Power 5 football returned Thursday night as Miami took care of business against UAB. Houston quarterback transfer D'Eriq King produced over 200 yards of total offense in his first start for the Hurricanes.
Miami-UAB was an hors d'oeuvre for the feast ahead. Saturday does not promise to be the most competitive slate of football but several future NFL stars are scheduled to take the field. And at the end of the day, it is football. There were questions about whether or not this day would come less than two months ago. Soak it up, college football fans.
Here are the games that fans should be watching this weekend:
Syracuse at No. 18 North Carolina
Saturday, noon ET on ACC Network
Syracuse safety Andre Cisco is a likely Day 2 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. He shows explosive traits and a natural ability to change directions. The New York native needs to do a better job of wrapping up his tackles rather than expecting the impact to do the work for him.
The Tar Heels are a heavy favorite in this game. Quarterback Sam Howell is a talented, young leader that draft fans will need to become familiar with for next year. Wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome have a lot of athletic ability. CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso is higher on Newsome than most. Linebacker Chazz Surratt is a high-volume tackler and an all-around producer. He stacked the stat sheet last season and currently projects as a Day 2 selection.
Louisiana at No. 23 Iowa State
Saturday, noon ET on ESPN
Ragin' Cajun running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell comprise one of the most entertaining tandems in college football. They are explosive and capable of wearing several different hats on the football field. The expectation is that both are drafted next April.
Iowa State is a heavy favorite though. Quarterback Brock Purdy has attained a lot of buzz in recent months. He was ranked No. 92 on our Top 100 big board released earlier this month. Tight ends Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and Dylan Soehner are all built for the NFL. Safety Greg Eisworth did not have eye-popping statistics in 2019 but has been all over the field for the Cyclones.
Duke at No. 10 Notre Dame
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Duke center Jack Wohlabaugh suffered a torn ACL before the season so that is a difficult development. He was tracking to be a draft pick. Edge rusher Chris Rumph II is a bit slight of frame but easily one of the most gifted edge rushers available. There is little to dislike about his game.
Notre Dame once again finds themselves ranked among the nation's elite. Although they lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball, the Irish reloaded. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah looks good in coverage and is not afraid to give up his body to make a diving play. He is a bit undersized but projects as a potential Day 2 choice in the draft.
Quarterback Ian Book is back to lead the offense. The offensive line does not have any Day 1 draft picks but there are really solid players, including offensive guard Aaron Banks, offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and offensive guard Robert Hainsey. The Irish should be able to control this game on the ground if they get off to an early lead.
Georgia Tech at Florida State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Honestly, there are not many draft prospects that have caught my eye at Georgia Tech. The program has done a much better job recruiting high school prospects of late so it would not be shocking if that changed soon.
Florida State, on the other hand, is loaded. Can the Seminoles rally that talent to produce some wins this year? Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson look like first-round picks. Edge rusher Janarius Robinson, edge rusher Joshua Kaindoh and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. were coveted high school recruits and have a ceiling that few can reach.
First-year head coach Mike Norvell still needs to locate a difference maker at quarterback but wide receiver Tamorrion Terry and tight end Tre McKitty are also capable of turning a routine gain into a big play. The former was ranked No. 41 on our Top 100 list.
No. 1 Clemson at Wake Forest
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Clemson. Have you heard of them? They are pretty good and, to no one's surprise, are a heavy favorite in this game. For some teams, it may be difficult to fill out a paragraph on their draft outlook. In the case of the Tigers, it is difficult to limit them. The names on offense are familiar by now: quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, wide receiver Amari Rodgers and wide receiver Justyn Ross, who will miss this season due to injury. Offensive tackle Jackson Carman is a potential first-round selection but watch out for interior offensive linemen Matt Bockhorst and Jordan McFadden as well. They will take on a larger role after last season's starters moved on to the NFL.
The defense is pretty good too. Cornerback Derion Kendrick is highly regarded. He was ranked No. 45 overall on the Top 100 list. Safety Nolan Turner and edge rusher Xavier Thomas are two other intriguing talents on that side of the ball.
The Wake Forest team looks a lot different this year. Quarterback Jamie Newman transferred to Georgia, but has since opted out. Wide receiver Sage Surratt has also opted out of the upcoming season. The remaining crown jewel is edge rusher Carlos Basham Jr. Basham was ranked No. 25 overall in the aforementioned Top 100. The Virginia native produced 11 sacks for the Demon Deacons last fall.
The full slate of college football games.