Today, I start listing the teams that would be "marquee" matches for Alabama. Some of them we hold a slight advantage over, but usually it was because they sucked then. First, the teams that would create excitement, but wouldn't be "OMG, GAME OF TEH CENTURY!!11!!" material:
Wisconsin - The Tide faced the Badgers only once, when Alabama fell 0-15 in Madison during the 1928 season. Wisconsin had an incredible run last season, missing out on a BCS game because the Big 10 already had two teams in BCS bowls, and finishing in the top ten with a 12-1 record. First year head coach Brett Bielema looks to continue that success for years to come, and a SEC/Big 10 match up would draw plenty of media attention.
Georgia Tech - Before the Yellowjackets left the SEC after the 1963 season, they were quite the rival for our own beloved Tide, so much so that they are included in our fight song. Alabama holds a 28-21-3 record against Tech, but the two haven't met since 1984, when Alabama lost 16-6 in Atlanta. That capped off a six consecutive seasons run of matches, and I'd like to see something like that happen again. We are scheduled to play a series with Tech in a few years, so I debated on whether or not to include them on the list, but because there is so much history between the two programs I put them in because I'd like to see them more often.
Virginia Tech - The Tide owns a 10-1 advantage over the Hokies, but all ten wins came before 1980 when Va Tech was a middling Division 1 independent. The one loss came in 1998 in the Music City Bowl, when the Hokies blasted the Tide 38-7. Today Va Tech is a perennial contender for the ACC title and would make an exciting addition to any Alabama schedule.
Louisville - Although Bobby Petrino has jumped to the NFL, the Cardinals should still be able to maintain their position at the top of the Big East. Louisville traveled to Tuscaloosa in back to back years during the '70s, receiving beat downs of 24-3 and 55-6 for their efforts. But it was their last meeting with the Tide that both fanbases recall best. The 1991 Fiesta Bowl saw Louisville (under the leadership of former Bryant assistant Howard Schnellenberger) dominate the Tide 34-7 in what was then the biggest game in the program's history. Now that Louisville is considered a dominant football program, a meeting between the two teams during the regular season would give each a resume boost during the regular season.
Texas A&M - Obviously the two programs share quite a bit of history. Coach Bryant came to Alabama from TAMU, and the Aggies have had several former Alabama players and coaches on the sidelines. Our only loss to them came in the 1968 Cotton Bowl, when future Tide hero and former Bryant player Gene Stallings topped his old coach and mentor 20-16. The Aggies and the Tide haven't met since the late eighties, when former Tide player Jackie Sherrill was head coach in College Station, and considering former Tide coach Dennis Francione currently holds the head job in College Station this would be a game many would want to see.
Texas Tech - The one and only meeting between us was in the '06 Cotton Bowl, and we all know how that worked out. With Mike Leach and his crazy 'piratebone' offense staying in Lubbock for the foreseeable future, it would be fun to match our defense to it again. Plus, we stole their QB commit Greg McElroy away after the Cotton Bowl, so playing in Lubbock probably wouldn't hurt our recruiting.
Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights are a current hot commodity, going from pitiful homecoming fodder to contender for the Big East under new head coach Greg Schiano. Alabama and Rutgers have played only twice, meeting in '80 and '81 in New Jersey and Tuscaloosa, when Rutgers was typically hovering around .500 each season.
South Florida - The Tide and the Bulls have met only once, during Mike Shula's first year as head coach. Alabama came out on top 40-17 at Legion Field during a 7-4 season for South Florida. Considering the Bulls have only been playing football since 1997, coach Jim Leavitt has made them into a respectable program, pulling memorable upsets over West Virginia in 2006 and Louisville in 2005, and always showing up no matter who the opponent is. Also, like Central Florida, playing in Tampa now and again wouldn't hurt our recruiting efforts either.
Now that I think about it, Cal and UCLA probably should have been on this list while USF should have been on yesterday's. Oh well, what's done is done. Starting next week, the HUGE games.
Would be a great game, but wouldn't be a "marquee" matchup.