Welcome to week one of College Football! We got a nice appetiser last week with week zero, but it’s great to have a full lineup of games this week to really get the season started.
We have some exciting matchups, new players to watch, new teams on the rise, coaches on the hot seat. You name it and this week has it all!
Here is your Week One College Football 2021 preview.
Week One College Football Top Matchups
Penn State at Wisconsin
- Game Info: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (Fox)
- Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Penn State 24
This should be an intriguing matchup with a Big Ten conference game right out of the gate. There are a lot of expectations for both teams this year and whoever loses this game will have their backs against the wall.
When comparing the two, I think the difference will be at quarterback as I am still hesitant to trust Sean Clifford, while I think Graham Mertz will be good.
It should be a close 4th quarter game that Wisconsin ends up winning.
Alabama at Miami (FL)
- Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
- Prediction: Alabama 48, Miami 14
Alabama starts it’s road to a repeat with a game with Miami and D’Eriq King. Will this be another reload and repeat type of year for Alabama or will there be too many changes to overcome? Alabama lost 10 players to the draft last year, including six in the first round. On top of that they lost their offensive coordinator to the Texas head coaching job. Even with those loses they are favored by over 18 points in this contest.
Miami started out strong last year, going 8-1 before getting blown out in their finale. It then went from bad to worse when quarterback D’Eriq King tore his ACL in their bowl game loss. It does appear that King is back healthy and ready to go for week 1. But the question may be will it matter if he is healthy? They were 1-3 against ranked teams in 2020 with those losses being by an average of 21.3 points.
My guess is that Alabama will be ready to go, especially on defense and this will not be a close contest.
Clemson at Georgia
- Game Info: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
- Prediction: Georgia 31, Clemson 28
This is the highlight game of week 1. It’s two expected playoff teams going at it. For Clemson, it will be the hardest game of the year, if they can get it through it, then they are probably looking at an undefeated season. For, Georgia, I think they have to win this game or their back will be against the wall all season.
The Tigers are looking to reload after Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne went to the NFL. But they should be in good shape with D.J. Uiagalelei taking the reigns of quarterback. He really showed up in the two games he started last year, coming back against Boston College, and throwing for over 400 years in the double-overtime loss at Notre Dame.
As for Georgia, this may be the year where everything comes together for them. They will be lead by JT Daniels. The Bulldogs averaged 486 yards per game after Daniels took over last year. As always, the Bulldogs recruit better than anyone, with that talent led by a capable quarterback, this could be the year that Georgia finally wins it all. I’m thinking this starts with a big win versus Clemson.
LSU at UCLA
- Game Info: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
- Prediction: LSU 42, UCLA 31
When I first saw this game listed I instantly thought this would easily be a LSU win. But after watching UCLA last week and seeing their offensive finally come along, it did give me some pause when picking this matchup.
The unknowns here: Will LSU be back to being LSU this year or will their downslide continue? Is the explosion last week from UCLA real or is because of their opponent in Hawaii?
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see UCLA pull the upset on the Tigers. Especially when you think back to the bad defense that LSU played last year.
But I think I saw enough from Max Johnson last year to think that the LSU offense should be really good again and I think the defense can’t be as bad, can it?
Notre Dame at Florida State
- Game Info: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
- Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Florida State 17
A lot of questions for both teams coming into this contest.
- Is Jack Coan the answer at QB for Notre Dame? Is he better or worse than Ian Book?
- How will Notre Dame’s defense be under Marcus Freeman?
- Will Florida State be impacted by their various transfers this year?
- Are the Florida State’s Oline and DLine’s improved this year?
Depending on the answers to the questions, this game could be a blow out or a close one. In my opinion, this will be another year of Notre Dame taking a playoff run. I predict Notre Dame running away with this one.
Other Week One College Football Contests
Ohio State at Minnesota
- Game Info: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET (Fox)
- Prediction: Ohio State 42, Minnesota 28
Ohio State opens the CJ Stroud era at Minnesota. If he is as good as advertised, this should be a great season for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are 6-1 as a road favorite under Ryan Day the last two seasons. I think they keep that going with a win here. I do think the Gophers hang around for a half with Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim, but by the second half, CJ Stroud will settle in and the Buckeyes pull away.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech
- Game Info: Friday, 6:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Prediction: North Carolina 34, Virginia Tech 28
This should be a fun opener for a Friday night. In the last two meetings, the teams have combined to score 185 points. Which tells me that these have been great offensive teams in the past but maybe not so great on defense. Another note, Virginia Tech has won the last two in Blacksburg, including a 43-141 thriller in 2019. For this game I do think that Sam Howell leaders the Tar Heels out of Blacksburg with a tough fought victory.
Oklahoma at Tulane
- Game Info: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
- Prediction: Oklahoma 55, Tulane 17
Oklahoma is expected to have the nation’s best offense , and Spender Rattler should be able to get the ball out to those dynamic skill players. But Tulane could be a little tricky as they have a pretty competitive in the last couple of years and do well as the underdog under coach Willie Fritz. But I think after the first half that Oklahoma should pull away and win this one big.
Fresno State at Oregon
- Game Info: Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET (PAC-12 Network)
- Prediction: Oregon 38, Fresno State 32
I think this will be closer than most are thinking. Oregon may be looking ahead to their week 2 matchup against Ohio State and may not be fully focused on Fresno State. I predict Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener makes it interesting for most of the game until the Ducks pull away with their superior talent on both sides.
Miami (OH) at Cincinnati
- Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN-Plus)
- Prediction: Cincinnati 34, Fresno State 17
Cincinnati is the better team, and quarterback Desmond Riddler should lead Cincy to it’s 14 straight in this rivalry matchup. I am interested to see how the defense changes with the departure of Marcus Freeman, but I don’t expect a huge drop-off.
Louisiana at Texas
- Game Info: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
- Prediction: Texas 31, Louisiana 28
I expect a close game here in Steve Sarkisian’s debut. Louisiana is a veteran team on both sides, and the Ragin’ Cajuns did upset Iowa State last season. But I think what makes the difference in this game is Bijan Robinson who should break out with a huge performance in the opener.
San Jose at USC
- Game Info: Saturday, 5:00 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
- Prediction: USC 41, San Jose State 34
I know a lot of people are jumping on the USC bandwagon this year but I still expect some issues for them. For instance, I think this game will be a close one. The Trojans are 4-0 all time against the Spartans, but San Jose State has a game under their belt in which they look good. Sometimes that one game can make a difference. With Nick Starkel leading the way I think they may come down to who scores last. In this case, I’m thinking USC wins on a final touchdown drive late in the game.
FAU at Florida
- Game Info: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
- Prediction: Florida 28, FAU 14
The Gators have a lot of turnover this year and are now led by a new cast of playmakers and Emory Jones at quarterback. But they should still have a pretty good defense which will make scoring difficult for the Owls. I think Florida will win an ugly one here.
Kent State at Texas A&M
- Game Info: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
- Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Kent State 9
After the great season last year, what can we expect from the Aggies this year? I imagine they are hungry for the playoffs. I just don’t know if they can get by Alabama this season. But for this game I think they should start slow and then pour it on Kent State. They are starting a new quarterback with Haynes King, we will see how he performs.
College Football – Upset Alert
Indiana at Iowa
- Game Info: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
- Prediction: Indiana 34, Iowa 31
I think we have some opportunities for a few different upsets this week. But I will go with Indiana to beat Iowa this week. I am really high on the Hoosiers this year as I think they will be one of the top contenders to go against Ohio State in the Big Ten. I think it all depends on the health of Michael Penix Jr. My only concern with this pick is its at Iowa and that is a tough place to win, just ask Ohio State from a few years ago.
Should be a fun week of College Football!
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