College football is entering week 1. There are always things to watch every week of the season. Here are 5 things to watch in college football week 1.
1. Is D’Eriq King 100 percent?
In one of the biggest games of Labor Day weekend, Miami is taking on Alabama in Atlanta. Alabama is projected to win by 18.5 points. They have plenty of talent returning on a good defense from a year ago, but there is a sliver of hope for Miami. Alabama is breaking in a new quarterback and several new starters on offense. If they score some points early and put some pressure on the young Alabama offense, they may be able to sneak away with the win.
D’Eriq King suffered a knee injury in Miami’s bowl game last season, but all things point to him being ready to play. He is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in recent memory and has broken plenty of records. If he can use his legs and his arm to pick up yardage against Alabama, it could really give Miami a shot to win. On the chance that King isn’t 100 percent, it would really limit Miami’s ability to keep up with Alabama. Either way, Alabama should win, but a healthy King can put them to the test.
2. D.J. Uiagalelei‘s First Game as QB1
The hype surrounding D.J. Uiagalelei has been incredible. Last season, as a freshman, Uiagalelei filled in well for Trevor Lawrence when the now Jacksonville Jaguar had to miss time due to COVID. He passed for 914 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions on 66.7 percent completion. Now, Uiagalelei is the full time starter and will have a huge test against Georgia to open the season.
Most of Clemson’s defense returns, but Uiagalelei will only have four returning starters to work with. That isn’t ideal when going up against the 16-th ranked defense from last season. Even though Georgia only has four returning starters on that side of the ball, they have some real talent. Nose tackle Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Daean, cornerback (and Clemson transfer) Derrion Kendrick and both safeties are very good players. If Uiagalelei or the rest of the offense aren’t ready to play, they could drop to 0-1, especially given that Georgia’s offense really picked up last season after JT Daniels took over.
3. Hudson Card‘s Texas Debut
There was a battle in camp to see who the starting quarterback at Texas would be. Freshman Hudson Card ended up winning the job. He has a lot of talent and new head coach Steve Sarkisian is placing a lot of faith in him. The former four-star recruit won’t be playing a cupcake in his first career start, which could cause some issues.
The Longhorns are taking on the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana in their first game of the season. While they are at home and are favored to win by eight points, Louisiana is a good team that won 10 of 11 games last season. They return 19 starters from that team including quarterback Levi Lewis. Last season, they showed they were capable of winning big games when they beat Iowa State handily, 31-14. Card will need to have the offense running smoothly to beat a very talented Louisiana team.
4. Big Ten Battles
There are two huge Big Ten games in week 1. First up is Penn State at Wisconsin. Both teams struggled last season, but were both ranked in the preseason top 25. Sean Clifford and Graham Mertz are back for the Nittany Lions and Badgers respectively at quarterback with both offenses needing them to play better this season. While both teams struggled last season, there is more than enough talent to win a lot of games this year.
The other Big Ten game worth watching in week 1 features Indiana and Iowa. Indiana was the Big Ten team who played Ohio State the closest. They have Michael Penix Jr. back at quarterback and nine starters back on defense. It would be hard to beat Ohio State out in the Big Ten East, but the Hoosiers should have their sights set on a big bowl game. Iowa lost their first two games of last season, but once starting quarterback Spencer Petras settled down, they were able to rip off six straight wins. If the line can clear the way for running back Tyler Goodson, and they usually do, the team could win the Big Ten West. With Iowa being at home, this is a game they are going to want to win to put them atop the Big Ten standings.
5. Sam Howell Without his Weapons
Last season was a great year for North Carolina. They won eight games total and played in the Orange Bowl. Unfortunately, they lost a lot of talent to the NFL. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams are both gone after creating a great tandem at running back. Wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome are also in the NFL. North Carolina still returns eight starters on offense, but if they want to have another great year, they need playmakers to step up.
Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler is a good candidate to step up at running back, while receivers Emery Simmons, Khafre Brown and Beau Corrales impressed in limited time last season. They won’t have an easy game to break themselves in with though, as the Tar Heels take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech in week 1. The Hokies had a down year last season, going 5-6. With 12 returning starters, the Hokies look like they could improve in 2021. Adding to the difficulties for North Carolina is that the game will be at Lane Stadium on Friday night, which will make the environment a little more crazier than usual.
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