Moller: Biggest games of 2021 college football season
Nate Moller | Monday, May 10, 2021
Summer is almost here, which means we are one step closer to fall and college football. With that being said, let’s look at the top games of 2021. As far as criteria for the games, I will consider playoff implications, rivalries and location of the game as the main parameters.
1. Clemson vs. Georgia: This one has to be first. This week-one showdown will feature two traditional college football powerhouses and will hold huge playoff implications, especially for the Tigers who have been criticized before for their lack of competition in the ACC. The winner of this one should have room to afford at least one loss going forward, but the loser will have no room for errors down the stretch. This will be a true test of D.J. Uiagalelei, who was fantastic in last year’s game against Notre Dame.
2. Oregon vs. Ohio State: This is another huge non-conference game for both teams. This seems to be a must-win for Oregon if they want to make the playoffs due to the lack of serious competition in the PAC-12. For Ohio State, a loss would likely force the Buckeyes to run the table and win the Big Ten without any blemishes going forward.
3. Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin: This game has been hyped up for a while, and the matchup at Soldier Field should not disappoint. Pretty much every game is a must-win for the Irish, but this game is huge for the Badgers as well as it could allow them to lose a game in the Big Ten and still make the playoffs should they win. This game could also make headlines if former Wisconsin starter Jack Coan is starting for the Irish.
4. Alabama vs. Texas A&M: This could be the biggest conference game of the year, and it will be interesting to see if the Jimbo Fisher-led Aggies can finally break through and secure a signature victory. While the Aggies had a great year last year, they have yet to truly prove themselves in the biggest of games, but this could be the perfect chance to do that as this game will be played in College Station.
5. Miami vs. Alabama: While I fully expect the Crimson Tide to roll in this one, they will have to be on top of their game to beat a Canes team that is led by the explosive D’Eriq King. It will also be exciting to see Bryce Young’s debut with Alabama and see how well he plays in a huge game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
6. Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: The game this year was entertaining, but it was evident that the Tar Heels still were not quite ready to compete with the Irish. This year might be the year for the Tar Heels, though, with Sam Howell returning and the Irish offense holding a lot of question marks. This one will be a night game at Notre Dame Stadium and will hold huge playoff implications for the ACC and Notre Dame going forward.
7. Oklahoma vs. Texas: The Red River Rivalry is always a great rivalry game, but this year could hold special significance as the Sooners are looking like serious national title contenders with quarterback Spencer Rattler leading the way. The Longhorns have been down for a while, but new head coach Steve Sarkisian will look to turn the program in the right direction and be competitive against an all-around talented Oklahoma team.
8. Notre Dame vs. USC: In addition to the Oregon-Ohio State game, this is another must-win non-conference game for the PAC-12. Especially if USC is looking to be relevant on the national stage again, they will have to beat the Irish for the first time since 2016. This rivalry game will be played as a night game at Notre Dame Stadium, making the stage even larger.