Alabama is still king In 2021:The first full week of college football is complete, and while there was plenty of drama and chaos, it did provide us with some clarity for what to expect out of the 2021 season.
Let’s take a look at the top stories from around the country in this week’s NCAAF Notebook.
Alabama is Still King
Alabama was a huge 18-point favorite playing against 14th-ranked Miami, and sprinted out to an impressive 27-0 lead before calling off the dogs and coasting to an impressive 44-13 victory.
The Tide’s million-dollar quarterback, Bryce Young, lived up to the hype, and the defense in Tuscaloosa promises to be tough yet again. The Tide were preseason favorites to repeat as national champions, and while Saturday’s big win was easy to see coming, it cemented any doubt about Young’s abilities to lead this talented group.
Alabama now has +200 odds to win the national championship, and given the program’s talent, history, and status among national voters, this seems like value even this early on. The Tide are almost certainly going to make the College Football Playoff, which tells me that these odds will only get shorter as the season progresses.
Randy Edsall steps down
The Connecticut Huskies resumed playing football after taking off the entire 2020 season, and proceeded to look awful. Following their opening weekend loss at Fresno State, head coach Randy Edsall announced he would be retiring at the end of the season.
A few days later, it was announced that Edsall was retiring immediately. It was certainly not the start to the season that anyone would have hoped, but from the business perspective of the sport it makes sense. It’s hard enough to draw recruits to Connecticut, and harder still given their on-field product in recent years. When a coach has lame duck status, players are increasingly hesitant to pledge their commitment since it takes a brave soul to plunge headfirst into a situation that is impossible to predict.
On the heels of the announcement, it’s hard to imagine Connecticut is in for a fulfilling season in 2021.
ACC Struggles in Week 1
The ACC had a rough opening weekend. North Carolina faltered on the road at Virginia Tech. The Miami Hurricanes got dominated by the SEC. Clemson struggled to score, and now face an uphill climb back to the final four. Georgia Tech lost as huge favorites, and Louisville looked overmatched on national television against a potent Ole Miss offense.
Some of the brightest spots for the ACC came from their middle of the pack teams, as North Carolina State looked better than expected in a big win against South Florida, Florida State showed grit and competitiveness in a tough overtime loss against top-10 ranked Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh put up 51 points.
The ACC has been the third-best conference in the country for many years now, but with its top three teams all losing their opening games, the top of the conference appears unable compete on the national stage.
McKenzie Milton makes his triumphant return
Former UCF starting quarterback and current FSU backup quarterback McKenzie Milton hadn’t played football since a 2018 catastrophic leg injury that left world-class surgeons wondering if he would ever be able to even walk again without pain.
On Sunday evening in front of a nearly 10 million person national television audience, Milton stepped in and promptly took over after starting FSU quarterback Jordan Travis had to exit after losing his helmet.
Milton went 4-4 with a touchdown pass in his first series, and helped will the Seminoles back from an 18-point deficit to force overtime. It was an incredible, Disney-esque scene, and it reminded us all what we love so much about this sport.
Games of the Week
Looking forward to the weekend, there are two excellent games to pay special attention to. First is Oregon vs. Ohio State, which puts together two teams that are vying for conference championships and could use a win in this game to propel them forward toward the playoff. Ohio State is a 14.5 point favorite and should win, but Oregon will bring plenty of talent to the contest.
The other game to watch is Iowa vs. Iowa State, the annual in-state rivalry game that should tell us a lot about what to expect from each team moving forward.
Iowa State is the second favorite to win the Big 12, while Iowa will be competing for the Big 10 West title. ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Ames, and the scene will be a good one.