If the ACC is going to move towards every program having a season-ending rivalry game, the youngbloods Pitt and Syracuse are also going to need a dancing partner. On Monday, ESPN's Heather Dinich weighed in on Pitt and Syracuse's need for a rivalry game to end the season. Many silly things were said that largely ignores the entirety of Syracuse and Boston College football history.
"Boston College makes sense because it’s in the Northeast, fans of both schools can travel to the games, and the two programs played almost every season from 1961-2004. There’s just nothing about BC-Cuse football right now, though, that makes this series any more than two programs trying to step over each other in the Atlantic Division."
I hope the league brass doesn't agonize over picking a "rival" for Syracuse too much, because it should take all of 10 seconds before Boston College and Syracuse are paired together. Appreciating that rivalries take time to develop -- or in BC-Syracuse's case, take time to be rekindled -- this is a slam dunk pairing given geography, recruiting, academics, demographics and an extensive shared football history.
Season-ending rivalry games are not new and not created in a vacuum. The ACC can't just dream up these rivalry games without also considering what the other four major conferences are doing at season's end. This also isn't rocket science. Programs from each of the five major conferences have played season-ending rivalry games for years. All this does is formalize matchups between the programs that either haven't such a series or have struggled to replace a long-standing season-ending rivalry game a la BC-Holy Cross.
We're also not likely to see an influx of non-conference rivalry games to end the season. Conferences will strive to maximize their own TV inventory before handing over valuable properties to other conferences where they won't realize the TV benefits every other year. Keeping these games in-conference boosts conference TV ratings and adds intrigue to late-season division races. This is why you'll likely see Penn State-Michigan State to end the year over Penn State-Pitt or Penn State-Syracuse, given the game's importance to the Big Ten East division title and the Big Ten Championship Game. Other than long-standing existing non-conference rivalries -- Florida State-Florida, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia -- don't expect to see an influx of new season-ending non-conference series.
As I said, this has been done for years. Leagues are finally realizing that there's value in having a fixed scheduling opponent to end the year. All that's left to do is pair the remaining programs and, if only for one week out of 13, assemble the greatest weekend slate of games for the sport.
Big Ten East
Maryland vs. Rutgers (the game)
Ohio State vs. Michigan (The Game)
Penn State vs. Michigan State (Land Grant Trophy)
Big Ten West
Iowa vs. Nebraska (Heroes Trophy)
Illinois vs. Northwestern (Land of Lincoln Trophy née Sweet Sioux Tomahawk)
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (Paul Bunyan's Axe)
Big Ten Cross-Division
Indiana vs. Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket)
Boston College vs. Syracuse
Louisville vs. N.C. State (?)
Duke vs. North Carolina (basketball)
Miami vs. Pittsburgh
Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (Commonwealth Cup)
ACC vs. SEC
Clemson vs. South Carolina (Palmetto Bowl)
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia (Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate)
Florida State vs. Florida
Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt
Kentucky vs. Tennessee (Battle for the Barrel)
Alabama vs. Auburn (Iron Bowl)
Arkansas vs. LSU (Battle for the Golden Boot)
Mississippi vs. Mississippi State (Egg Bowl)
Missouri vs. Texas A&M
Iowa State vs. West Virginia (the Big 12 calls these two neighbors)
Kansas vs. Kansas State (Sunflower Showdown)
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (Bedlam Series)
Texas vs. NOT Texas A&M (Baylor / Texas Tech / TCU)
Baylor / Texas Tech / TCU vs. Baylor / Texas Tech / TCU
Arizona vs. Arizona State (The Duel in the Desert)
Colorado vs. Utah (Rumble in the Rockies)
UCLA vs. USC (The Crosstown Showdown)
California vs. Stanford (Big Game)
Oregon vs. Oregon State (The Civil War)
Washington vs. Washington State (The Apple Cup)
PAC-12 vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame at USC OR Notre Dame at Stanford
Either the ACC or the Big 12 wins the award for weakest season-ending "rivalry" games. If you're the ACC and don't like this fact? Go the "Big Ten" route and realign the divisions into something that makes a little more sense. That, or dip into the American to pair the remaining programs (Miami-USF? Louisville-Cincinnati? N.C. State-East Carolina?).
Given the programs left, this really isn't all that hard. Watch the ACC screw it up anyway.