One of the joys of the college football schedule is the chance to see rematches between the top teams in the country.
Last season gave us plenty of opportunities to see the best teams on the same field, and this time around, we’ll get a shot at seeing an encore.
Let’s take a look at the best rematches on this year’s slate.
10. Penn State at Auburn
When: Sept. 17
Last meeting: PennState, 28-20
Last season’s game at Happy Valley was a close one, with Penn State knocking down Auburn’s last ditch pass to come out with the narrow victory and chalk up a point for Big Ten honor. Now comes the rematch down on The Plains between a pair of teams in transition.
Penn State brings back super senior Sean Clifford at quarterback and he’ll have some solid options on the outside, including WKU transfer receiver Mitchell Tinsley, who could test Auburn’s back seven. And while the Tigers have lead back Tank Bigsby returning, they have a lot of questions at quarterback — Bo Nix transferred away — and defensively.
9. Stanford at Oregon
When: Oct 1
Last meeting: Oregon, 31-24 (OT)
Last fall, Oregon came to The Farm full of confidence and hope after knocking off Ohio State on the road and seriously boosting their College Football Playoff chances. Then came the surprise, an overtime loss to a team that went on to win three games, throwing a monkey wrench into the Ducks’ season.
Dan Lanning kicks off a new era for Oregon football as head coach, equipped with a solid defensive front group, Bo Nix at quarterback, and some promise at the skill positions. And come into the season with a 19-game win streak at home, the third-best in college football.
8. Auburn at Alabama
When: Nov 26
Last meeting: Alabama, 24-22 (OT)
We saw the first-ever overtime matchup in Iron Bowl history last fall, when Alabama, whose offense struggled all night, stormed back at the end of regulation and helped clinch the Heisman Trophy for quarterback Bryce Young.
Now, Auburn comes back to Tuscaloosa, where it hasn’t won since the legendary 2010 game, but won’t be anything approaching favored this time around.
Bama returns its defensive core, led by linebacker Will Anderson, arguably the single best player in college football, while Young has key transfer additions in back Jahmyr Gibbs and receiver Jermaine Burton to throw at Auburn’s defense.
7. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
When: Nov 19
Last meeting: USO, 37-33
Bedlam was a good name for last year’s matchup, a back and forth game that the Cowboys took control of in the fourth quarter after scoring a late touchdown and then digging in behind its powerful defensive unit.
This time around, key ingredients of the Oklahoma team that lost the 2021 game won’t be there, including coach Lincoln Riley, quarterback Caleb Williams, and receiver Mario Williams, all of whom went to USC.
OU’s chances fall on new coach Brent Venables and QB Dillon Gabriel, who want to put this rivalry back in the Sooners’ direction before their departure to the SEC.
6. Michigan State at Michigan
When: Oct 29
Last meeting: MSU, 37-33
This was Michigan’s only loss of the regular season, a campaign highlighted by a win over Ohio State, a Big Ten championship, and the school’s first College Football Playoff appearance. Avenging this loss against their in-state rival is imperative for Michigan to make another run at the conference and the semifinal.
And it’s crucial for the Spartans and head coach Mel Tucker to keep this series on their side of the ledger and preserve the important gains the program made last season.
Payton Thorne returns at quarterback, as does 1,000-yard receiver Jayden Reed, but Sparty needs to take a sledgehammer to this secondary, one of the worst in college football a year ago. Michigan has some holes to fill, too, especially in its pass rush and at running back.
5. Oklahoma State at Baylor
When: Oct 1
Last meeting: Baylor, 21-16
Dave Aranda took Baylor from two wins to a Big 12 championship in a year’s time, and it was against these Cowboys that his team won the conference, by the slimmest of margins, stopping OSU back Dezmon Jackson inches from the goal line.
Oklahoma State loses some of its No. 3 nationally-ranked defense, but retains enough experience on the front line. Spencer Sanders also returns at quarterback and Brennan Presley and Blaine Green at receiver.
Blake Shapen steps in for Baylor under center behind four returning linemen, but the Bears need to shore up replacements at safety. Both lines of scrimmage are solid, but Aranda lost lead rusher Abram Smith, who scored 12 times a year ago.
4. Ole Miss at Arkansas
When: Nov 19
Last meeting: OleMiss, 52-51
This SEC West clash was barn-burner last season that included almost 1,300 combined yards and over 100 points ended on a dropped Arkansas two-point conversion attempt.
Turnover on both rosters may take a few points off the board this time around, but these teams are capable of putting on another show.
Ole Miss gets USC transfer Jaxson Dart at quarterback to go with other pick-ups while Arkansas gets KJ Jefferson under center after a solid 2021 outing. This game should be appointment viewing between two up-and-coming SEC powers.
3.Texas vs. Oklahoma
When: Oct 8
Last meeting: Okla., 55-48
Caleb Williams introduced himself to college football in this game last season, stepping in for Spencer Rattler and making an immediate impact, leading OU’s furious comeback win and keeping the Sooners undefeated and in the playoff hunt.
Now both rivals come into the Red River Shootout in a different position. Oklahoma is looking to build another foundation on short notice after the regime change on the sideline from Riley to Venables.
Texas made serious gains in the offseason via the transfer portal, adding quarterback Quinn Ewers, among others, to pair with two key skill options in back Bijan Robinson and receiver Xavier Worthy.
Winning this game is more vital for the Longhorns, who are likely coming into the Cotton Bowl with one loss already on the board, to Alabama in Week 2.
2. Michigan at Ohio State
When: Nov 26
Last meeting: Michigan, 42-27
Maybe no revenge is sweeter than a win in The Game. For the first time in eight tries a year ago, Michigan got the better of the Buckeyes, a statement victory for Jim Harbaugh and his alma mater. But the Wolverines lost some key contributors, including their edge rushing combo, both top rushers, and their best pass defender.
And are coming into Columbus against an Ohio State team that still boasts the core of an offense that ranked No. 1 in college football, led by Heisman finalist quarterback CJ Stroud. The question for OSU is how well new coordinator Jim Knowles can repair a defensive unit that was costly in two losses a year ago.
1. Texas A&M at Alabama
When: Oct 8
Last meeting: Texas A&M, 41-38
If there’s a team that can change the face of the SEC and the College Football Playoff, it’s the Aggies. Fresh off signing the highest-rated recruiting class ever, A&M is in position to make a statement, a year after knocking off the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
That was a high point, but the Ags lost four other games and finished outside the AP Top 25 rankings. But with this defensive front group, a solid backfield tandem, an athletic receiving corps, and some experience at quarterback, A&M could tilt the scales in its favor. Winning at Alabama is as tough a job as there is. But it’s passing tests like these that proves who belongs, and who doesn’t.
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