Week 2 of the college football season will feature a slate of intriguing matchups, highlighted by the prime-time showdown between Notre Dame and Michigan.
Georgia hosting South Carolina after losing its opener figures to be another thrilling ride in just the second week of the season. Then there’s the in-state duel between Florida and Miami (FL) at Sun Life Stadium.
Yep, nothing is getting done this weekend around the house. There are few things that can’t wait until later when epic football is staring you in the face.
Picking the winners couldn’t be harder, though. Despite being hosts, Miami, Georgia and Michigan are all in trouble this weekend.
No. 14 Notre Dame (1-0) at No. 17 Michigan (1-0)
Last year, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish escaped in South Bend with a 13-6 victory over the visiting Michigan Wolverines. This time around, though, the Golden Domers are underdogs on the road, despite holding a higher standing.
One of the biggest matchups to watch, other than the performance of quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Devin Gardner, is Notre Dame’s front seven against the revamped Wolverines offensive line.
Despite losing three starters during the offseason, the young and talented unit demolished Central Michigan in a 59-9 blowout. The task will be much harder in Week 2. Notre Dame boasts NFL-ready talent in defensive tackle Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
While they may be strong up front, the Irish surrendered 362 yards of offense to Temple last week, with 134 yards of that total coming on the ground.
If the Wolverines struggle to move the Irish defenders, though, this game will end up being a lot closer than the Big House crowd wants. Expect Rees and the Irish defense to keep it tight until the end, with the senior quarterback coming through in the final minutes to get revenge for Notre Dame's shootout loss in Ann Arbor back in 2011.
Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Michigan 20
No. 12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (FL) (1-0)
It’s been a long time since Florida went down South and beat the Miami Hurricanes on their own turf. Twenty-eight years to be exact. Of course, they don’t play there every season, either. The two in-state rivals have only played there twice since Florida’s last win in 1985.
And they aren’t likely to play again anytime soon, if ever. After the 2013 matchup, the two schools no longer have a contract to play each other, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll make it happen again in the foreseeable future.
So, can the Miami Hurricanes win what could potentially be the last game in their long rivalry? Even though Florida ended up routing Toledo last week, the Gators left plenty of questions on the table offensively.
If Miami's Stephen Morris can minimize mental lapses, Duke Johnson gets free and Florida’s offense sputters, an upset is a very real possibility this year. We already saw one ACC team trump an SEC squad last week.
But this one is going to come down to defense and experience. The Hurricanes have a lot of raw athleticism, but they don’t always translate that to error-free football on the field. Florida is polished, defensively at least, enough to keep this game close.
Expect the Gators D to produce at least one touchdown, which will end up being the difference at Sun Life Stadium.
Prediction: Florida 20, Miami 17
No. 6 South Carolina (1-0) at No. 11 Georgia (0-1)
Another loss could spell doom for the Georgia Bulldogs’ 2013 BCS title hopes. After coming into the season with high expectations, they suffered a disappointing season-opening loss to Clemson in Week 1.
Now, they’ll be without star wide receiver Malcom Mitchell for the duration of the season. Mitchell tore his ACL while celebrating Todd Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Clemson, according to the team on Twitter:
Coach Richt speaking with the media on Sunday: "Malcolm (Mitchell) unfortunately has an ACL injury..Not sure when we'll do the surgery."— Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) September 1, 2013
If Connor Shaw dices up Georgia's young defense like quarterback Tajh Boyd did last week, the Bulldogs are headed for an 0-2 start, albeit against two AP Top 10 teams. Boyd accounted for five total touchdowns, two coming on the ground, in Clemson's 38-35 victory.
Shaw had his moments on the ground last week against North Carolina, rushing for 43 yards to boost a Gamecocks rushing attack that compiled 228 yards on the Tar Heels.
If South Carolina’s defense can even slightly limit Gurley and Georgia's rushing attack, the Gamecocks should have enough firepower offensively to come out on top. Georgia is too inexperienced defensively to contain its SEC foes.
It’ll be close, but the Gamecocks will come out on top.
Prediction: South Carolina 27, Georgia 24