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Top 5 Underrated College Football Teams for 2021

James Willis | August 17, 2021
College football underrated teams 2021

It seems like the same four to five college football programs get most of the press when a new season is about to begin. It’s no different in 2021 as defending national champion Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia are the favorites to win this year’s College Football Playoff. 

There are a handful of other very good programs – Texas A&M, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Oregon, and more – that are talked about among the contenders for a possible playoff berth or, maybe at the very least, a conference championship. 

But, what about the underrated teams? You know, those teams like 2020’s Indiana, for example. The Hoosiers went 6-2 losing two games by a total of two scores. One was the 26-20 Outback Bowl loss to Ole Miss. The other was a near upset of Ohio State, 42-35. 

There are more teams out there in 2021. They are great football teams that will challenge for championships. They just haven’t been rated all that highly. Here’s a look at the top 5 underrated college football teams heading into the 2021 season.

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Coastal Carolina Preview

Head Coach Jamey Chadwell

While the Hoosiers finished 11th in the final CFP rankings, right behind them at No. 12 was probably the biggest surprise of the 2020 season – Coastal Carolina. Talk about underrated.

The Chanticleers became a household name in 2020 earning a co-championship in the Sun Belt Conference and finishing 11-1 in just the school’s fourth season as an FBS member. 

Heading into the 2021 season, the Chanticleers are once again an afterthought. They are picked to challenge Appalachian State once again for the Sun Belt title, but after that … nothing. That’s fine for CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell. He’s used to it.

The Chanticleers return their entire offensive line which includes 5-foot-9-inch, 290-pound center Sam Thompson. Sophomore QB Grayson McCall returns to lead an offense that averaged 37.2 points and 449.8 yards per game. Coastal Carolina starts the season ranked #22 in the AP top 25 poll but could end being ranked much higher if they go undefeated. 



Underrated teams 2021

TE Cade Otton is NFL material

Last season was the first under new head coach Jimmy Lake. The Huskies promptly went 3-1 and won the Pac-12 North Division, but the coronavirus prevented them from playing for a conference championship. 

That’s okay because the Huskies will return eight offensive starters and could potentially have one of the nation’s best defenses by the time 2021 is over. The entire offensive line is back as is leading returning receiver TE Cade Otton (6-5, 250). 

The Huskies will be put to the test in Week 2 when they travel to Michigan. Washington is ranked 20th in the preseason AP Top 25 and will battle Oregon once again for control of the Pac-12 North Division. 

Washington is currently ranked #20 in the AP but could crack the top 10 if they play up to their potential.



The Mountain West doesn’t get much respect as it is. Nevada, which went 7-2 last season and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at season’s end, returns 18 starters. Nine starters return on each side of the ball led by reigning MW Player of the Year QB Carson Strong

Strong threw for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns in nine games last season. He has the league’s best weapons too. Back is WR Romeo Doubs (58-1,002-9 TDs) as well as TE Cole Turner (49-605-9 TDs). Add to the mix Elijah Cooks who caught 76 passes for 926 yards and eight scores in 2019 and the Wolfpack are loaded. 

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Nevada will be tested early. They play at Cal to open the season and at Kansas State in Week 3 before traveling to Boise to take on the Broncos to start the conference schedule. They are currently not in the top 25 but if they win these three games they will be. 



Max Duggan QB

QB Max Duggan returns this season.

Facing a quarterback with a heart condition that could end his career mixed in with a heavy dose of COVID-19, the TCU Horned Frogs managed to look adversity in the eye in 2020 and finish 6-4. That included five wins in their last six games.

Now, head coach Gary Patterson returns that quarterback, Max Duggan as well as seven other starters on his offense. That includes a trio of talented receivers. The defense returns six starters and should revert back to its stingy self after not being able to get to the quarterback last season. 

Patterson and TCU will find out just how underrated they are when they open the Big 12 season at home against rival Texas. The Horned Frogs are not in the top 25 but they could realistically enter the Texas game with a 3-0 record. And if they beat the Longhorns they will indeed be ranked, 



Most experts see Ole Miss finishing no better than fifth in the SEC West. Yes, the West does have two teams – Alabama and Texas A&M – ranked in the preseason top 10. However, the Rebels have the offensive firepower to beat anyone in the SEC.

Ole Miss QB Top Prospect

QB Matt Corral can sling the rock and rack up points.

QB Matt Corral (3,337 yds, 29 TDs) is back to lead an offense that averaged 39.2 points per game. The question will be on defense where the Rebels return just four starters from a unit that gave up 38.3 points per game in 2020. 

Even if they are slightly better, Kiffin and the Ole Miss offense are equipped to win shootouts like they did in 2020 – 42-41 over Kentucky and 59-42 over South Carolina, for example. The Rebels are unranked heading into the 2021 season. The Rebs could easily be 3-0 heading into the game at Alabama. They will most certainly be heavy underdogs but the game could turn into a shootout and that is dangerous for any team including Alabama. 


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