Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Los Angeles is the football mecca of the world

 

It has been a long time since Los Angeles was the center of the football world, but the 2021 season promises a return to football glory for the Greater Los Angeles area. Los Angeles County will add a new team to go along with the teams that are already here. The Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson will be the home field for San Diego State Aztec football team in the fall of 2021 and the new SoFi Stadium will be the home for the NFL’S Super Bowl to finish the 2021 season.

San Diego State University is building a new $310 million, 35,000-seat stadium that will hopefully be ready in time for the football team’s 2022 season home opener against the Arizona Wildcats. With their new stadium under construction, SDSU will play seven home games this season in Dignity Health Sports Park. The UCLA Bruins will play seven home games in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in 2021 and the USC Trojans will play seven home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

There will be a total of 21 FBS regular season college football games played in Los Angeles County this fall. FBS football is the highest level of college football in the nation, and FBS players make up the vast majority of the players picked in the NFL Draft. There is no other county in the nation that will have the number of FBS games that Los Angeles County will have this season.

There will be 17 regular season NFL games played at Sofi Stadium in 2021, nine for the Los Angeles Chargers and eight for the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams open the regular season at SoFi Stadium on September 12, 2021, against the Chicago Bears and close the regular season at SoFi Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers on January 9, 2022. But that will not be the end of pro football at SoFi for the 2021 season.

The Super Bowl will return to SoFi Stadium on February 13th, 2022. Super Bowl LVI will be the 56th Super Bowl in NFL history and the first in the Greater Los Angeles area since 1993. The Chargers and the Rams both have the talent to make playoff runs but the Rams are the franchise that has had recent playoff success.

The Rams have a Super Bowl-ready roster, and with the acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, they have a quarterback with the arm strength to drive the ball downfield and create explosive plays on offense. With the addition of veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson and wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Rams have the speed to stretch the field. Atwell ran a 4.32 40 yard dash in his pro day workout.

The Chargers have a revamped offensive line that appears to be much improved. They are led on offense by All-Pro center Corey Linsley, four-time pro bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen, and their Rookie of the Year quarterback, Justin Herbert. Defensively, the Chargers need to keep their stars healthy, specifically safety Derwin James and defensive end Joey Bosa, if they are going to have success defensively this season.

The Bruins open the college football season against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Saturday, August 28th at 12:30 PM in the Rose Bowl. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN. The next weekend, on Saturday, September 4th, the Bruins will greet the LSU Tigers at the Rose Bowl. The game will be nationally televised on Fox in prime time starting at 5:00 PM.

LSU won the national championship in 2019 and is ranked in the top 25 of every preseason poll in 2021. But they will not be the only preseason top 25 team to visit the Rose Bowl in 2021. The Oregon Ducks will take on the Bruins on Saturday, October 21st. Game time and the television network for the game have not yet been announced.

The Trojans are a consensus preseason top 25 football team and the favorite to win the Pac-12 South division. The Trojans are led by quarterback Kedon Slovis, who is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country. ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has rated Slovis as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.

USC’s home schedule is not quite as daunting as the Bruin’s home schedule, but they still have some tough games. They open with San Jose State, the defending Mountain West Conference Champions and the next weekend, Saturday Night at 7:30 PM on September 11, they take on the Stanford Cardinal in a national televised game on Fox. They finish up with UCLA and BYU as their final two games of the season in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

San Diego State football had gone to ten consecutive bowls games before the pandemic struck in 2020. The pandemic also ended their streak of ten consecutive winning seasons. The Aztec home schedule will include at least three opponents that will present challenging matchups for the Aztecs. The Utah Utes will visit Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday, September 18, in a game that will start at 4:00 PM. The Utes won the Pac-12 South Division in 2018 and in 2019.

The Aztecs will greet their rival, the Fresno State Bulldogs, on Saturday Night, October 30, in a game that will start at 7:30 PM. The Fresno State-San Diego State rivalry, also known as the Battle for the Oil Can, began in 1923. Fresno State is 5-4 against the Aztecs in the past decade.

The Aztecs will battle the Boise State Broncos on the day after Thanksgiving at Dignity Health Sports Park. The game will start at 9:00 AM and will be televised nationally on CBS. Since joining the Mountain West Conference in 2011, Boise State has a 64-13 regular season record in conference. The Aztecs are the only team in the conference that the Broncos do not have a winning record against. They are 3-3 head-to-head. This should be one of the best matchups of the season in college football.

The 108th Rose Bowl Game will be held on January 1, 2022, in Pasadena. The game will feature a traditional matchup of teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12. But that will not be the only bowl game in the Greater Los Angeles area this season. The inaugural edition of the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl will be played on Saturday, December 18, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be televised on the ABC network.

The game will match the Mountain West Conference champion against the Pac-12's No. 5 bowl selection. SoFi Stadium will be quite busy that week with football. On Thursday Night, December 16, the Chargers will host the Kansas City Chiefs in SoFi Stadium. On Saturday, December 18, will be the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl game, and on Sunday, December 19, the Rams will take on the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium. The clean-up crew at SoFi Stadium will be very busy that week.

In all, the Greater Los Angeles area will be the host to at least 23 FBS college football games and at least 18 NFL football games in the 2021-2022 season. This does not include the NFL preseason games in August or any postseason playoff home games the Chargers or Rams may qualify for. With this much quality football in the Greater Los Angeles area this year, Los Angeles will truly be the Football Mecca in 2021.

 

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