Facebook Twitter

How tough, really, is beating the same team twice in the same season?

If you crunch the numbers, it’s not as tough as the adage suggests

SHARE How tough, really, is beating the same team twice in the same season?
Utah QB Cameron Rising looks across the line as Utah and Oregon play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake on Nov. 20, 2021.

Utah quarterback Cameron Rising looks across the line as Utah and Oregon play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. The two teams will meet again Friday in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t use merely 10% of their brains (except congressmen), Vikings didn’t wear horns on their helmets, you won’t drown or cramp just because you went swimming right after eating, George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth and, oh, yeah, it isn’t difficult for a football team to beat the same opponent twice in the same season.

utahoorgeonTV

Utes on the air


No. 10 Oregon (10-2 , 7-2)

vs. No. 17 Utah (9-3, 8-1)

Friday, 6 p.m. MST

Allegiant Stadium

Las Vegas

TV: ABC

Radio: ESPN 700


How many times have we heard the last one?

It’s hard to beat the same team twice.

File that one away with: they are better than their record indicates and you have to establish the running game.

On Friday night, Utah and Oregon will meet on the football field for the second time in 13 days. By the time the rematch is finished they’ll be exchanging Christmas cards and friending each other on Facebook.

Utah won the first game 38-7 in Salt Lake City, knocking Oregon — ranked No. 3 in the country at the time — out of contention for the College Football Playoff. Now we get the fall rerun. They’ll meet again in Las Vegas to decide the Pac-12 championship — the South Division champ, Utah, vs. the North Division champ, Oregon.

Same-season rematches occurred only occasionally in bowl games over the years, but they increased significantly after the SEC created a conference championship game in 1992. Other conferences followed the smell of money and did the same thing. All 10 FBS conferences have championship games. As a result, teams that may meet during the regular season can and often do meet again in the conference championship game.

Coaches and media like to say it’s difficult to beat a team twice in the same season. The numbers don’t quite support that claim. According to statistics gathered from College Football Data, from 1950 to the end of the 2019 season, there were 78 rematches during the same season. The winner of the regular-season game won the rematch 44 times or 56.4% of the time.

According to research produced by the NCAA a few years ago, 20 of 33 conference championship game rematches resulted in a win for the team that also won the regular-season game — 60.6%.

Pac-12 title tilts

We meet again ...


2018

Regular season: Washington 21, Utah 7

Title game: Washington 10, Utah 3

2017

Regular season: USC 42, Stanford 24

Title game: USC 31, Stanford 28

2015

Regular season: Stanford 41, USC 31

Title game: Stanford 41, USC 22

2014

Regular season: Arizona 31, Oregon 24

Title game: Oregon 51, Arizona 13

2013

Regular season: Stanford 42, ASU 28

Title game: Stanford 38, ASU 14

2012

Regular season: Stanford 35, UCLA 17

Title game: Stanford 27, UCLA 24


It turns out it might not even be that difficult to beat a team three times in a season. According to Football Perspective, since the 1970 NFL merger, there have been 21 occasions in which a team swept an opponent during the regular season and met a third time in the playoffs. The team that had won both regular-season games have a won-loss record of 14-7 in the third meeting.

(The Super Bowl has been an exception. Fourteen Super Bowls featured teams that had met during the regular season. The losers of the first game are 8-6 in the Super Bowl rematches. That includes the Chiefs-Buccaneers Super Bowl last January in which the Bucs lost the first game to the Chiefs but beat them handily in the rematch.)

The Utes themselves have faced this situation previously. In 2018, Utah lost to Washington 21-7 in the third week of the season, then lost to Washington 10-3 in the conference championship game.

Friday’s Utah-Oregon matchup will mark the seventh time in 10 years that the Pac-12 championship game has featured teams that also met during the regular season. Only one of those rematches produced a different result than the regular-season game.

In 2012, Stanford beat UCLA 35-17 to end the regular season and then beat UCLA again just six days later 27-24 in the conference championship game.

The Utes hope to continue the trend on Friday night with a berth in the Rose Bowl riding on the outcome.