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Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Ohio State vs. Michigan are the best revenge games of 2022

Every college football season is packed with passion, intrigue, and plenty of reasons to tune in every Saturday. But while rivalries are renewed each season, one thing changes from year to year: revenge.

We spend 12 months talking and thinking about a sport that only plays 12 regular season games, so the weight of a result far exceeds what we see in other sports. There are occasional rematches in a season, even for the national championship, but in many cases when a game goes poorly for a team, that team and all of their fans have to wait a year before they get a chance to retaliate.

We’ve scoured the 2022 schedule in hopes of identifying some of the biggest Revenge Game spots. In eight of the 10 games mentioned – five special mentions, five honorable mentions – the team seeking revenge will be at home, creating an intense and passionate environment for thousands of fans to feverishly celebrate after spending the whole year at it to hold that “L”. Another common thread running through the five games featured is that 2021 featured many wins in a row that not only sets the stage for revenge, but also for a win that makes last season’s loss seem like an anomaly in the series could. Finally, we tried not to get too involved in traditional rivalries, but revenge is an emotional thing and nothing is more emotional than college football rivalries.

Speaking of emotions, we don’t start at No. 1 with a traditional rivalry, but certainly one that has continued off the field, in the recruiting lane and in front of mics and cameras.

When Texas A&M defeated Alabama 41-38 in prime time on CBS last year, it marked the first time Nick Saban was defeated by a former assistant. Then it happened again in the national championship game, and then that first former assistant, Aggie’s coach Jimbo Fisher, engaged in a war of words that set the college football world on fire in the normally slow month of May. We’d already circled Texas A&M’s return trip to Alabama as one of the big revenge spots on the 2022 college football program, but the ongoing Saban-Jimbo saga took this SEC West showdown in early October to the next level. Both coaches are adamant they move on after the spade, and so should we, but that’s not how bad blood works in college football. It simmers until things can be settled on the field.

Ryan Day was 23-0 in Big Ten games as Ohio State coach when the Buckeyes took the field on the last Saturday of the regular season in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As No. 2 in the country, Ohio State had gone all out to win the Big Ten East for a fifth straight year and likely make its third straight college football playoff. But after eight straight losses in “The Game,” Michigan nabbed the streak and snagged the division title, winning the program’s first full Big Ten championship since 2003. Now Day and Ohio State have taken the revenge angle of that rivalry and if the two If the teams meet again in late November, the game is likely to impact the Big Ten title and College Football Playoffs again.

This is the first of two selections to take on the same storyline, with 2021 throwing us curveballs in some of the sport’s greatest rivalry matches. We look forward to Bedlam every year and while there has been some exciting action in the games, the results for the Sooners have mostly been one-sided. Oklahoma entered the game last year after winning six straight and 16 of their last 18 encounters dating back to 2003. Oklahoma State’s thrilling 37-33 win was sealed not with a game-winning touchdown but with a game-winning sack matched by a defense that had been stellar for the Cowboys all season. If Oklahoma had almost every other take on replacing Lincoln Riley, the revenge angle might not have been as strong, but Brent Venable’s connection to the Sooners program gives him full understanding of how much this loss hurt Oklahoma fans, and how what matters to him is getting revenge in his first Bedlam game as head coach.

The second of three losses in Clemson’s 10-3 “down year” in 2021, NC State was able to make it clear early in the season that the ACC was wide open with the Wolfpack’s 27-21 double overtime thriller. The Tigers’ stellar reputation as conference kings was already shaky after they totaled just two offensive touchdowns in their first two games against FBS opponents, and NC State was poised for a breakthrough after a couple of tight decisions in an eight-game game in the series Bad Luck. Now Clemson is targeting the Wolfpack and the rest of the conference to return to the ACC Championship Game and College Football Playoff, but neither of those goals will be quite as viable unless the Tigers retaliate against the Wolfpack in early October.

Welcome to the head where Kansas, not Oklahoma, is highlighted for a game of revenge. Texas lost another chaotic edition of the Red River Rivalry, losing a lead in the process, but when the Longhorns take the field in Dallas this fall, it will look like they’ll get their revenge without Lincoln Riley on the sidelines and Caleb Williams on the field ? That draws our attention to Kansas, a program that has beaten Texas in two of their last five games, and a coach in Lance Leipold who was like Steve Sarkisian his freshman year when the Jayhawks beat the Longhorns 57-56 in overtime stunned walk-off two-point conversion. The loss in Austin, Texas, was Texas’ sixth season and one of the final blows in a seven-game losing streak that kept Sarkisian and the Longhorns out of the postseason.

And when your team’s suffering turns into a NIL promotion — as happened for Kansas tight end Jared Casey, who made the winning two-point conversion — it quickly becomes cause for a fight. There should be far more pent-up aggression for Kansas among Texas football fans than anyone ever anticipated in their lifetime, but on November 19th there will be nothing but revenge on the minds of Longhorns everywhere.

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