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Top takeaways from college football Week 2

Jesse Reed
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield in college football Week 2

There were some humongous games on the schedule in college football Week 2, and they produced memorable results for die-hard and casual fans alike.

Starting early in the day when Iowa outlasted Iowa State to claim the Cy-Hawk Trophy in overtime, big plays were on the menu. One of last year’s Heisman finalists got some sweet revenge later in the evening, and last year’s Heisman winner showed us he’s more than capable of repeating.

We’ll take a deeper look at those stories and much more while examining the top takeaways from college football Week 2.

Sweet revenge for Baker Mayfield as Oklahoma takes down Ohio State

Ohio State humbled Baker Mayfield and the Sooners on their home field in Norman last year. They won by three touchdowns while roughing up Mayfield and forcing him into two interceptions. That loss might have been the one thing that kept Oklahoma out of the playoff. As it was the Sooners rattled off 10 straight wins to close out the season with a Sugar Bowl win over Auburn.

Needless to say, Mayfield had plenty of motivation to play well on Saturday night in Columbus. And he did. Looking as sharp as we’ve ever seen him in a big game, Mayfield shredded Ohio State’s talented defense to the tune of 386 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Oklahoma routed Ohio State by the score of 31-16, and the huge win will no doubt vault the Sooners into the top three or four in the rankings heading into Week 3.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Sooners are in good hands with young head coach Lincoln Riley, who’s off to a smashing start.

Oklahoma State is a buzzsaw

Much like what we saw in the season opener, the Cowboys had no trouble putting up points against South Alabama on Friday night. Mason Rudolph played two-thirds of the game until it was well and truly out of hand, putting up 335 yards on 25-of-38 passing. He threw three touchdowns and ran in the lone rushing score of the game for the Cowboys. Wideout James Washington wowed us with his speed on a 66-yard touchdown, and Marcell Ateman hauled in Rudolph’s other two touchdown passes.

And just to add to the misery of the Jaguars, who lost 44-7, junior linebacker Justin Phillips scored on a 25-yard pick-six late in the third quarter. It’s hard to know how good this team is right now because the first two games of the season haven’t come against teams remotely close to being peers of Oklahoma State. But the ease with which this team moves the ball offensively, combined with the talent on defense, give us reason to believe the Cowboys will more than put up a battle against Oklahoma later this year.

All TaQuon Marshall does is score touchdowns

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall

The Yellow Jackets nearly pulled off a huge upset in Week 1 against Tennessee, thanks in large part to Marshall. This 5-foot-10, 185 pounds (dripping wet) quarterback plays much bigger than his size. He scored five touchdowns in defeat last week and then had another huge game Saturday at home against Jacksonville State. Rushing 13 times and passing the ball just seven times, Marshall scored four more touchdowns to help Georgia Tech win big at home, 37-10, and even up its record at 1-1.

Hawkeyes escape with resilient overtime victory over in-state rival Cyclones

Talk about a thriller. On the road against rival Iowa State, the Iowa Hawkeyes overcame a late deficit and claimed the Cy-Hawk Trophy with a touchdown in overtime. After showing off some dominant defense in Week 1 against Wyoming, Iowa was anything but dominant against its in-state rival. Giving up 467 yards and 41 points, the Hawkeyes’ defense was saved by a five-touchdown performance from quarterback Nathan Stanley and a big-time finish by running back Akrum Wadley, who scored twice. In particular, Wadley’s second touchdown — a 46-yard catch and run — captured the “dog fight” nature of the contest, as he said after the game. It was one of the best games of college football Week 2.

Shea Patterson has a record-breaking day

Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson is the proud new owner of the school’s all-time single-game passing yards record. He went 32-of-43 passing for 489 yards and five touchdowns against UT Martin. While it’s true the Rebels were heavily favored to beat the Skyhawks, Patterson’s record is not diminished whatsoever because of it. It’s pretty remarkable considering Ole Miss’ history, featuring the likes of Chad Kelly, Eli Manning, Bo Wallace and others. In his first two games starting for the Rebels, Patterson is off to a tremendous start. He already has 918 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

Maryland is big wild card in Big Ten

The Terps said hello in a big way last weekend beating Texas in Austin. They followed up that eye-opening performance with a huge win at home against Towson, a team they should beat. But beating a team and blowing it out are two different things entirely. Maryland was dominant at home, winning 63-17. Despite losing starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome for the season last week, the offense was on fire, scoring eight touchdowns. True freshman Kasim Hill had a very good game while the Terps rushed for 367 yards and six scores. We’re not ready to predict any more big upsets for this squad, but it seems pretty clear the Terrapins are going to be a tough out for their Big Ten opponents in 2017.

Kansas State living up to the hype early this season

Okay. So it’s really early in the season, and the Wildcats haven’t faced any tough opponents. That doesn’t mean what they’ve done is any less impressive. Blowing out cupcakes is what elite teams are supposed to do, and No. 19 Kansas State has done it two weeks in a row. On Saturday at home against Charlotte, Bill Snyder’s team put the clamps down early going up 21-0 before the first quarter concluded. Among the many highlights engineered by the Wildcats in this one, defensive back Kendall Adams scored twice — once on a fumble return and another on a pick-six. Nearly 500 yards worth of offense and three turnovers forced by the defense show how well this squad is coming together early this season.

Wilton Speight should scare the heck out of Michigan fans

Michigan Quarterback Wilton Speight and head coach Jim Harbaugh

For the second week in a row, Speight was mediocre, at best. While he did make some very nice throws, including on the game’s opening touchdown, he was highly erratic. Displaying poor mechanics and a bit of panic when pressure came his way, Speight has shown for two weeks he’s the weak link in Michigan’s run at a title in 2017. He finished with 221 yards and two touchdowns. That doesn’t seem bad, but he also completed just 58.6 percent of his passes (an improvement from last week) and lost a fumble. Through two weeks, Speight has managed to complete just 51.8 percent of his passes, has thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions, and has lost a fumble.

Michigan features an outstanding rushing offense and downright dominant defense. However, that may not be enough to keep the Wolverines from finishing the 2017 season on a sour note.

Josh Rosen put on a passing clinic 

We had an inkling of an idea that Rosen would have a big game against Hawaii in Week 2. After he woke up to put on one of the best fourth quarters in recent memory against Texas A&M, we wondered what he would do for an encore. He did not disappoint. What Rosen accomplished at home Saturday is nothing short of astonishing. Rosen attempted 25 passes. Only three of them were not hauled in by a UCLA receiver. He ended up with 329 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Bruins to an easy, breezy 56-23 win.

Penn State offensive game plan needs an adjustment

The Nittany Lions should have run away with a blowout win Saturday at home against Pitt. They ended up winning comfortably, 33-14, but the game was a lot closer than it should have been most of the way. Whether because Penn State is trying to develop a passing game or because it wants to save Saquon Barkley for the second half of the season, he inexplicably received just 14 rushing attempts, which he turned into 84 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, quarterback Trace McSorley threw the ball twice as often and ran the ball eight times himself. He wasn’t efficient or all that effective through the air, finishing with 164 yards on 15-of-28 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. Granted, tight end Mike Gesicki is worthy of red zone targets. But McSorley should not be the focal point of this offense going forward. The Nittany Lions will go as far as Barkley can carry them. If they play like they did Saturday against the top Big Ten teams, they’ll lose.

Josh Allen has nice bounce-back game 

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen didn’t have a good season debut against Iowa last weekend. The Hawkeyes swarmed him, overwhelming his offensive line and forcing him into mistakes. He had a much easier go of it Saturday at home against Gardner-Webb and flourished. In the end, Allen had completed 22-of-32 passes for 328 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. He relied heavily on Austin Conway and C.J. Johnson, who combined for 17 receptions for 265 yards and both his touchdowns. Those who are looking closely at Allen as a potential NFL quarterback in 2018 had to have liked what they saw this weekend.

Alabama bulldozes Fresno State, as expected

Alabama’s home opener went about as you’d expect when Fresno State visited Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide rolled, winning 41-10. The defense was stifling, allowing just 5.3 yards per pass, 2.6 yards per rush and 10 total points. The offense was ruthlessly efficient, totaling 497 yards, scoring four touchdowns in the first half and five overall while averaging more than 7.5 yards per play. After handily dispatching Florida State last weekend this outcome was to be expected. But as we’ve seen so many times in the past the unexpected happens regularly in college football. For now, the No. 1 team in the nation appears poised to rumble unchallenged for the next month-plus until it hosts Tennessee towards the end of October.

Freshman Peyton Ramsey supplants Richard Lagow, Indiana rolls

It’s pretty crazy how fast things change sometimes in college football. Indiana hung tough with Ohio State for most of the game last week, and Lagow put up 410 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Then on Saturday, he came out ice cold on the road against Virginia, going 3-for-10 for 24 yards and an interception. Midway through the second quarter, Tom Allen threw his freshman, Peyton Ramsey, into the game and was rewarded. Ramsey immediately led a touchdown-scoring drive, finishing with 215 total yards and three touchdowns as Indiana won by 17 points, 34-17.

Longhorns respond in the best possible way after being upset in Week 1

Texas head coach Tom Herman came under a ton of fire last weekend after losing his first game in upset fashion. It was an embarrassing way to open one’s career for one of the nation’s most prestigious programs. Hosting San Jose State on Saturday, the Longhorns set to work rectifying their opening-week debacle. Texas’ much-maligned defense held the Trojans to just 171 yards and eight first downs, pitching a shutout along the way. With quarterback Shane Buechele out of action, freshman Sam Ehlinger was serviceable, leading an offense that scored seven touchdowns (six on the ground). Texas still has a lot to prove. But this was the perfect way to rebound from Week 1.

J.T. Barrett just isn’t a good quarterback

If Ohio State is going to recover from its loss Saturday and make it to the playoff, it’s going to have to rely on its defense and running game. As we surmised last week looking at the Buckeyes’ win over Indiana, the offense has to be run first, throw second. J.T. Barrett just isn’t very good as a pure passer. Last year, starting 13 games, he completed just 61.5 percent of his passes. That’s below average for a top college quarterback. This year he’s been worse, completing just 55.7 percent of his passes. Barrett also threw a bad pass into the end zone that resulted in an interception Saturday night. He attempted 35 passes, which resulted in just 183 yards in the loss. Meanwhile, freshman phenom J.K. Dobbins carried the ball just 13 total times, going for 72 yards and a touchdown. If the Buckeyes are relying on Barrett to win the game for them, rather than their rushing attack, they’ll fall short of their goals in 2017.

Georgia steps up big time with gutsy win on the road

Going into a hostile environment without starting quarterback Jacob Eason, the Georgia Bulldogs were one-touchdown underdogs against Notre Dame. Relying on the two-headed rushing attack of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, the offense got a huge boost when Terry Godwin came down with one of the best catches we’ll see all year to tie the game in the second quarter (watch here). Notre Dame took a three-point lead into halftime and extended it to six in the third quarter. But from that moment going forward, Georgia’s defense stepped up big and the Irish lost their mojo offensively, going with a predictable attack that wasn’t fooling anybody. In the end, the Bulldogs hung onto a one-point lead to claim their second win of the season.

USC silences critics with dominant win over Stanford

USC had a bit of trouble with Western Michigan last week in their season opener, causing plenty of criticism to be thrown the Trojans’ way. While Sam Darnold wasn’t sharp in that game, we argued the quality of opponent was underrated much more than USC was overrated. After watching the Trojans dismantle a very strong Stanford squad Saturday night, winning by the score of 42-24, it seems safe to say we were right.

Shrugging off an early defensive lapse in which they allowed Bryce Love to scamper 75 yards untouched to the end zone, the Trojans played an inspired game defensively. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But holding the Cardinal to 342 yards was more than good enough. Darnold made a couple of bad throws that resulted in turnovers but also threw four touchdowns. USC also piled up 307 yards on the ground as both Stephen Carr and Ronald Jones went for well over 100 yards apiece.

Sure it was just one game, but this one game reminded us all why USC was seen as a potential championship contender before the season began.

Clemson might have best defense in the nation

After giving up six early points to Auburn, it looked like Clemson’s mighty defense was showing some chinks in the armor. That proved to be nothing but a short-lived fantasy. The Tigers proceeded to so thoroughly dominate Gus Malzahn’s squad that it’s hard to believe in hindsight. Auburn gained just 117 yards total. That’s insane when you consider they gained 69 yards on the opening drive of the game. That means that Clemson’s defense held the Tigers to just 48 yards the rest of the game. In total, Clemson tallied 11 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss, per Bruce Feldman. Kelly Bryant didn’t have to do a whole heck of a lot offensively, and his two rushing scores were all Clemson needed to win at home, 14-6.

Just give Lamar Jackson the Heisman Trophy already

Kidding. Sort of. Two weeks of awesome play doesn’t mean anything in the grand scope of things. And Louisville hasn’t really played a team that should give it any trouble to this point. Still, what we’ve seen from Jackson in those two weeks gives us reason to hope he’ll be come the first person to finally match the great Archie Griffin and win a second Heisman Trophy. We got into a bit of detail explaining why he’s clearly in the driver’s seat after the 2016 Heisman winner shredded North Carolina.

Here’s the short version: In two games, Jackson has 1,010 total yards and eight touchdowns. He’s almost the only thing keeping Louisville competitive right now and will likely have to keep up that pace all year. Get your popcorn ready, because Clemson is next.

The impact of Hurricane Irma cannot be overstated

Hurricane Irma

Five games were cancelled in college football Week 2, for good reason. Hurricane Irma, which laid waste to many islands, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, is wreaking havoc on the state of Florida before heading north to Georgia.

Football is a game we all love, and the spectacle of the college game is incredibly fun from week to week. But the teams that had to cancel their games all have players, coaches, trainers and other personnel whose families and friends are in Irma’s path. The photographs coming out of the state of Florida — cars lined up bumper to bumper — on Thursday and Friday attest to the great danger the people of Florida are in this weekend. For them, football is the furthest thing from their mind.

One team that didn’t get to take the week off was Florida Atlantic, which lost to Wisconsin 31-14. After the game, head coach Lane Kiffin remarked on just how gut-wrenching it was for players to be there in Madison, rather than at home.

“At one point, I thought we weren’t coming. Our players didn’t want to come because there’s a lot of players not wanting to leave their families,” Kiffin said, per Matthew DeFranks of the Sun Sentinel. You got kids coming into the office saying, ‘Coach, I know it’s a football game, but I’m really the only one to take care of my grandma. We don’t know what’s coming.’ But there was a decision made to come play. With all those distractions, with all that stuff, I thought the guys stayed together in a difficult situation.”

With all that in mind, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Irma’s path, and with all those first responders who will be tasked with rescuing people who either would not or could not get out.