|Dave Martin / Associated Press|
|Chris Davis' dramatic return reversed the championship fortunes of two bitter rivals.|
The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat will conduct a rematch when the NBA Finals begin this week, spurring us at College Football 24/7 to prime the best rematches forthcoming for the college gridiron this fall. We start, of course, where one half of last year's national championship matchup was forged:
Top 10 rivalry gamesThese are the top 10 college football rivalry games, as determined by the College Football 24/7 staff.
1. Alabama vs. Auburn
The annual Iron Bowl rivalry reached a new level last November when a national championship berth essentially exchanged hands on a single, game-ending, 109-yard thrill of a play. What turned out to be the biggest game of the entire regular season also happens to be an arch rivalry of epic proportion. Next year, with the renewal in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will be looking for payback, and hoping for the same stakes.
2. Stanford vs. Oregon
Each of the last two years, Oregon's hopes for a national championship have been dashed by the Cardinal, which dealt the Ducks their first loss of the year twice in a row, both in November. That's a tough pill, one that Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota will look to spit out this fall in Eugene, Ore., when Stanford visits to renew what has become the Pac-12's best matchup.
3. Ohio State vs. Michigan State
Who can forget the way the Spartans dashed Ohio State's national title hopes in a conference championship game that left the Buckeyes with little more than pride to show for a second consecutive unbeaten regular season? This year, Ohio State travels to East Lansing to try to settle the score.
4. Auburn vs. Georgia
Call it luck. Call it destiny. Whatever it was that led to this miracle catch by Ricardo Louis -- The Prayer at Jordan-Hare -- we were left wanting more. And you can bet the Bulldogs will want another shot at Nick Marshall this fall when the Tigers visit Sanford Stadium on Nov. 16 to avenge the 43-38 loss. Known as "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry," played all but five years since 1892, this series couldn't be hotter.
5. Alabama vs. LSU
The annual Alabama-LSU game is usually a close one, and often provides a gateway to the SEC West title. The battle on the line of scrimmage in this game is always an NFL futures showcase, and last year was no different with the likes of Cyrus Kouandjio and Ego Ferguson manning the trenches. This year, La'El Collins (LSU left tackle) and A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama defensive tackle) will headline the fight up front.
6. Clemson vs. Georgia
Two-year, home-and-home contracts for appealing non-conference matchups have become a rare thing in college football, giving way to neutral-site one-timers, making the Clemson-Georgia series one to be savored. The Bulldogs and Tigers got the season started with a bang last year in a 38-35 win for host Clemson. Georgia hosts Clemson this time around and both teams will have a new face at quarterback. But that doesn't mean there won't be star power: Think Todd Gurley vs. Vic Beasley.
7. Penn State vs. Michigan
When Penn State was slapped with NCAA sanctions and some of its top players transferred in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions weren't supposed to challenge a Big Ten power like Michigan for years. So much for predictions. Penn State upended the Wolverines, 43-40, and served notice that its place in the league isn't going to be anywhere near the cellar. They'll get a chance to prove it again in the Big House on Oct. 11.
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8. Nebraska vs. Northwestern
The Hail Mary, last-second touchdown that boosted Nebraska to a 27-24 win over Northwestern last year has no doubt been on the Wildcats' minds throughout the offseason. The rematch is not only in Evanston, Ill., but it's Northwestern's Homecoming game, as well. Give us another photo finish, you two. Anything to keep Bo Pelini defensive and on edge. He's fun that way.
9. Ohio State vs. Michigan
Nobody would dispute that the Buckeyes had the better team last year in this storied series, but as with most rivalries, records don't mean much. The Wolverines gave Ohio State all they wanted and more in a 42-41 Michigan loss. No matter how dominant Ohio State is this year, this matchup will be appointment television once again.
10. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
The series known as "Bedlam" gave us just that last year, deadlocked in a 17-all tie entering the fourth quarter. The Sooners pulled away for a 33-24 win, the only home loss of the year for OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium. With nine defensive starters returning and a quarterback in Trevor Knight who blistered Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, OU could enter the game with plenty at stake.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.