Illinois upended Nebraska 30-22 on Saturday in the first game to kick off the 2021 college football season. It could not have been a better start for the Bret Bielema era, or a worse one for the continuation of the Scott Frost era. The 'Huskers opened the scoring for Illinois by getting called for a safety on an attempted punt return from their own goal line. They recovered to take a 9-2 lead, but fell behind 30-9 entering the 4th quarter.
The victory gave Illinois its first consecutive wins over Nebraska since the 1923 and 1924 seasons. Oddsmakers had the Illini by 7 while the computer had the spread at 1/10th of that (-0.71) and picked up the ATS win.
Meanwhile, no one got this one right in the FCS. North Carolina Central turned its 13.5-point underdog status upside down in a 23-14 win over Alcorn State in Atlanta. MEAC teams now hold an 11-4 edge over the SWAC in the traditional opening week challenge. Both teams were playing for the first time since late fall of 2019 when the Braves won the SWAC championship game vs. Southern and then lost 64-44 in the Celebration Bowl to the MEAC's North Carolina A&T. The Eagles' last game was a 54-0 loss at North Carolina A&T on November 21 , 2019. NC A&T has since left the MEAC to join the Big South.
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The 2021 college football season opened Saturday with 4 FBS games, 2 FCS games and 1 game pitting the FBS against the FCS.
- UTEP rolled to a 30-3 win at New Mexico State as a 7.5-point favorite and a 17.73-point computer pick.
- UCLA dominated Hawaii 44-10 as a 17-point favorite and a 20.18-point computer play.
- Fresno State crushed visiting UConn 45-0 in 110-degree heat.
- San Jose State, the surprising Mountain West champs a year ago, took a 45-14 cruise past FCS member Southern Utah,
- Indiana State was a 14-point favorite and a 5-point computer pick at home over Eastern Illinois. The computer nailed it on the head as the Sycamore prevailed 26-21. Indiana State hadn't played since November 23, 2019 while the Panthers last game was on April 3rd of this year when they finished the spring season with a 1-5 record.
We had three of Saturday's games in our Feature Picks, which went 3-0 against the spread.
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2 teams will play 2 FCS teams this fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams will play 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.
There was just one such game this Saturday when San Jose State drubbed Southern Utah 45-14. There are a whopping 38 FBS-FCS games over the Labor Day weekend.
Last year, 30 FBS teams played a total of 34 games against FCS schools with the FBS going 33-1. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS teams are now 1,469-128 (.920).
In 2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games.
This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10
These were the FCS wins vs. the FBS in the previous 2 seasons:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)
August 29: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19
ALABAMA - Won 14 straight games overall (FBS longest).
Last: Won 52-24 vs. Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Miami Gardens on January 11.
Next: vs. Miami in Chick-fil-A kick-off in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 4.
OHIO STATE - Won 21 straight conference games (FBS longest). Won 9 straight road games (FBS longest). Won 21 straight regular season games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 52-24 vs. Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Miami Gardens on January 11.
Next: Hosts Minnesota on Thursday, Sept. 2.
CLEMSON - Won 28 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 49-28 vs. Ohio State in College Football Playoff Semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.
Next: vs. Georgia in Duke's Mayo Classic in Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 4.
NEW MEXICO - Lost 13 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 49-39 vs. Fresno State in Las Vegas (New Mexico's adopted home) on Saturday, December 12.
Next: Hosts Houston Baptist (FCS) on Saturday, Sept. 4.
AKRON - Lost 12 straight road games (FBS second-longest).
Last: Lost 56-7 at Buffalo on Saturday, December 12 at Buffalo.
Next: at Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 4.
KANSAS - Lost 13 straight overall (FBS longest), 6 straight home games (tied with Rutgers for FBS longest).
Last: 16-13 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday, December 5.
Next: Hosts South Dakota (FCS) on Friday, Sept. 3.
UTEP - Lost 15 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 30-3 at New Mexico State on Saturday.
Next: Hosts FCS member Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, Sept. 4.