College Football is back, and all is right in (my) the world. 152 years of the greatest regular season of any team sport shows us why this game has so much history, and longstanding rivalries, well before the NFL started to peak in popularity. As the sport evolves and the playoff model expands, time will tell if September will continue to be a must-see month. On paper, the opening week has some real bangers and games flying under the radar on the schedule.
#1 Alabama vs. #14 Miami: Man, would I love to see this current championship run from Alabama and the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Miami squads go head to head. Unfortunately, the year is 2021, and the Canes still haven’t won an ACC title, let alone qualify for the National Semifinals. The Hurricanes return as many as 19 players in the starting lineup and looked poised to build on their offensive success under second-year offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. The defense struggled mightily down the stretch in 2020, and although they bring back a bunch of key guys, the absence of both defensive ends may be why they fall short in the Coastal division. The Tide once again lost many players to the NFL Draft, but obviously, they don’t rebuild. They reload and should be very good to a great team. Alabama may have some shortcomings at the wide receiver compared to the stellar core of players they produced in the last few years. Also, Bama will have to break in a new quarterback in recently named starter Byrce Young. Let’s hope this is still a ball game deep into the 2nd half.
#3 Clemson vs. #5 Georgia: Right out of the gates, this SEC vs. ACC matchup has so much meaning on the national scene and will likely go a long way in the final Playoff rankings. Georgia returns they’re QB JT Daniels and host of offensive experience and top-end talent. That being said, it really doesn’t matter that Clemson has a new starter under center because we got a taste of what Tigers QB D.J. Uiagalelei in two games as a starter. The Bulldogs defense lost a fair amount of starters but do return a decent group of young players that contributed and will now be depended on to step up in larger roles. The Clemson defense, especially the D-line, is looking awfully scary on paper, and this will be a good test to see if it rivals their elite D-line from 3 years ago. Under the bright lights, it isn’t easy to know how each team will respond in the opening weekend. However, Clemson will find a way to close this one out in the last chunk minutes or so.
Under The Radar
#12 Wisconsin vs. #19 Penn State: The Badgers had a stop and start type year due to Covid-19 and never did defeat a ranked team. The Nittany Lions lost 5 games in a row to start, the first two in respectable fashion to Ohio State and Indiana. They did, however, close the season with 4 straight victories and look to carry some momentum heading into this key Big Ten matchup in Week 1. Wisconsin youngsters in QB Graham Mertz and RB Jalen Berger should have plenty of success behind a normally solid O-Line. Penn State was young and dumb in 2020 but should bounce back with at least 9 wins in 2021. The Nittany Lions defense will have to make strides as they did late in the season to slow down the rushing attack from Bucky. However, the Badgers, per usual, should be dominant on defense and will make enough plays when it counts to will them to a hard-earned victory. At Wisconsin is the main reason to side with Bucky for what should be a razor-close outcome.
#23 Louisiana Ragin Cajuns will knock off the 8-point favorites in #21 Texas.
#17 Indiana vs. #18 Iowa: The Hoosiers are known for basketball, but now Head Coach Tom Allen and Indiana want to prove last year’s breakout season wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Iowa is always tough at homemaking for the perfect ingredients for a barnburner.
Boise State vs. UCF: Week 1 gives us hardcore fans something to sink our teeth in, with the winner getting an early boost for the non-power 5 groups.
San Jose State will probably lose to #15 USC but find a way to sneak under the 14-points.
(Honorable Mention: If the Ragin Cajuns don’t pull the upset, there’s a good chance they lose by less than 8-points)
Alabama will beat Miami so take it to the window.
Also, North Carolina will cover as a 5.5-point favorite on the road versus Virginia Tech.
-Illinois’s victory over Nebraska is the first time since the 1923-24 season the Fighting Illini have won back-to-back games over the Cornhuskers.
-Nebraska’s 375-game sellout streak may be in jeopardy of coming to an end as the Cornhuskers face Fordham. The streak dates back to 1962.
-Heisman Preseason List: QB Spencer Rattler Oklahoma, QB D.J. Uiagalelei Clemson, QB Sam Howell North Carolina, QB Bryce Young Alabama, RB Breece Hall Iowa State among several studs across the country.
-Clemson has won 6 straight ACC titles and looks to make it a 7th in 2021.
-Ohio State has won 4 consecutive Big Ten Titles; will they win yet again?
-Can Iowa State take the next giant step and win the Big-12 outright this year?
-RIP to the legendary Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden.
-In the 2020 Covid-19 season, we didn’t get the regular non-conference matchups, so it’s nice to be back to normal, relatively speaking. I cannot wait to hear the live crowds, a more intense vibe at the College level.
Written by Chris Carlson, Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio and TheGruelingTruth.Net
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