If you haven't noticed we have two great international soccer tournaments going on at the same time. Here in the U.S. we have Copa America Centenario, celebrating 100 years of the original South American Copa America. It is pretty much a blatant cash grab with the 10 South American teams playing here against the U.S., Mexico, and four token North/Central American/Caribbean teams (Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti, and Panama have already been eliminated).
Over in Europe we have the expanded European Championships. For the first time, 24 teams have been invited to the Euros, as the tournament expanded from 16 teams and is now as big as the World Cup itself was in the U.S. 22 years ago. Our own Big Ten has expanded, but we still get to play our rivalries every year (for the most part). It is rivalries that make college football fun and the same is true with the Euros. In this edition in France we have several rivalries being played (or that could be played) that are pretty much the same as our own Big Ten rivalries.
(Note: I am only using rivalries that have a trophy game here).
Illinois-Northwestern Land of Lincoln Trophy = Northern Ireland vs. Ukraine - The thought of Northern Ireland being rivals with Ukraine is LOLHat worthy. Northwestern, the B1G's only private institution, is definitely Northern Ireland, Ireland's only part of England.
Illinois-Ohio State Illibuck = Poland vs. Germany - I am not quite sure who Russia is to divide the spoils here, but recently the Illibuck has had permanent residence in Columbus with a brief 2007 move to Champaign. Most of the time we would expect the Buckeyes to roll like Germany in 1939.
Illinois-Purdue Purdue Cannon = Romania vs. Albania - Two Eastern European countries that will struggle against the great powers, but in the barren wastes of corn have a pretty good, close rivalry with each other.
Indiana-Michigan State Old Brass Spittoon = France vs. Switzerland - France is the old guard power that should always advance. Switzerland is the dangerous team no one really suspects until they spring a surprise on you. That's Indiana football. They aren't going to win the Big Ten, but they are good enough now to throw a wrench into a very good team's plans.
Indiana-Purdue Old Oaken Bucket = Wales vs. England - The Bucket only matters in Indiana and this one only matters in the UK because of England's history of crashing out of major tournaments in spectacular disappointing fashion. I'll let you figure out who always crashes in spectacularly disappointing fashion.
Michigan State-Penn State Land-Grant Trophy = England vs. Russia - Two massively powerful countries that have historically been allies, then suddenly rivals. Penn State had to be paired with someone when they joined the Big Ten. It was almost like Michigan was the team left over and stuck with them.
Michigan-Michigan State Paul Bunyan Trophy = Austria vs. Hungary - These two teams already played the Hapsburg Derby with Hungary winning 2-0 in Group F. Austria and Hungary used to be the same country before a war split them apart. Michigan used to dominate this rivalry until recently Dantonio came in. the real question is this: Is Harbaugh an Archduke?
Michigan-Minnesota Little Brown Jug = Germany vs. England - They don't play in the group stage, but England always loses to Germany late or on penalties. England also hasn't won a World Cup since 1966, like Minnesota hasn't won the Big Ten since 1967. Germany and Michigan are often viewed as either the evil empire or sleeping giant.
Minnesota-Penn State Governor's Victory Bell = Iceland vs. Portugal - Iceland is the White Walkers along with Minnesota. Portugal is a team that thinks they are great but rarely does anything in a major tournament. Most of the time Penn State should roll, but their struggles can leave them open to Iceland/Minnesota to pop them like earlier this week.
Minnesota-Wisconsin Paul Bunyan's Axe/Nebraska-Wisconsin Freedom Trophy/ Minnesota-Nebraska $5 Bits of Broken Chair/Iowa-Wisconsin Heartland Trophy/Iowa-Minnesota Floyd of Rosedale/Iowa-Nebraska Heroes Trophy = This is pretty much any match involving a former Yugoslav Republic. Much of the country views these four teams and their rivalries and interchangeable and part of one mass. That is the former Yugoslavia in a nutshell. Unfortunately, the only representative from those countries that made this tournament is Croatia.