ATLANTA — College football fans, rejoice!
The months of waiting for football season to return are finally over and Channel 2 has you covered for the biggest games in Week 1.
From the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the Dawgs top 5 matchup, here are the games airing on Channel 2 this Labor Day weekend.
Tulane at No. 2 Oklahoma | 12 p.m. Saturday on Channel 2
This game was originally scheduled to be played in New Orleans, but Hurricane Ida moved the game to Norman. Ida also forced Tulane to move to Birmingham, Alabama to prepare for the opener.
“We’ve all got family, friends, fellow students, student athletes that are there and we have a lot of people that lost their homes,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “We got guys on our team that weren’t able to hear from their people back home for a few days since cell service wasn’t functioning in New Orleans. It sounds like everyone is doing OK as far as our team and their families are concerned.”
A win over the No. 2 Sooners would bring some cheer to Tulane, its players and their fans. The two teams last met in 2017. The Green Wave jumped out to a quick lead before the Sooners piled on points in the second half.
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Oklahoma is coming off a 9-2 season and enters this year with its highest preseason ranking in a decade. Quarterback Spencer Rattler is one of the early Heisman favorites.
The Sooners defense’s biggest challenge will be Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt, who put together an impressive season as a true freshman in 2021. Oklahoma does return one of the deepest front seven led by Perrion Winfrey, Jalen Redmond and Isaiah Thomas.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami | 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 2
The Alabama Crimson Tide produced one of the most dominant seasons on their path to winning its 18th national championship.
There will be a new look for Alabama in 2021 after the team had a record-tying six players selected in the NFL Draft first round.
Yes, Alabama will be without Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, star running back Najee Harris, SEC defender of the year Patrick Surtain II and quarterback Mac Jones. But since this is Nick Saban’s program, fans know the next group of stars is ready to step up.
That starts with former five-star recruit and quarterback Bryce Young, who is already one of the betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. One of his biggest targets will be wide receiver John Metchie, who had 55 catches and 916 yards.
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Alabama has not lost an opening game since Saban took over the program. Saban’s teams have won 14 straight games in Atlanta and is 6-0 in Chick-fil-A Kickoff games.
Meanwhile the Canes are beginning their third season under head coach Manny Diaz. The team went 8-3 last season with all three losses against top 25 teams.
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Quarterback D’Eriq King is returning this season and bringing his 9,570 career combined passing and rushing yards with him. An experienced offensive line also returns along with tight end Will Mallory and wide receiver Mike Harley.
The pressure has always been on when Miami would return to the glory days of the ‘80s and early 2000s. A win against Alabama would at least start the Hurricanes on the right path.
No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson | 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 2
There is no doubt that No. 3 Clemson versus No. 5 Georgia in Charlotte is the biggest game on the college football slate this weekend.
“Our kids come to the University of Georgia to play in big games. We had an opportunity to play a really good opponent. For me, it’s what Georgia is about,” head coach Kirby Smart told Channel 2′s Zach Klein.
Smart is 4-0 in games against non-conference top 10 teams. He has never lost an opening game since taking over in Athens six years ago.
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Not to be outdone, Clemson has won 10 straight regular season games over SEC opponents. The last time Clemson lost to an SEC team during the regular season was against Georgia in 2014. The two programs haven’t played since.
“It’s a big deal, it means a lot, proximity, fan bases living on top of each other in both states. It just adds to the excitement. It’s what makes college football fun, rivalries like this,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
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D.J. Uiagalelei takes over as Clemson’s quarterback, replacing Georgia native and No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence.
On the other side, JT Daniels is beginning his first full season as a starting quarterback after he began last year with a nasty knee injury.
According to the Associated Press, no team has lost its opening game and bounced back to reach the Bowl Championship Series title game or the College Football Playoff.
Both teams are favored to win their conferences. But if it turns out either team is on the bubble during playoff talks, this head-to-head result could become a major factor.
“If they are still in that discussion of the fourth, fifth or sixth team, the committee is looking for things that can separate those teams,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit told Channel 2′s Zach Klein.
“One of the first things they look at is did the teams play head to head. You want to win this game. You do not want to get into a tiebreaker with a team you lost to back in September.”
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