College Football’s Ten Best Non-Conference Games in 2021

Remember the good old days of college football? Back in 2019, when we had enticing non-conference matchups? Well, those fun times are back starting next season.

In 2021, there will be a number of intriguing non-conference matchups. Here are our most anticipated non-conference games in 2021.

Alabama vs. Miami in Atlanta (Sept. 4)
The Crimson Tide will debut a new starting QB (Bryce Young) and new offensive coordinator (to be determined) against a Miami team with at least 19 returning starters, including QB D’Eriq King, who will be coming off a torn ACL in December.

Clemson vs. Georgia in Charlotte (Sept. 4)
Life after Trevor Lawrence begins for Clemson in a high-profile matchup of two top-five teams. It’s now D.J. Uiagalelei’s program (pronounced oo-ee-ANH-gah-leh-lay, if you want to start practicing). Georgia QB JT Daniels is among 12 returning starters for the Bulldogs.

Louisiana at Texas (Sept. 4)
The Steve Sarkisian era at Texas begins with a tricky opener against Louisiana. Last year, the Ragin’ Cajuns upset Iowa State. If the Longhorns get caught looking ahead to their visit to old Southwest Conference rival Arkansas, UL could hang another ‘L’ on a Big 12 opponent.

Oregon at Ohio State (Sept. 11)
The Pac-12 and Big Ten favorites meet in the Horseshoe in what was supposed to be a rematch of their 2020 game in Eugene. This will be a ginormous matchup for both teams, but an Oregon win would be huge for the Ducks and the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes overall.

Iowa at Iowa State (Sept. 11)
This series started in 1894 — yes, 1894 — but this matchup will easily be the most anticipated meeting between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. It should mark the first time both teams will be nationally ranked and playing in a game against each other. Seven of the last nine meetings have been decided by 10 points or less and this one shouldn’t be any different.

Air Force at Navy (Sept. 11)
To recognize the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the two military academies moved their game from October. There might be other big-name, nationally ranked programs playing on this date, but there will not be a more emotional setting than in Annapolis.

Nebraska at Oklahoma (Sept. 18)
This was scheduled to honor the 50th anniversary of 1971’s iconic Game of the Century between No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Oklahoma (check it out on YouTube and enjoy OU’s wishbone and Johnny Rodgers’ legendary punt return). This year’s game will be a huge opportunity for Nebraska and head coach Scott Frost.

Oklahoma State at Boise State (Sept. 18)
Oklahoma State will become only the eighth Power Five team to play on the blue turf in the past 20 years. The Broncos are 6-1 in those previous Power Five matchups in Boise, but they will be tested by the Cowboys, who have electric dual-threat QB Spencer Sanders.

Cincinnati at Notre Dame (Oct. 2)
If the Bearcats arrive in South Bend unbeaten, a victory here could have huge implications for Cincinnati trying to become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. This game took on even more significance with Notre Dame’s hiring of Cincinnati DC Marcus Freeman. The Irish also play Wisconsin in Chicago on Sept. 25, but this matchup will resonate more with the CFP committee.

Liberty at Ole Miss (Nov. 6)
Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze returns to Oxford as Liberty’s head man. The Flames return 21 of 22 starters off last year’s 10-1 team, led by QB Malik Willis, an Auburn transfer. Freeze’s offense vs. Lane Kiffin and QB Matt Corral? The over/under will be 100. Grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy (also take the over).

Best of the Rest:
Aug. 28
•Hawaii at UCLA

Sept. 2
•Arizona vs. BYU in Las Vegas

Sept. 4
•San Jose State at USC
•UCF at Boise State
•Stanford at Kansas State

Sept. 5
•Notre Dame at Florida State

Sept. 11
•UAB at Georgia
•Texas A&M at Colorado
•Utah at BYU
•Washington at Michigan
•Texas at Arkansas
•Ball State at Penn State
•Buffalo at Nebraska
•Pitt at Tennessee

Sept. 18
•Auburn at Penn State
•Arizona State at BYU
•Minnesota at Colorado
•Coastal Carolina at Buffalo
•Cincinnati at Indiana
•Michigan State at Miami
•Virginia Tech at West Virginia

Sept. 25
•Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin in Chicago

Oct. 23
•USC at Notre Dame

Oct. 30
•North Carolina at Notre Dame

Nov. 20
•Louisiana at Liberty

Nov. 27

Dec. 11
•Army vs. Navy in East Rutherford, N.J.