Updated: Sep 30
Georgia exorcised their demons Monday night by slaying the mighty Alabama dragon, closing the door on the 2021 college football season. Now it’s time to reflect on what was, what wasn’t. And look forward to what’s to come!
Here you can find the complete collection of The Circuit's 2021 College Football work!
Don’t let the score of the national championship game fool you; Georgia was not much better than Alabama. And neither were particularly good. Georgia’s offense was anemic for 50 minutes, while Alabama couldn’t find the endzone if their lives depended on it. In a battle of field goals, Alabama appeared the better team all night long until they jumped offside and Stetson Bennett launched a hail mary to break the touchdown seal. Both defenses were impressive, and Georgia’s proved to be superior. Finally.
Unlike a lot of seasons, the national champion feels right. Georgia dominated teams all year long, while Alabama didn’t feel like an elite Nick Saban team.
With the 2021 season in the books, it’s time to reflect on the season and hand out some superlatives!
Most Surprising Team:
Jim Harbough was nearly fired after last season, and the Wolverines had not beaten the Buckeyes in a decade. No one in their right mind thought Michigan would even beat Ohio State this season, forget about winning the Big Ten and making the CFP! Michigan surprised everyone this year and provided us with some great sports theater.
Jesus this team underachieved. Many thought the Tigers would win the national championship, but they didn’t even make it to the ACC championship game. I think the talk of Clemson’s dynasty falling to rubble is a bit premature, but this was certainly a huge step backwards for Dabo and co.
Game of the Year:
Texas A&M 41, Alabama 38
This game had it all. The rain was falling, the Tide were rolling, the Aggies were struggling. Until they weren’t. A great 4th quarter from A&M and a game-winning field goal threw the entire season into anarchy. Not only was this a great game, but it completely changed the course of history; had Alabama been undefeated, they wouldn’t have had to play for their lives against Georgia in the SEC championship, so maybe Georgia wins that. Then Alabama plays Michigan in the Orange Bowl, and maybe they end up winning the national championship. Crazy how one kick changes everything.
Seven Defining Players:
QB Bryce Young (Alabama Crimson Tide)
This one is pretty obvious. Young won the Heisman, becoming the first Alabama quarterback ever to do so. He led the Crimson Tide to the SEC championship and got them to the national championship game. Young was electric all season long, and is the most memorable player from the 2021 season.
DE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan Wolverines)
The image of Hutchinson with his friends and family celebrating in the snow after finally beating Ohio State will probably be the lasting image from this season. Hutchinson was one of the best players on one of the best teams, and might just be the top pick in the draft this spring.
DL Jordan Davis (Georgia Bulldogs)
Davis left a huge mark on this year (pun fully intended). Davis is a mammoth of a man, and anchored the best defense in the country all season long and helped lead Georgia to the national championship. Is he the best player on the Bulldogs? Probably not. But he is the most memorable.
CB Coby Bryant (Cincinnati Bearcats)
Cincinnati was one of the best stories this season, breaking through the glass ceiling non Power 5 teams have hit their heads against for decades. And they were able to do so with perhaps the best secondary in college football, led by Coby Bryant. He won the Jim Thorpe Award for being the best defensive back in the nation, and his name brings a smile to all of our faces, so that’s a plus.
QB Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma Sooners)
Most of these names are positive, but not this one. Rattler was the favorite to win the Heisman in the preseason, and he didn’t even make it out of October as the starter. Rattler had a really disappointing season, but maybe with a transfer to South Carolina he can get back to his freshman form.
QB Sam Howell (North Carolina Tar Heels)
Another disappointing season from a quarterback with extremely high aspirations. Howell was a projected Heisman finalist, presumed #1 pick in the draft, and was set to lead the Tar Heels to the CFP. Instead they went 6-6 and Howell was far from a Heisman finalist.
RB Kenneth Walker III (Michigan State Spartans)
Walker carried the Spartans to a surprising 10-2 season, and was leading the Heisman race halfway through the year. Walker was fantastic this season, and deserves to be recognized.
Seven Defining Teams:
They won the national championship and put out one of the greatest defenses ever. Enough said.
Alabama Crimson Tide
They had the Heisman winner. They had the greatest coach ever. They had maybe the best win of any team this season by beating Georgia in the SEC championship. As long as Saban is around, they will always be one of the defining teams.
Remember me saying they broke that glass ceiling? That’s really all you need to know to have them on this list.
They finally beat Ohio State. They finally won the Big Ten. They finally made the playoff. They might have the #1 pick in the draft. And Harbough might be leaving!? They were definitely one of the defining teams this season.
They were the most disappointing team this season, which is saying a lot because North Carolina and Iowa State disappointed greatly. Clemson went from a national championship contender to a .500 team before September ended. Dabo Swinney took those Green Day lyrics a little too literally.
The Sooners were my personal pick to win the national championship before the season started. Now that the season is over, their coach (and maybe quarterback) jumped ship to Los Angeles, and their other quarterback is in South Carolina. The Sooners were good all season long, but that was the problem. They were expected to be great.
Baylor was another great surprise this season, winning the Big 12 and the Sugar Bowl. Perhaps the defining play of the entire season was their goal-line stand against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game, stopping the Cowboys and helping Cincinnati make CFP history.
Now let’s take a way-too-early look ahead to the 2022 season and make some predictions based on nothing but reckless speculation!
2022 Heisman Finalists (& winner)
QB CJ Stroud (Ohio State Buckeyes (winner))
QB Caleb Williams (Oklahoma Sooners? USC Trojans?)
LB Will Anderson (Alabama Crimson Tide)
QB Bryce Young (Alabama Crimson Tide)
RB Bijan Robinson (Texas Longhorns)
2022 College Football Playoff
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl:
1 Alabama Crimson Tide def 4 Oregon Ducks
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl:
2 Ohio State Buckeyes def 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
National Championship Game:
1 Alabama Crimson Tide def 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
I don’t believe Alabama was the best team in the country this season, but very rarely does that happen two years in a row. I fully expect Bryce Young, Will Anderson and Nick Saban to be back on top in 2022 and win yet another national championship.
There you have it! The 2021 college football season is over, and it’s time to reflect on a great season and look forward to the next great one!