This season’s first college football games happen on Thursday, Aug. 28. From that day to Dec. 11, teams will battle it out for conference championship, bowl positioning, and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Like in most NCAAF seasons, college gridiron handicappers expect the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oklahoma Sooners, and Ohio State Buckeyes to dominate. But this season, for some of the top teams, things may not go as planned. Let’s take a look at our 5 Fearless Predictions for the 2021 Season so you can get ready to bet against their NCAAF odds.
NCAA Football 2021 Season: Five Fearless Predictions
2021-2022 NCAA College Football Regular Season
- When: Aug. 28 – Dec. 11
Cincinnati Bearcats go undefeated and grabs a CFP spot
We’ll start with a team that feels they got cheated from last year’s College Football Playoff. The Cincinnati Bearcats went undefeated in the deep and talented American Athletic Conference.
On their way to the undefeated record, the Bearcats beat four ranked opponents. They also beat the Memphis Tigers, Temple Owls, and UCF Knights.
Cincinnati dominated on both sides of the football. In the 2021 Peach Bowl, Georgia beat the Bearcats by just 3 points.
If any team deserved to leapfrog the CFP’s final four it was Cincinnati. This season, the Bearcats won’t leave anything to chance.
On the schedule are Indiana and Notre Dame. The Irish are ranked thirteenth, Indiana is ranked sixteenth, and Cincinnati is ranked eighth.
At eighth, the Bearcats can’t afford to lose. But neither can the teams ahead of them. If Cincinnati gets by Notre Dame and Indiana, and runs the table in their conference, they should grab a College Football Playoff bid.
Iowa State wins the Big 12
Preseason pollsters rank Big 12 rival Oklahoma third in the nation. Spencer Rattler returns to play quarterback for the Sooners. So the high-ranking makes sense.
But Iowa State is loaded with seniors and juniors on both sides of the ball, including a couple of Heisman Trophy candidate upperclassmen in QB Brock Purdy and RB Breece Hall. This is the season the Cyclones take it to Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and any other Big 12 team standing in their way.
Notre Dame loses 4 regular season games
If pollsters can reward the Irish with a high-ranking, they will, which is why the Fighting Irish’s preseason 13-ranking should worry their fans.
Notre Dame faces a daunting schedule. Purdue, Navy, and Virginia aren’t lock victories. USC, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Virginia Tech can beat the Irish.
North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati should beat Notre Dame, which means the Irish will have 3 losses for sure. Either USC or VA Tech should be the fourth loss.
North Carolina wins the ACC Championship and knocks Clemson from the CFP
Clemson has a single difficult game this season, versus Georgia on Sep. 4. If the Tigers win that, they will go undefeated until the ACC Championship. Outside of Georgia, the rest of Clemson’s schedule is pathetic.
North Carolina is in charge of their destiny. The Tar Heels play two of the better ACC teams, Virginia Tech and Miami, and Notre Dame. North Carolina should beat three of those teams and enter the ACC Championship undefeated.
The winner of the ACC Championship should get a spot in the CFP. The prediction here is that it’s North Carolina.
Georgia and Alabama enter the SEC Championship with 12-0 records and ranked first and second in the nation
The Selection Committee won’t take two ACC teams, which means both North Carolina and Clemson won’t grab College Football Playoff bids.
But the SEC West and SEC East winners will. Alabama should roll through their schedule. It’s not that LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M are bad teams. But the Crimson Tide is loaded while question marks remain for their top opponents.
Georgia can solidify their top four position on Sep. 4. If Kirby Smart’s squad beats Clemson, expect Georgia to run the table until the SEC Championship. No matter which team wins the SEC title game, Bama or the Dawgs, both will get a chance to play in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.