Week Two College Football Weekend: Preview and Predictions
Well, College Football's 2009 season started with a real punch.
I mean, bang. Started with a bang.
The offseason was filled with so much hype it seemed impossible that week one of the college football season could even come close to living up to it. But, amazingly, it did.
From Boise State's upset on the blue turf to "The Punch" to Dez Bryant's ridiculous catches to BYU's historic victory to Sam Bradford's shoulder to two blocked field goals in the final seconds of a game in Iowa...the 2009 campaign got off to an incredibly fast start.
So, we should be all psyched up for week two, right? Another weekend jam-packed with hard-hitting rivalries, potential upsets and brewing rivalries?
Um...not so much.
Week Two appears, on paper anyways, to be a bit of a letdown after the fireworks of opening weekend. Only one game pits two Top 25 opponents: USC vs. Ohio State. And while this battle in Columbus has been built up as one of the biggest games of the 2009 season, I'm not biting.
That's because I can clearly remember the beat-down USC laid on the Buckeyes just a season ago in Los Angeles. Sure, the Trojans may not be quite the team they were at this point in 2008, but the Buckeyes don't look like they've improved much themselves (especially after Saturday's scare against Navy).
But, rest assured college football fanatics, perhaps the greatest asset about this sport is it's unpredictability. And there are plenty of games on the slate that could end up being season-altering moments.
While you get all fired up for what likely will be a two touchdown-plus USC win in Columbus Saturday night, keep a close eye on games like Notre Dame-Michigan, UCLA-Tennessee, South Carolina-Georgia, and Oregon State-UNLV, just to name a few.
Because, as we learned in Week One, in college football, surprises can hit you like a punch to the head.
I mean punch to the gut.
Looking Back (How My Week One Picks Fared)
Upset Special: 1/1 (Baylor over Wake Forest)
Five Games You Can't Miss this Weekend
5. Clemson at No. 15 Georgia Tech (Thurs. 7:30 EST, ESPN):
Could the ACC have had a worse opening weekend? Virginia Tech loses the blockbuster matchup against Alabama. NC State lays an egg on opening night against South Carolina. Then Duke and Virginia go and lose to schools the size of some large community colleges. Monday night's fantastic Florida State-Miami duel made up a bit for the awful weekend that preceded it, but it was still a rough, rough start.
Clemson and Georgia Tech take the Thursday night spotlight this week. This game could go a long way in determining the eventual conference champ. Look for Georgia Tech's rush offense to be a bit much for the Tigers' defense to handle.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 17
4. South Carolina at No. 21 Georgia (Sat. 7:00 EST, ESPN2):
Lost in all the "Punch-gate" discussion following Thursday night's games was the fact that South Carolina went into Raleigh and dominated a pretty good (or at least what we thought was a pretty good) N.C. State team. But Steve Spurrier's team still has some issues, they only put up seven points after all, and they will get an even bigger test this weekend against Georgia.
The Bulldogs will be angry after last Saturday's loss at Oklahoma State. Can you imagine how upset they'd be if they dropped to 0-2 this weekend? The pressure is on.
Prediction: Georgia 26, South Carolina 14
3. UCLA at Tennessee (Sat. 4:00 EST, ESPN):
After UCLA took out full-page newspaper ads last summer featuring Rick Neuheisel announcing that the "football monopoly in L.A." was over, it seemed that there might never be a more brash (or unfounded) "hello" moment for a college football coach. Well, Rick Neuheisel, Lane Kiffin just made you look silly, didn't he?
Now the two coaches (loudly) attempting to get their programs back on top face off in what could be a season-defining game. UCLA may be the slightly better team on paper, but Tennessee is at home. And the Vols haven't forgot their loss at the Rose Bowl a year ago.
Prediction: Tennessee 35, UCLA 24
2. No. 18 Notre Dame at Michigan (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC):
Oooh, this one is just oozing with intrigue. Both Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez are sitting on seats that couldn't be any hotter, even after impressive opening week wins for both coach's squads. But, if anything, those wins raised expectations even more for this week.
If Notre Dame's defense plays the way it did last weekend against Nevada, the Wolverines will struggle mightily to move the ball on the Irish. Michigan's offense did look strong against Western Michigan last weekend, but that was Western Michigan. This is Notre Dame. In the Big House. With the coach's job on the line.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Michigan 23
1. No. 3 USC at No. 8 Ohio State (Sat. 8:00 EST, ABC):
Yes, yes, this has to be the number one game to watch this weekend, if for no other reason than to see how badly the Trojans beat up on the Buckeyes. I know, Buckeye fan, I'm just a Big Ten hater and Navy is really that good and the Trojans are starting a true freshman at the Horseshoe.
The fact of the matter is this: USC simply has better talent at almost every position on the field. Ohio State will keep this one close early, but it will be shades of 2008 by the end.
Prediction: USC 38, Ohio State 20
Oregon State at UNLV (Sat. 11:00 EST):
After a BYU victory over Oklahoma last Saturday (and a dominant Colorado State win over Colorado), the Mountain West Conference has to be feeling pretty good about itself. Next up? A UNLV win over the Beavers of Oregon State. Call me crazy, but I think the Rebels are ready for their breakout from pretender to contender. Remember, UNLV went into Sun Devil stadium and beat a then-15th ranked Arizona State team early last season. Oregon State is a better team than those Sun Devils, but I think UNLV is better than they were a year ago, too. Watch out.
Prediction: UNLV 34, Oregon State 30
For Your Viewing Pleasure
No. 19 North Carolina at Connecticut (Sat. Noon EST, ESPNU): North Carolina 27, UCONN 16
Central Michigan at Michigan State (Sat. Noon EST, ESPN2): MSU 42, Cent. Mich. 21
Fresno State at Wisconsin (Sat. Noon EST, ESPN): Wisconsin 28, Fresno State 23
No. 9 BYU at Tulane (Sat. 3:30 EST, ESPN2): BYU 45, Tulane 13
Vanderbilt at No. 11 LSU (Sat. 7:00 EST, ESPNU): LSU 23, Vandy 10
Air Force at Minnesota (Sat. 7:00 EST, Big Ten Network): Air Force 30, Minnesota 27
Purdue at Oregon (Sat. 10:15 EST, FSN): Oregon 34, Purdue 14
Max Hall (QB - BYU):
After leading the Cougars to week one's shocking upset of third-ranked Oklahoma, Hall gets his chance to break out statistically against the Green Wave (Sat. 3:30 EST, ESPN2). Tulane allowed over 400 total yards against Tulsa in its opener. Think Hall might find a few holes in that defense?
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