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Rams preseason game against Chargers features CFP championship rematch

Months after the NCAA national championship, Stetson Bennett and Max Duggan are set for SoFi Stadium rematch

NCAA Football: 2022 Heisman Trophy Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Just months after facing off in the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett is set for a rematch with Max Duggan of the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday evening at SoFi Stadium. Bennett’s Georgia Bulldogs bested Duggan’s TCU Horned Frogs 65-7 back in January on the same turf—which both young quarterbacks now consider home.

The Rams drafted Bennett in the fourth round after hiring Kellen Clemons as a consultant and doing a deep dive on the two-time national champion. The Chargers selected three TCU products in April’s NFL Draft starting with WR Quentin Johnston in the first round, followed by WR Derius Davis in the fourth, and Duggan in the seventh with their final pick.

Bennett is competing with former Denver Broncos QB Brett Rypien for the role of primary backup to Matthew Stafford. Reportedly the two have split reps throughout training camp practices so far. Rypien may get the starting nod on Saturday night since he’s the more veteran player and can help Sean McVay’s offense kick things off on the right foot.

Duggan is slotted in third for the Chargers behind Justin Herbert—who just signed the richest contract in NFL history—and Easton Stick. If Rypien starts for the Rams, it’s possible if not likely that we will see Bennett and Rypien in the game around the same time after they faced off just six or seven months ago on college football’s biggest stage.

Duggan, Bennett, and Rypien are helped by recent rule changes that create roster flexibility for a third quarterback. The change was made after the San Francisco 49ers were in a crunch in the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles after Brock Purdy suffered an UCL injury and Christian McCaffrey ended up taking reps as an emergency QB.

Bennett has impressed so far in practices. While he is still learning the ropes of an NFL offense and getting players in and out of the huddle, he’s consistently shown the ability to make off-schedule players and flashed the athleticism that made him such a threat in college. It’s worth keeping an eye on his mobility Saturday night, and it would be a huge benefit to the Rams offense if he can pick up first downs with his legs or buy time to launch a deep shot.

For Duggan, he just needs to prove that as a late draft selection he has the talent to play in the NFL and that he belongs on a roster of professionals. Over the draft process this spring there were evaluators that pointed out TCU’s receivers would be an easier scout and projection if they had more consistent play with their quarterback—but Johnston and Davis are still catching passes from Duggan at times in practice.

While the final score of a preseason exhibition game is not important overall, Max Duggan is probably looking to get revenge for the 65-7 beatdown he suffered at the hands of Stetson Bennett in January. Bennett is looking to secure the backup role behind Matthew Stafford, and showing off his athleticism and ability to extend plays on a consistent basis could give him a leg up over Brett Rypien.

Saturday evening’s game in Los Angeles between the Rams and Chargers features a rematch of this year’s NCAA national championship game on the same turf of SoFi Stadium. Who will come out on top?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Texas Christian at Georgia Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports