The Big Ten will not play football this fall, a decision still being felt across the conference. That will sting even more if the SEC plays out its 2020 college football season.
The heat between the two conferences is real. It’s the regional rivalry between two $700 million conferences that helps drive the sport. Perhaps, just for one year, Big Ten fans can adopt an SEC school to root for on the couch. Yeah, we know, it’s almost impossible.
Just give it a chance. We paired each Big Ten fan base with the ideal fit.
Here’s who each Big Ten fan base should root for in 2020:
Illinois: South Carolina
Lovie Smith and Will Muschamp are always on the hot seat, but they can pull that upset to save their job on any given week.
Ask Wisconsin and Georgia.
Indiana: Mississippi State
Tom Allen has done more with less with the Hoosiers in building that school to respectability. That’s every bit as interesting as what Mike Leach has done in the past and must do in Starkville.
You get knocked as a “farm school” by your rivals, but every third year Kirk Ferentz and Gus Malzahn put a team out there that gets in the Playoff conversation.
No matter what you do in football — and the Wildcats have been good the past few seasons under Mark Stoops — the fans are going to want to talk about their basketball team that missed last year’s tournament.
Their fight songs get stuck in your head. Their stadiums house 100,000-plus.
They can’t beat their rivals, and they haven’t won a national championship since the ’90s. If these two logged on to a dating site, it would be a 100 percent match.
Michigan State: Texas A&M
Michigan State fan: “Michigan fans have the audacity to call us Little Brother.”
Texas A&M fan: (Cracks knuckles)
The average temperatures in the fall are almost exactly the same, right? Dan Mullen and P.J. Fleck can get under opponents’ skin, but there is no question that both have gotten results from their programs.
Huskers fans might be insulted by this, but the Tigers have made a pair of SEC championship games.
That’s one more than the Huskers have played in the Big Ten. These fan bases can crank up the ’80s tunes and swap stories from the good-ol’ Big Eight days. Start here.
Don’t make it about the smart kids, don’t make it about the smart kids …
OK, it’s about the smart kids.
Ohio State: LSU
Ohio State fans already did this last year with transfer quarterback Joe Burrow, the transfer quarterback who led LSU to the championship last season.
When Alabama comes to Death Valley this year, Buckeyes fans will be cheering on the Tigers. It’s an easy transition.
Penn State: Alabama
Easy call here. Classic uniforms, iconic programs and a common disdain for Ohio State.
Just don’t bring up that goal-line stand from the 1979 Sugar Bowl.
Purdue: Ole Miss
Egg Bowl. Old Oaken Bucket. It’s all the same. It’s all about beating your in-state rival. Jeff Brohm might not have Lane Kiffin’s Twitter following, but they are both bright offensive coaches in tough places to win.
These teams are a combined 0-32 in conference play the past two seasons. At least both have hope with new coaches in Sam Pittman and Greg Schiano.
These two could spend hours talking about the long list of running backs both schools have produced while mindlessly watching their team bull-doze opponents all afternoon. Avoid talking about that last national championship.