With a feast of College Football on our screens this week, lets dive straight into part 2 of our TV preview:
Michigan State @ Northwestern – Ryan Field, Evanson, Illinois
Friday 3rd Sept – 2am (UK)
Northwestern 3 point favourites at the time of writing
Northwestern takes the field looking to build upon their impressive 2020 campaign, kicking off by welcoming Michigan State to Ryan Field. Northwestern has lost some talent to the NFL over the off season – Rashawn Slater (although the left tackle didn’t play in 2020), Greg Newsome and Earnest Brown were drafted, alongside 6 players who went to the NFL as UDFAs, including linebacker and tackling machine, Paddy Fisher.
There are still some really talented players on this squad, none more so than Redshirt Sophomore Safety Brandon Joseph. Joseph had six interceptions in 2020, which has put him firmly in the crosshairs of draft scouts for the coming year, some of which were absolutely unreal – See below – Although to counterbalance this, surely this means that QBs will shy away from throwing in his direction.
If Joseph can put together another season like 2020, then he’ll surely enter the NFL Draft and he’ll be a good bet to be the first safety off the board.
As for Michigan State, well, they’ll be hoping to improve upon a pretty miserable 2-5 season. A couple of transfers could spell an upturn in fortunes for the Spartans – Anthony Russo has come in from Temple to run the offense, and running back Kenneth Walker III will be the starter in the backfield after arriving from Wake Forest – These two won’t set pulses racing too hard but this is Michigan State that we’re talking about.
Something to watch out for from a Michigan State point of view – Tight end Tyler Hunt used to be the MSU punter!
Oklahoma @ Tulane – Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Saturday 4th Sept – 5pm (UK)
Oklahoma 31 point favourites at the time of writing
31 point favourites kind of says it all here, doesn’t it?
This is a little bit of a cupcake for a team in Oklahoma who could very well be walking away with the National Championship at the end of this season. Rattler, Jadon Hazelwood, Marvin Mims, Eric Gray and a pretty handy offensive line… Not many top end college football teams would be able to hang with that offense, nevermind Tulane. Sorry Green Wave fans.
The news doesn’t get any better on defense either for Tulane fans because Alex Grinch is a superb defensive coordinator with some high end talent at his disposal; Edge Nik Bonitto, Perion Winfrey defensive tackle and safety Pat Fields being the standouts.
And to compound this rundown into a hatrick of bad news for Tulane fans… This is a really young team going against this powerhouse. 8 of the 11 starters on offense are either Freshmen or Sophomores, with another 4 on defense.
Spencer Rattler has a Heisman Trophy to win, so he’s got to be all-go, all season, which should match the ambition of Oklahoma as they strive to win the Big XII and prove that they belong in the SEC.
This could get ugly. Is 31 points too little?
Western Michigan @ Michigan – Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Saturday 4th Sept – 5pm (UK)
Michigan 17 point favourites at the time of writing
Despite the fact that Jim Harbaugh is seemingly on the hot seat as Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines, the sensible conclusion would be that he isn’t losing too much sleep about this matchup with the Western Michigan Broncos.
The game will be the perfect opportunity to ease an experienced Wolverines lineup into the new season in front of their loyal home support. Cade McNamara gets the start at QB, but we could see highly touted freshman, J.J McCarthy, if the home team can run the score up quickly. Ronnie Bell (WR), Aidan Hutchinson (DE) and Brad Hawkins (S) are amongst the other big-name draws on the Michigan roster.
Western Michigan under the stewardship of Tim Lester are not a bad football team, with players like Brett Borske (TE) and AJ Thomas (S) possessing a lot of quality and experience. But you’d be hard pressed to back anything other than an easy Wolverines win in this one.
Alabama vs Miami – Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday 4th September – 8.30pm (UK)
Alabama 19.5 point favourites at the time of writing
The prime time game for us in the UK shouldn’t be disappointing this week, as a new look Alabama take on one of the most experienced Quarterbacks in the whole of CFB.
After winning the National Championship last year, the Crimson Tide lost a hell of a lot of talent to the NFL draft, including their starting QB, RB and their two best pass catchers. The thing is, ‘Bama are such a titan of the CFB game that they’re still arguably the best team in the SEC.
There’ll be plenty to watch out for on both sides of the ball, from the debut of Bryce Young under center, to the impact of transfers Henry To’oTo’o and Jameson Williams. Young in particular will be fascinating to watch, as the first Crimson Tide QB to be reaping the benefits of the new name, image and likeness rules, he’s well and truly in the public eye. If he lives up to his five star billing then he may not leave it for the next 20 years.
As well as a host of new players, Alabama returns a scary amount of established stars, particularly in the trenches where Evan Neal and Phidarian Mathis will be intimidating matchups for whoever is opposite them each year.
The first team to try and stop the juggernaut is the Miami Hurricanes. The ‘Canes are a dangerous team in their own right, with veteran QB D’Eriq King calling the shots. King enters his sixth season at the collegiate level with hopes of entering the NFL following the season. A good performance against the Tide in game one could really set tongues wagging in draft circles.
Miami has a lot of versatile weapons surrounding King, Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley are both capable of creating separation against any defensive back, and Cam’Ron Harris is an experienced threat in the run game. Tight End, Will Mallory, might be the most interesting watch on Saturday night, as he looks to take the next step following the departure of Brevin Jordan – Mallory is exceptionally talented and has every chance to put up a high TD number this year.
The point spread for this one has Alabama as the favourite by nearly three TDs, if everything clicks and the new stars can hold their own then this seems fair. However, Miami have got a chance in this game, if they can establish the run and free up room for King to use his legs then they could get the season underway with a bang.
Texas Tech vs. Houston – NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Sunday 5th Sept – 12am (UK)
Texas Tech 3 point favourites at the time of writing
In a few years time this could be a Big XII clash, with the announcement on Thursday that the Big XII could be looking to add four teams; Cincinnati, BYU, UCF and Houston.
To me, this is the best Red Raiders team we’ve seen since the days of Mike Leach, and yeah, I am saying this team is better than the team that Patrick Mahomes was on. Tyler Shough, SaRoderick Thompson, Erik Ezukanma is a nice threesome on offense. Plus, Texas Tech has used the transfer portal to their advantage on defense to build an experienced defense – our particular ‘ones to watch’ are linebacker Colin Schooler and safety Marquis Waters.
Georgia vs Clemson – Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Sunday 5th Sept – 12.30am (UK)
Clemson 3 point favourite at the time of writing
The real barnstormer of the weekend, the Clemson Tigers face off against the Georgia Bulldogs in Carolina. This is the prime time game for our friends in the US and it isn’t hard to see why.
JT Daniels will finally get the chance to start a season as the Bulldogs QB, with a lot of people tipping him to be an early round draft pick in 2022. He’ll be reliant on his strong arm and awareness in the pocket to beat an incredibly strong Clemson defense.
Following an injury to George Pickens, a lot of people have written off the Georgia receiving core. That is a massive mistake and the likes of Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint are all set to break out with Daniels slinging the rock.
But this game will likely be won on defense. Georgia can call on a lot of highly rated talent to shut down the young Clemson offense, with Jordan Davis (DT), Adam Anderson (LB) and Christopher Smith (S) all good enough to start on any CFB team. However, the biggest storyline of the weekend will be how former Clemson CB, Derion Kendrick, can handle the returning Justyn Ross – you’d imagine there will have been a lot of back and forth throughout the summer between Kendrick and his former teammates, and we could see that spill onto the field.
If Clemson can win this game, then there aren’t any real challenges in their remaining 11 games. The return of Ross at receiver will be exciting to watch, but Tigers fans are surely incredibly hyped at the prospect of DJ Uiagalelei taking over from Trevor Lawrence under center. The sophomore star looked right at home when he took over for several games last year, and there’s every chance DJ U could propel his team to a Natty this year.
Andrew Booth (CB) and Tyler Davis (DT) are the standout stars for the Tigers on defense, but in reality this is one of, if not the, best defense in CFB this season. Daniels will have his work cut out if he’s to put up a lot of yards on the night, and that could be the all important difference.
BYU vs. Arizona – Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday 5th Sept – 3.30am (UK)
BYU 12.5 point favourites at the time of writing
BYU opens as pretty heavy favourites here and with good reason. The Cougars will be looking to build upon their 11-win season last year and also be looking to warm up for the Holy War game against Utah in week two.
On the other hand, Arizona look like they could be the whipping boys of what looks to be a strong Pac-12 South, and be one of the lesser teams in the Pac-12 overall – I actually think there’s a strong chance that Arizona wins just one or two games this season.
Obviously there’s no Zach Wilson, (and a bunch of other guys who got drafted) for BYU this season but a name to watch out for is running back Tyler Allgeier – He was really, really productive last season, accumulating over 1,000 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. With Wilson in the NFL, as well as Brady Christiansen and Dax Milne from the offense, more of the responsibility will fall on the running back to make things happen for BYU.
Jackson State vs. Florida A&M – Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
Sunday 5th Sept – 8pm (UK)
Florida A&M 7.5 point favourites at the time of writing
You might have heard a heck of a lot about Jackson State considering that Deion Sanders is their Head Coach and they have been on a recruiting tear, including signing four four-star prospects.
One of those four-star recruits is the HC’s Son, Shedeur Sanders, the other who has signed a letter of intent is cornerback De’Jahn Warren. Both of whom had offers to go to Power-5 schools.
This team will certainly be Prime Time throughout the college football season however, 7.5 point favourite Florida A&M isn’t here just to make up the numbers.
Notre Dame vs Florida State – Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
Monday 6th Sept – 12.30am (UK)
Notre Dame 7.5 favourites at the time of writing
Ten years ago, this would have been played in the same TV slot as Clemson – Georgia is this weekend. However, Florida State has been in a slump in recent years, meaning this game won’t get the hype it once would have.
The Noles will pay tribute to the greatest coach of his generation, Bobby Bowden, during Sunday night’s matchup and Mike Norvell’s men will be hoping that they can do justice to Bowden’s memory.
Jordan Travis looks set to get the start at QB, despite the arrival of former UCF hero Mckenzie Milton. He’ll have a job on his hands to breakdown a resolute Fighting Irish defense, especially given his dubious performance as a passer in 2020. However, the noises out of Tallahassee this offseason have all been positive, so maybe we’re in for a new FSU?
On the other side of the field, Notre Dame are set to begin a new era without Ian Book. Former Wisconsin starter, Jack Coan, gets the nod to start the season, but Fighting Irish fans are quietly waiting for freshman Tyler Buchner to get his first snaps.
With the likes of Kyle Hamilton (S), Kyren Williams (RB) and Michael Mayer (TE) scattered across this Fighting Irish team, they’re probably slightly too strong for FSU at this point in time. But, if the Noles get off to a good start and give Travis some time in the pocket, this game could be a real banana skin for a new-look Notre Dame team so early in the season.
Louisville vs. Ole Miss – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Tuesday 7th Sept – 1am (UK)
Ole Miss 10 point favourites at the time of writing
The Mississippi Rebels are a team who are on the lips of many fans at the moment; Lane Kiffin, QB Matt Corral and dual-sport athlete Jerrion Ealy are all headliners for the offense
Corral is a lot of fan’s Joe Burrow candidate for the 2021 season – I know amongst our staff, we give Corral some mixed reviews but the proof will very much be in the pudding once the action gets underway, starting with a game I’d describe as awkward. Louisville is a decent enough team who have some good players but a middle of the road SEC team should be beating a middle of road ACC team, shouldn’t they?
Both teams will have aspirations of being more than middle of the road in their respective conferences but they will be contending with some heavyweights and teams on the up – Louisville shares a division with Clemson and also Boston College, who we are high on this year, and for Ole Miss has Alabama and Texas A&M to tango with in the SEC West.
With this in mind, maybe there won’t be too much on the season for either of these teams… I hope they both just go out there and put some points up. I can see this one being a super high-scoring affair with highlights aplenty, well worth rounding off your weekend with this one in the early hours of Monday morning.
Lastly, we can’t leave this preview without pledging our allegiance to Malik Cunningham again for another season! The Redshirt Junior QB is someone we have rooted for on the podcast before and no doubt we’ll be doing the same again this year. The talent is there but he needs to look after the football better in 2021 – If it does turn out to be a shootout, I’m sure we’ll be giving Cunningham his dues when we record next week.
By Lee Wakefield – @Wakefield90
& Andy Moore – @ajmoore21