Game of the Week
The highly anticipated opening weekend clash between third-ranked Clemson and fifth-rated Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was expected to be a great contest. It didn’t disappoint for suspense with Georgia winning 10 – 3. Still, neither team was able to score an offensive touchdown, and the game didn’t do a lot to answer many questions about the ability of the teams to challenge for the College Football Playoff.
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Business as Usual
Top-ranked Alabama hasn’t seemed to miss a beat after sending what seems like an entire roster of players to the NFL. Against a team in the 14th ranked Miami Hurricanes that was expected to challenge this season for an ACC crown and to move up in the rankings, Alabama made it clear that it will take a great effort to knock them off by easily covering the spread in a 44-13 win.
Texas A&M is facing some criticism from its fans for not putting a bigger hurt on MAC member Kent State, but the opening game for the sixth-ranked Aggies was a good test to break in a new quarterback. The defense played well, holding the Golden Flashes to 110 yards passing while tallying 595 yards on offense to win 41 – 10 after only managing a 10 – 3 halftime lead.
Last year’s darling, Coastal Carolina, opened the season ranked 22nd and didn’t face much of a challenge from FCS The Citadel, winning easily by a score of 52 – 14. They’ll be in a three-team battle in their Sun Belt conference race later in the season.
At number eight, Cincinnati, the highest-rated Group of Five team, didn’t have any problems disposing of Miami (OH) from the MAC 49 – 14, jumping out to leads of 21 – 0 at the end of the first quarter and 35 – 0 at the half. The Bearcats are worth watching as they have games against Indiana and Notre Dame later in the season that could get them into the College Football Playoff picture.
USC is ranked 15th, and the final score over San Jose State looked like an easy affair, but it took 17 fourth-quarter points for the Trojans to finally pull away. They gave up over 300 yards in passing to the Spartans’ quarterback Nick Starkel, but USC limited their opponents to 68 yards on the ground to finally prevail 30 – 7.
After a great 2020, Iowa State took on FCS Northern Iowa, but the Cyclones struggled on offense in a tight 16 – 10 victory. Fourth-ranked Ohio State’s 45 – 31 win over Minnesota was much closer than the final score, with the Buckeyes finally putting the game away in the fourth quarter after trailing 14 – 10 at the half.
Oklahoma appeared to have the game against Tulane in hand, jumping out to a 37 – 14 halftime lead after 23 unanswered points in the second quarter, but the second-ranked Sooners had to hold on for a 40 – 35 victory after late scores and an onside kick recovery late in the fame by the Green Wave.
Tenth-ranked North Carolina had visions of ending Clemson’s six years of superiority in the ACC, but Virginia Tech had other ideas as they forced three interceptions from Tar Heels’ quarterback Sam Howell. The Hokies led 14 – 0 at halftime, and North Carolina wasn’t able to erase the deficit, giving Virginia Tech early control in the ACC Coastal.
LSU traveled out west as the 16th ranked team in the country to take on a UCLA team that is in need of resurgence under coach Chip Kelly and was beaten in the Rose Bowl by the upstart Bruins. UCLA used a balanced offense to gain 470 yards and held the Tigers to 49 yards rushing to pull off the 38 – 27 surprise.