Let us hope we never see a season of college football as dysfunctional as 2020. While universities nationwide and the NCAA did their best even to have a season in the first place, games often felt like an excuse to fill up TV inventory for ad dollars.
A glance at the 2021 slate reveals a return to normalcy, including non-conference games in September, traditional conference showdowns afterward, and the rekindling of historic rivalries like Ohio State versus Michigan.
While the college football betting lines for Week 0 aren’t available until later this year, let’s take a quick gander at the five contests currently slated for Saturday, August 28, 2021, including a Big 10 showdown in Dublin, Ireland.
(It’s worth noting that Week 0 games may be added as the season approaches.)
Nebraska vs. Illinois (in Dublin, Ireland)
Remember that time Nebraska fired Bo Pelini in 2007 despite a .713 overall winning percentage, including .691 in conference play? Fast-forward years later, and current skipper Scott Frost is winning .375 of his games overall and just .346 in Big 10 play.
To smoother salt in the Cornhuskers’ wounds, they were pounded 41-24 at home last season to an Illinois team that finished 2-3.
Hawaii at UCLA
The Rainbow Warriors capped the 2020 campaign with an upset win over Houston in the New Mexico Bowl, while UCLA looks to win its season opener for the first time since 2017.
Southern Utah at San Jose State
The Spartans return after a historic season that saw the program claim the Mountain West Conference title for the first time in school history.
UConn at Fresno State
Along with only Old Dominion and New Mexico State, the Huskies never took the field in 2020. When UConn lines up against the Bulldogs, it’ll be the first time the program has seen action since a 49-17 pounding at Temple on November 30, 2019.
UTEP at New Mexico State
The Aggies have arguably the funkiest 2021 slate of any FBS program.
After sitting on the sidelines in 2020, New Mexico State will face Tarleton, New Mexico Highlands, and Dixie State as part of the FCS spring football season. The independent program will turn right back around six months later to play a fall schedule that includes brutal back-to-back road trips to Kentucky and Alabama.
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Andy Coffaro is a sports journalist and managing editor with published work in USA Today, MSN, HERO Sports, The Mercury News, East Bay Times, Phil Steele’s College Football Preview magazine, and more. He graduated from San José State University with a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Kinesiology. Follow him on Twitter @andycoffaro.