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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

College Football Playoff picks after Week 1

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12:20 AM ET

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    ESPN staff

It might be Week 1 of the 2021 college football season, but familiar faces once again fill up our writers’ playoff picks.

Much like last year, top-ranked and defending champion Alabama lands in the No. 1 spot on all but one of our writers’ lists following a 44-13 win over Miami on Saturday. New quarterback Bryce Young wasted no time showing he’s ready for the Crimson Tide limelight as he threw for 344 yards and four scores in his first start for Nick Saban. Alabama’s defense also lived up to the preseason hype, holding Miami to just three first-half points.

Not to be outdone, the Georgia defense sacked Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei seven times to secure a 10-3 victory over the Tigers in Week 1’s biggest matchup. The Bulldogs’ offense might need improvement, but the defense is in midseason form already, and that means they’re a unanimous choice to make the CFP after one week.

Unlike Georgia and Alabama, Oklahoma struggled out of the gates but held on to beat Tulane 40-35 in the season opener. Due to the close call, the Sooners land in only five of 12 lists.

The Ohio State Buckeyes kicked off the season on Thursday with a 45-31 win at Minnesota, and the 14-point win puts the defending Big Ten champions in all but one of our writers’ picks. CJ Stroud is replacing Justin Fields under center in Columbus this season, and his stat line against the Golden Gophers resembled that of his predecessor. He finished the day with 294 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Buckeyes will host Oregon next Saturday in one of the most anticipated nonconference games of the season.

Other teams on the fringes and receiving votes are Texas A&M, Cincinnati and, yes, the 2-0 UCLA Bruins. One-loss Clemson is still hanging around in one of the rankings as well.


Andrea Adelson: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Texas A&M


Kyle Bonagura: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Oklahoma


Bill Connelly: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Cincinnati, 4. UCLA


Heather Dinich: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgia, 4. Cincinnati


David M. Hale: 1. Georgia, 2. Alabama, 3. Ohio State, 4. Clemson


Chris Low: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Texas A&M


Harry Lyles Jr.: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgia, 4. Oklahoma


Adam Rittenberg: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgia, 4. Cincinnati


Alex Scarborough: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgia, 4. Oklahoma


Mark Schlabach: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Texas A&M


Tom VanHaaren: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Oklahoma


Dave Wilson: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Oklahoma

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