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Monday, August 12, 2013
Rivalries in the Pac-12

By Ted Miller

There are special rivalries -- Army-Navy, Auburn-Alabama, Ohio State-Michigan, USC-Notre Dame -- to which all college football fans tip their caps.

But every college football rivalry is great -- and bitter -- for those who are invested in one team or the other.

The Pac-12 is a league of natural rivalries, as teams are grouped in regional pairs. Even the newbies -- Utah and Colorado -- have a history with their Rumble in the Rockies.

But instead of looking at Pac-12 rivalries in terms of history, let's look at how they stand heading into 2013.

Top rivalry: When UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr rearranged the body of USC QB Matt Barkley during the Bruins' 38-28 victory last year, a great rivalry woke up. There is no comparable rivalry in the country where city pride is at stake. And it's so much more fun when both teams are nationally relevant. Jim Mora has the Bruins on a notable uptick, while things at USC with Lane Kiffin are iffy. The Trojans have dominated this one of late and historically, but the momentum might be swinging. We'll find out a lot Nov. 30. It's fair to say that game will be very, very important to Kiffin.

Rivalry on the rise: The Territorial Cup between Arizona and Arizona State has always been bitter. The schools have a long and adversarial history that supersedes football concerns. In fact, the problem has been football. Rarely have both teams been good, so the rest of the college football nation didn't pay much attention. But with two new coaches, the Wildcats and Sun Devils both appear on the uptick. Further, it's fair to say the relationship between Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham isn't terribly warm. It's not likely coaching on opposite ends of the state will provoke a reconciliation.

Rivalry fading: Not to sound like the Pac-12 blog is trolling, but Oregon-Washington isn't what it used to be. Oh, no two fan bases go back and forth with such zeal as the Huskies and Ducks, but a rivalry loses some of its luster when it becomes one-sided and, well, Huskies... what do you want me to say? Nine consecutive wins for Oregon by at least 17 points sort of lowers the tension, eh?

Of course, this one might bounce to the top category in 2014 if Washington ends its inglorious streak on Oct. 12 when the Ducks make their first visit to fancy new Husky Stadium.