Week 2 mostly maintained the status quo in the college pecking order, but there were still important things to take away from a collection of outstanding college games. With top 10 teams like Florida State, LSU and Texas A&M playing patsies, and others like Boise and Oklahoma taking the week off entirely, some “lower level” (remember, were only two games in at the most) match ups came to the fore front. Obviously Notre Dame-Michigan was a big deal, if for nothing else than the excitement that these increasingly pedestrian looking squads generate in their games against each other. Alabama–Penn State once again showed off the SEC’s dominance and exposed PSU as a pretender (of course we already knew that) while keeping Alabama in rightful top 5 status (which wasn’t necessarily a lock). Texas-BYU was an ugly but wild game (that also generated as many answers as questions for Texas), while Oklahoma State-Arizona cemented the former as a national title contender. At the end of it all I took away the following:
- Auburn may not be a national title contender this year, but the rest of the SEC can’t overlook the Tigers either. In a meaningful early SEC match up they went up 14-0 early on Mississippi State before holding on for dear life at the end with a goal line stand. After the insane way they beat Utah State last week, you might think that this Tigers team is no where near what they were last year. And yet you’d be mistaken. As good as Cam Newton, Nick Fairly and the crew made Gene Chizik look last year it has to be remembered that they didn’t blow very many teams out (you know, besides Arkansas State, ULM and Chattanooga). They skirted around Clemson (who was mediocre in the ACC), and then proceeded to win a ton of tight SEC games against Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky. Indeed, their only really dominant performance against a “good” team came against South Carolina in the SEC Championship…and that’s a stretch. Watch out for Gene’s gang. They don’t have Cam anymore, but with guys like Michael Dyer they may not need to.
- Speaking of mediocre SEC teams, how about South Carolina-Georgia? As if Mark Richt wasn’t close enough to losing his job as it was, he just blew a huge early conference game to drop the Dawg’s record to 0-2. Even with a relatively easy conference slate (that misses LSU and Alabama) this team might still struggle for 8 or 9 wins, said to be the bare minimum for Mark to keep his job. The Gamecocks didn’t look great either. A week after struggling mightily in the first half against ECU (they were down 24-14), they proceeded to barely beat a Georgia team Boise State mostly coasted past in week 1. Is it me, or is the SEC East starting to do an awfully good impression of the (former…) Big XII North?
- Please just go watch highlights from Oklahoma State-Arizona. Actually, just go watch the two fade routes Brandon Wheedon tossed to Justin Blackmon. After going scoreless for the first time in over a year in week 1, Blackmon hauled in both of those passes for scores in such an effortless way you wondered if Arizona was playing a mannequin at cornerback. Seriously, he looked completely unaffected by the Wildcat player he was essentially wearing on both touchdowns. Next go look at Oklahoma State’s defensive performance. They have not done that very much against solid BCS competition in recent years. Guess what Big XII? They’re doing it now.
- This is the last time I’ll instruct you to look at a highlight, but please check out Jaxson Shipley of Texas. If that’s not his older brother Jordan suiting up I will honestly bull ride Bevo…after branding him with Boomer Sooner. In all seriousness though, they’re carbon copies of each other, but (hopefully) minus Jordan’s injury history.
- Ok I lied, but it’s worth it. Go watch replays of Michigan-Notre Dame. Seriously, I’ll wait. That was an epic game, and a phenomenal showcase of Denard Robinson’s status as college football’s most exciting athlete. Too bad none of it will really matter by the time this season hits late October. Michigan is sitting pretty at 2-0 but they’ll drop at least 2 Big Ten games this season based solely on their level of play through the first 7+ quarters of this year. Don’t believe me? They go to Michigan State and get both Ohio State and Nebraska at home. Toss in a deceptively good Northwestern squad and there’s big potential for some maize blues in Ann Arbor by the end of November. Still, at least they’ve won a game.
- Notre Dame is 0-2 (admittedly against good competition) and still has an almost guaranteed loss at Stanford to worry about. In fact, they still have about 2 or 3 teams that, while not as talented, could realistically give them fits. They have to play a Navy squad they’ve now amazingly dropped 3 out of 4 against after beating them 44 times in a row. That this Navy team looks as good as any they have had under Paul Johnson or Ken Niumatalolo (yes, that’s how you spell it) just adds to the pressure on Chip Kelly and crew. Factor in a date with Sparty this week, a trip to Pittsburgh the week after, and games against Air Force, USC and Maryland left on the slate, and this is beginning to have the looks of a potential 8-4 or 7-5 season. If one of those scenarios (or worse…) happens Notre Dame moves dangerously close to firing yet another coach in a new millennium that’s largely been one to forget. If that’s not an exclamation points on their 20 year run of mediocrity then I don’t know what is.
Two big games that you will not miss hearing about this weekend are Ohio State-Miami and Oklahoma-Florida State. Ho-hum, we knew those would be big coming into the year. Here are some other games to watch for in week 3 that might have slipped under the radar. LSU-Mississippi State on Thursday: MSU is still ranked despite blowing it against the Gamecocks. An upset here would have their supposed breakout season back on track, and they’re down by 3 at the half as I finish writing this. West Virginia-Maryland: WVU is the highest ranked Big East squad and the prohibitive conference favorite. Maryland’s trying to follow up its (fashion show?) win against Miami with another attention grabbing performance. Tennesse-Florida: This could begin to shake out some things in that weak SEC East division. Navy-South Carolina: The best team in Navy’s 10 year resurgence? A win here would ignite that discussion nationally. Utah-BYU: A massively underrated rivalry that seems like its getting played really early in the season (probably because of BUY’s new independent status). This could be BYU’s redemption after blowing it against Texas.
That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for: “That creeping sensation crawling up the spines of Red Sox fans? They’re very used to it, and its not the New England weather,” “That gradually increasingly tight chested sensation coursing through Yankee’s fans hearts? That’s AJ Burnett,” and “That relaxed drunken sensation felt by Indianapolis players? That’s what they’ll feel in 3 months…sitting next to their TVs watching the playoffs.”