We are officially less than 50 days from the first college football game of the 2021 season. It is never too early to get excited about the best games in college football. Today we are going to go week by week and pick the game I am most excited for. This does not mean it will necessarily be the best game of the week.
Week 1: Georgia vs Clemson – This is an easy one. There is a chance this could be one of the top five games of the entire season. We get a week one match up between two of the most talented teams in the country. Clemson is rebuilding their offense but return all 11 starters on defense. Georgia is returning star QB J.T. Daniels who should have a shot at the Heisman this fall. The game is played in Charlotte (Should be on campus but that is a rant for a different day). It is our first prime time ABC game of the year.
Honorable Mention: Penn State @ Wisconsin, Miami FL vs Alabama, North Carolina @ Virginia Tech
Week 2 : Oregon @ Ohio State – This is another game that has potential to be one of the top five games of the season. Rarely do we see national contenders schedule home and homes with each other. Ohio State was supposed to travel to Eugene last year but that was cancelled. Oregon is expected to have one of the best pass rushers this year in Kayvon Thibodeaux. Ohio State returns a large portion of their team but will breaking in a new quarterback. Can the Ducks spoil the start to Ohio State’s season?
Honorable Mention: Iowa @ Iowa State, Utah @ BYU, Washington @ Michigan
Week 3: Auburn @ Penn State – How often do we see an SEC team travel north to play a Big Ten team? The answer is almost never. The last one I remember is LSU playing Wisconsin at Lambeau Field a few years ago. Auburn and Penn State are both schools that desperately need to win this game for a number of reasons. Bo Nix will most likely be entering the infamous White Out at Penn State and be looking to come out with a win. There are questions if Sean Clifford can lead Penn State. Overall, this should be an exciting game for everyone.
Honorable Mention: Minnesota @ Colorado, Nebraska @ Oklahoma, Cincinnati @ Indiana, Mississippi State @ Memphis
Week 4: Notre Dame vs Wisconsin (@ Soldier Field) – Wisconsin and Notre Dame are both teams with uncertain expectations entering the 2021 season. Wisconsin had an up and down season which was severely impacted by Covid-19. Graham Mertz is the quarterback of the future but struggled against good defenses. Notre Dame is replacing Ian Book with former Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan. Brian Kelley’s Fighting Irish are expected to have an above average defense once again with Marcus Freeman taking over as defensive coordinator.
Honorable Mention: Iowa State @ Baylor, Nebraska @ Michigan State, Clemson @ NC State, Louisville @ Florida State
Week 5: Ole Miss @ Alabama – Nick Saban is still undefeated against his former assistants. Lane Kiffin will have another try at that perfect record. Ole Miss gave Alabama a fight last year scoring 48 against the Crimson Tide defense. Matt Corral returns to quarterback Ole Miss after a largely successful 2020 meanwhile Alabama is expected to start Bryce Young. Kiffin has been known to run highly productive offenses who do not have trouble scoring points. Will Kiffin be able to score enough points to fend off the Crimson Tide?
Honorable Mention: Auburn @ LSU, Boston College @ Clemson, Indiana @ Penn State, Oklahoma @ Kansas State, Cincinnati @ Notre Dame
Week 6: Oklahoma @ Texas – When I look at Texas, I have no idea what to expect out of them this season. Steve Sarkisian ran one of the most productive offenses in college football history but he also had one of the most talented rosters in college football history as well. He does have one of the best running backs in the country in Bijan Robinson who should be the cowbell back for him this fall. On the other side, Lincoln Riley returns most of his production from 2020 including Heisman front runner Spencer Rattler. Oklahoma will finish in the top five in scoring offense in 2021. It is July and I am ready to be the over in this game.
Honorable Mention: Georgia @ Auburn, Florida State @ North Carolina, Alabama @ Texas A&M, Penn State @ Iowa
Week 7: Miami (FL) @ North Carolina – I largely expect this game to determine the winner of the ACC Coastal division. Miami lost their two best edge rushers and will be looking to replace production on the defensive line. North Carolina lost their two two wide receivers and top two running backs meaning they will be looking for play makers. North Carolina has also been an Achilles heel for Miami since joining the ACC. Miami will be looking for redemption after the beat down they suffered in 2020.
Honorable Mention: Florida @ LSU, TCU @ Oklahoma, Arizona State @ Utah
Week 8: USC @ Notre Dame – This will be one of the only opportunities USC will have to play on a national stage and they will be looking to capitalize. Kedon Slovis will have plenty of weapons at wide receiver including Bru McCoy, Drake London, Gary Bryant Jr, and Jake Smith. Keaontay Ingram also transferred from Texas and is expected to be one of the lead running backs. Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton will play a major role in the secondary to help contain the USC offense.
Honorable Mention: Oregon @ UCLA, Ohio State @ Indiana, Clemson @ Pitt, Memphis @ UCF
Week 9: Penn State @ Ohio State – The Nittany Lions will return to Columbus on Halloween weekend where they have had limited success over the past decade. Both Ohio State and Penn State will have been battle tested and should be fully aware of their strengths and their flaws. Will Sean Clifford find consistency to get the ball to his play makers like Jahan Dotson? Has Ohio State found their quarterback and is he comfortable in the pocket? Ohio State returns their top two receivers and both tackles on the offensive line.
Honorable Mention: TCU @ Kansas State, Georgia vs Florida, North Carolina @ Notre Dame, SMU @ Houston
Week 10: Texas @ Iowa State – Iowa State is coming into the 2021 season with high expectations for one of the first time in the program’s history. There is a substantial chance the Cyclones come into this game undefeated or with one loss. While Texas may be rebuilding, they should be a formidable opponent for Iowa State and potentially put the Cyclones on upset alert. Brock Purdy and Breece Hall are looking to lead Iowa State to their first Big 12 title in the program’s history but Bijan Robinson and Texas will be looking to challenge the Big 12 themselves.
Honorable Mention: LSU @ Alabama, Georgia Tech @ Miami (FL), SMU @ Memphis, Oregon @ Washington, Boise State @ Fresno State
Week 11: Arkansas @ LSU – This one may come as a surprise to some readers but I think this game has a chance to be the best game of the weekend. Sam Pittman proved he was able to start pointing Arkansas in the right direction last season. Arkansas returns 17 starters from last season but will be breaking in a new quarterback. LSU had a disastrous 2020 campaign following their National Championship. The Tigers started three different quarterbacks and had numerous players opt out. Ed Orgeron will be looking for a bounce back season after replacing his offensive and defensive coordinator.
Honorable Mention: Mississippi State @ Auburn, Minnesota @ Iowa, TCU @ Oklahoma State, UCF @ SMU
Week 12: Iowa State @ Oklahoma – The match up between the Cyclones and Sooners is expected to be replayed in the Big 12 title game a few weeks later. Matt Campbell and the Iowa State Cyclones have shown the ability to beat Lincoln Riley and the Sooners. This could be Lincoln Riley’s best defense since taking over for Bob Stoops a few years ago. Iowa State has play makers on offense but they have not been known as a high powered offense. Will they be able to score enough points to keep pace with the Sooners?
Honorable Mention: Florida State @ Boston College, SMU @ Cincinnati, Louisiana @ Liberty, Michigan @ Maryland
Week 13: Ohio State @ Michigan – I will go out on a limb and say this is likely to be Jim Harbaugh’s last chance to beat Ohio State if he loses the game. How much longer will the alumni and fan base be content with Michigan getting stomped by their biggest rival? He has lost the game by an average margin of 18 points. Only one game has been decided by single digits. Harbaugh’s buyout this season is only $2 Million. The clock is ticking and the time to win is now. If Harbaugh loses to Ohio State again, it would make his record 0-6 vs Ohio State which I believe would result in the end of his tenure.
Honorable Mention: Alabama @ Auburn, Wisconsin @ Minnesota, Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State, Kansas State @ Texas, BYU @ USC