Following a mostly bland opening weekend, college football Week 2 ups the ante with quite a few significant matchups we’re eager to watch unfold.
The big one everyone is focused on is LSU vs. Texas in Austin Saturday night — a game that’s already led to some interesting bulletin-board material. That’s just one of eight matchups that have piqued our interest as particularly compelling.
Army vs. Michigan
It’s hard to really have a handle on how good Michigan’s new-look offense can be in 2019. Middle Tennessee didn’t offer up much resistance in Week 1. And while the Wolverines did show some sparks, it wasn’t the most impressive performance we’ve ever seen. Army should test Shea Patterson and Co. a bit more, and the Black Knights of course will pound the ground relentlessly on offense. This means Patterson will have to make the most of what may be limited opportunities to put points on the board.
Nebraska vs. Colorado
To say that Nebraska’s opener against South Alabama was a wake-up call is understating it just a bit. The Cornhuskers struggled against a team they should have wiped the floor with. And now things get a whole lot tougher with a road game against an explosive Buffaloes team that put up 52 points a week ago. The game is being played in Boulder, and the elevation is a significant advantage for Colorado. Scott Frost needs this win to keep the beleaguered Nebraska fan base from revolting. Needless to say, his players will need to step up in a big way.
Nevada vs. Oregon
Talk about two programs that are coming off polar opposite experiences in Week 1. The Wolf Pack made a stunning comeback against Purdue, winning in walk-off fashion when true freshman kicker Brandon Talton knocked a 56-yarder through the uprights. Oregon, meanwhile, allowed 21 unanswered points to true freshman Bo Nix, losing a 27-21 heartbreaker against Auburn. Justin Herbert and Co. should have no issue wading through this matchup and coming away with their first victory of the season. But if they struggle, the Ducks’ national stock will take a precipitous tumble.
BYU vs. Tennessee
There is no hotter seat in all of college football than the one Jeremy Pruitt finds himself sitting in at Tennessee. Things are so bad that after the Vols lost to Georgia State their fans were legitimately pondering conspiracy theories that included Pruitt being an Alabama plant to tank the program. With BYU coming to town, a win for Pruitt and the Volunteers is mandatory. Should this team get plowed out of its own building for the second weekend in a row, the fan base is going to demand nothing less than the immediate removal of the head coach.
Cincinnati vs. Ohio State
Justin Fields’ debut as the starting quarterback of Ryan Day’s Ohio State offense went very well, as Florida Atlantic’s defense had no answer for his dual-threat abilities. He and the Buckeyes face a much sterner defensive test this weekend, though, with Cincinnati coming to town. The Bearcats forced four turnovers against UCLA and featured the 11th-ranked defense nationally last year. Can Fields stay sharp and continue to build positive momentum? Or will the Bearcats fluster him into key mistakes and turn this into a game they can win?
Stanford vs. USC
The Trojans gave head coach Clay Helton the opening-weekend win he so desperately needed, but it came at a cost. JT Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury, ushering in true freshman Kedon Slovis, who will now be the man going forward. On the other side, Stanford starting quarterback K.J. Costello may not play Saturday after taking a vicious shot to the head against Northwestern. Both of these teams desperately need a win to stay relevant in the Pac-12. Both may be relying on backup quarterbacks. It’s going to be an interesting game, to be sure.
Texas A&M vs. Clemson
One year ago, Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies nearly upset the Clemson Tigers, losing by two points. Fast forward to Saturday’s showdown, and Texas A&M is bursting with confidence. Offensive lineman Jared Hocker has guaranteed an upset, and the Aggies arguably have enough talent on both sides of the ball to make that happen. If Trevor Lawrence gets off to a poor start and throws a couple picks like he did a week ago, we could see our first major upset of the 2019 college football season. Though, Heisman candidate Travis Etienne will have something to say about all that.
LSU vs. Texas
Fans will at least have a temporary answer to the “Is Texas back?” question Saturday night when the Longhorns host SEC powerhouse LSU in Austin. For what it’s worth, oddsmakers don’t think Tom Herman’s crew has what it takes to win. The breakout performance of Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow in Week 1 has a lot to do with that outlook. He was phenomenal operating the team’s new RPO-centric offense. If the Longhorns are going to win, then Sam Ehlinger will have to prove LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson wrong with a brilliant performance against a very tough defense.