Now that the 2019 season is officially over, it’s time to look ahead to 2020. Last season wasn’t the best for the state of Texas, but that has a chance to change in a hurry.
Texas and Texas A&M are both contenders for their conference championships. Achieving much less would be disappointing. SMU and Houston both want to reach that level too. The best national title hope for the state once again lives in Division-III as well.
Out of that group, 10 games stand above the rest as must-watch in 2020. There are games on this list that could have national implications. There are others that have absolutely zero implications beyond the teams immediately on the field. The mix of those things are part of what makes college football so fun.
Without further ado, here are 10 exciting games that we’re looking forward to in 2020.
10. Texas vs. Oklahoma (Oct. 10)
It’s hard to ever leave this game off the list. Considering both teams come into 2020 with aspirations of national relevance, that’s even more the case. This will be the final Red River Showdown with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback and the first with Spencer Rattler under center for the Sooners. Coaching careers at these schools live and die with the result of this game. That should be especially true for Tom Herman, who enters 2020 firmly on the hot seat. A big win in this game would be huge for the Texas program; the Longhorns are 1-3 against the Sooners under Herman’s watch.
9. Tarleton vs. Missouri State (Nov. 14)
It’s been an open secret that Tarleton has eyed a move to Division-I for a long time. Finally, in 2020, the process begins. The first game that Tarleton will play at home against Division-I competition won’t be until November, but it should be a good one. Bobby Petrino will lead Missouri State into Stephenville. Both of these teams want to be nationally relevant at the FCS level down the road. Will the Texans be up for the challenge in a transition year?
8. Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Oct. 15)
These games have a knack for turning into hyper-competitive games for some reason. With the game heading back to Lubbock for the first time since 2008, it’s Texas Tech’s opportunity to shine. Red Raiders fans are furious after an incorrectly applied snap infraction cost Tech the game in Waco last year. Especially with Matt Wells opening his second year, Tech should be fired up for this game. Plus, the game takes place on a Thursday night in Lubbock. All bets are officially off.
7. Texas State vs. UTSA (Sept. 12)
The rivalry is back after a year hiatus and it will mean plenty to both of these teams. This will be Jeff Traylor’s second game as head coach at UTSA – the first is against LSU, so that barely counts. Jake Spavital is looking for an early signature moment during his second season after a disappointing 3-9 campaign to start. It’ll be an underrated quarterback matchup too – Frank Harris (Schertz Clemens) and Brady McBride (Coppell) were standout Texas high school football quarterbacks who are ready to break out in 2020. Whichever team wins this game has a real shot at a bowl.
6. SMU vs. TCU (Sept. 26)
Was SMU’s 2019 campaign just a blip in the history of the Battle for the Iron Skillet or is it a turning point for the Mustangs program? All of that will come to a head at Ford Stadium in Week 4. The Mustangs lose a decent amount of production, but the core of the 10-2 team is back. On the other side, TCU brings back an insane amount of defensive talent but is green on offense. If the Mustangs can keep this game close, they could be in for a second consecutive special season.
5. Hardin-Simmons vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor
Last season, Hardin-Simmons was painfully close to knocking off UMHB. The final score was a brutal 15-14 decision. While several top players from both teams are gone to graduation, HSU and UMHB should still be back to being national contenders. As HSU proved last season, a tough day is enough to knock you out of the Division-III playoffs with how competitive the field is. Because of that, this game will once again be critical to whether either has a shot to make a national championship game.
4. Baylor vs. TCU (Oct. 24)
Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, TCU has taken pride in boasting the best defensive mind in the conference. Baylor put a dent in that with a phenomenal defensive unit in 2019. With Dave Aranda joining the conference in 2020, Patterson has his first real competition among conference head coaches. This game helped define each of these programs’ seasons in both 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the game should be a fantastic chess match between some of the best on-field coaches in the game.
3. Texas at Oklahoma State (Nov. 28)
A berth to the Big 12 championship game will almost certainly run through Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys bring back national award finalists running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace next to quarterback Spencer Sanders. Texas has more questions on the roster, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger can cover up many holes. Both of these teams expects not just to compete for the Big 12 but even compete for a College Football Playoff spot. One of those dreams will die in unceremonious fashion on the field.
2. Texas A&M vs. Alabama (Nov. 21)
Texas A&M’s schedule is fascinating. The Aggies replace matchups against Clemson and Georgia with games against Colorado and Vanderbilt. If the Aggies can pick up a win at Auburn, there’s a real shot the Aggies head to Tuscaloosa with a perfect 10-0 record. That could make for an instant classic matchup against the Tua-less Crimson Tide. If Texas A&M is going to get past Alabama in Tuscaloosa over the next few seasons, 2020 is one of their best shots.
1. Everyone vs. LSU
Instead of making half this list games against the defending champs, we’ll just wrap them all up in one easy spot. UTSA opens the Jeff Traylor era in Baton Rouge. Texas travels to Death Valley in Week 2 in a revenge spot. Texas A&M closes the year against the Tigers at home in a game with potential SEC title game implications. Rice gets LSU at NRG Stadium in Week 3. Every one of these games has a fascinating storyline going in – all will be must-watch TV.
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