Week 2 of the college football season was action-packed,
providing fans with moments that they won’t soon forget. Matt Barkley leading
USC down the field for the game-winning touchdown with help from Joe McKnight
got the majority of the press due to the pregame hype. But has he officially
“arrived”? Has McKnight “turned the corner”? Make no mistake about it, these
were great moments in the development of these young players, but the second
game of the season seems a bit early to judge their work completed. Not to
mention the many who questioned OhioState’s ability in “big”
games are also those making these judgments.
Not to take anything away from the Trojans; that was one impressive
finish considering how little they’d done in the third quarter. But did the
overly conservative play-calling by OhioState give them some
help? More could have been done on offense to go for the Trojans’ jugular vein;
they’ve got too much talent to be allowed to hang around. Pete Carroll’s
defense had something to do with that as well, but where was the imagination?
Why not get Terrelle Pryor out in space more often, allowing him to be a true
run/pass threat? Too early to heap great praise on the Trojans? Maybe, maybe
not. But they’ve got some examples of what can happen when you listen to the
praise a little too much.
MichiganState and OklahomaState became prime
examples of strolling out onto the field carrying past accomplishments and what
it can do to you. The Spartans ended up in a slugfest with Central Michigan,
who didn’t look very good at Arizona
last weekend, and eventually lost on a field goal as time expired. The Cowboys,
with their highest ranking in years, should have known what to expect from Houston. The Cougars led
in the second quarter of last year’s meeting 16-7 before falling to a furious Cowboy
No such luck for Coach Gundy’s team this time, with the
Cougars leaving Stillwater
with the 45-35 win. Florida State, who some thought to be on their way back in
a close loss to Miami, nearly lost to Jacksonville State before a pair of late
touchdowns provided the deceiving final score of 20-9. So USC, Michigan, and anyone
else going into next week on the heels of a big win consider yourselves
forewarned. We could be in store for wilder fall than anticipated if you aren’t careful.
ACC: Conference avoids disaster in Week 2.
As bad as the first weekend was for the conference, things
could have gotten a lot worse in Week 2. Early Saturday afternoon things didn’t
look good, with North Carolina (Connecticut), WakeForest (Stanford) and
Duke (Army) all losing games they’d be expected to win. While the losses
wouldn’t have been killers they certainly wouldn’t help the reputation of the
ACC, so it’s a good thing that they were able to rally for victories. But that
wasn’t the end of it, with FloridaState and Maryland
(James Madison) needing late rallies to survive FCS opponents.
The Terrapins, who beat the Dukes in overtime 38-35,
suffered a big loss in CB Nolan Carroll (fractured tibia) and it remains to be
seen how they go about replacing the senior. And of course there’s Virginia,
who needed a pair of window-dressing touchdowns to avoid a shutout at the hands
of TCU. Who wins this league is a crapshoot at this point as the
Clemson/Georgia Tech game showed, but the members would do well to avoid
embarrassing non-conference losses at this point in the season.
Big 12: Some conference teams come back to reality
while there may be serious issues in Boulder.
The Big 12 received a good amount of praise following the
first weekend due to impressive wins by Missouri
and OklahomaState. Both were shocked back into
reality, with the Tigers being lucky enough to escape their test with a win. Bowling Green gave Gary
Pinkel’s team all it wanted and then some, making the Tigers pay for two
turnovers in jumping out to a 20-6 lead in the third quarter. Missouri scored twenty-one unanswered to
save the 27-20 win, while the Cowboys weren’t as lucky as previously mentioned.
But by no means were those the only results to take note of.
Colorado put up an
embarrassing effort at Toledo
on Friday night, never being a factor in a 54-38 beating that was worse than
that score indicated. QB Cody Hawkins took a beating, suffering a concussion on
a touchdown run, but he had to take his licks because there’s no other option. Were
things bad when Dan Hawkins took over? Yes, but is it too much to ask for
results like this to not happen? Given how good this league is, CU could end
the season fighting with the likes of KansasState and IowaState instead of Kansas,
Nebraska and Missouri. And there’s the celebration of
Bill Snyder’s five-year contract with a 17-15 loss at UL Lafayette. The top of
the Big 12 will be very good, likely hiding a soft underbelly.
Big East: West Virginia shows off a new dimension in their win over
East Carolina, and Connecticut’s
season is at a critical point.
Many knew that Bill Stewart’s team wouldn’t be able to run
as often as in years past with Pat White gone. But instead of giving this
program enough credit to acknowledge that they’d be able to adjust, many
predicted their demise. As the Pirates found out Saturday, that may not be the
smartest idea. In the 35-20 win Jarrett Brown threw for 334 yards and four
touchdowns (running for another 73 yards), and six players had at least two
receptions on the day. And that was with four turnovers and eleven penalties.
They’ll have to touch up those areas in advance of their trip to Auburn next week, but the
predictions of their demise…a bit premature.
As for the Huskies it’s rare that a 1-1 record signals a
fork in the road, but that’s exactly what they’ll have before them at Baylor
next weekend. The 12-10 loss to North
Carolina was heartbreaking because of the way in
which it happened. A defense that bailed out an anemic offense for three
quarters got tired, there was a holding call in the end zone for the final
margin, and no adjustment on 4th-and-4 when the Tar Heels were
bringing everything but the kitchen sink. QB Zach Frazer (knee) will miss the
next two games, putting the pressure on Cody Endres to bring a mostly dormant
offense back to life. It may not be a conference game but their meeting with
Baylor will play a major role in which way the season heads.
Big Ten: Mixed signals from the Big Ten.
Most of the attention was given to Michigan
and OhioState since they were playing in
arguably the two biggest games of the day. But those were just two paragraphs
in the Big Ten story Saturday. Indiana, MichiganState,
Northwestern and Wisconsin
all found themselves in dogfights with MAC opponents and not all three
survived. Indiana managed a thirteen penalty
effort against Western Michigan by forcing three turnovers in the 23-19 win,
while Northwestern needed a field goal as time expired to beat Eastern Michigan. Wisconsin
needed overtime to knock off a game FresnoState squad. The
Spartans, on the other hand, fell to Central Michigan
on a field goal by Andrew Aguila with three seconds left.
Iowa had no such
difficulties with IowaState, whipping their in-state rivals 35-3 in Ames and the same can be said for Illinois,
who took care of IllinoisState. PennState
harassed Greg Paulus and company in a decisive victory over Syracuse at Beaver Stadium. Originally
thought by many to be a two-team race the Big Ten may prove to be more
wide-open than originally anticipated.
Conference USA: For
all the focus on the Mountain West and BoiseState,
don’t forget the West.
Houston’s win over OklahomaState has already been mentioned, but
people haven’t paid much attention to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. They will
next weekend when G.J. Kinne and company visit Norman to take on the Sooners. Oklahoma QB
Landry Jones looked very good on Saturday but Tulsa
is no IdahoState. And as fate would have it, Tulsa will host BoiseState in October, which
could likely be the Broncos’ toughest game left on the schedule.
Another team in the conference to keep an eye on: Southern
Miss, who hosts a bad Virginia team next week
and will also have a shot at both Houston and Tulsa in November. Larry
Fedora’s team didn’t look great in their win over UCF, but they’ve finally got
WR DeAndre Brown (broken leg in the New Orleans Bowl) back on the field. As he
shakes off the rust he’ll return to being the weapon that he was before the
injury. Many ignore Conference USA,
lamenting the fact that the defense isn’t the strongest, but there are some
dangerous teams lurking in the shadows.
Independents: Army drops a heartbreaker at home, while Notre
Dame does the same on the road.
The Black Knights looked pretty good in the first half of
their game against Duke, and the solid play continued even after reserve QB
Sean Renfree entered the game and moved the Blue Devils down the field. But his
play (7-of-8, 106 yards 2 TD) was enough to put Duke in the driver’s seat and
two interceptions of the pick-six variety from Leon Wright sealed the 35-19 win
for Duke. Head coach Rich Ellerson’s double-eagle flex defense confused starter
Thaddeus Lewis and limited the Duke offense to 236 yards of offense, but the
turnovers (four overall) made all the difference.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, simply got caught in a game
of “who has the ball last” in Ann
Arbor. But you have to wonder if the Irish would have
been better off running the football late instead of throwing on second down of
their last drive with the lead. Coach Weis made it a matter of “making them use
their timeouts or winning the game” but why would holding onto the ball as long
as possible be a bad thing? And even if Notre Dame were to not get a first down
wouldn’t it be better to give Michigan
the ball back with no timeouts? Oh well, he’s the coach and I’m not.
MAC: Some missed opportunities, but all in all a
decent weekend for the conference.
The weekend began with Toledo’s
beating of Colorado at the Glass Bowl and
ended with BoiseState
shutting out Miami (Ohio). In between were close calls, one
upset and a couple of blowouts. Essentially what’s been going on in the
Mid-American Conference for quite some time, showing both the depth of this
conference and why the MAC hasn’t had a member make a run at a BCS bid. Not
only do they beat up on each other within conference play but there are many
instances of “close but no cigar” results. So who are the favorites to get to Detroit after two weeks? Buffalo looks to be a solid bet in the East, but there
will be challenges from Akron, Bowling
Green and Ohio.
In the West, Central Michigan and Western Michigan look to be the class of the
division but Toledo
will also have something to say about what should be a fun race.
Mountain West: Utah survives San JoseState,
pushing their win streak to sixteen straight, while UNLV misses a golden
The Utes ended up in more of a fight than many anticipated
going into their game at San JoseState. But they pulled
away in the fourth quarter thanks to a pair of touchdowns in the first five
minutes of the fourth quarter, providing a margin that proved to be too much
for the Spartans to overcome. Two turnovers and eleven penalties kept SJSU in
the game despite being outgained by a margin of 499-264. Figuring who exactly Oregon is has been tough given the circumstances of their
opener, but they can make Utah
pay next week if Kyle Whittingham’s team doesn’t pay better attention to the
As for the Rebels, they hung with Oregon State until the
bitter end, even taking a 21-20 lead with just over four minutes remaining
after trailing 20-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t keep
the Beavers out of field goal range on the game’s final drive, and the end
result was a Justin Kahut field goal with seven seconds remaining. UNLV was a
minus-2 in turnover margin and they also saw QB Omar Clayton leave the game
with a knee injury. Mike Clausen entered the game and threw a pair of touchdown
passes, which is a good sign should he have to take over the reins for an
extended period of time.
Pac-10: UCLA picks up a big win on the road while
Stanford lets one slip away.
The Cardinal looked to be in good shape at halftime; up 17-3
and redshirt freshman Andrew Luck was having a good game at WakeForest.
Then the Demon Deacons went on a run, scoring the last twenty-one points of the
game to win 24-17. Riley Skinner’s quarterback sneak with two seconds remaining
provided the final margin, leaving Stanford to make the cross-country flight
thinking about what could have been. The primary issue for Stanford: stopping
the run. WakeForest finished the day with 251 yards
on the ground, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
As for the Bruins, losing QB Kevin Prince (broken jaw) for
an extended period may temper the enthusiasm following their 19-15 win at Tennessee. Yes the
Volunteers are looking to rebuild under new head coach Lane Kiffin but that
doesn’t excuse the fact that the UCLA defense forced four turnovers and limited
the Volunteers to fewer than three yards per rush. Kai Forbath was the star for
UCLA, making four of five field goal attempts in the win. The question now is
how the Bruins make up for the loss of Prince with either Richard Brehaut or
Kevin Craft. Craft, as you will likely remember, was the starter last season
and had a tough go of it.
SEC: What’s gotten into the Auburn
offense? Try new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
You couldn’t blame some folks if they were skeptical about
the promises of exciting offense from the Auburn Tigers given what happened
under Tony Franklin in 2008. The pledge was to go to the spread offense, and to
say the least things didn’t go as planned. The most incriminating piece of
evidence that the installation wasn’t working: a brutal 3-2 loss at MississippiState. In the rematch, there were no
such doldrums for the Tigers, who sprinted out to a 14-0 first quarter.
Winning by a final score of 49-24 Auburn racked up nearly 600 yards of offense,
and QB Kodi Burns was a game-changer with his three scores on the ground. As a
team Auburn ran
for 390 yards with three players rushing for at least 75 yards on the evening.
If they can get the same effort against West
Virginia next weekend they’ll have a shot.
Sun Belt: The “Dwight Dasher Show” leads Middle Tennessee to a blowout win over Memphis.
This had all the makings of a close game on paper, and it
began as such with the Blue Raiders and Tigers ending the first quarter tied at
seven. Then Middle Tennessee’s offense got going and the defense shut down Memphis, leading to a run
of twenty-four unanswered points to put the game away. Dasher accounted for 320
yards of total offense along with two touchdown passes in the 31-14 victory,
and the Blue Raider defense held Memphis
to ninety-three yards rushing on thirty-seven attempts. Given what happened at
Clemson last week this was a good win for Middle Tennessee. UL Lafayette
shouldn’t be forgotten either, with kicker Tyler Albrecht beating KansasState
with thirty-two seconds left in the game. While neither or those teams would be
considered major scalps on the national scene, they are decent wins for a
conference that more times than not plays the role of whipping boy to the other
WAC: FresnoState misses out on a golden opportunity; where
do they go from here?
This was by no means a crossroads game for the Bulldogs,
since the loss to Wisconsin
has no bearing on the conference standings. But they’ve yet to win a conference
title under Pat Hill, so the question could be asked in some circles whether or
not non-conference games are emphasized at the expense of league showdowns. FresnoState
had a very good day offensively, putting up nearly 500 yards of offense in the
overtime loss but they could have won had there not been three turnovers.
Junior QB Ryan Colburn threw four touchdown passes by three picks? That can’t
happen if you want to beat Wisconsin
or some of the contenders within the WAC. Given what Nevada
and Louisiana Tech have done so far, FresnoState may prove to be the biggest
challenger to BoiseState within the
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.