The time has finally come, friends. It’s real and it’s spectacular - the 2021 football season is officially here and gets underway this weekend with a slate of games that will show how the state of Florida’s top teams will look right out of the gate.
It’s the perfect time to start a whole new season if you play college football in the Sunshine State: two of the power programs are on a multi-game losing streak, the other had its worst season in nearly a half century last year and Miami-Dade’s other program didn’t win a game at all in 2020.
Time to panic yet?
The new year brings new hopes and goals – from championships and bowl wins to having at least a winning season. But one thing remains the same from a hectic 2020: we break it all down, once again, with our NBC 6 not-so-scientific system.
Miami vs. Alabama (Saturday in Atlanta)
Okay, ‘Canes fans. This is the time for Miami to show they are ready for the big time and that “The U” is back, right? What better way than to test that theory against the defending national champions who have become the standard barriers when it comes to college football.
For the Hurricanes, this game is a no-lose battle. If Miami gets blown out like some experts think will happen, it was expected and nothing changes. If the ‘Canes can look somewhat decent in the game and keep it competitive (maybe even pull off the upset), there is not a lot left on the schedule that can stand in their way.
Florida vs. FAU (Saturday)
It was on the same field in Gainesville last season where the hopes of a potential playoff bid ended with the throw of a shoe by a Florida defensive back. This week, the throwing will more than likely be kept in the right hand of likely starting quarterback Emory Jones.
With three straight losses to end last season (granted, two came against teams likely to make this season’s College Football Playoff), head coach Dan Mullen is hoping to earn the respect back of some critics while facing an Owls team that hopes head coach Willie Taggart can do something he wasn’t able to do at FSU: last his entire second season as coach.
Florida State vs. Notre Dame (Sunday)
Just under three decades ago, the ‘Noles and Fighting Irish were facing off in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. This season, the Seminoles are hoping just not to lose by either 29 or 16 points - the margin they’ve lost to Notre Dame by the last two times these teams played.
The hype out of Tallahassee this offseason has been how head coach Mike Norvell went transfer portal crazy and brought in several players aiming to get the stain from last season’s 3-6 record off the roster. Playing decent in the opener would be a heck of a start with four winnable games following on the FSU schedule.
Other State Games
Three teams across the state already kicked off their seasons Thursday night, with FIU defeating Long Island for their its first win since the 2019 season, UCF coming out on top over Boise State in comeback fashion and USF dropping their opener against N.C. State.
Sunday, Florida A&M will be in South Florida when the Orange Blossom Classic is renewed and the Rattlers face Jackson State and its head coach, Deion Sanders. One day prior, Bethune Cookman starts its season at UTEP while St. Thomas starts its third season of football at home against Pikesville.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.