Although Week 2 of the 2014 college football season lacks the volume of Top-25 showdowns from the opening week, fans are in for a couple of titanic clashes.
With the advent of the four-team playoff, teams in power-five conferences are growing more and more wary of scheduling easy warm-up games before conference season begins. As a result, you're seeing fewer and fewer of those one-sided 76-0 blowouts that usually litter the early stages of the campaign.
While a handful of those matchups still remain, it feels like the sporting public is getting more and more spoiled as the best regular season in sports continues to get better.
Here's a look at the slate of games for Week 2, following by two of the biggest contests.
Schedule (via ESPN.com)
|College Football Schedule—Week 2|
|Time (ET)||Away||Home||TV Info||Live Stream|
|8 p.m.||Arizona||UTSA||Fox Sports 1||Fox Sports Go|
|7 p.m.||Pittsburgh||Boston College||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|10:30 p.m.||Washington State||Nevada||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||Arkansas State||Tennessee||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||Buffalo||Army||CBS Sports Network||College Sports Live|
|12 p.m.||Florida Atlantic||#2 Alabama||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||McNeese State||#19 Nebraska||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||#24 Missouri||Toledo||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||#4 Oklahoma||Tulsa||ABC/ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||Stony Brook||Connecticut||GamePlan||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||SMU||North Texas||Fox Sports||N/A|
|12 p.m.||#20 Kansas State||Iowa State||Fox Sports 1||Fox Sports Go|
|12 p.m.||Western Kentucky||Illinois||Big Ten Network||BTN2Go|
|12 p.m.||Akron||Penn State||ABC/ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||Central Michigan||Purdue||ESPNews||WatchESPN|
|12 p.m.||Howard||Rutgers||Big Ten Network||BTN2Go|
|12 p.m.||Western Illinois||#18 Wisconsin||Big Ten Network||BTN2Go|
|12:30 p.m.||South Carolina State||#23 Clemson||ACC Network||WatchESPN|
|2 p.m.||South Alabama||Kent State||N/A||WatchESPN|
|2 p.m.||UAB||Mississippi State||GamePlan||WatchESPN|
|2 p.m.||New Mexico State||Georgia State||N/A||WatchESPN|
|3 p.m.||Fresno State||Utah||Pac-12 Network||Pac-12 Network Live|
|3 p.m.||Sacramento State||California||Pac-12 Network||Pac-12 Network Live|
|3:05 p.m.||Eastern Washington||Washington||Pac-12 Network||Pac-12 Network Live|
|3:30 p.m.||#14 USC||#13 Stanford||ABC||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m.||Eastern Kentucky||Miami (OH)||N/A||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m.||VMI||Bowling Green||N/A||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m.||Northern Illinois||Northwestern||Big Ten Network||BTN2Go|
|3:30 p.m.||Maryland||South Florida||CBS Sports Network||College Sports Live|
|3:30 p.m.||Ball State||Iowa||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m.||Middle Tennessee||Minnesota||Big Ten Network||BTN2Go|
|3:30 p.m.||Missouri State||Oklahoma State||N/A||N/A|
|4 p.m.||Georgia Tech||Tulane||ESPNews||WatchESPN|
|4 p.m.||Eastern Michigan||Florida||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|4 p.m.||Nicholls State||Arkansas||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|4:30 p.m.||#15 Ole Miss||Vanderbilt||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|6 p.m.||Campbell||Appalachian State||N/A||WatchESPN|
|6 p.m.||Old Dominion||NC State||N/A||WatchESPN|
|6 p.m.||Savannah State||Georgia Southern||N/A||WatchESPN|
|6:30 p.m.||#7 Michigan State||#3 Oregon||Fox||Fox Sports Go|
|6:30 p.m.||Gardner-Webb||Wake Forest||N/A||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||SE Missouri State||Kansas||GamePlan||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||Murray State||#25 Louisville||N/A||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||Florida A&M||Miami (FL)||N/A||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||East Carolina||#21 South Carolina||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||#17 Arizona State||New Mexico||CBS Sports Network||College Sports Live|
|7 p.m.||San Jose State||#5 Auburn||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana-Lafayette||N/A||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m.||Rhode Island||Marshall||N/A||N/A|
|7 p.m.||Alcorn State||Southern Miss||N/A||N/A|
|7 p.m.||Idaho||UL Monroe||N/A||N/A|
|7:30 p.m.||Lamar||#9 Texas A&M||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||Sam Houston||#12 LSU||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||Citadel||#1 Florida State||ACC Network||WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||BYU||Texas||Fox Sports 1||Fox Sports Go|
|7:30 p.m.||Towson||West Virginia||N/A||N/A|
|7:30 p.m.||Northwestern State||Baylor||N/A||N/A|
|7:30 p.m.||Michigan||#16 Notre Dame||NBC||NBC Sports Live Extra|
|8 p.m.||Virginia Tech||#8 Ohio State||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|8 p.m.||San Diego State||#21 North Carolina||ESPNews||WatchESPN|
|8 p.m.||Grambling State||Houston||N/A||WatchESPN|
|8 p.m.||Idaho State||Utah State||N/A||N/A|
|10 p.m.||Northern Colorado||UNLV||N/A||N/A|
|10 p.m.||Memphis||#11 UCLA||Pac-12 Network||Pac-12 Network Live|
|10:15 p.m.||Air Force||Wyoming||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|10:15 p.m.||Colorado State||Boise State||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|10:30 p.m.||Oregon State||Hawaii||CBS Sports Network||College Sports Live|
|11 p.m.||Texas Tech||UTEP||Fox Sports 1||Fox Sports Go|
Note: For games without national or regional coverage on a major network, check local listings.
Games to Watch
No. 14 USC at No. 13 Stanford
When these teams met last year in Los Angeles, the Trojans pulled off the massive upset, 20-17. It was quite the contrast from when the Cardinal knocked off heavily favored USC in 2007, which signaled the upswing of the program under then-head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Steve Sarkisian couldn't have asked for a better way to lay a marker down in his first Pac-12 game as head coach at USC. If the Trojans go on the road and beat the Cardinal, then it would say a lot for where the program is headed under its new head coach.
Sarkisian couldn't have hoped for a stronger start to the 2014 campaign. Fresno State may not be a great team, but trouncing the Bulldogs 52-13 is no easy feat. Cody Kessler looked great, going 25-of-37 for 394 yards and four touchdowns. Javorius Allen added 133 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Stanford looked strong as well against UC Davis. While the Cardinal weren't really tested, they also never needed to move much faster than second or third gear.
This game looked to have an undercurrent of loathing between Sarkisian and Stanford head coach David Shaw after the former accused the latter of faking injuries during a game between Washington and Stanford last year.
"We're in a good place," said Sarkisian of his relationship with Shaw, per Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. The two coaches met last spring. "It was in the heat of the moment. David and I addressed it over the next couple of days and we moved on."
While a coaching feud would've added a nice wrinkle to this game, the fight for Pac-12 supremacy will be all the stakes necessary.
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Oregon
The one team that's given Oregon the most trouble over the past two years is Stanford. The Cardinal do a great job of slowing the tempo and shutting down the Ducks running game.
Since Michigan State plays a style similar to Stanford, the Spartans will largely be following the same blueprint.
As a result, Fox Sports analyst Charles Davis believes that beating MSU would signal that Oregon's prepared to handle the Cardinal and prove itself the class of the Pac-12, via USA Today's Joe Rexrode:
Their nemesis, their kryptonite in recent years has been Stanford. What's Stanford's style of play? Heavy-duty running the ball on offense, being extremely physical, excellent tackling team on defense, which makes you run more plays. All those yards after catch, yards after contact, open-field plays that Oregon's used to getting, that hidden yardage, they weren't getting against Stanford.
So for Oregon to win the Pac-12, they have to beat Stanford. They know that, they have to get past that hump. For Oregon to clearly get into that playoff consideration and have the chance to be an undefeated team, they have to beat Stanford twice this year. And what I mean by that is, Michigan State is Stanford.
While this game might not be as thrilling and offensive as most Oregon games, the tactical chess match between both teams will be more than enough to keep things interesting.
This could also be the kind of signature win Marcus Mariota will eventually need if he wants to book his place in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. The junior quarterback threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns in addition to rushing for 43 yards and a touchdown against South Dakota in Week 1.
Mariota is second in ESPN's Heisman Watch, per College GameDay:
College GameDay @CollegeGameDay
ESPN Experts' #Heisman Poll 1. Todd Gurley 2. Marcus Mariota 3. Jameis Winston 4. Kenny Hill 5. Ameer Abdullah List: http://t.co/fMCCupkwdF9/2/2014, 4:32:37 PM
Nobody will judge Mariota's candidacy by his performance against South Dakota. Games like this are where Heismans are won or lost.
On the other side, whether it's fair or not, the Spartans are representing the Big Ten as a whole in this game. Many view the conference skeptically, and Wisconsin's late collapse against LSU only strengthened the negative perception surrounding it.
Beating Oregon would not only give Michigan State the kind of win necessary to crack the final playoff, but it would also be striking a blow for the Big Ten.
With so many storylines, swirling around this game, it should be one of the most captivating battles all season long.
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