Skip to main content

5 Biggest Postseason Rematches in College Football History

Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide in 2021 SEC Championship Game

Alabama and Georgia will meet for the second time in five weeks, this time for the national title

The Alabama-Georgia game in the College Football Playoff National Championship is arguably the biggest rematch in college football history. These teams showed that they were the two best teams in the country with their respective wins over Cincinnati and Michigan, and fans are curious to see what happens when they meet again.

Related: 5 Storylines to Watch for Georgia vs. Alabama

It is rare for college football teams to play in the regular season and then meet in the postseason, but it does happen. Here are the five biggest rematches that happened in the same season.

5. Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24 (Orange Bowl)

Jan. 1, 1979  Miami

After upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma 17-14 in November, Nebraska blew its own national championship hopes by losing to Missouri the next week. With other teams losing that weekend and the Sugar Bowl setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between Penn State and Alabama, the Orange Bowl was running out of marquee foes for Big 8 champion Nebraska and took an unorthodox move of inviting No. 4 Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims to Miami for a rematch. The game itself was close until the third quarter, when Oklahoma pulled away to take a commanding 31-10 lead. The next time two programs from the same conference were invited to play in a bowl where a national championship was not on the line was when Nevada and Colorado State met in the 2015 Arizona Bowl.

4. LSU 31, Tennessee 20 (SEC Championship Game)

Dec. 8, 2001 — Atlanta

Conference title game rematches have happened from time to time, but this is the one game that was a true watershed moment for two programs. Tennessee beat LSU and second-year head coach Nick Saban 26-18 in the regular season and then topped one of the best Florida teams of all time in The Swamp to finish the regular season ranked No. 2 (the game was moved to Dec. 1 because of 9/11). Back at the victory celebration back in Knoxville, head coach Phillip Fulmer sniffed a rose in anticipation of his team's national championship showdown with Miami in the Rose Bowl. There was only one problem. The Vols had to play the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. You can imagine what happened next. LSU scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to end Tennessee's national championship hopes to give Saban his first SEC title. Saban has since won seven national titles at LSU and Alabama, while the Vols have not finished in the top 10 in the past 20 years.

3. Florida State 23, Florida 17 (Sugar Bowl)

Jan. 2, 1995 — New Orleans

The Seminoles came back from being down 31-3 with less than 13 minutes to tie the Gators 31-31 in their final regular-season game. The tie was known as the "Choke at the Doak." The Sugar Bowl rematch was dubbed "Unfinished Business: The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter." Florida State jumped out to a 20-10 halftime lead and kicker Dan Mowrey added another field goal to make the score 23-10, but Florida would not go quietly into the Louisiana night. Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel led the team on an 80-yard drive that he culminated with a one-yard touchdown run to make the score 23-17. Wuerffel got the ball back on Florida's 19-yard line with 2:27 to go, but any hopes for a comeback attempt ended with FSU linebacker Derrick Brooks' interception.

2. Alabama 21, LSU 0 (BCS National Championship Game)

Jan. 9, 2012  New Orleans

LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa and won its remaining games to finish the season undefeated and earn the top spot in the BCS National Championship Game. At No. 2 in the BCS standings was the 11-1 Crimson Tide, marking the only time a national championship game has been played between two teams from the not only the same conference, but the same division as well. The unprecedentedness continued when Alabama won the title game and became the first team to win a national championship without even winning its division.

1. Florida 52, Florida State 20 (Sugar Bowl)

Jan. 2, 1997  New Orleans

The second-ranked Seminoles beat the top-ranked Gators 24-21 in the last week of the regular season. The next week, third-ranked Nebraska was upset by Texas in the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game while Florida took care of business against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Since No. 2 Arizona State was committed to playing Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, the only option for the Sugar Bowl was a Florida/Florida State rematch. The Buckeyes beat the Sun Devils, making the Sugar Bowl the de-facto national title game. This time, Florida scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to earn the program's first national title.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.