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Ranking most underrated rivalries

Updated: September 2, 2011, 11:26 AM ET
By Ryan McGee

Welcome back to the Three Downs and Punt, the Thank-You-God-The-Games-Have-Finally-Started edition. It's with this spirit in mind that we raise our arms, chant "OOOOOOH!" and kick off this week's plays.

First down: Most underrated rivalries

I'm very excited about a new weekly series that we're launching in this space next week. It's all about rivalries (details in Second down) and I love me a good one, whether it's the Civil War, Border War, Holy War, the War on I-4 or even some games you've never heard of between two Division III schools. As long as it leads to some shouting in the parking lot, I'm in.

In fact, some of the most heated rivalries are the ones that don't receive a lot of national ink. In the region where they're played, they are hotter than the surface of the sun. To the people who wear the colors of the teams involved, their version of the big game is no less intense than Ohio State-Michigan or Texas-Oklahoma, even if it has zero bearing on the national championship or even conference championship races.

So what are America's five most underrated rivalry games? Read ahead. And set your DVRs, because one of them happens this weekend.

5. East Carolina Pirates-North Carolina State Wolfpack
The great shame about this game is that it isn't played every year. Their last two meetings -- 2008 and 2010 -- were both decided in overtime, with each team winning at home. Sadly, they won't play again until a 2013 meeting in Raleigh.

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