Commentary

Teams look to settle scores in 2010

Updated: July 12, 2010, 10:42 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

If it's this hot in July, how hot will it be in September when the 2010 college football season kicks off?

The thermometer figures to be boiling when schools start settling their past grudges. There are scores to settle from recruiting battles, coaching changes and lopsided results.

Here's a look at the hottest rivalries for 2010:

1. Texas at Nebraska, Oct. 16

[+] EnlargeDejon Gomes and Antonio Bell
Bruce Thorson/US PresswireAfter a tough loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship game last season, Nebraska is looking forward to payback in 2010.

The Cornhuskers were just a few seconds away from upsetting the Longhorns in the 2009 Big 12 championship game. Nebraska would like nothing more than to finish its final season in the Big 12 with a victory over the Longhorns, which would be the Huskers' first over UT in the regular season since 1974.

2. Southern California at Stanford, Oct. 9

The Cardinal's 55-21 beatdown of USC in 2009 is probably still fresh in the Trojans' minds. Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh would like to let Lane Kiffin know what the deal is in his first season as USC's coach.

3. Florida at Alabama, Oct. 2

Doctors diagnosed Gators coach Urban Meyer's health problems as esophageal spasms. The popular translation in Tuscaloosa: choking. After Florida won two BCS national championships in three seasons, the Tide seemed to turn after Alabama dismantled the Gators 32-13 in the 2009 SEC championship. The teams might meet twice this coming season, first in Bryant-Denny Stadium and possibly again in the Dec. 4 SEC championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

4. BYU at Utah, Nov. 27

The "Holy War" is annually one of the country's most underrated rivalries, but this year's edition will mean even more with the Utes leaving the Mountain West Conference for the Pac-10. The Cougars, who were left behind, can send this message to their in-state rivals: You're not as good as the other Pac-10 teams we beat up the last few seasons.

5. Michigan at Purdue, Nov. 13

The Big Ten matchup might seem like the most unlikely of rivalries, but there's plenty of bad blood boiling between the Boilermakers and Wolverines. Former Purdue coach Joe Tiller referred to Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as a "guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil," and then new Boilermakers coach Danny Hope handed Rich Rod a 38-36 loss in the Big House in '09. The head coaches exchanged words at midfield after Purdue's first victory in Ann Arbor since 1966.

6. Virginia Tech at Miami, Nov. 20

[+] EnlargeJacory Harris
Bob Donnan/US PresswireMiami QB Jacory Harris will look for redemption against Virginia Tech after struggling in Blacksburg last season.

The Hokies walloped the then-No. 9 Hurricanes 31-7 in Blacksburg, Va., last season, which was the sixth-worst loss by a top-10-ranked Miami team. Quarterback Jacory Harris will be looking to avenge his worst performance as a college player, as he completed only nine passes, threw an interception and lost a costly fumble.

7. Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Dec. 4

The Panthers can't forget their 45-44 loss to the Bearcats at Heinz Field last season, in which they blew a 31-10 lead at the half and lost after a botched hold on an extra-point attempt. The defeat cost Pittsburgh a chance to win its second Big East championship and claim its first 10-victory season in 28 years.

8. Miami at Ohio State, Sept. 11

The teams haven't played since the unforgettable 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which ended with the Buckeyes' winning their first national championship since 1968. Since Ohio State's 31-24 victory in double overtime, fans of both schools have tried to forget about former Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett, who produced a game-changing strip of the ball and an embarrassing string of off-field incidents.

9. Iowa at Northwestern, Nov. 13

The Wildcats handed the Hawkeyes their first loss of the '09 season with a 17-10 upset in Iowa City. Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi missed most of the game with an ankle injury, and the Hawkeyes' 13-game winning streak -- and BCS national championship hopes -- came to a screeching halt.

10. Florida at Florida State, Nov. 27

Former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden put the FSU program on the map by finally beating the Gators more than three decades ago. With Bowden forced into retirement, new FSU coach Jimbo Fisher will look to end the Noles' recent slide, including a six-game losing streak to the Gators. Florida has outscored FSU 127-37 in the last three games.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball