Dutch Lion’s 2021 College Football Spectacular
Football season is back in all it’s glory…. and it’s just so glorious, right! Of all the sports in all the gin joints in all the world, college football is the game I love the most. I have passion for it. It’s a great game, the greatest game. Nothing can top autumn Saturdays, and I couldn’t be more pumped for a “real” college football season of Fall Saturdays after last season’s disaster that started late, ended late, was filled with COVID cancellations, no non-conference games, no fans, etc. Overall, it was just too messed up. Hopefully 2021 brings back the normal levels of passion.
For those of you who are new to Dutch Lion Sports, let me share with you the inspiration behind our annual “College Football Spectacular”. Back when I was a kid in the 1980s, there weren’t a whole lot of sports magazines or other information out there. We only had some magazines, the newspaper, and the local sports report on the ten o’clock news. So in order to get pumped about the upcoming season, we went to the newsstand. The biggest and best publication out there was arguably Sports Illustrated. In the ’80s (from ’82 to ’86) they published an exciting football preview that was titled “The College & Pro Football Spectacular”. As you can guess, I was enthralled. I still am.
My lifelong love of football preview magazines was born. For the last few years we here at Dutch Lion Sports are writing an online preview in that same vein. The main difference is we have split one preview into two separate previews, one for NCAA and one for the NFL.
Without further ado, here is our 2021 College Football Spectacular, with a little help from a huge fan yet still a little dude. That’s right readers, I recruited a contributor to this year’s Preview. (Check out his contribution before you check out.)
The Big Reveal
I’ve been doing a lot of research and thinking in regards to my pick for 2021 National Champion. I’ve now made my decision. The question is…. Who is Dutch Lion’s 2021 National Champion? The answer is…..
UGA will walk away with their first national title since 1980. Georgia is long overdue. The ’17 National Championship Game loss to Alabama…. the ’18 SEC Championship Game loss to ‘Bama…. those were typical heartbreaking pitfalls that precede a dominant National Championship. The ‘Dawgs are now 44-9 over the last four seasons with three of those losses being to Alabama (Other losses being at Auburn in ’17, at LSU and vs Texas in ’18, vs South Carolina and vs LSU in ’19, and vs Florida in ’20).
Georgia is truly an elite program, yet a couple losses here and there have been holding them back from achieving a perfect season. So what’s different now? Head Coach Kirby Smart is more experienced. He’s learned from his losses. He’s hired new assistant coaches: Todd Monken is entering his 2nd season as OC while the DC is Dan Lanning who is entering his 3rd year. Quarterback J.T. Daniels was quietly excellent in his limited four game season last year. This season will be his best yet after transferring from USC. He will lead the ‘Dawgs to the promised land, much like Joe Burrow led the LSU Tigers all the way to the National Championship in 2019.
This Georgia team will be more defensive than that LSU team but also very good on offense with a stable of running backs (Zamir “Zeus” White, Kendall Milton, James Cook, and Kenny McIntosh) running behind a mammoth offensive line including Jamaree Salyer (325 pounds). The receivers have been banged up the last couple of years (George Pickens: ACL) but there’s a lot of talent there, starting with Kearis Jackson, Jermaine Burton, Arian Smith, Dominick Blaylock, and two special tight ends in Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington. As for the Bulldogs defense, just wait ’til you see some of these dudes. Jordan Davis (340 pounds), Adam Anderson, Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith, Derion Kendrick, and Lewis Cine are just a few of the special defenders that the Dawgs will run out there under DC Dan Lanning (12.6 and 20.0 ppg allowed in his first two seasons).
The schedule is easier than normal too. Phil Steele has UGA with the 60th hardest schedule. There is no ‘Bama or Texas A&M. Their SEC crossovers are at Auburn and vs Arkansas. The hardest regular season game is the opening clash vs Clemson in Charlotte on Saturday night. Who’s pumped! Win or lose that game, the Bulldogs will control their own destiny because they could win the SEC East, go to the SEC Championship, and beat the West champion whether it’s Alabama or Texas A&M, and then they would make the CFP.
So that’s what we’re calling for, a national championship season for the Georgia Bulldogs for their first time since 1980, before the College & Pro Football Spectacular was even born.
Dutch Lion’s Top 25
- Oklahoma – The biggest change with Oklahoma as of late is that their defense has improved. It used to be a great offense paired with a mediocre, below average defense. Not anymore. Their average points per game allowed fell from 33.3 to 27.3 to 21.7 over the last three seasons and now they bring back 8 starting defenders. Can they break the 20 ppg allowed mark? HC Lincoln Riley’s offense has averaged over 42 ppg in all of his first four seasons in Norman.
- Clemson – Clemson has it all again. Their defense should improve from last season. Even though QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne are now in the NFL, their replacements are great prospects. Nine defensive starters return and should get closer to the 13 ppg allowed from 2017, ’18, and ’19 unlike last year’s team which allowed 20.0 ppg. Watch out for this freshman phenom named Will Shipley. He wears jersey #1. It won’t take long to find him on the field as he’s a Christian McCaffrey type player in Clemson’s backfield.
- Texas A&M – We’re calling for the Aggies to oust the Crimson Tide from their perch atop the SEC West. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s recruiting has improved the talent level down in College Station quickly. Now it’s time for the Aggies to oust the Crimson Tide. I’m predicting a victory over Alabama on October 9 down in Texas. Then the Aggies will win the SEC West and face the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship. Will both advance to the CFP Semifinals? I’m not quite sure how that will go down yet but for now I’m putting A&M at #4.
- Alabama – Is this the year that the Tide finally have a “down” year? We think so. Alabama has to replace so many pieces from their amazing team of last year. Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood, and Deonte Brown. That’s seven premier players from just their offense. Sure the new guys are great prospects, but I think the Tide will stumble a couple times, maybe at Auburn, at Florida, at Texas A&M, and maybe even in the opener next week against Miami. No CFP this year for Alabama.
- Oregon – The Ducks are stacking talent and depth on their roster. It won’t be long until the Ducks are back into the national championship picture. It might not be this year yet but it will be soon. Oregon is close.
- Ohio St. – Like Alabama, I expect the Buckeyes to take a small step back this year. They can’t keep dominating year in and year out, can they? I’ll call for losses at Michigan, maybe vs Oregon in Week 2, and maybe even another loss here or there.
- North Carolina – I love what Head Coach Mack Brown is doing in Chapel Hill… again. Behind QB Sam Howell, the Tar Heels have a potent offense. Can their defense catch up? Can the ‘Heels oust the Tigers of Clemson from atop the ACC?
- Notre Dame – Notre Dame’s program is in a really good place. Like Texas A&M and Oregon already listed, Coach Brian Kelly has been accumulating talent for years now and the Fighting Irish are ready to challenge for the top of the college football world. Ian Book is gone so there will be a new QB in South Bend. Watch out for the new freshman named Tyler Buchner. He looks like a possible stud under center for the next four or five years.
- Iowa State – The Cyclones are the real deal. QB Brock Purdy, RB Breece Hall, WR Xavier Hutchinson, TE Charlie Kolar, and LB Mike Rose are all getting preseason accolades.
- Washington – I like the Huskies but their problem is their big rivals Oregon are getting better under HC Mario Cristobal, who is recruiting like a madman. So what can Washington do under 2nd year coach Jimmy Lake? Well, they can return 18 starters and possibly beat Oregon head-to-head on November 6 in Seattle.
- Ole Miss
- Boise St.
- Cincinnati – Desmond Ridder is a stud for HC Luke Fickell
- UCLA – A surprise team for ’21.
- Nebraska – I know what you’re thinking… this is ridiculous. Well, you might be right. However, Nebraska is on the way up. I’m a biased fan but seriously, when you study this program every day like I do, you can see things. The Cornhuskers are getting close to having a winning program once again. How long until winning becomes dominance? I’m not sure yet, but the wheel has been spinning for awhile and it’s Nebraska’s turn to come up with the winning number. The biggest problem this year? The schedule… as usual. Phil has Nebraska with the nation’s 10th toughest schedule. When you break down the slate, the hardest games are at Oklahoma, vs Ohio State, and at Wisconsin. Let’s say Nebraska loses all three of those. Ok, then what about the other nine games? I see the ‘Huskers winning all of those, including the season ender vs Iowa. I definitely think it’s time for Scott Frost and company to get on a roll and beat AT LEAST one of either Wisconsin or Iowa. Best case scenario for Nebraska: 9-3 (losses to Illinois, Oklahoma, and Ohio St.). Worst case: 6-6 (losses to ILL, OU, OSU, WIS, Iowa, and Michigan). I’m calling for a 9-3 season and thus a move up into the top 20 in the national rankings for the Cornhuskers. Go Big Red!
- N.C. State
- Wake Forest
Dutch Lion’s Heisman Trophy Favorites
- J.T. Daniels/QB/Georgia – As the star quarterback of my #1 Georgia Bulldogs, I’m picking Daniels to win the Trophy at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York this season.
- Sam Howell/QB/North Carolina – Howell should put up mongo numbers for UNC.
- Spencer Rattler/QB/Oklahoma – Rattler seems like a sure-fire Heisman finalist.
- Kedon Slovis/QB/USC – Whenever Southern Cal does well, their QB is usually a Heisman favorite because he gets all the votes from out west. I could see Slovis being a strong candidate for the Trojans this year.
- Brock Purdy/QB/Iowa St. – One of the hot teams at the moment is Iowa State. Purdy might split votes with the Cyclones star RB Breece Hall, thus hurting both of their chances at ultimately winning the Award. Purdy is a really strong passer with underrated running ability.
Dutch Lion’s All-America Team
QB1 (Pocket Passer) – Sam Howell/North Carolina/SO/PS#8/6-1 225/Jersey #7
QB2 (Scrambler) – Desmond Ridder/Cincinnati/JR/PS#114/6-4 215/Jersey #9
RB – Tank Bigsby/Auburn/FR/PS#7/6-0 208/Jersey #4
RB – Isaiah Spiller/Texas A&M/SO/PS#11/6-1 225/Jersey #28
WR – Garrett Wilson/Ohio State/SO/PS#3/6-0 188/Jersey #5
WR – David Bell/Purdue/SO/PS#11/6-2 205/Jersey #3
TE – Michael Mayer/Notre Dame/FR/PS#3/6-5 249/Jersey #87
LT – Thayer Munford/Ohio St./SR/PS#60/6-6 321/Jersey #75
LG – Jamaree Salyer/Georgia/JR/PS#2/6-4 325/Jersey #69 (plays RG usually)
C Tyler Linderbaum/Iowa/SO/PS#122/6-3 289/Jersey #65
RG Jarrett Patterson/Notre Dame/SO/PS#148/6-5 305/Jersey #55
RT – Kenyon Green/Texas A&M/SO/PS#2/6-4 325/Jersey #55 (plays LT also)
AP (All Purpose) – Ainias Smith/Texas A&M/SO/PS#158/5-10 190/Jersey #0
DE – Kayvon Thibodeaux/Oregon/SO/PS#1/6-5 250/Jersey #5
DT – Jordan Davis/Georgia/JR/PS#39/6-6 340/Jersey #99
DT – Bryan Bresee/Clemson/FR/PS#1/6-5 300/Jersey #11
DE – DeMarvin Leal/Texas A&M/SO/PS#10/6-4 290/Jersey #8
OLB – Will Anderson/Alabama/FR/PS#11/6-4 235/Jersey #31
ILB – Mike Rose/Iowa St./JR/PS#188/6-4 245/Jersey #23 (plays both OLB and ILB)
ILB – Jack Sanborn/Wisconsin/JR/PS#40/6-2 235/Jersey #57
OLB – Owen Pappoe/Auburn/SO/PS#2/6-1 222/Jersey #0 (also plays ILB)
CB – Derek Stingley/LSU/SO/PS#1/6-1 195/Jersey #24
CB – Mykael Wright/Oregon/SO/PS#15/5-11 190/Jersey #2
S – Kyle Hamilton/Notre Dame/SO/PS#49/6-4 219/Jersey #14
S – Isaiah Pola-Mao/USC/SR/PS#27/6-4 205/Jersey #21
Dutch Lion’s Favorite Players
- Zamir “Zeus” White/RB/Georgia/SO/PS#1/6-0 215/Jersey #3
- Tank Bigsby/RB/Auburn/FR/PS#7/6-0 208/Jersey #4
- Garrett Nelson/OLB/Nebraska/SO/PS#83/6-3 240/Jersey #44
- Aidan O’Connell/QB/Purdue/JR/6-3 200/Jersey #16
- Jack Sorenson/WR/Miami (OH)/SR/PS#265/6-0 195/Jersey #13
- Skylar Thompson/QB/Kansas St./SR/PS#30/6-2 223/Jersey #7
- Wan’Dale Robinson/WR/Kentucky/SO/PS#24/5-10 185/Jersey #1
- JoJo Domann/OLB/Nebraska/SR/PS#80/6-1 230/Jersey #13
- Kearis Jackson/WR/KR/PR/Georgia/SO/PS#31/6-0 200/Jersey #10
- George Holani/RB/Boise St./SO/PS#49/5-11 200/Jersey #24
- Ali Gaye/DE/LSU/JR/PS#19JC/6-6 262/Jersey #11
- Colin Schooler/LB/Texas Tech/SR/PS#118/6-1 230/Jersey #17
- Greg Dulcich/TE/UCLA/SO/6-4 242/Jersey #85
The Hot Corner
This year I was able to get a contributor to our Spectacular. His name is Ben Kruse. Ben is a 12-year-old superfan from Mundelein, Illinois. Ben is one of the biggest sports fans I know. One time Ben and his family came over to our house and Ben spent most of his time just sitting in my basement, staring at the sports memorabilia and stuff that I’ve acquired over the years. “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!” He’s quite an athlete too. Ben is in 7th grade and plays travel baseball for the Mundelein Mustangs youth league. You can follow Ben at his YouTube channel.
Ben’s Top 25
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Clemson Tigers
- Oklahoma Sooners
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Ohio State Buckeyes
- Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish
- Iowa State Cyclones
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Cincinnati Bearcats
- LSU Tigers
- Florida Gators
- Oregon Ducks
- Miami (FL) Hurricanes
- Indiana Hoosiers
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- USC Trojans
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- Wisconsin Badgers
- Washington Huskies
- Texas Longhorns
- Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
- Ole Miss Rebels
- Auburn Tigers
- Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Ben’s Top Players to Watch
- Spencer Rattler QB Oklahoma: Had a great Freshman year and has gotten better and will succeed at a high level this season. He is my Heisman Favorite.
- Sam Howell QB North Carolina: Another Heisman level talent player; who has a good chance of winning the Heisman. Also I think the North Carolina offense can be deadly.
- Kyren Williams RB Notre Dame: A really talented running back; has speed and will get plenty of touches in Notre Dame’s run first offense.
- John Metchie WR Alabama: A super fast wide receiver that consistently makes catches and with Devonta Smith gone he will be Bryce Young’s main target.
- Derek Stingley Jr. CB LSU: Ability to defend good wide receivers and intercept and swat away consistently. Proving to be the leader of Ed Orgeron’s defense.
To finish off this year’s Spectacular, I want to share a list of the college football stadiums I’ve visited along with my bucket list of campuses I need to visit in the future.
My Favorite Stadiums in which I’ve seen at least one game (in order of incredible experience and likeability)
- Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE (Nebraska) – There is no place like Nebraska. This motto is certainly true. It’s a truly special place. I’ve been there five times now and it keeps getting better, even though the dominance has waned. No worries, the Huskers will be back soon!
- Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN (Notre Dame) – Notre Dame’s experience is special. Don’t miss the players entering the Stadium in the Tunnel Walk.
- Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL (Illinois) – Next time you go to Illinois, do yourself a favor and spend some time walking up by the memorial pillars at the top of the stadium. A sobering experience with a fantastic view, especially from the West side during sunset.
- Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI (Michigan) – Ginormous. You’ll feel like an ant in this place.
- Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA (UCLA) – We saw an Illini game at UCLA back in ’02 or ’03. It was cool but I really want to attend an actual Rose Bowl game.
- Ryan Field, Evanston, IL (Northwestern) – Like Purdue below, it’s really small. The outside tailgating areas are really fun. Evanston makes this experience better than some others.
- Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI (Wisconsin) – A huge Big Ten venue, Madison’s Camp Randall is a big-time stadium with plenty of history.
- Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA (Iowa) – I’ve only been to one game in Iowa during the 1999 season. It’s about time I return for a new experience.
- Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN (Purdue) – Small and quaint for the Big Ten.
- Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL (Northern Illinois) – A bit high-schoolish. I think most MAC stadiums are probably similar.
Stadiums I’ve driven by, maybe even stepped in the gates, but unfortunately it was not on a game day.
- Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN (Tennessee)
- Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR (Oregon)
- Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA (Washington)
- Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN (Ball State)
- Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN (Indiana)
- Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX (Texas)
- Kroger Field, Lexington, KY (Kentucky)
- TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Minnesota)
Bucket List (in order of stadiums I MOST want/need to attend a game)
- Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA (LSU)
- Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR (Oregon)
- Ben Hill Griffin Stadium AKA “The Swamp”, Gainesville, FL (Florida)
- Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA (Georgia)
- Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN (Tennessee)
- Beaver Stadium, State College, PA (Penn St.)
- Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID (Boise St.)
- Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA (Washington)
- Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC (Clemson)
- Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK (Oklahoma)