Games to watch in Week 1 of college football season

Vicente Montalvo, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as part of the September 3 Double Coverage flipbook.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami 

Sept. 4, 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC

The reigning national champions will open their season in Atlanta, Georgia, where head coach Nick Saban looks to win his 10th SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide underwent massive changes with the departures of Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, star running back Najee Harris and Davey O’Brien Award winner Mac Jones, but with the departures comes the addition of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. The former Houston Texans head coach will look to get off to a quick start with sophomore quarterback Bryce Young. Young is slated against Miami’s defense-centric head coach Manny Diaz who will assume defensive play calling this season. Yet, against the Tide’s 10-man returning defense, the Hurricanes shouldn’t worry too much about their offensive production with D’Eriq King under center. King returns for another year of eligibility and looks to lead “The U” back to prominence. The Tide rolled its way through last season finishing its national championship season 13–0, but can the Hurricanes put a stop to their win streak in week one?

 

No. 19 Penn State at No. 12 Wisconsin 

Sept. 4, 11 a.m., FOX

The Nittany Lions and the Badgers will square off this weekend for the first time since 2018. With Penn State winning the last four matchups between the two, head coach James Franklin looks to continue his program’s dominance. After experiencing his first losing season at Penn State in his seven years as head coach, Franklin has no other choice but to get his program back on track. Senior quarterback Sean Clifford will look to lead Penn State in his final season in Happy Valley after finally getting the starting nod last season. Whether or not the Badger faithful will jump around at Camp Randall will come down to the Badgers’ experienced defense. The Wisconsin secondary consists of 10 upperclassmen who will attempt to make Clifford scramble for downs.

 

No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson

Sept. 4, 6:30 p.m., ABC

The Tigers return to an all too familiar field at Bank of America Stadium where head coach Dabo Swinney and team won the ACC Championship in 2020. This time around, Swinney will not be able to rely on Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. In seasons past, Swinney relied heavily on Lawrence to put up big numbers for the Clemson offense, but with the quarterback now suiting up on Sundays instead, DJ Uiagalelei is the next man up. A sophomore with little playing experience, Uiagalelei is slated to be the next breakout star for the Tigers. Georgia comes into Saturday’s most competitive contest having won the last six of seven matchups against Clemson. Junior quarterback JT Daniels took snaps in the last four games of Georgia’s 2020-2021 season, throwing for 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The primetime game will be a quarterback showdown between Daniels and Uiagalelei.

 

San José State at No. 15 USC 

Sept. 4, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

After capping off an almost perfect campaign last season, the Spartans are looking to do something they have never done before: beat USC. San José State will kick off its season with former SEC quarterback Nick Starkel under center. With one game under his belt throwing for four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, Starkel anticipates to showcase his talent within the walls of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will have his hands full as he tries to pressure Starkel in the pocket. For Starkel, time and precision will be a commodity in this California matchup.

 

Florida Atlantic at No. 13 Florida 

Sept.4, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

In its first meeting since 2015, Florida Atlantic is headed back to the Swamp looking to test a Florida team that lost offensive weapons quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts to the NFL. Playing with limited minutes in his previous three seasons with the Gators, redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones is looking to prove that his time on the bench was worth the wait. The only thing that now stands between Jones and his success is newly hired Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator Mike Stoops who will count on disrupting the young quarterback’s rhythm.