College Football 2011: Previews and Score Predictions for Week 2

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College Football 2011: Previews and Score Predictions for Week 2
Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis (1) celebrates a TD with Vick Ballard (28) during the 1st qtr. of last week's game at Memphis. 16th-ranked Mississippi State travels to Auburn Saturday morning to take on the Tigers. Kickoff is at 11:21 a.m. on the SEC Network.

Was Week 1 of college football good or what? Just like always, there were a few big upsets to get the season started off right—with feelings of helplessness and “what could have been in 2011” felt all over.  Conference play starts for many teams this week, which means the first-game jitters will have to be gone now, or things will get ugly for some.  For others, last week was a chance to show off what they have in 2011; they lit up the scoreboard and made sure the other team didn’t do the same. Some teams will be ready on Saturday, and some won’t. What will your team do?

 

Here goes Week 2:

 

ALL TIMES CENTRAL

 

College (8-2; Last week 8-2):

 

Wildcats or Cowboys?

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Arizona (1-0) @ No. 9 Oklahoma State (1-0) 
Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7 PM; ESPN 
The Cowboys set an FBS-high last week in offensive yards under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken, piling up 666 yards in their 61-34 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.  Brandon Weeden is back for another season at quarterback for Okie State, and yes, Justin Blackmon is too.  

The pass-catching sensation picked up 144 yards, while Weeden threw for 388.  Sure, the defense doesn't look too good with 34 points on the board last week, but only six of those were scored on the Cowboys starting defense.  Regardless, Jeremy Foles and Co. get the passing attack going for Arizona to make this a shootout.  Pokes pull away late:
Oklahoma State 38, Arizona 27

No. 21 Missouri (1-0) @ Arizona State (1-0)
Friday, September 9, 2011 at 9:30 PM; ESPN
The Missouri Tigers travel to sunny Arizona to take on the Sun Devils, trying to extend their regular season non-conference winning streak to 23 games.  But it won't be easy.  The Tigers, under first-year starting quarterback James Franklin (after Blaine Gabbert's departure to the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars), barely outgained Miami of Ohio in last week's home win, totaling 291 offensive yards to the RedHawks' 270. 

Will Auburn beat Mississippi State Saturday morning?

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The Sun Devils have an extra day to prepare for the Tigers, making it even tougher for Franklin's road opener.  Mizzou keeps it close but falls:
Arizona State 27, Missouri 24

 

***GAME OF THE WEEK***
No. 16 Mississippi State (1-0) @ Auburn (1-0)
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM; SEC NETWORK
Last weekend Auburn's defense looked like it couldn't stop Hoover High School.  This week, things will have to change if the Tigers want another win.  Chris Relf brings the Bulldogs into Auburn after dominating Memphis last Thursday night, looking to do work on the young Auburn defense as well.  

Senior Eltoro Freeman will be back at linebacker for Auburn to provide extra support after sitting out in Week 1.  Word got out yesterday that defensive coordinator Ted Roof has shortened the playbook this week to make it simpler for his young Tigers to comprehend.  All eyes will be on this one come Saturday morning, and AU has shown in the past it likes to get up for big games.  I'm siding with the home team here.  A close game in Jordan-Hare comes down to the Tigers' skilled special teams, and the Cardiac Cats win it by a field goal:
Auburn 31, Mississippi State 28

 

How many rushing yards will Trent Richardson have for Alabama Saturday?

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No. 3 Alabama (1-0) @ No. 23 Penn State (1-0)
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 2:30 PM; ABC
A.J. McCarron looked to grab Alabama's starting QB job last week over Phillip Sims, so expect to see No. 10 in on Bama's first offensive possession in Happy Valley Saturday.  On the other sideline, Joe Pa says he will stick with a two-quarterback system, featuring both sophomore Rob Bolden and junior Matt McGloin.  

This year's game will be closer than last year's romp in T-Town thanks to more experience for the Nittany Lions and, oh yeah, that white-out atmosphere roaring in Beaver Stadium.  There won't be much humidity either for the boys in blue and white to struggle through. Despite a decent performance they just won't be able to score enough to beat the Tide, who look to have the best defense in the nation:
Alabama 30, Penn State 17

 

 

No. 11 Virginia Tech (1-0) @ East Carolina (0-1) 
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 2:30 PM; FSN
Virginia Tech's starters only played the first half last Saturday in a 66-13 rout of typically-competitive Appalachian State from the FCS.  But this week, the Hokies play pass-happy East Carolina, so the defense will have to step up.  Coach Frank Beamer has been speeding things up this week at practice to prepare for Pirate quarterback Dominique Davis' ability to throw short passes, and quickly.

How close will the Va Tech/ECU game be?

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Last week, Lance Lewis (13-108) and Justin Hardy (11-91) combined for 24 catches, three for TDs in a 56-37 loss to South Carolina.''There's no question it's going to be fast and furious,'' Beamer said of the game in Greenville, N.C., on Saturday afternoon. ''I thought they got better in this first ballgame from the time it started to the time it ended. There's a lot of want to and a lot of good ability. We've just got to keep going." Keep on going, they will:
Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 26 

Cincinnati (1-0) @ Tennessee (1-0) 
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 2:30 PM; ESPN2
Look out Rocky Top, the high-scoring Bearcats are on the way to town.  Derek Dooley will have his unit prepared to take on Cincinnati in this Big East-SEC showdown, but it will be just that: a showdown.  

The Volunteers took care of Montana 42-16 last week but seemed to rely on the big play for much of their success.  They struggled to rush, compiling just 128 yards on the ground against the Grizzlies.  Up north, Cincy took care of FCS opponent Austin Peay 72-10, rollling up 561 yards.  This gives Tenneseee some reason to worry, but not much.  For CIncy, playing at home against the Governors is a bit different than an away game in Neyland Stadium.   A big win here propels the Vols into a huge matchup with Florida next week.  If only they can get the run game going:
Tennessee 31, Cincinnati 26

Gamecocks or Bulldogs?

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No. 12 South Carolina (1-0) @ Georgia (0-1) 
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 3:30 PM; ESPN
The Georgia fanbase is in distress right now following a 35-21 loss last week to Boise State in the Georgia Dome.  The loss coupled with a 6-7 record last year with a bowl-game loss to UCF doesn't have you feeling too well if you're a UGA fan.  On Tuesday, coach Mark Richt bristled when asked follow-up questions about the importance of the upcoming game with South Carolina for his program and his future.  

But, come on, Mark. You can't avoid the question.  For Richt, winning and being (insert: extremely) successful this season will be his only shot at keeping his job, so expect almost every game to be close from here on out. His young quarterback will have to step up, and I think he will, but will the rest of the Dawgs?  The close ones start here:
South Carolina 28, Georgia 24

 

UAB (0-0) @ No. 18 Florida (1-0)
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 6 PM; ESPN3.COM
Will Muschamp plays his second consecutive cupcake team to open up his Florida career, this time welcoming the Blazers of UAB to Gainesville's Swamp.  This game represents the season opener for the visitors, a team that went 4-8 in 2010. The two have only met once in history, a 51-3 win for the Gators in 2002.  

The Blazers return several key players from last year's team, hoping to improve on their four-win record.  However, chalk this one up as a loss:
Florida 41, UAB 13

 

 

BYU (1-0) @ Texas (1-0)
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 6 PM; ESPN2
Everyone saw last week what Jake Heaps and the BYU Cougars are capable of accomplishing.  They knocked off Ole Miss 14-13 in Oxford, despite the Rebels being an SEC team that is obviously hurting.  Whatever the excuse from Ole Miss, Heaps and the Cougars won their first game as an "independent" team, and they now set their sights on Texas.  Bryan Harsin, the new co-offensive coordinator at Texas, threw some wrinkles into the Longhorns' offense that none had really seen before last week in a 34-9 win over Rice.  

 

 

Harsin inserted a wildcat package and racked up 506 yards of offense in that win.  However, BYU's defense will have something to say about the Texas offense.  The Cougars gave up just 208 yards to Ole Miss last week—64 of those on the ground.  Texas is 0-2 all-time against BYU, losing 47-6 in Provo the last time these teams met in 1988. My, how things have changed:
Texas 24, BYU 20

Fighting Irish or Wolverines?

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No. 16 Notre Dame (0-1) @ Michigan (1-0)
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 7 PM; ESPN
Good Lord, Notre Dame.  Are we going to watch yet another season of "Notre Dame has it/Notre Dame is going to the 'ship/It's Notre Dame's time" failed predictions come true? After last week, it looks that way already.  The Irish struggled in a 23-20 season-opening home loss to USF, turning the ball over five times and committing eight penalties for 73 yards.

In an interesting twist, Notre Dame has lost just four season openers in the past 15 seasons. In each one of those four seasons, the Irish finished the year with a losing record. Twice, it resulted in a change of the head coach:
Michigan 31, Notre Dame 17

 

 

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