10 Most Anticipated Rematches of the 2020 College Football Season

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

10 Most Anticipated Rematches of the 2020 College Football Season

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    The SEC West clash between Associated Press No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 9 lived up to the hype. The Tigers came away with a 46-41 victory and cemented their place as the nation's top team.

    Where does this year's showdown between those two powerhouses rank on our list of the 10 most anticipated rematches from 2019?

    We've selected 10 notable games to watch between teams who squared off last season and ranked them based on how good the 2019 version of the game was, how the teams line up in 2020, and the likelihood of the game having College Football Playoff implications.

10. Memphis at Cincinnati, Oct. 31

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    Desmond Ridder
    Desmond RidderJoe Murphy/Getty Images

    2019 Results: (Game 1) Memphis 34, Cincinnati 24; (Game 2) Memphis 29, Cincinnati 24

    With back-to-back wins over Cincinnati in the regular-season finale and the AAC championship game, Memphis claimed the Group of Five spot in the New Year's Six bowls.

    Those two will likely battle it out once again with the likes of Boise State, Houston, Navy, SMU and UCF for the top spot among mid-major schools.

    Memphis running back Kenny Gainwell will be back following a breakout season in which he racked up 1,459 rushing yards, 610 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last season.

    Meanwhile, Cincinnati redshirt junior Desmond Ridder will return under center for the Bearcats after throwing for 4,609 yards and 38 touchdowns the past two seasons. He also rushed for 1,233 yards and 10 touchdowns during that span, and his dual-threat skills will make him the Bearcats' offensive focal point.

    A late touchdown strike from Brady White to Antonio Gibson gave the Tigers a 29-24 lead with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter in the AAC title game, so the Bearcats were that close to pulling out a victory.

    UCF might emerge from the AAC to seize the Group of Five spot in the New Year's Six game, but the Memphis vs. Cincinnati matchup will still have significant bowl implications.

9. Iowa State at Iowa, Sept. 12

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    Brock Purdy
    Brock PurdyDavid K Purdy/Getty Images

    2019 Result: Iowa 18, Iowa State 17

    Amid peak excitement thanks to the presence of the College GameDay crew, the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy was played on a windy, rainy, sloppy day last September.

    However, two weather delays spanning a combined two hours and 55 minutes effectively erased the bulk of a sellout crowd, and the day ended in disappointment for Iowa State.

    Trailing by one point with 1:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Cyclones would have a chance to put together one final drive when they forced an Iowa punt. Instead, two Iowa State players collided on the ensuing punt return, the Hawkeyes recovered, and that was that.

    Iowa was ranked No. 19 in the AP poll when the two teams met last year, and both teams could be among the Top 25 when they clash again in 2020.

    Quarterback Brock Purdy returns under center for the Cyclones after throwing for 3,982 yards and 27 touchdowns as a sophomore.

    The Hawkeyes will have to replace some key pieces, including quarterback Nate Stanley and First-Team All-Big Ten defensive end A.J. Epenesa, but plenty of talent is returning from last year's 10-3 squad.

8. Louisville at Notre Dame, Nov. 21

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    Javian Hawkins
    Javian HawkinsAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    2019 Result: Notre Dame 35, Louisville 17

    After a 2-10 season in 2018 cost Bobby Petrino his job, Louisville rebound to an 8-5 finish under Scott Satterfield that culminated in a 38-28 victory over Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl.

    The Cardinals opened the season with a 35-17 loss at home to Notre Dame last year, but Malik Cunningham had not yet taken over as the team's starting quarterback.

    The redshirt sophomore eventually seized the QB1 spot and finished the season with 2,061 passing yards and 22 touchdowns against five interceptions. He also added 482 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

    With Cunningham back under center and Javian Hawkins (1,525 rushing yards, 9 TDs) anchoring the rushing attack, the Cardinals will enter the 2020 season with legitimate expectations.

    Notre Dame has tough tests against Navy (Aug. 29), Wisconsin (Oct. 3) and Clemson (Nov. 7) before they welcome Louisville to South Bend on Nov. 21 in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

    If the Fighting Irish enter that game with one loss against an undefeated Clemson squad and they face off against a ranked Louisville team, a trip to the College Football Playoff could be on the line.

7. Baylor at Oklahoma, Oct. 3

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    Spencer Rattler
    Spencer RattlerBrett Deering/Getty Images

    2019 Results: (Game 1) Oklahoma 34, Baylor 31; (Game 2) Oklahoma 30, Baylor 23

    The Baylor Bears had two chances to leapfrog the Oklahoma Sooners for Big 12 supremacy in 2019, and they came up just short both times.

    With Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas all expected to be nationally relevant in 2020, the Big 12 figures to be a deeper group than last year's two-horse race. However, the Baylor vs. Oklahoma game will still carry plenty of weight once again.

    With Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts and standout wide receiver CeeDee Lamb moving on to the NFL, the Sooners will have to rebuild their high-powered offense this spring.

    Spencer Rattler, a 5-star recruit and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, is the favorite to take over under center, and he's plenty capable of putting together a dynamic season of his own.

    As for Baylor, losing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year James Lynch and First-Team All-Big 12 wide receiver Denzel Mims hurts, but they have plenty of talent returning under new head coach Dave Aranda.

    There would be no sweeter revenge for the Bears than handing the Sooners a home loss that ultimately knocks them out of the College Football Playoff.

6. LSU at Florida, Oct. 10

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    Ja'Marr Chase
    Ja'Marr ChaseGerald Herbert/Associated Press

    2019 Result: LSU 42, Florida 28

    LSU and Florida are cross-division rivals in the SEC who have gone head-to-head every year since 1971.

    When they met last season, both teams were undefeated and ranked in the Top 10 in the AP poll, with LSU checking in at No. 5 and Florida at No. 7.

    The game was tied 21-21 at halftime, and the Gators briefly took the lead when Kyle Trask connected with Van Jefferson for a touchdown with 10:54 remaining in the third quarter.

    However, the Tigers scored 21 unanswered points to close out the game and secure the victory.

    Despite taking the loss, Trask had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns against a good LSU defense.

    The sophomore signal-caller finished the year with 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns, and bigger things could be forthcoming during his junior campaign. Meanwhile, the Tigers will have an inexperienced quarterback under center in his first major road test.

    The Gators will enter the season riding an eight-game winning streak at home, and playing this game in Gainesville could be the upper hand they need to pull off an upset.

5. Auburn at Georgia, Oct. 10

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    Bo Nix
    Bo NixKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2019 Result: Georgia 21, Auburn 14

    Playing in the SEC East, Georgia has faced an easier road as of late than SEC West contenders such as LSU, Alabama and Auburn, who have been forced to cannibalize one another.

    With that said, the long-standing rivalry between Georgia and Auburn affectionately known as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry ensures the Bulldogs and Tigers do battle every year.

    The Bulldogs have won three in a row and 12 of the last 15 meetings, and they will likely be favored once again when the two teams clash on Oct. 10 in Athens, Georgia.

    However, last year's game was far from a cakewalk.

    While Georgia built a 21-0 lead, Auburn made things interesting with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns before ultimately coming up short.

    Quarterback Bo Nix will be back for the Tigers after being thrown into the SEC fire as a true freshman, while the Bulldogs will have to replace quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D'Andre Swift.

    Will that be enough to turn the tables in this rivalry in 2020?

4. Texas at LSU, Sept. 12

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    Sam Ehlinger
    Sam EhlingerTim Warner/Getty Images

    2019 Result: LSU 45, Texas 38

    The 2019 season did not play out as expected for the Texas Longhorns, who finished 8-5 after entering the season as the nation's No. 10-ranked team. But when they squared off against LSU last September, it was a meeting of two AP Top 10 teams.

    The on-field product did not disappoint.

    The Tigers jumped out to a 20-7 lead at halftime, but the Longhorns closed the gap to 23-21 heading into the fourth quarter. From there, the two teams exploded for 39 combined points in the final 15 minutes, with LSU holding on for a seven-point win.

    Quarterbacks Joe Burrow (471 yards, 4 TDs) and Sam Ehlinger (401 yards, 4 TDs) both lit it up through the air that day. While Burrow is set to move on to the NFL, Ehlinger will be back under center for Texas in 2020.

    However, there is no shortage of talent remaining on a stacked LSU squad that will likely open the season near the top of the AP poll, with 2017 4-star recruit Myles Brennan ready to take over as the starting quarterback.

    Outside of Ohio State vs. Oregon, this might be the most compelling matchup on the non-conference slate in 2020.

3. Florida vs. Georgia, Oct. 31

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    Kyle Trask
    Kyle TraskMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    2019 Result: Georgia 24, Florida 17

    Georgia and Florida have dominated the SEC East for the past few years:

    • 2015: 1. Florida, 2. Georgia
    • 2016: 1. Florida, 2. Georgia
    • 2017: 1. Georgia, 2. South Carolina
    • 2018: 1. Georgia, 2. Florida
    • 2019: 1. Georgia, 2. Florida

    All signs point to that being the case once again in 2020, which means their head-to-head matchup could determine who secures a spot in the SEC title game.

    Georgia held a 16-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter of last year's game, before Kyle Trask connected on a pair of touchdown strikes to make things interesting.

    The Bulldogs came away with the win, but with a number of key pieces moving on to the NFL, the Gators might be favored when these two teams collide in 2020.

2. Ohio State at Penn State, Oct. 24

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    Justin Fields
    Justin FieldsJay LaPrete/Associated Press

    2019 Result: Ohio State 28, Penn State 17

    The Ohio State Buckeyes had outscored opponents by a staggering 515-98 margin en route to a 10-0 record by the time they squared off against Penn State last year.

    While they improved to 11-0 with a win, the Nittany Lions gave them their first real test of the year.

    A 42-yard field goal from Jake Pinegar late in the third quarter trimmed the Buckeyes' lead to 21-17, with three Ohio State turnovers helping to keep Penn State in the game.

    However, they were unable to close things out.

    Chris Olave hauled in a 28-yard touchdown reception with 13:18 left in the fourth quarter to extend the Buckeyes' lead to 11 points, and both defenses held the rest of the way.

    With Ohio State junior Justin Fields (3,273 passing yards, 41 TDs, 484 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and Penn State junior Sean Clifford (2,654 passing yards, 23 TDs, 402 rushing yards, 5 TDs) both back under center, the two dual-threat standouts should provide plenty of fireworks when these teams meet in 2020.

    This game could determine who emerges from the Big Ten East to play in the conference championship game.

1. Alabama at LSU, Nov. 7

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    Mac Jones
    Mac JonesKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2019 Result: LSU 46, Alabama 41

    In his breakdown of the 100 best college football games of the 2019 season, Bill Connelly of ESPN placed LSU vs. Alabama in the No. 2 spot.

    Here's what he said about a memorable showdown between the two SEC powerhouses:

    "For all intents and purposes, LSU won this game in the final minute of the first half, when Clyde Edwards-Helaire plunged into the end zone from a yard out, Patrick Queen picked off a Tua Tagovailoa pass and Edwards-Helaire scored again, all in the span of 20 seconds. A 19-13 lead became an insurmountable 33-13.

    "What made this game great, howeverbesides the top-five rankings and obvious title stakes, beyond the backstory (LSU hadn't beaten Bama since 2011) and beyond the star power on the field and sidelinewas how relentlessly Alabama indeed tried to surmount it. The Tide twice cut the lead to one score and forced LSU to keep scoring to survive. LSU and Joe Burrow (31-for-39 for 393 yards and three touchdowns) obliged, flipping a 33-27 lead to 39-27, then turning 39-34 into 46-34. After one last Bama bomb, the Tigers recovered the make-or-break onside kick and advanced from this battle of 8-0 teams the 9-0 victor."

    With Joe Burrow (LSU) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) both moving on to the NFL, along with several other key contributors on both sides, it will be a different cast of characters in 2020.

    However, the stakes will be similarly high for two teams with title aspirations.


    All stats courtesy of Sports Reference, unless otherwise noted.