October 18, 2021

College football mega-preview — How to get the most fun out of the 2021 season – ESPN


In the foreword to his book, “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating,” famed British chef Fergus Henderson wrote, “‘Nose to Tail Eating’ means it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet.”

I feel the same way about college football. To be sure, the fillet — in this case, the race for the College Football Playoff, the Heisman, the big-ticket games — is delicious. But the excitement it can provide varies from year to year, and if that’s all you focus on, you miss out on so much.

There are huge games to look forward to in 2021, from Clemson-Georgia and Oregon-Ohio State early on to Alabama-Texas A&M in October and into rivalry season, championship weekend and all the rest. We will see games with major title leverage and Heisman-worthy performances. But as 2021 begins in earnest, let’s lay out a plan to eat the whole college football pig.

Here’s how to make the most of the season, nose to tail.

The big ones

We will always have room for the big-ticket items, and we’ve got headliners for every week of the regular season. Here are the two games with the highest combined SP+ ratings for the two teams involved in each week.

Week 1: Clemson vs. Georgia; Alabama vs. Miami
Week 2: Oregon at Ohio State; Iowa at Iowa State
Week 3: Alabama at Florida; Nebraska at Oklahoma
Week 4: Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin; West Virginia at Oklahoma
Week 5: Ole Miss at Alabama; Michigan at Wisconsin
Week 6: Alabama at Texas A&M; Oklahoma vs. Texas
Week 7: Miami at North Carolina; Alabama at Mississippi State
Week 8: Ohio State at Indiana; Tennessee at Alabama
Week 9: Penn State at Ohio State; Florida vs. Georgia
Week 10: LSU at Alabama; Oregon at Washington
Week 11: Michigan at Penn State; Texas A&M at Ole Miss
Week 12: Iowa State at Oklahoma; Arkansas at Alabama
Week 13: Alabama at Auburn; Ohio State at Michigan

These are the satellites around which everything else will rotate. Watch these games, and you will likely keep up with most of the primary contenders for both the national title and the Heisman race. But this is merely step one for maximum enjoyment.