This is why, if you’re Georgia, you schedule opponents like Clemson.

This is why it’s worth taking the risk.

We said last week that, even if they lost to Clemson, the Bulldogs’ hopes of a College Football Playoff spot would not have been ruined at all.

But a win?

A win like the one UGA pulled off Saturday, when they shut down the Tigers for a 10-3 victory in Charlotte, puts the Bulldogs front and center in the national title conversation.

The Dawgs will have that big, fat, shining nonconference win on their résumé all season for the rest of the college football world to shoot for.

And now the Dawgs have an SEC schedule in front of them, where they can keep piling up quality wins, certainly if the defense performs the way it did Saturday.

Clemson, meanwhile, has a big problem.

This does not end CFP hopes for Dabo Swinney’s bunch. Of course not. Clemson could absolutely run the table from here, win the ACC yet again and have a résumé that only has the one high-quality loss on it. However, Saturday was Clemson’s biggest chance for a quality win. The perception of the ACC took a hit with Miami getting crushed by Alabama and North Carolina losing to Virginia Tech — granted, the Hokies helped themselves in the ACC race, but they have a long way to go before they’d enter the CFP conversation. Besides, Clemson does not play UM, UNC or Virginia Tech anyway.

Basically, Clemson doesn’t have much of a chance at compiling quality wins. And the Tigers need those to balance out Saturday’s loss, even one to as good of a team as Georgia.

For this week we’ll use what we think will be the likely AP poll results after all the Week 1 games are done. We’ll continue to use AP for our order until the first CFP rankings are revealed later in the season.


Hey Bryce Young, welcome to the Heisman Trophy conversation. What, too soon? Young had the best statistical debut of any Crimson Tide quarterback ever in his first start as Bama rolled past the Hurricanes. Even as impressive as Georgia was in beating Clemson, the Tide are still No. 1 and the SEC favorites until somebody proves that they aren’t.


The offense will raise some concerns and that’s fair, though it’s also fair to recall that Clemson still has a strong defense. But the defense that came out of Saturday looking like world-beaters resides in Athens. Allowing the Tigers 2 rushing yards for the game, 3 points, and scoring the only touchdown on Christopher Smith’s interception returns confirms that the UGA D is just flat nasty.


Tulane was supposed to host Oklahoma on Saturday until Hurricane Ida forced the game out of New Orleans, shifting to Norman. Oklahoma almost lost anyway. The Sooners’ defense, which looked much better in 2020 than in recent years, seemed to take a step back. The Green Wave gained 396 yards, including more than 200 in the second half, and nearly erased a 37-14 halftime deficit.

Ohio State

Opening on the road against a pretty decent conference opponent was just the kind of test new starting quarterback CJ Stroud needed to pass. He did, throwing for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns — on just 13 completions — to lead the Buckeyes past an inspired Minnesota team, 45-31, on Thursday. OSU’s receivers get all the ink, but the Buckeyes ran well too, for 201 yards and a TD on a 7.7 ypc clip.

Texas A&M

Like several other high-profile programs, the Aggies broke in a new starting quarterback in Week 1. Haynes King delivered for the most part, throwing for 292 yards and 2 TDs in A&M’s 41-10 win over Kent State. His 3 interceptions are cause for a bit of worry, though that can be forgiven for a first-time starter if he improves. Of perhaps equal concern is the fact that the Golden Flashes ran for 226 yards.


It is not time to hit the panic button after just 1 loss. But if the Tigers don’t find a way to balance their offense to help QB DJ Uiagalelei, it might be time to dust off that button, or at least find it. The good news is that Clemson won’t face a better front 7 all season than it did Saturday, and next week’s game against FCS South Carolina State is a chance for everybody to get settled in and regain confidence.

Iowa State

Were there nerves in Week 1 for a team rated No. 7 by the AP in the preseason, the highest poll spot in Cyclones program history? Perhaps. Knowing how to deal with high expectations is new in Ames, which might explain why Iowa State trailed FSC team Northern Iowa for a chunk of the first half and only won 16-10 at home. ISU’s stats — 17 first downs, 335 total yards — just won’t do in Big 12 competition.


The Bearcats opened with one of those great nonconference rivalries that few know about outside of Ohio. UC defeated Miami (Ohio) 49-14 to win the Victory Bell for the 14th consecutive time, tying the all-time series at 59-59-7. But that, of course, is not the nonconference game that Cincinnati needs most to make a CFP splash. Road games at Indiana (Sept. 18) and Notre Dame (Oct. 2) are.

Notre Dame

Speaking of the Fighting Irish, they began 2021 the way they ended 2020: With a lot of questions to answer on defense. Give Florida State credit for rallying on Sunday night to take Notre Dame to overtime, but after the Seminoles scored 38, Brian Kelly’s bunch has allowed a total of 103 points in its past 3 games dating to last season. Veteran QBs at Cincinnati, North Carolina and USC lurk on the schedule.