This weekend, one of college football's great rivalry games will actually have a win-or-go-home result of national importance. Savor it, because it's not likely to happen much anymore.
On Saturday, Notre Dame, the last remaining undefeated major college team—it is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time since 1993—meets the University of Southern California at the Los Angeles Coliseum. If the Fighting Irish win, their path to the Bowl Championship Series game in Miami in January is virtually assured. USC has underperformed all year and its starting quarterback is injured, but the athletic Trojans still have a shot to play spoiler.
Yet increasingly, today's rivalries are going the way of ancient feuds like last weekend's Harvard-Yale and Lehigh-Lafayette contests, or the Army-Navy game coming up Dec 8. Historic—but more rarely deciding anything definitive. Others are mismatches.