Dog days in the summer are arriving in earnest, but college football planning announcements are here to at least make our petite in the meantime. And as is tradition, Week 1 of the 2021 slate has some monster games that could be the land of sport this fall. With kickoff still more than three months away, TV times are set for a handful of the biggest matchups of the weekend.
Three matches against the SEC ACC are at the center as Miami (FL) meets defending national champions Alabama on Saturday afternoon, September 4th. This will be followed by a classic rivalry that resumes when Clemson and Georgia meet in a primetime-neutral place game with two College Football Playoffs. Florida State and Notre Dame will occupy a rare Sunday night castle, while Louisville and Ole Miss will wr up this weekend on Labor Day night.
Let’s take a look at the big matchups set to open the 2021 season. Dates, times, TV information and game splits can be seen below. All start times eastern.
Alabama Vs. Miami (FL) – 3:30 PM ET, ABC
The first of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff games in Atlanta, Georgia, takes place in the middle of the afternoon window. The reigning defending champions will replace Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris and WR Jaylen Waddle, among many others. But if there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Nick Saban’s group, it is that it has plenty of blue-chip talent waiting in the wings to have breakout seasons. This will also be the first look we see of QB Bryce Young as he takes over the Crimson Tide offense. Young was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in 2020, and his debut as a full-time starter has been highly anticipated.
The second sideline also has one of the best signal callers in the nation in D’Eriq King. The sophomore avoided the NFL draft for another year in college after accounting for more than 2,600 yards passed and 27 total touchdowns a year ago. With Clemson not in regular season for the Hurricanes, Alabama should pose the toughest test for Manny Diaz’s group.
Clemson Vs. Georgia – 7:30 p.m., ABC
Saturday’s primetime matchup has two regional rivals who will once again be in the national conversation for both the playoffs and the national championship. But their respective journeys start in the Duke’s Mayo Classic at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Bulldogs return quarterback JT Daniels as the offense appears to be taking the next step under offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Daniels was fantastic as he came back from his knee injury in the last four games of the 2020 season and threw to 10 touchdowns for just two picks. With a full offseason under their belt, it will be fascinating to see how much Georgia can open things up – especially without top receiver George Pickens, who is out with his own ACL injury.
Clemson has progressed from the Trevor Lawrence era, but DJ Uiagalelei seems to be perfectly equipped to take the reins. Sophomore excelled in his two big games last year – against Boston College and Notre Dame – with 781 yards past and four touchdowns along with two more goals on the ground. Dabo Swinney’s group has thrived in these types of regular seasonal conference games in the past and typically relies on defense to get the job done.
Notre Dame, Florida State – 7:30 p.m. (Sunday), ABC
What would have been a conference game last season now goes back to the normal planning agreement between Fighting Irish and the Seminoles from the ACC. Still, this is a great matchup for both sides. Notre Dame appear to be reloading fast and starting fast against a Florida State squad still seeking some direction under second-year coach Mike Norvell. Noles shocked North Carolina a year ago … can they pick up another tent wind against the Irish this time?
Louisville vs. Ole Miss – at 20 (Monday), ESPN
Labor Day evening games have typically drummed up some fun matchups in previous years. This one should be no different with two leading offensive minds, Scott Satterfield of Louisville and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, distorting Week 1. The Cardinals were an offseason treasure in 2020, but bounced to a 4-7 record. Ole Miss finished 5-5, but played in some of the more exciting SEC games in Kiffin’s first year. Most notably, Kiffin gave his old boss, Nick Saban, his toughest fight last season in a 63-48 loss. Can Kiffin draw another barn burner, but without top-width Elijah Moore?