A Way Too Early Look at the 2021 NCAA Football Season

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A Way Too Early Look at the 2021 NCAA Football SeasonThe confetti has hardly stopped falling in Hard Rock Stadium following Alabama’s 52-24 victory over Ohio State on Monday night. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban secured his seventh national title, the sixth with his current team.

The Crimson Tide completed a 13-0 season, with all of the wins coming against opponents from Power 5 conferences. That total included 11 wins over SEC teams, a record that won’t be touched for the foreseeable future.

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A case can be made that the 2020 Alabama football team was the best of all time. The following are generally considered the frontrunners: 2001 Miami, 1971 Nebraska, 1972 USC and 1995 Nebraska. It’s hard to argue that, at the very least, the most recent national champions belong in the conversation.

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At Clemson, quarterback Trevor Lawrence is headed to the NFL, but his successor might be even better. Ohio State, despite the departure of quarterback Justin Fields, will continue to put a quality team on the field. So what will the 2021 college football season look like?

With more than seven months until the beginning of the next season, COVID-19 should be behind us. Normalcy, including spring football, fans in the stands, and tailgating, have a good chance of making a return.

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Auburn fired and hired a coach, Texas did the same, and Michigan signed Jim Harbaugh to a contract extension. LSU cleaned house except at the top, South Carolina started over, and most other schools just moved on.

The Big 12 looks to be relevant again, especially with the way Oklahoma finished the 2020 campaign. Out west, the forgotten Pac-12 hopes to rebound from a season no one will remember. It might be tough after the best team in the conference was kept out of the league’s championship game.

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How Will COVID-19 Impact the 2021 NCAAF Season?

In 2020, the Group of Five was relegated to second-class citizen status due to COVID-19. The Power 5 conferences seized the opportunity to eliminate all other teams from their schedules.

With the resumption of normal scheduling in 2021, the big boys will be forced to deal with the upstarts.

There are some critical issues that college football needs to face, some of which were highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. The lack of a governing body for the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is sorely lacking. The inconsistency of COVID-19 protocols and different conference scheduling rules almost ruined the 2020 season.

Leaving important decisions to the conferences has the potential to have severe negative impacts on the sport. The ACC landed two teams in the College Football Playoff, and the SEC was close to doing the same thing. It would have happened not because of what happened on the field but what occurred in league offices.

Assuming nothing changes in FBS governance, we should see the same teams dominate in 2021 that have ruled in recent years. Betting odds at top online sportsbooks are sure to reflect that. Notre Dame should return to independent status, again confusing the College Football Playoff committee.

Clemson still won’t have a challenger in the ACC, and Alabama will rule the SEC. Ohio State, under the leadership of head coach Ryan Day, isn’t going anywhere.

Lincoln Riley, with another coaching change in Austin, should have Oklahoma back in the national spotlight.

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