The 2021 NCAA football season is officially underway now that a few early matchups have marked the return of one of the best times in the sporting calendar. However, there are plenty of intriguing and entertaining matchups on the way this week, in what is the real “meat” of week one.
This season will look more like the ones of the past as fans return to stadiums, teams minimize cancellations, and the quality of play increases. Of course, this will also be the first year under the new playoff ruleset, which will extend the opportunity of competing to 12 programs.
With all of that in mind, here are the top storylines to watch for in the first week of college football so you can get all set to bet against the NCAAF odds.
Expert Predictions for College Football Week 1
#12 Wisconsin Becomes the First Ranked Team to Lose
Yes, the #12 Wisconsin Badgers are taking on the #19 Penn State Nittany Lions, but they will be the first ranked team to fall. Penn State has generated a ton of momentum on the recruiting and transfer front and should carry that into their first matchup, even as the underdog.
Wisconsin finished top-10 two years ago but was unranked last season and will be starting an unproven quarterback in Graham Mertz, who only averaged 177 yards passing and just over a touchdown per game last season.
C.J. Stroud Leaps into the Heisman Race
C.J. Stroud has been handed the reins as Ohio State’s starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman and in spite of never throwing a competitive pass at the collegiate level— however, that will not stop him from torturing Minnesota’s defense.
The second-ranked pro-style QB in the class of 2020 has been a late riser in the Heisman odds but should vault into clear contention with a breakout performance against a defense that allowed over 30 points per game last season, including 49 against the only ranked team it played (#18 Michigan).
#1 Alabama Demolishes #14 Miami
Alabama is still Alabama, and the return of D’Eriq King will not change the Hurricanes’ fortune. The game will be free-flowing and open, but the overwhelming talent of the Crimson Tide will be able to subdue Miami, even in its home stadium.
Also, do not forget that Alabama has one of the most highly-touted QB prospects ever in Bryce Young making his debut in this game; pro-Miami bettors will have to hope that his inexperience on the big stage will slow down Bama’s offense, but even if it does, their defense is strong enough to bail them out.
#5 Georgia Gets Exposed by #3 Clemson
The post-Trevor Lawrence era is firmly upon Clemson, who will be starting D.J. Uiagalelei under center. Georgia QB, JT Daniels, has had his name thrown around in the preseason Heisman nominations, but he does not have an amazing body of work behind him.
Georgia has gotten so much hype that many are wondering if they can compete with Alabama for the Southeastern Conference title— the simple answer is that no, they will not, and they will drop their opener to a Clemson team that is flying slightly under the radar now that Lawrence has departed. Watch for Clemson to win by double-digits as they beat the spread and show that they are the same powerhouse that they have been in recent years.
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