Burning questions for CFB’s biggest Week 2 games

Aug 31, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) keeps the ball for a run in the first half against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The 150th season of college football launched this past weekend without much real drama. Week 2 will be a much different story with a flurry of marquee matchups across the country.

LSU vs. Texas will draw a lot of attention as a clash of top-10 teams, but there are plenty of compelling matchups to watch on Saturday. Week 2 offers fans a chance to watch several top-25 programs face off against each other, while some top-25 hopefuls get another opportunity to prove themselves.

It will be one of the most exciting and important weekends of football this season. Given how much is on the line for so many programs, Week 2 offers plenty of burning questions with answers that will define this week and the season.

Can Michigan’s defense stop Army’s triple-option attack?

The Wolverines avoided potential embarrassment in the opener by blowing out Middle Tennessee State, but their first real test comes this weekend. Michigan has a plan to stop Army’s unique offense, but everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Army will run all over this defense if it isn’t fundamentally sound. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins leads the Black Knights as the driving force behind one of the best running games in football. If Michigan’s offense maximizes its limited opportunities on offense and scores early, it will be a clear path to a 2-0 start.

If the Wolverines can’t execute offensively and the defense is repeatedly put back on the field on short rest, the No. 7 team in the country will lose this game.

Can freshman QB Kedon Slovis save USC’s season, and Clay Helton’s job?

Losing quarterback JT Daniels feels like a devastating blow right at the start of USC’s season. If Helton wants to save his job, then he desperately needs Slovis to step up against in-state rival Stanford.

The freshman will be put to the test right out of the gate against a strong defense that is led by future NFL cornerback Paulson Adebo. This defense also just held Northwestern to seven points and 210 total yards last week.

Slovis is going to feel the pressure in this game. While he will make some mistakes, he only needs to make fewer than Stanford quarterback David Mills. If he can do that and come out with a win, the pressure on USC will loosen just a bit.

Is Joshua Jackson the answer to Maryland’s quarterback problems?

Maryland’s fan base is desperately waiting for this program to return to relevance. It’s been five years since the program experienced a seven-win season, but things are starting to look up for the program.

Of course, a 79-0 win over Howard University doesn’t prove anything. The real test comes Saturday against No. 21 Syracuse, which provides a chance for Jackson to prove he and this offense are legit. He showed the ability to play at a high level during his time at Virginia Tech and the Terrapins desperately need that this season.

Fans will hopefully witness a high-scoring shootout with a lot on the line. A strong start from Jackson could push this team to a 2-0 record and much closer to a spot in the top-25 rankings, giving the program hope for the first time in years.

Will Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes be handed an 0-2 start by Mack Brown?

Miami showed signs of its promising future in the season-opening loss to Florida, but losses are what defines a coach’s reputation. It’s precisely why this week’s matchup against Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels is so essential.

The Hurricanes haven’t started a season 0-2 since 1978 and Diaz doesn’t want to be in the same company as Lou Saban. Miami’s offense is loaded with playmakers and quarterback Jarren Williams showed flashes of greatness, which puts this team in position to win. Diaz’s reputation out of the gate will all come down to Miami’s defense and the offensive line’s ability to protect Williams.

Can Sam Ehlinger deliver his first Heisman moment against LSU’s defense?

After years of individual moments when some wondered if Texas was back, the 2018 season proved that the program is climbing back to its top form. Now the Longhorns face a huge test that will tell us where they stand among the country’s best teams.

Ehlinger showed last season that he could put up Heisman Trophy-caliber numbers against Big 12 competition. A matchup against LSU’s defense — arguably a top-10 unit in the country — is an entirely different matter. This defense is already delivering little jabs at Ehlinger in the media and is saving the bigger blows for Saturday.

He doesn’t need to have five touchdowns with 350-plus total yards. Ehlinger must limit the turnovers, rack up a few scores and come away with the program’s biggest win in years. If he can do that, it will be a moment Heisman voters remember.

Will Texas A&M’s defense be able to limit Clemson’s explosive attack?

While Aggies’ offensive lineman Jared Hocker might be promising an upset, this game will be decided by his teammates on the defensive side. Texas A&M racked up four interceptions in Week 1 after recording just seven in 2018 and its that type of defensive performance it needs this weekend.

Clemson will be a more significant challenge on Saturday compared to last season when quarterback Kelly Bryant just sneaked by with a 28-26 win. Trevor Lawrence’s talent is unmatched and he will challenge this secondary with the best supporting cast in the country.

We have seen Lawrence make mistakes, as his two-interception performance against Georgia Tech shows. It will be up to the Aggies to pressure him into those mistakes and never fail to take advantage of them. The road to an upset will be difficult for Texas A&M, but this defense might be capable of accomplishing it.