas-Missouri (last played in 2011)

Wait, this isn’t a college basketball article? Never mind, then. Unless we’re also bringing Mark Mangino back, the football version of the Border War can continue to collect dust.

4. Texas–Texas A&M (last played in 2011)

The Lone Star Showdown gets a lot of love on lists like this, but you won’t find any here. Time for some real talk, folks: Texas is awful; Charlie Strong is likely gone after this year; and the Longhorns’ biggest rivalry game — the Red River Showdown with Oklahoma — is alive and well. Meanwhile, quarterbacks are fleeing College Station faster than you can say “YESSIR,” leaving the Aggies with little reason to be optimistic entering 2016 (defensive end Myles Garrett is a notable exception). The exhilarating Johnny Manziel–Mike Evans era feels like a decade ago; at this point in time, a hypothetical Texas–Texas A&M matchup would probably be an unwatchable slog. And besides, the most intriguing aspect of this rivalry — recruiting — is still going strong.

3. Southern Cal–South Carolina (last played in 1983)

These schools have played just twice in their not-so-storied history, but a 2010 legal battle over the right to the interlocking “SC” trademark (which Southern Cal won) whet appetites for an on-field Battle for USC. Instead of a trophy, the winner should get exclusive access to the acronym for a year.

2. Memphis–Southern Miss (last played in 2012)

I wasn’t aware of this rivalry until a few minutes ago, but the Black and Blue Bowl has its own Wikipedia page and everything! After going 1–23 from 2012 to 2013, Southern Miss went 9–5 last year and won Conference USA’s West Division. If the Golden Eagles are here to stay, I can think of no better way to celebrate than by resurrecting their rivalry with Memphis. With the departures of Justin Fuente and Paxton Lynch, the Tigers are one of the more intriguing teams of 2016, but they’d be a lot more intriguing with a less-lopsided rivalry game on their schedule.

1. Pittsburgh–West Virginia (last played in 2011)

The Backyard Brawl will resume in 2022, but I want to see Pitt and West Virginia play now. The clash of styles between Dana Holgorsen’s high-flying Air Raid attack and Pat Narduzzi’s no-fly zone defense would be mesmerizing, but given the ridiculous turnover rate among college football coaches, odds are good that they’ll be coaching elsewhere in six years. If the college football gods have a heart, they’ll grant us a postseason battle between these schools. Winner gets all of the biscuits.