World’s Earliest Week 1 College Football Schedule, 2021

It's time again for my very favorite annual column, the World's Earliest Week 1 College Football Preview. As always, I can only put this together thanks to the indispensable

Before we jump in, I'd like to note that for the second year in a row, we get a bridge between the end of the NFL season in February and the beginning of the CFL season in June. Last year, that was due to the XFL (although the CFL season never happened), and this year it is because many FCS schools will play a spring schedule. Next year, hopefully the XFL will successfully emerge from bankruptcy reorganization, the Spring League will continue to tick along, and we will get something closer to year-round outdoor football, a lifelong dream of mine.

But for now, let's look ahead at week 1 (and week 0) of the upcoming 2021 fall college football season. At this time, no games have start times or TV times, and things are even more tentative than usual due this Covid thing that perhaps you've heard a bit about.

Week 0

Saturday, August 28th

Nebraska vs. Illinois in Dublin, Ireland

Here I thought it was natural law that Notre Dame must be involved in any Dublin game, glad to be wrong. This is already beginning of the end for Bret Bielema at Illinois, who was a terrible hire.

UConn at Fresno State

This game marks the beginning of UConn as a football independent, which they became for the benefit of their basketball program to move up in prestige to the non-football Big East Conference. I don't know when this game was scheduled, but generally Cali has been the most restrictive state with respect to Covid prohibitions, so I don't know if this game is going to happen.

Week 1

Wednesday, September 1st

Jacksonville State at UAB

I'm surprised it's taken this long for a team to say, "Hey! If we schedule a Wednesday game Week 1, we'll be first!"

Thursday, September 2nd

Ohio State at Minnesota

The Big Ten has been horning in on the ACC's monopoly on Week 1 Thursday conference games...

North Carolina at Virginia Tech

... but not to the point where the ACC is backing off, and this game figures to be better and closer than OSU/Minny.

Friday, September 3rd

Old Dominion at Wake Forest

In past years, the Week 1 Friday slate has picked up over the spring and summer. Let's hope that happens this year too, because as of now this is the only Friday game featuring two FBS teams.

Saturday September 4th

Kansas State vs. Stanford in Arlington, TX

The last two seasons, Arlington was scheduled to get Oregon vs. Auburn and Alabama vs. USC in Week 1. Now they get this snoozer?

Clemson vs. Georgia in Charlotte, NC

The last two seasons, Charlotte got North Carolina vs. South Carolina and "nothing" in Week 1. Now they get this barnburner?

Penn State at Wisconsin

This is the marquee matchup of four — count 'em, four — Week 1 Big Ten games. That is a marked difference of how the Big Ten usually does it (maybe one conference game in Week 1, maybe two at the very most). Indiana at Iowa and Michigan State at Northwestern are the other two).

West Virginia at Maryland

... but there's non-conference intrigue in the Big Ten, as well! This is a rivalry game that actually occurred every year between 1980-2007, and looks like an evenly-matched game in this upcoming season.


It's the spotted owl of the college football world — an SEC power going on the road to play a P5 team. Respect its habitat!

BYU vs. Arizona in Las Vegas

I'm always amused when BYU schedules games in any sport in Las Vegas, since their fans who are adherents to the school's faith cannot partake in any of the extracurriculars that make Vegas Vegas. The last time I brought this up, Cougar fans took it in good humor.

Alabama vs. Miami in Atlanta

Alabama starting the season at a neutral site venue where they play a respectable P5 opponent that has absolutely no chance of beating them is becoming an annual tradition.

Sunday, November 5th

Notre Dame at Florida State

In which I tune in to find out, as I do every year as a Notre Dame hater, "Is this the year ND goes back to sucking?" Sadly, they never do lately.

Monday, September 6th

Ole Miss vs. Louisville in Atlanta

This year's annual ACC Labor Day game. Bold prediction: Matt Corral goes off to kickstart a successful Heisman campaign.

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