The Ten Most Interest Games of College Football Week 2
After a Week 1 full of fireworks, surprises and upsets, week 2 promises to once again have some surprises in store and should also give teams a chance for an upset. Also, week two will be all about redemption, be it for a team, a player or a conference.
With the significance of this upcoming Sunday being the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, in which 2,977 people lost their lives, let this weekend be one of remembrance and healing and know that regardless of who wins and losses this weekend that in the end, football is just a game. With that said, lets take a look a the ten most interesting games this weekend.
10. #21 Missouri @ Arizona St. (Sept. 9, 10:30 ESPN/ESPN3)
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Coming off a rather lackluster win over Miami (OH), Missouri will look to put up a better showing against Pac-12 foe Arizona St. The Sun Devils meanwhile, who many believe to be the Pac-12 South front-runners, are looking to prove they belong after crushing UC Davis last week. This week, however, their opponent will be just a little bit harder. They meet up with a Tigers team that returns three starters on a defensive line that saw it’s ends (made up of Jacquies Smith and new starter Brad Madison) combine for 13 sacks and 21 tackles for loss a year ago.
On the other side of the ball, the Sun Devils’ quarterback Brock Osweiler (pictured) will look to continue his success from a week ago after having thrown for 262 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Meanwhile Arizona St. will look to try and be more consistent on the ground as they continue their quest for a true number one back to emerge though the unit.
In the end, this game will come down to whether or not Missouri QB James Franklin will be able to handle the Sun Devils defense after being able to only pass for 129 yards and a touchdown last week against the Red Hawks. In short, I don’t see this happening.
My Prediction: Arizona St. 21, Missouri 14
9. #16 Mississippi St. @ Auburn (Sept.10, 12:21pm SEC Network/ESPN3)
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One year/week wonders? That would appear to be the case when speaking about the Auburn Tigers. Now to be fair, the Tigers did lose a huge amount of players from their championship team a year ago, notably quarterback Cam Newton (now with the Carolina Panthers) and defensive tackle Nick Fairly (now with the Detroit Lions), but last week’s showing had to have sparked some fear in the War Eagle. And it doesn’t help that this week Auburn faces its SEC West foe Mississippi St.
Speaking of Mississippi State, the Bulldogs find themselves ranked 16th after obliterating Memphis last week in 59-14 thrashing of Tigers. Last week’s points for the Bulldogs came both threw the air and on the ground with QB Chris Relf and RB Vick Ballard (pictured) combining for 368 yards and five touchdowns. This week the duo will look to do much of the same as Auburn gave up 448 yards in week one.
In this match-up of SEC West foes the game will be determined by whether or not Auburn can sure up that defense while quarterback Barrett Trotter must continue to take care of the ball. And perhaps more important, Michael Dyer must play better than he did against the Aggies (in terms of yardage not touchdowns) to force Mississippi State into respecting the run.
My Prediction: Mississippi St. 31, Auburn 24
8. #11 Virginia Tech @ ECU (Sept.10, 3:30pm)
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This one is interesting. After the Hokies blew out the Mountaineers last week and ECU put up a good fight against the Gamecocks before falling flat on their face, this game could go one of two ways. Option one sees the Hokies picking up right where they left off and this game won’t be close. Option two, however, gives us a closer game where the Pirates give the Hokies a bit of a scare. I’m going to go with option two.
First, we have the Hokies who ran up the score for 66 against App St. last week in Logan Thomas’ depute as the starting quarterback. Thomas threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 16 yards on the grown. Meanwhile Pirates quarterback Dominique Davis (pictured) put up great numbers throwing for 260 yards and four touchdowns and only one interception, though he also added a score on the ground.
This week the game for the Pirates will come down to whether or not their defense can hold up for two halves after completely falling apart in the second half last week against South Carolina. And remember that ECU has been known to pull the upset against the Hokies in years past. And while I don’t expect that to be the case this season, this game will spark some fireworks, even if it’s only for a quarter.
My Prediction: VT 42, ECU 27
7. Utah @ USC (Sept.10, 7:30pm Versus)
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We all know that USC is banned from playing in the post season again this season due to a violations scandal largely revolving around former running back Reggie Bush. Yet despite being banned from post season play, I didn’t realize that USC was also banned from playing well period.
This week USC will be looking for some redemption after just getting by Minnesota on a last second interception despite being ranked 25th in the nation. While Matt Barkly showed why he’s considered one of the best QBs in college football, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns on 34 completions, the Trojans running game was virtually nonexistent while the team as a whole look disjointed and out of sorts throughout the game. One bright spot for this team, however, was the emergence of sophomore receiver Robert Woods (pictured) who had 177 yards receiving on 17 catches and hauled in all three of Barkley’s TD passes.
Meanwhile, there’s Utah, who will also be looking for a better showing this week after 27-10 win over Montana St. in week one. One player who will certainly need to play better this week is quarterback Jordan Wynn, who only had 101 yards passing last week, though he did have two touchdowns. In addition, Utah will lean heavily on its stacked defensive line to disrupt Barkley’s timing while also making it hard for the Trojans to get anything going on the ground.
When all is said and done, this will the Utah’s Pac-12 debut and they’ll be looking to prove they belong. What better way to do so than to knock off the once-dominate, and Pac-12 darling, USC?
My Prediction: Utah 28, USC 24
6. BYU @ #24 Texas (Sept.10, 7pm ESPN/ESPN3)
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At this point it should be fairly obvious that this week is largely about redemption. For BYU it’s about redemption for a poor showing against Ole Miss in a 14-13 win while Texas is looking redeem themselves for a 5-7 record from a season ago. And in the case of the Longhorns, they’re already on their way, having climbed to 24th in the AP poll. BYU, on the other hand, will get its shot at redemption as they travel to Austin.
For both teams, quarterback play will be huge as both Garrett Gilbert (pictured) and Jake Heaps will be key to their teams’ success this season. And while both played well last week, both signal callers will be facing stiffer competition where the opposing defense is concerned. Lastly, the running game could be the deciding factor in this game as the Longhorns piled up 229 yards on the ground while BYU managed only 94 yards.
When push comes to shove, these teams are fairly evenly matched in their first week statistics, but the fact that this game is in Texas and that the Longhorns had a losing record last season gives Texas an upper hand, though slight. Both Gilbert and Mack Brown know that they can’t afford to lose this game. Expect cooler heads to prevail in the Lone star state.
My Prediction: Texas 24, BYU 21
5. #25 TCU @ Air Force (Sept.10, 3:30pm Versus)
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Sticking with the redemption theme, our number five game sees the Horned Frogs traveling to Colorado Springs to take on the Falcons—some of the nation’s finest. Coming up just short after mounting a furious comeback from 24 down, TCU lost to Baylor and lost their #14 ranking in a game that could make a claim for game of the year come season’s end. This week, however, it’s all about reclaiming their momentum for TCU as they start Mountain West play against Air Force.
Speaking of Air Force, the Falcons exploded on the ground in their season opener rushing for 391 yards and one touchdown as a team. Meanwhile, the passing game and quarterback Tim Jefferson weren’t overly noticeable (95 yards and a score), though neither was really needed.
The Falcons may have a chance to fix some passing ”problems” this week as TCU’s secondary got torn apart last week by Robert Griffin III and Baylor. The falcon’s secondary should also make it hard for TCU QB Casey Pachall (pictured) to have a repeat performance, putting more pressure on the Horned Frogs running game.
All in all, TCU has to win out the rest of this season should it hope to not only gain access to a more top-tier bowl but also to gain respect and prove that they are capable of rebuilding despite their significant losses.
My Prediction: TCU 28, Air Force 27
4. Notre Dame @ Michigan (Sept.10, 8pm ESPN)
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It’s Notre Dame. It’s Michigan. It’s the Big House. And it’s the first the home night game in Michigan history. This one’s not to be missed.
For Notre Dame, this is simply another game in their quest to become relevant again in the world of college football and a chance to try and live up to the hype with their BCS hopes likely over should they drop this game. Unlike last week, the Irish will be led out of the tunnel by sophomore Tommy Rees (pictured,) who took over at quarterback during the second half of last week’s rained soaked loss to USF.
As for Michigan, Denard Robinson will still be under center coming off a 34-10 win over Western Michigan that got called early due to lightning. Prior to the game being called Robinson had thrown for 98 yards while also rushing for 46 yards. And while the Notre Dame defense certainly looked, and played out of sorts last week, Robinson will need to put up greater numbers than that in order for the Wolverines to win. If Michigan can run for 190 yards, this transition should be made easier for Robinson.
In the end, this game will be filled with questions. Will Tommy Rees really make that much of a difference for Notre Dame? Is this the year Michigan finally gets back to their old ways? Can the Irish and Wolverines’ uniforms possibly generate as much buzz as Maryland’s? To find out the answers to those questions you’ll just have to tune in.
My Prediction: Michigan 24, Notre Dame 21
3. #12 South Carolina @ Georgia (Sept.10, 4:30pm ESPN/ESPN3)
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Wow. This game is full of story lines. Last week saw Stephen Garcia redeem himself (you can’t escape it) against ECU after filling in for Conner Shaw. Meanwhile, Marcus Lattimore (pictured) proved to nation why he’s being talked about as a Heisman hopeful with 110 yards and three score game. On the other hand, Georgia just couldn’t find the power needed, despite their Power Ranger inspired attire, to take down Kellen Moore and Boise St., as the Bulldogs lost 35-21 to Broncos. those the game wasn’t as close as the score suggests.
This week's game, while important to both teams, is, in my opinion, more important to South Carolina when you consider that a loss in this game could have more implications for the Gamecocks than it would for the Bulldogs (assuming you not coach Mark Richt). A loss here would help Georgia climb back into the SEC East race as well as help Florida. Not to mention that it could also hurt Lattimore in Heisman voting.
One other interesting aspect of this game is that a win for Georgia could potentially help Boise St. who has one game left against a ranked opponent in 25th TCU. Could a win in this game be the win that propels Georgia towards a SEC East title and possibly helps propel Boise St. to a BCS bowl, perhaps even a national championship? While we won’t know until season’s end, we do know that would mean that Georgia wins this game, I don't see that happening.
My Prediction: South Carolina 31, Georgia 20
2. Arizona @ #9 Oklahoma St. (Sept.8, 8pm ESPN/ESPN3)
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If nothing else, we know that this game will be explosive. Think of this as being the TCU v. Baylor of week two. Not to mention, Arizona will be looking for redemption having lost to OK State last year in the Alamo Bowl.
With this game featuring two of the nation’s premiere quarterbacks in Arizona’s Nick Foles and Oklahoma St.’s Brandon Weeden (pictured) and two of the nation’s best receivers in Juron Criner and Justin Blackmon, we are sure to see plenty of points score, especially given the defensive struggles of the Cowboys.
There’s not much to be said where these two teams are concerned except that if you like offense, big time players and big time plays, then this game is the game for you. If you’re more of a traditionalist and prefer a little more defense, then perhaps my number one game of the week will be more to your liking.
My Prediction: OK St. 35, Arizona 21
1. #3 Alabama @ #23 Penn St. (Sept.10, 3:30 ABC)
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The only week two match-up between two ranked opponents, this game features two of the most storied schools in college football—Alabama and Penn St. It also features two of the most influential coaches in the game in Alabama’s Nick Saban and Penn St.’s Joe Paterno.
Last year in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide won 24-3, though the game wasn’t even that close in all actuality. Despite all of the offensive weapons Alabama possessed last year—running backs Mark Ingram (now with the New Orleans Saints) and Trent Richardson (pictured), receivers Julio Jones (now with the Atlanta Falcons) and Marquis Maze and quarterback Greg McElroy—the Nittany Lion’s defense still “held” ‘Bama to only 24 points. Look for defense to play a key role in this year’s contest, as both teams feature solid (great in Alabama’s case) squads.
One other area where Penn St. and Alabama share some commonality is at the quarterback position where neither team is sure of their starter just yet. Last week Alabama’s quarterbacks combined for 299 yards and a score but had an astounding four INTs against a lackluster Kent St team.
AJ McCarron was the better of the two, having thrown for 226 yards and a touchdown, which should give him the starting job full time. Penn St., meanwhile, saw its two QBs combine 114 yards with no scores but also no interceptions. With Matt McGloin having the better game statistically look for him to start the game. Robert Bolden should make an appearance as well.
Regardless of who starts for these two teams, the deciding factors in this game will be the defenses, as well as the running games which complied 245 yards and five scores for Penn St and 183 yards and five scores for Alabama, respectively. In the end, this game won’t be as fast paced as the number two game but should be just as good.
My Prediction: Alabama 23, Penn St. 13