Top 10 takeaways from college football Week 2

By Jesse Reed

Despite the lack of high-profile battles in college football Week 2, there was no shortage of drama, excitement and controversy.

A couple of huge upsets highlighted this week’s slate of games. We also witnessed some phenomenal individual performances by players who are making a name for themselves as potential award-winners later this year.

Not all was sunshine and roses, though. In a week of cupcake opponents for the top teams in the nation, some high-profile players still struggled to get into a groove, leaving us to wonder if expectations were too high to begin with.

These are the 10 things we’re taking away after watching it all go down in Week 2.

1. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is a legitimate Heisman contender

For the second week in a row this year and the fourth in a row dating back to 2015, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson had himself a monster game.

The sophomore took the No. 13-ranked Cardinals into the Carrier Dome, and they absolutely took ownership of the stadium, winning 62-28.

Jackson totaled 610 yards, passing for one touchdown and running in four more. It was a commanding performance, and his hurdling touchdown in the second quarter acts as his first true Heisman moment.

Through just two games (six quarters, to be precise), Jackson has totaled 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Despite the fact that Louisville has yet to face a defensively dominant team, these are numbers than cannot be dismissed on that basis. After all, other top Heisman hopefuls have had the same kind of chance to make a mark like this. Yet none have.

Up next for Jackson and the Cardinals is a test that will define the season and could define his Heisman hopes. Florida State will be coming into town for the first monumental ACC battle of the season.

2. The zebras owe Oklahoma State a huge apology

The Central Michigan Chippewas won on Saturday, upsetting No. 22-ranked Oklahoma State by three points, 30-27. We predicted this one as an upset special, but many didn’t give that idea much credence.

It was tight throughout. The Chippewas shut down Oklahoma State’s running game and harassed Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph throughout. Their quarterback, Cooper Rush, showed why NFL scouts are so interested in studying him further.

But this game will always be remembered for what happened, and for what should not have happened.

First, what happened.

After Rudolph was called for intentional grounding at the end of the game, Central Michigan got one more chance to win, down by three.

That’s when Rush hit receiver Jesse Knoll near the end zone. Knoll then immediately lateraled the ball to Corey Willis, who reversed field and scored the game-winner to stun OK State (watch the entire play here).

It was a spectacular sequence and one that we’ll remember for a long time. Unfortunately, it should have never occurred.

The referees incorrectly gave Central Michigan a chance they should not have had. The rules state that live-ball fouls automatically allow for one final play at the end of games. But there is an exception.

“There’s an exception to the rule that says if enforcement of the foul involves a loss of down, then that brings the game to an end,” referee Tim O’Dey told a pool reporter after the game, per the Associated Press.

Kudos to the Chippewas for executing when they had that final chance. It just stinks that they got it in the first place, especially for the Cowboys and their fans.

3. Penn State and Pitt reunion game needs to be regular again

For the first time in 16 years, Penn State and Pitt played a game against one another, and it was a barn-burner.

Pitt won the game, 42-39, holding off a furious comeback bid by the Nittany Lions, who were down by three touchdowns in the second quarter. This was a game many suspected would tilt heavily in favor of Penn State, but it’s clear these two programs aren’t so far apart on the talent scale, after all.

James Conner continues to amaze us with his performance after surviving cancer. He totaled 146 yards and scored twice for the Panthers, who tallied up 341 yards total on the ground.

Not to be outdone, sophomore running back Saquon Barkley finished with 130 total yards and five touchdowns of his own.

In the end, Penn State just couldn’t quite pull off the come-from-behind victory.

More than 70,000 people filled the stands to watch this storied rivarly play out once more. For decades, these two teams battled annually. Sadly, that is no longer the case. But based on Saturday’s outcome, that’s a shame.

4. Deshaun Watson and Clemson wilting under the spotlight

What in the world is wrong with Clemson, and who stole Watson’s mojo?

Two weeks into the 2016 season and the No. 2 team in the nation has barely beaten a couple of opponents that would have been nothing but speed bumps last year. Against Auburn and Troy, the Tigers have won by a combined total of 12 points.

Thankfully the team’s defense has held things together, because Watson and the offense have been a miserable wreck. And we’d be remiss not to mention the ridiculous decision by receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, who dropped the ball in front of the end zone on a punt return (watch here).

Deshaun WatsonThrough the first two games, last year’s third-place Heisman finalist has completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt and has thrown four touchdowns compared to three interceptions passing the ball.

At this point, it seems the pressure of last year’s success and this year’s high expectations have gotten to Watson (read more about that here).

Picked by many as the top Heisman favorite before the season began, his stock is falling like a rock.

On a program-wide level, Clemson needs to find some solutions right now. The Tigers are sure to fall in the polls next week after a second-straight dismal performance against unimpressive competition.

5. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs cannot afford any more apathy

Like Clemson, Georgia (No. 9) barely escaped Week 2 with a win. Facing FCS school Nicholls, the Bulldogs should have absolutely rolled. Instead, they allowed the small school to make things extremely interesting in their own house, coming away with the 26-24 nail-biter of a win.

The final score is all the more remarkable when you consider Georgia went up 7-0 before the pre-game dust had begun to settle with a quick-strike touchdown in the opening minutes of the first quarter.

It’s even crazier that Nicholls turned the ball over four times, including a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown by Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter.

The Bulldogs could only generate two offensive touchdowns in this game, and Nick Chubb was pretty much bottled up throughout. He finished with 80 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown, and his long run of the day was just 18 yards.

This isn’t a good sign with the tough SEC schedule coming up.

Smart had his team ready to beat North Carolina last week. He needs to get the Bulldogs back on track after this embarrassing display.

6. Other top teams in cruise control

college football Week 2, Jim Harbaugh

Being that there were no games scheduled this week between ranked teams, upsets were not exactly expected. Yet, as you already know, we did see it happen, and some of the top teams stunk up their home stadiums with poor showings against bad teams.

This wasn’t the case for the likes of powerhouses Alabama (No. 1), Florida State (No. 3), Ohio State (No. 4), Michigan (No.5) and Houston (No. 6).

All five programs blew out their cupcake opponents like they’re supposed to do, winning their games by a combined score of 231-35.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. No doubt Nick Saban will lambaste his coaches and players for their mistakes against Western Kentucky. The same can be said for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, who weren’t exactly sharp as a razor’s edge.

But for the most part, it was just status quo for these big programs. Next week should be a different story, when the meat and potatoes portion of the schedule starts to kick into high gear.

7. Washington’s Jake Browning is a player to watch in Pac 12

Browning and the Huskies (No. 8) easily dominated Idaho on Saturday, winning 59-14. It was the second blowout win by Washington, and in both games Browning was sharp.

It’s too early in the season to make a definitive statement about who the best quarterback in the Pac 12 is. But it’s not too early to say Browning deserves to be in the conversation with Josh Rosen.

Rosen gets a lot of deserved hype. He had a really good year as a true freshman in 2015 for the Bruins, and a lot of people like to talk about his ability to transition to the pro game after college.

Browning deserves praise as well. He also started all year for the Huskies, minus the Stanford game, as a true freshman last year. Because he plays for Washington, and because he didn’t put as many touchdowns on the board, Browning wasn’t talked about as much as the young Bruins star.

Through two games this year, Browning has been outstanding. He has 581 yards passing with eight touchdowns and only one interception and has completed 74.5 percent of his passes. Already, he’s thrown half as many touchdowns as he did in his freshman campaign.

Washington is a team that could find itself in playoff contention if the ball bounces its way a few times in 2016. If Browning continues to shine, the Huskies will too.

8. Arkansas won with heart and terrific execution

college football week 2, Austin Allen, Arkansas

The Brett Bielema era at Arkansas has seen the program trending up each year since his arrival in 2013. After winning in roughshod fashion last week against Louisiana Tech, the Razorbacks showed up Saturday night in Amon G. Carter Stadium with some fire in their bellies and a winning game plan.

The offense pounded away at TCU’s defensive front with a barrage of running plays early to open up the passing game for quarterback Austin Allen.

The defense kept the Horned Frogs’ explosive offensive attack in check masterfully.

By halftime, the Razorbacks had a shocking 13-0 lead.

But as Arkansas fans know, leads are never safe when it comes to this team. TCU’s offense exploded in the second half, led by quarterback Kenny Hill and the effervescent speedster KaVontae Turpin.

Things got crazy at the end of the game when TCU took the lead late in the fourth quarter, 28-20. But then, after a dumb move by Hill to go with the never-popular throat-slash celebration, Arkansas scored a quick touchdown and converted the two-point conversion.

Suddenly the game was tied.

Then Bielema did the unthinkable and kicked to Turpin with the game on the line. The receiver of course took advantage of his opportunity to shine, and 64 yards later, TCU was already in scoring range.

Set to win the game with a chip-in field goal, TCU kicker Ryan Graf had his attempt blocked, and overtime beckoned.

After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, TCU scored a field goal in the second period, putting pressure on Allen and Co. to execute under pressure. And boy, did he execute. After getting down near the goal line, the quarterback finished off the upset victory by himself (with the help of his big guys up front, of course), and Arkansas walked out a winner.

Arkansas simply would not be denied a victory in this one, and Allen showed some serious heart getting into the end zone on the final play.

9. Les Miles finally benches Brandon Harris, still has a quarterback problem

Not starting Leonard Fournette was the smartest thing LSU head coach Les Miles has done so far this season. But it also exposed the Tigers as toothless on offense without him.

Last weekend at Lambeau against the Wisconsin Badgers, Harris managed just 131 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on 12-of-21 passing.

Brandon HarrisHe then came out on Saturday against Jacksonville State and was atrocious. He missed one receiver so badly on the right sideline that the ball sailed into the bench area on the sideline.

After watching his quarterback complete just one-of-four passes for eight yards, down by three to the lowly Gamecocks, Miles finally benched Harris.

In his place, Purdue transfer Danny Etling immediately sparked LSU’s offense, throwing a perfect 46-yard bomb to receiver DeSean Smith (watch here).

From there, the Tigers scored touchdowns on three straight offensive possessions, with Etling going for 100 yards on six-of-eight passing with one touchdown and no interceptions during the first half.

LSU fans hoping that this would be a sign of things to come were quickly brought back down to reality in the second half, however.

Etling failed to complete another pass in the game. He failed to connect on his next six attempts and was replaced near the end of the game by freshman Justin McMillan, who completed his only pass for 19 yards.

LSU ended up winning big, 34-13. The Tigers desperately needed the victory, but it was an ugly one. It also gave Miles plenty to chew on as he prepares his team to face Mississippi State next week.

10. Tennessee finally woke up

college football Week 2, Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

It only took five quarters of play for the Volunteers (No. 17) to wake up from their offseason slumber.

Starting out the season at No. 9, Tennessee was quickly humbled in a narrow win over Appalachian State. Then the Vols started out slow at Bristol Motor Speedway, much to the chagrin of the exceedingly large, record-breaking pro-Tennessee crowd.

The Hokies jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But instead of prove that the Volunteers were never good enough to be ranked as high as they were to begin with, the early deficit acted like a slap in the face.

The Vols scored 31 straight points after that before Virginia Tech could respond with a score of its own.

Joshua Dobbs finished with three passing scores and two more on the ground, Tennessee’s ground game started to churn up the turf and the defense remembered how to execute.

The final score of 45-24 makes it look like the outcome was never in question, but things were awfully dicey for a while in Bristol.