I think those protected games make a lot more sense if you think about them as balancing the schedule for teams of equivalent (historical) strength - i.e. if Michigan and Ohio State had to play each other out of division each year and Penn State and Nebraska didn't, the latter two would almost always have an easier conference schedule (again, historical speaking <sigh> ) And of course there's probably the real reason behind the above reason - more top-vs-top games means more TV $$$. But in this case since it means we get better games, I think it's win-win. Rivalries have nothing to do with it, though if PSU and N play each other every year, particularly with divisional title implications, then 10 years down the line it'll probably turn into a decent rivalry.
I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY