The 2013 college football season began as every college football season in the annals of history has begun: explosively.
Georgia's start to the season couldn't have gone any worse. Not only did the Bulldogs get upset by Clemson, they also lost receiver Malcolm Mitchell to a torn ACL.
The Bulldogs have a chance to pick up the pieces on Saturday against No. 6 South Carolina, but one Jadeveon Clowney may have something to say about that.
Other top games include No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan and No. 12 Florida at Miami (FL).
Here are my predictions for each clash.
*All stats via CFBStats.com.
South Carolina (6) at Georgia (11)
Georgia has an explosive offense, with or without speedster Mitchell. The Bulldogs showed that in the 38-35 loss to Clemson in Week 1.
But South Carolina has the defense to contain Aaron Murray and Co.
I expect Clowney—who disappointed in Week 1 against North Carolina—to explode in Athens. He is too good to have two straight stinkers. I mean, the man posted 13.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles last season, including the hit heard 'round the world against Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
Another thing: Georgia's offensive line struggled against Clemson. The Bulldogs allowed four sacks and five tackles for loss. That's a recipe for disaster against Clowney and Co.
Georgia's defense is also an item of concern. Clemson racked up 467 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs in Week 1. South Carolina's backfield—complete with sophomore Mike Davis—figures to find some space to run.
Prediction: South Carolina 28, Georgia 24
Notre Dame (14) at Michigan (17)
Boy, is this one a tough one to call or what?
I felt both Notre Dame and Michigan were underrated in the preseason, and they didn't disappoint in Week 1, going on to resounding victories against Temple and Central Michigan, respectively.
If this game were in South Bend, I would pick the Fighting Irish. But given this is the last game of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry—being played in Ann Arbor—I expect the Wolverines to be fired up at home.
I like Devin Gardner over Tommy Rees and Michigan has won its past three matchups against Notre Dame at home. I'm going with the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 24
Florida (12) at Miami (FL)
The Hurricanes have the offense to keep up with Florida, but do they have the defense?
I don't think so, but I do think this will be a good game.
You can't say enough about Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson. They are explosive players who can simply change games.
On the other hand, the Gators have the defense to slow down the Hurricanes, and just enough offense to emerge victorious in Miami.
Five different Gators recorded a tackle for loss in the 24-6 victory over Toledo in Week 1. Florida also posted two sacks and eight quarterback hurries, while freshman Vernon Hargreaves III added an interception.
The Hurricanes allowed 30.5 points per game in 2012, the worst mark in school history. That included allowing 4.97 yards per carry (104th in the nation) and 29 rushing touchdowns (109th). While I do see the Hurricanes improving on defense this season, I don't think the unit has enough to stop Mack Brown and the Florida rushing attack.
Prediction: Florida 27, Miami 24