There are plenty of games every year that are worth looking forward to in the college football season. Conference games bring rivalries and high stakes at the end of the season. Here are the best conference games in college football in 2020.
1. Georgia Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide (Sep. 19)
Two of the SEC’s best teams will meet in an intradivisional clash in September. Georgia and Alabama will have College Football Playoff (CFP) and their SEC Championship hopes tested early.
The Bulldogs have 10 returning starters and transfer quarterback Jamie Newman, which has them looking to compete with Florida for the SEC East again. With Newman, the offense shouldn’t take too much of a step back. The defense ranked first in the country last season and brings back seven starters. If the defense is the best in the country again, the Bulldogs could be in the CFP picture.
Alabama will have talent at every level of their offense and defense once again. They’ll need to find a quarterback between Mac Jones and Bryce Young, but if they find a solid starter at the position, Alabama will be a national contender again. This will be the second big game of their season, as they open the season with USC. If they can get through those games, the Crimson Tide will have shown they can beat anyone on their schedule.
2. Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns (Oct. 10)*
One of college football’s biggest rivalries features two teams that will be competing on a national scale this year. Texas and Oklahoma will play their annual game and the result could lead the winner to the Big 12 Championship Game.
Oklahoma perenially has a good quarterback and makes the CFP. They will need Spencer Rattler to step up after backing up Jalen Hurts last season. If he can mesh well with the eight returning starters on offense, they can be explosive again. The defense returns eight starters as well, but Oklahoma has never been able to put together much of a defense. They’ll need Rattler to be a star, but Oklahoma is fully capable of being a CFP team.
Sam Ehlinger is back for Texas with a lot of other returning talent. A solid offensive line in front of him could help him reach new heights. The defense was average last year, so in a matchup against the Sooners, the offense needs to come through big time. While Texas only won eight games last year, they can vastly improve and it starts with beating Oklahoma.
3. Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs (Oct. 31)*
Another rivalry finds its way onto the list. Each year the Gators and Bulldogs square of in Jacksonville, Florida, and this year, like some other recent years, the SEC East could be on the line.
While they only have nine starters back, there is a lot of buzz surrounding Florida. Kyle Trask played well last season and will have Kyle Pitts back as one of the best tight ends in the country. The offense should rank in the top 30 again, if not higher. Their defense is routinely among the best in the country. They ranked seventh last season and there are enough good players to play similarly well this year.
Georgia addressed their offensive needs with Newman at quarterback. Like Florida, they have a stout defense. The Bulldogs ranked first last year and they should be good again this year. Whoever wins this game will be the offense that can produce big plays. Georgia has Newman and a better defense last year, so they could win this game and do some damage.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions (Oct. 24)
While the biggest rivalry in this conference is Ohio State and Michigan, Penn State presents the better matchup for the Buckeyes this year. The winner of this game will likely win the Big Ten East and they could make the CFP.
The Buckeyes will have Justin Fields leading the offense as a dual-threat quarterback. He makes plays and will have help from a good offensive line and wide receiver Chris Olave. The defense was fourth in the country last season and has the talent to do so again. Ohio State is a frontrunner to make the CFP and this will be their biggest test.
Penn State home games are tough, which will even the playing field for this game. Sean Clifford had a solid year last season with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He lost his top receiver, K.J. Hamler, to the pros, but tight end Pat Freiermuth is back as one of the best in the country. A good offensive line should help them rank around 15th in scoring again. The five returning starters on defense will have to work hard to stay in the top 10 for scoring defenses. They are the biggest threat to Ohio State, but they’ll need to be on fire to beat them.
5. LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide (Nov. 7)
One of the best annual matchups in college football happens in early November. LSU and Alabama both have some question marks heading into the season, but they should have a good matchup as always.
LSU has a lot of good players, but they also lost a lot to the NFL Draft. Myles Brennan is unproven, but will have talented receivers to work with to keep the offense rolling for the 2020 season. The defense will have a great secondary led by Derek Stingley, but they’ll need players in the front seven to step up to be dominant. While a National Championship is likely not in the cards for the Tigers, they should be a tough team to beat again.
Losing to LSU last year was an unusual feeling for the Crimson Tide. They’ll be ready for this game and will have more returning experience. If Harris can carry the running game and the defense can step up, the Crimson Tide are CFP contenders. Both teams have great wide receivers, so whoever plays better between the two groups could help their team win the game.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more content!