College Football Week 2: Predictions for Key Games

Blair ChopinContributor IIISeptember 7, 2011

College Football Week 2: Predictions for Key Games

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    College football coaches often say that their teams improve the most between the first game of the season and the second game of the season.  In the first week we saw many talented teams commit turnovers, get tons of penalties, blow coverage, miss tackles, and generally look pretty bad. 

    But even with all of these mistakes, three or four great games still emerged from the first week of the season.  This week there should be fewer mistakes, and there will be even better matchups.

    Which teams are going to win in Week 2?

1. #9 Oklahoma State vs. Arizona

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    This game has the potential to be just as good as last week's TCU-Baylor game. It features two of the better passing offenses in the nation and two of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks. The key to this game is going to be which defense can cause a key turnover to turn the momentum.

    I think Oklahoma State is going to be able to force this turnover against what should be a very tired Arizona team (they had to travel all the way to Oklahoma for a Thursday night game), but the game still should be very close.

    #9 Oklahoma St. 45, Arizona 42

2. Oregon St. at #8 Wisconsin

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    Last week, Wisconsin looked like a top-five team as they demolished a young and athletic UNLV squad at home.  The surprise of the game had to be quarterback Russell Wilson, who proved that he is more than just a short-passing system quarterback by averaging 25 yards per completion in the Badgers' impressive win.

    This is the first Wisconsin football team that has a legit shot to score more points than the Wisconsin basketball team.  The Badgers' newfound explosive passing game should make them a contender in the Big 10 and allow them to blow out the awful Beavers.

    #8 Wisconsin 63, Oregon St 21

3. #16 Mississippi State at Auburn

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    Last week it was obvious to just about everyone that Auburn should not be a ranked football team. This team only returns six starters from their national championship team, and honestly they might not even be that good if they returned 20 starters from that team (it is tough to underestimate how valuable Cam Newton was last season).

    On the other end, Mississippi State is one Thursday night win against LSU away from being a legitimate dark horse in the SEC West. They have an offense that has the explosiveness of Arkansas, a defense that can create a lot of turnovers, and one of the best minds in the country in Dan Mullen. 

    Look for State to win this game by at least two touchdowns.

    #16 Mississippi State 31, Auburn 14

4. #3 Alabama at #23 Penn State

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    One of the biggest games of the weekend will also be one of the lowest-scoring games of the weekend. Alabama and Penn State are both struggling to find the right answer at quarterback, and this means they will both rely heavily on their running game, defenses, and special teams. 

    Right now I feel like Alabama is better in all three of those areas. Alabama has the most talented defense in the nation, the most talented running back in the nation, the most talented punt and kick returner in the nation, and a head coach who can still have an impact on the game. Even though I think the home crowd will keep Penn State in the game, I just think the Tide has way too much talent.

    #3 Alabama 21, #23 Penn State 10

#11 Virginia Tech at East Carolina

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    Last week East Carolina proved that it could compete with big-time football teams as they gave South Carolina a great game for about three quarters. I believe that the Gamecocks are a lot more talented than the Hokies, but I also believe that Tech is taking the Pirates seriously after the scare they gave South Carolina last week.

    Beamer will have his guys ready to play even though the Hokies' defense should be tested by one of the more powerful offenses in the nation. Look for the Hokies to make a big special teams play to clinch the victory.

    #11 Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 31

#12 South Carolina at Georgia

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    Right now South Carolina is just a better team than Georgia. Even though South Carolina got a huge scare from East Carolina, they were able to put together a great fourth quarter against a team that could win its conference. 

    On the other end, it is tough to take away any positives from Georgia's loss to Boise State. The Bulldogs looked like they had a mid-level SEC defense, and they looked flustered and inexperienced on offense. Look for South Carolina's skill players (Lattimore and Jeffrey) to make the big plays necessary to bury Georgia's season two games in.

     #12 South Carolina 34, UGA 14

Utah at USC

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    Last week against Minnesota, USC finally looked like they let their circumstances get them down.

    For the last two years USC has had the attitude of "They put us on probation, we'll show them" and last week they looked like they had the attitude of "What's the point of playing hard if it really doesn't matter?" 

    Even though college coaches say that player performance improves the most from Week 1 to Week 2, it is hard to completely change the attitude of a football team in one week. Utah will have a better attitude and get off to a great start, and I do not think USC will be able to catch up.

    Utah 24, USC 21

Notre Dame at Michigan

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    It is hard to underestimate how big of a game Notre Dame-Michigan is this week.  It is so big that Michigan made it the first-ever night game in the Big House. It is so big that it might be on ESPN and ABC. It is so big that both coaches might have heart attacks on the sidelines during the game.

    But most importantly, this game is so big for Notre Dame that with a loss they could be completely out of the BCS hunt.  I think that it is tough to see the Irish getting a BCS bid even if they finish 10-2 because of the team's recent bowl results and the number of quality teams that are contending to get into the BCS. 

    With all of this being said, I do think Brian Kelly might have lost his team last week. After every turnover Kelly's yelling made his players scared to death of committing another turnover and this resulted in the team turning the ball over again. If the team plays "not to lose" offensively in Ann Arbor, the new-look Michigan defense could cause just as many turnovers as South Florida.

    I also think that the speed of Denard Robinson is going to give Notre Dame problems (Notre Dame did not have to face anywhere near this much skill position talent last week), and that Michigan should be able to run and pass the ball very well. I believe the Wolverines beat the Irish in a very close and very important game.

    Michigan 34, Notre Dame 31