Rivalry Week Playoff Musings

College football: must-watch games in 2021

The 5 Yard College team have collaborated to bring you their favourite matchups in the 2021 college football season. Check out the fixtures they believe to be college football’s must-watch games in 2021.

Tom: Georgia v Clemson (Week 1)

The Week 1 matchup between The Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers should be an enticing must-watch game in the 2021 college football season. To add to the spectacle surrounding the event, this game will be played at a neutral site (Charlotte, NC). College football fans could have a firm idea of where these two programs are headed after the 2021 season opener. Victory for either school should kickstart a run to the college football playoffs.

Georgia is riding the crest of a wave with JT Daniels under centre. He ended the year in fantastic form, finally solving the QB conundrum in Athens. In four starts last season, he threw for 308 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. In his first start as a Bulldog, Daniels became the first Georgia player with 300 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns in a game since Aaron Murray in 2013 vs South Carolina.

Daniels and the Georgia offence will have to overcome a Clemson defence that returns a full complement of starters. On offence, eyes will be firmly cast on D.J. Uiagalelei. He will lead Dabo Swinney’s offensive unit as the 2021 starter after backing up Trevor Lawrence last season.

Simmo: Cincinnati @ Notre Dame (Week 4)

This Week 4 game at Notre Dame Stadium stands out like a sore thumb as one of the must-watch games of 2021. The AP preseason rankings show Cincinnati at #8 and Notre Dame moving down to #10 from their #4 position before the Rose Bowl last season.

Ian Book has gone for the Fighting Irish. The list of players to replace him does not make for uplifting reading. Brendan Clark and Drew Pyne both took a minimal amount of snaps in 2020. Clark also has the cloud of the knee injury he suffered in high school resurfacing. Jack Coan has transferred from Wisconsin and is a possible starter for 2021. Standout centre Jarrett Patterson will give much confidence to whoever starts at QB. On defense for Notre Dame, the player to watch would be Shayne Simon who had a break-out 2020 season.

On the other side of the field is Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati. He threw for 2,296 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2020. He also rushed for 592 yards and added 12 more touchdowns in that area. That total was the most rushing touchdowns by a college quarterback in 2020. Running Back Jerome Ford could stand-out in the rushing game this year for Cincinnati after an impressive 2020. On defense, Coby Bryant could be “one to watch” after his all-AAC selection last time out.

The Bearcats and Fighting Irish are looking to bounce back after Bowl defeats to end the previous season. Cincinnati went down 24-21 to Georgia in The Peach Bowl. Notre Dame lost 31-14 to eventual National Championship winners Alabama at The Rose Bowl. An early win in one of college football’s must-watch games for 2021 could propel either side to a run at the postseason.

Jord: Oregon @ Ohio State (Week 2)

This matchup between two great CFB programs is one of college football’s must-watch games in 2021.

Ohio State’s recent success outmatches Oregon by far. Alongside Alabama and Clemson, The Buckeyes have been a dominant force in the playoffs for the last nine years. They have reached the playoffs seven times, and have a 1-1 record in the National Championship game.

In the Pac-12 Conference, only Washington and The Ducks have made the playoffs since the four team playoff bracket began in 2014. This Week 2 matchup is a massive opportunity for Oregon to state their claim for a playoff place this season and put the Pac-12 back on the map.

A loss for either team would have massive ramifications for their playoff chances. Expect the Buckeyes to be up for the fight. Ohio State has one of the best receiver duos in all of college football in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. The explosive pair put up over 1400 receiving yards between them in just 8 games in 2020.

On the other side of the field Oregon has the best pass rusher in college football, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux will be looking to turn up the heat on opposition QBs, with declaration for the 2022 NFL Draft almost a certainty.

Jake: Iowa @ Iowa State (Week 2)

This fixture was dubbed ‘El Assico’ because of the fumble-punt fests of the past. Recent meetings have been different and this one is set up to be a classic. In the past this game wasn’t enough to raise eyebrows outside of the state of Iowa. This year, it is one of college football’s must-watch games.

If the Cyclones are going to be Purdy-ing like a Brock-star at the end of the season, this is a must win game. Iowa State might be on the precipice of their most successful season in college football ever. Whilst their BIG XII slate has some fierce matchups, it’s their early out-of-conference rivalry game against Iowa that could be the most pivotal.

Matt Campbell has his smouldering eyes fixed on the College Football Playoffs. He went close last year but ultimately fell short after a convincing defeat in the BIG XII Championship Game. To reach the playoffs in 2021 the Cyclones must go one better this season. Their last El Assico win came in 2014. Breece Hall and Brock Purdy are key to their success, but so are the 22 starters returning. It seems like they are in now-or-never mode for this game, and for the 2021 season as a whole.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are on a slightly different trajectory. They have little chance of making it to the playoffs. This game, albeit a fierce rivalry, is not as comparably significant in regards to season outcome. The Hawkeyes return seven starters on defence and six on offence. They are tough to beat, and led by a stout Phil Parker defence. This year will be no exception. Expect Iowa to try and take the tempo out of this game. Iowa State ranked 23rd in offensive points per drive last season, whereas the Hawkeyes ranked 56th. Running Back Tyler Goodson should see a lot of the ball.

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