Now it’s official. College football is back this weekend with a slate of hard-hitting showdowns featuring some of the best teams in the nation.
In this week’s Showstopper, uncover all the inside angles and stats you need to know for Louisiana vs. Texas, Georgia vs. Clemson and Alabama vs. Miami, as the fresh season kicks off with a bang.
No. 23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. No. 21 Texas Longhorns
Saturday, September 4 | TV: FOX
Head coach Steve Sarkisian and redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card both make their debuts for Texas with high hopes in this season opener. History is on their side, as Texas leads 2-0 in its head-to-head series with Louisiana, with past victories tallied in 2000 and 2005. Sarkisian has also won six straight home openers in his coaching career thus far. He’s expected to electrify the Longhorns’ offense after he led Alabama to 48.5 points per game last season as offensive coordinator.
The Ragin’ Cajuns pose a formidable test, however, as they have 20 returning starters and are coming off a 10-1 season in 2020, including a road win over Iowa State. Card has just one career completion in his brief career, so Louisiana’s defense will be gunning to force him into mistakes. The Cajuns’ veteran secondary notched 16 team interceptions last season. Texas should lean heavily on sophomore running back Bijan Robinson, who averaged 8.2 yards per carry last season and finished his freshman campaign with monster back-to-back games of 170-plus rushing yards. Sarkisian had great success with Najee Harris at Alabama, and now Robinson will be his new workhorse in Texas.
No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers
Saturday, September 4 | TV: ABC
The biggest game of Week 1 takes the spotlight in Charlotte. A top-five matchup is a rare treat for college football fans in season openers, and this one packs extra excitement, since these squads are familiar foes. Georgia has the edge in head-to-head contests, going 42-18-4 over its long history with Clemson, but this will be the first time Georgia has ever faced a team ranked in the top five to begin the season. The Tigers also have a strong track record at Bank of America Stadium, winning their past six games played there.
Overall, these teams stack up extremely well on both ends, highlighted by emerging quarterbacks and stellar defensive lines that will look to cause chaos in this showdown. Georgia went 4-0 in games that J.T. Daniels started last season at quarterback. For Clemson, it’ll be up to D.J. Uiagalelei to take the reins from Trevor Lawrence and exploit Georgia’s secondary with his very talented group of wide receivers. In a small sample size last year, the 6-foot-4 quarterback impressed by completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 914 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 14 Miami Hurricanes
Saturday, September 4 | TV: ABC
Will this be the monster blowout many are expecting for the Crimson Tide? That all depends on how they contain Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, who provides the Hurricanes with their only potential edge. Making his 34th start, King has plenty of experience over his opponent, Bryce Young, who is making his first start under center for Alabama. The dual-threat quarterback has 9,570 combined passing and rushing yards in his career. But the Crimson Tide have won 19 consecutive season openers and head coach Nick Saban will likely not take his foot off the gas on the defensive end. Alabama racked up 21 sacks over their final five games last season.
Much like King, we should see Young try to beat Miami both through the air and on the ground. The versatile QB will have to build rapport with at least six new offensive starters and new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien at the helm. That lack of chemistry could cause some early growing pains, but Alabama should take solace in the fact that Saban is 79-8 in games where the Crimson Tide enter the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.