College Football is back in it’s full and glorious beauty this weekend. Week 0 kicked off last week with teams like UCLA taking the field, but this weekend, we get it all. I’m going to take a look at the Thursday and Friday night games, and here is my pick for the one’s you should be watching in my college football week 1 preview.
First of all, it’s important to know the College Football Top 25 heading into the season. This is voted by committee each week, and based on performance & strength of schedule. There is no black and white formula to conclude the top 25.
College football saturday’s are basically a holy day in my household. In the UK, the games start at 17:00 local time, (12:00 EST), and run all the way through to 03:00 or 04:00 in the morning. You’re never short of a game to watch if you’re into college football. But that’s the problem, there’s often TOO many games to watch, and to the untrained eye college football can look like blow out after blow out, because you’re looking in the wrong places. For example, Oklahoma are ranked 2nd in the country heading into the season, but their game against Tulane in week 1 is unlikely to be very competitive. So I’d steer clear if you’re looking for games with strong competition.
Of course, those high scoring offence games against lower ranked opponents have their benefits. Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler is ranked 2nd in our College Football Top 10 QBs. If you want to watch him put on a show and throw a lot of yardage, then maybe stick that game on… but for me, I like to pick the games each week featuring teams capable of a giant killing, and of course, games between opponents who are both in the AP Top 25.
Then you’ve got divisional match ups between college footballs giants, always watch those games. Alabama Georgia, LSU Florida, Oklahoma Texas. This week we have a great one from the Big 10 division. Which we’ll come to.
So your question is, which games do I start the season watching? And here’s your answers, along with a few things to look out for. These games are in order of schedule.
UCF vs Boise State – Thursday Night 00:00 UK Time (19:00 EST)
Former Auburn Tigers coach Gus Malzahn makes his debut as the head coach of the UCF Knights, who have one of the most interesting prospects in the country this season in QB Dillon Gabriel. The accuracy of his game is receiving incredibly high praise, and we’ll see just how the Knights will look under Malzahn for the first time when they face Boise State on Thursday night. Boise have their own QB talent though in junior Hank Bachmeier, and i’m expecting this game to end up a high scoring touchdown festival to get our long weekend of action underway.
Last season UCF finished 6-4, while Boise State went 5-2 in their shortened season. Both teams will be making a push for a strong record this year, with high expectations, and one of them is going to start the year 0-1…
We also want to be give you a couple of players to look out for in each game, so you have an idea of some guys to look out for ahead of sitting down to watch these games. This will also really help when it comes to draft time, as you begin to familiarise yourself with all these guys throughout the season.
Undrafted’s UCF Talent To Watch – Cam Goode DT
Outside of Dillon Gabriel, who is going to make all of the headlines for this team this year, Cam Goode is the guy you want to keep an eye on. A destructive defensive tackle who is being pitched for a huge season for the Kinights. Malzahn had a lot of success with his defensive lines at Auburn, producing guys like Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson.
Undrafted’s Boise State Talent To Watch – Khalil Shakir WR
Wide receiver Khalil Shakir could be one of the best talents at the position in the nation this season. He averaged over 100 yards per game last season and needs a strong year ahead of the potential declaration for the 2022 draft.
UCF are 4.5 point favourites in this one, with the over/under at 69 points. It should be a score fest!
Minnesota vs Ohio State (4) – Friday Morning 01:00 UK Time (20:00 EST)
If you’re a dual screen obsessive like myself then you might also want to throw this game on at 1am on Friday morning. Ohio State is going to have to settle into life after Justin Fields, and head coach Ryan Day has since named CJ Stroud the starter. Stroud is yet to throw a pass in college football, but has a tonne of hype around him going into the season. There are of course question marks, but if he comes out and performs against an interesting Minnesota team. In Stroud’s corner is one of the most talented wide receiver rooms in all of college football this season. Chris Olave could be the best in the country, he’s electric, and Garrett Gilbert is every bit as good, then sophomore Jaxson Smith-Njigba is getting a lot of attention as a rising star too…
Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan was excellent for the Golden Gophers in 2019, but struggled to get going in 2020 amidst COVID complications. Fans are hoping for a bounce back year for Morgan, who has been through a turbulent off season, losing his father to brain cancer in July.
If Morgan can play to his 2019 standards then Minnesota could be good this year. But last year they very much struggled to throw touchdowns, The Golden Gophers have a very talented back in Mohamed Ibrahim, who was second in all of college football in yards per game last year, but they’ll need to figure out the air attack, and do so without talented receiver Rashod Bateman, now with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.
Undrafted’s Minnesota Talent To Watch – Mohamed Ibrahim RB
As already mentioned, his numbers last year were off the charts, and Ibrahim has graded extremely well in all three of his college career years so far. He has 31 touchdowns to his name in his career so far, and managed 15 last season in only 7 games. Ohio State have been very good against the run in recent years, so he will have his work cut out, and I’m looking forward to that match up.
Undrafted’s Ohio State Talent To Watch – Chris Olave WR
This one might be somewhat obvious, but he’s just so good. What i’m going to be looking at is how he connects with CJ Stroud early, because if they’re good this year, and they’re good quickly, Ohio State is a very real contender. It’ll be all eyes on the young QB and his receivers in week 1.
Ohio State go into the week as 14 point favourites, with the over/under at 64.5. I’d avoid the over, as there’s a good chance Minnesota struggle in this one, but I feel pretty comfortable about OSU against the 14 point spread. The only reason it isn’t more is because Stroud is currently unknown. That being said, if Minnesota can get the ball in the end zone, this could be an interesting game.
Virginia Tech vs North Carolina (10) – Friday Night 23:00 (18:00 EST)
The 10th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels are ranked as such largely because of talented quarterback Sam Howell. We have Howell ranked number 1 in our college football top 10 QBs before the season starts, and this year is very important for him ahead of the NFL draft. Howell has thrown 68 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his 2 years with UNC so far. He will however go into this season without Dyami Brown, who was drafted in the third round by the Washington Football Team this off season. Brown has been his top target for the past two seasons.
Howell will have to look to Emery Simmons and Khafre Brown for support this season, and I have Simmons emerging as the new number 1 in this offence. The Tar Heels also lost extremely talented and FBS record holding backfield duo Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. Ty Chandler will carry the football for the Tar Heels, a transfer from Tennessee, but freshman Caleb Hood is getting some praise too. I have concerns about the run game after losing their two stars to the NFL, and looking forward to seeing what Hood can bring to their offence.
This was a team that managed success last season based on an explosive offence, the only weapon they have left from those starters is Sam Howell. He will have to recreate that success with a whole new group, and a below average defence.
Virginia Tech on the other hand, will look to ex Oregon QB Braxton Burmeister, who came over to the Hokies for the 2020 season. He played a little last year, but only threw 2 TDs, and this year will take the reins going into the season. He’ll look to link up with an interesting group of receivers, including now sophomore Tayvion Robinson, who led the team in receiving yards last year (592), and 3 touchdowns. Tre Turner is also a talented receiver and at 6’2 should occupy the outside.
Much like the Tar Heels, the Hokies are also without their star running back of last season Khalil Herbert, who was a 6th round pick by the Chicago Bears. They turn to redshirt junior Jalen Holston, and former Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear. The run game worries me this season, as both of these guys have been around college football for a few years, and neither have made much of an impact.
Undrafted’s North Carolina Talent To Watch – Eugene Asante LB
Eugene Asante has an opportunity to command this defence in his third year at UNC. He’s not always been consistent, but flashes of talent have me excited about how he might turn out. Of course, you also need to keep a keen eye on Sam Howell and his bond with Emery Simmons and Khafre Brown!
Undrafted’s Virginia Tech Talent To Watch – Dorian Strong CB
Dorian Strong was the Hokies best corner as a freshman last season after Caleb Farley opted out due to COVID complications. Farley now in the NFL means the CB! spot is Dorian Strong’s to own. Not heavily recruited or widely considered a top talent, he was somewhat of a surprise. He looked great grabbing himself an interception and 5 pass break ups. I’m excited to see him elevate again in 2021. He’s a hard working kid with a lot to prove.
UNC are 5.5 point favourites currently, and I actually really like them against the spread. This would be a much wider margin if it wasn’t for all the loss of talent on UNC’s offence, but I believe in Sam Howell and I think these receivers might step up. The over/under is 64 which i’d actually bet the under on, there are going to be some creases to iron out for both offences.
Stick around and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with all the hints and tips for the College Season! Our preview for Saturdays games will release on Thursday!
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