NWADG College Football


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20 NWA COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW | 8.29.2021 BOB HOLT ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE A year ago at this time no one knew for sure whether there would be a college football season — if there could be a college football season — with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down so much of American life. Credit SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey for staying patient and following the advice of medical experts to save the season for his conference as well as other conferences that decided to follow the SEC's lead. The virus is still with us unfortunately, but most college football teams have high vaccination rates, meaning the 2021 season will be played with more fans in the stands than allowed last year. After an all-SEC, 10-game schedule, marquee nonconference matchups also will be back. With that in mind, here are 12 games involving SEC teams that are must see. 1. GEORGIA vs. CLEMSON, SEPT. 4, CHARLOTTE, N.C., 6:30 p.m., ABC This looks more like a matchup for the College Football Playoff, but credit the Bulldogs and Tigers for scheduling such a blockbuster game to open the season. It will be a huge victory for one of these teams, but the loser should stay in the national title hunt — unless it's a lopsided final score. 2. ALABAMA vs. MIAMI, SEPT. 4, ATLANTA, 2:30 p.m., ABC The opener for defending national champion Alabama — in its home away from home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium — will serve as the lead-in on ABC for the Georgia-Clemson game. Miami senior quarterback D'Eriq King will see whether he and the Hurricanes can put up enough points to challenge the Crimson Tide. 3. TEXAS at ARKANSAS, SEPT. 11, 6 p.m., ESPN An old Southwest Conference rivalry or a new SEC matchup? Take your pick, but this will be a much-anticipated nonconference game for the Razorbacks and the SEC before the Longhorns join the conference. It should be an electric atmosphere at Reynolds Razorback Stadium as Arkansas looks to pull the upset. 4. ALABAMA at FLORIDA, SEPT. 18, 2:30 p.m., CBS This is a rare regular-season matchup between the Crimson Tide and Gators and a rematch of last year's SEC Championship Game won by Alabama 52-46. It will be the Tide's first trip to the Swamp since 2011 when Alabama beat Florida 38-10. Both teams are replacing quarterbacks who were Heisman Trophy finalists last season. 5. AUBURN at PENN STATE, SEPT. 18, 6:30 p.m., ABC Auburn is used to playing Big Ten opponents in bowl games — including Penn State twice — but this will be the Tigers' first regular-season game against a Big Ten team since 1931 when they played Wisconsin to a 7-7 tie in Madison. Auburn beat Penn State 13-9 on Jan. 1, 1996, in Tampa, Fla., and the Nittany Lions won 43- 14 on Jan. 1, 2003, in Orlando, Fla. 6. OLE MISS at ALABAMA, OCT. 2, TBA Can Rebels Coach Lane Kiffin become the first former assistant of Nick Saban's to beat the G.O.A.T.? It was an entertaining game last season when the Crimson Tide held on to beat the Rebels 63-48. Ole Miss should have the better quarterback in Matt Corral, but Alabama's defense should be motivated after last year's shootout. 7. ALABAMA at TEXAS A&M, OCT. 9, TBA Aggies Coach Jimbo Fisher is another former Nick Saban assistant who has yet to beat him. Fisher told the Houston Touchdown Club he'd beat Saban's ass — but he didn't specify when. Last season Alabama handed Texas A&M its only loss, but the Tide won 52-24. We'll see if the Aggies have narrowed the gap and can beat the Tide for the first time since 2012. CAN'T MISS GAMES WITH SEC TEAMS AP Photo/Butch Dill Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson will lead the Razorbacks into a key home game against longtime rival Texas on Sept. 11.

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