College football is back this week. With Week 1 kicking off on Wednesday night – before the top-ranked sides join up on Thursday – we take a look at some of the best fixtures the first week of action has to offer.
No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson in Charlotte
7:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC)
Week 1’s top game will be hosted in Queen City as Charlotte will accommodate the clash between Clemson and Georgia on Saturday night. The game is significant in that it will have an influence on the College Football Playoffs. The NCAAF odds have the Tigers at +450 to beat the +600 Bulldogs and the teams boast two of the greatest odds to win the national championship. Unfortunately, one of these teams will lose and no team with two losses has ever been invited to the CFP.
The Tigers put the third-best scoring offense college football had to offer on display prior to losing their starting quarterback, running back, and two high-profile wideouts to the NFL with an average of 40.3 points per game. D.J. Uiagalelei will have some big shoes to fill, with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne having moved up the pros. Uiagalelei made a pair of starts last season and was responsible for a second-half comeback against Boston College, also throwing 400 yards in a loss at Notre Dame. The sophomore is 11/1 to win the Heisman Trophy in 2021/22.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have lost a number of top contributors but are still quite dangerous and have a Heisman Trophy hopeful in their ranks too. Georgia was a formidable side with JT Daniels; the transfer went 4-0 as starting QB and fashioned a fourth-quarter comeback to win the Peach Bowl.
The college averaged 382.8 yards per game with 12 turnovers in its first six outings but went up to 486 yards a game and down to three turnovers in the last month of the campaign. Daniels is currently +1200 to win the Heisman Trophy.
Neither team was all that great against the spread last season as Clemson went 5-6 while Georgia went 4-5.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami (Fla.) in Atlanta
3:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC)
The Crimson Tide has developed a winning mentality and has been dominating for several years now. The college ended last season at 13-0 and won a 16th national championship. Alabama head into the campaign as betting favorites to record a similar feat next in 2021. They will kick off the term against Miami at a neutral venue in Atlanta on Saturday.
The program is projected to win 11.5 games this season, though they’ve seen 10 players head to the NFL via this year’s draft, with six getting selected in the first round. The projections seem a bit high given that most of the players will be making their first start at college level this year, but they did go 8-3 ATS last season and beat teams by an average of 20.8 points.
Alabama saw out its last season-opening fixtures against a ranked team in 2017, beating the No.3-ranked Florida State in Atlanta and took home a national championship four months later, having played in the same building.
The Hurricanes, on the other hand, went 8-1 in 2020 and were in line for a New Year’s Six bowl before losing in the last ACC contest, however, they went 1-3 against ranked sides. There was little reprieve for the program as QB D’Eriq King tore his ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl loss. The player has recovered and is raring to go in Week 1 – he will hope to improve on the 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions he recorded last season. King is +2500 for the Heisman, led by seven other players where it pertains to betting odds.
No. 4 Ohio State at Minnesota
8 p.m. Thursday (FOX)
Ohio State is the first team from the 2020 College Football Playoff fans will get to see play this season. The Buckeyes will have a different roster, also having lost 10 players to the NFL Draft this year – that includes Justin Fields.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud will make his first career start in this match, despite never making a pass attempt in college. The program has faith in him, as do the bookies, who have Ohio State at +600 to win the national championship, while the team’s wide receivers are looking forward to playing with the former Rancho star. All three of the college’s top targets have returned while running back Master Teague III is also back.
Minnesota hasn’t beaten Ohio State in 21 years. While nothing might change in that regard, the spread could be attractive for bettors. The Golden Gophers went 11-0 just two years ago and have brought back QB Tanner Morgan and RB Mohamed Ibrahim. They went 3-4 in 2020 but finished in the top 50 in rushing yards per game and have been top five in time of possession in the past two campaigns.