Weekly Preview - Season Opens Saturday

August 26, 2021 by Staff

The 2021 college football season opens this Saturday with 4 FBS games, 2 FCS games and 1 game pitting the FBS against the FCS.

Here's hoping this season is a return to normal - or at least close to normal.

LSU blew a hole in normalcy when the school announced earlier in the week that it "will require either proof of vaccination or a recent COVID test to enter Tiger Stadium".

But let's not dwell on the topic of Covid. To quote Monty Python & The Holy Grail, "it's a happy occasion" that college football is about to kick off.

Easily the best game on tap this Saturday is Illinois hosting Nebraska in a Big ten showdown and Bret Bielema's inaugural game as head coach of the Illini. Bielema had a great deal of success at Wisconsin where he was 68-24 over-all, 37-19 in the conference, and won back-to-back conference titles in 2011 and 2012. Heads turned when he abruptly left Madison to coach Arkansas in the SEC where we was fired after five seasons produced marks of 29-34 overall and 11-29 in the conference.

Meanwhile, Scott Frost begins his 4th season at Nebraska with his job on thin ice. Since his arrival, the 'Huskers are just 12-20 overall and 9-17 in the Big Ten. To say that he has failed to meet expectations would be a dramatic understatement. Last season, Illinois beat Nebraska 41-23 in Norman for just its second win in the series since 1924.

Oddsmakers  have Nebraska favored by 7 while the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com have this one in toss-up territory with the 'Huskers favored by 0.71.

UCLA and Hawaii will meet for just the fourth time in history. The first two games were played in the 1930's and the last contest took place in 2017. The Bruins won all three.

UTEP visits New Mexico State on Saturday.  The Aggies have won 3 straight in the series, but haven't faced a FBS school since they ended the 2019 season with a home win over UTEP and a loss at Liberty. The Miners are riding a 15-game conference losing streak, but managed to pick up 3 non-conference wins last season against two FCS schools (Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin), and FBS bottom-dweller Louisiana-Monroe (0-10)..

See more on the above three games in our Feature Picks.

The other two games involving FBS teams this week have San Jose State hosting FCS member Southern Utah, and Fresno State hosting UConn.

In the FCS, Alcorn State and North Carolina Central will square off in Atlanta in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge at the Georgia State University football Stadium known as Center Parc. Neither of these teams have played a game since 2019. The Braves last played in the 2019 Celebration Bowl and the Eagles' last game was a 54-0 loss at North Carolina A&T on November 21 , 2019.

Indiana State also gets back on the field for the first time since November 23, 2019 when the Sycamores host an Eastern Illinois squad that was 1-5 in the spring.


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 is just one such game this Saturday when San Jose State hosts Southern Utah, but there area  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 1,468-128 (.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: Lost 45-43 at North Texas on Friday, December 11.
Next: at New Mexico State this Saturday, August 28.