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Takeaways from Saturday’s college football Week 2 action

Matt Fitzgerald

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After a fairly wild kickoff to the college football season, Week 2 was even crazier, headlined by Oregon going into Columbus and upsetting Ohio State 35-28.

But there was plenty more where that came from. Continue reading for our breakdown of the top takeaways from college football following the majority of Week 2’s Saturday slate.

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Ohio State’s arrogance likely cost them a playoff spot

What is it with the AP third-ranked Buckeyes? They patently refuse to make in-game adjustments on defense, sticking with man-to-man coverage even when it’s not working and they’re getting gashed in the run game.

Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs’ postgame comments aren’t going to help Buckeye Nation swallow their defeat any easier, because it’s just a rigid adherence and insistence that what he’s doing works, when in reality, it doesn’t:

And Ohio State’s issues aren’t limited to defense. Their monotonous, awful rushing attack that features nothing but between-the-tackles halfback dives from the shotgun formation will put you to sleep.

To have someone as electrifying as Garrett Wilson and not to run even one play of jet-sweep action to get the ball in his hands that way is truly mind-boggling. Credit Wilson and fellow receivers Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, along with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, for overcoming mediocre coaching anyway. Ryan Day got completely outdone by Oregon’s Mario Cristobal in this one.

Coach Day, you know that zone-read keeper is there for Stroud to tuck and run for 20 any time he wants to, right?

Not once did that happen. Not once did Stroud keep the ball. That’s not on the QB. That’s on the coach. Stroud must be being coached not to even read the crashing defensive end at the mesh point. No other explanation makes sense.

That’s the type of predictability and undercurrent of hubris Ohio State projects. Before Saturday, the team hadn’t lost a regular-season game under Day. It finally caught up to them.

There’s this arrogance that the Buckeyes can just run their vanilla schemes and win on superior talent. They have zero imagination when it comes to their rushing attack, or bringing simulated pressure to confuse opposing QBs.

Stroud threw for 484 yards, and lost a close game. That shouldn’t happen, but it did. The No. 12 Ducks hung tough, got a monster three-touchdown performance from CJ Verdell, and exploited the hosts’ stubborn ways to notch the upset.

Notre Dame lives up to overrated reputation

Takeaways from Saturday’s college football Week 2 action
Sep 11, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) stiff arms Toledo Rockets linebacker Dyontae Johnson (2) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a tried-and-true narrative that tends to prove itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy one way or another on an annual basis.

Notre Dame is overrated. Just get over it. That’s the truth. They barely beat Florida State in Week 1, and the college football world nearly got rocked by a huge upset this Saturday, as the Fighting Irish edged Toledo 32-29 in their home opener.

Other than top 2022 NFL Draft prospect Kyle Hamilton at safety, Notre Dame’s defense is pretty rough. Its offense, led by quarterback Jack Coan, features tight end Michael Mayer and not much else. The loss of multiple starters from 2020’s College Football Playoff roster is evident.

With a run of games featuring the likes of Purdue, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech in the next month, the Irish are in real danger of suffering multiple losses before their Week 7 bye.

There’s a clear top team in the state of Iowa

Takeaways from Saturday’s college football Week 2 action
Sep 11, 2021; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg (97) and offensive lineman Jack Plumb (79) hoist the Cy-Hawk trophy after beating the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly featured in last week’s edition of college football takeaways, the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 34-6 drubbing of Indiana was one of the signature performances of opening weekend. Meanwhile, Iowa State barely got past Northern Iowa, 16-10.

Surely the Cyclones were just looking ahead to the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy this Saturday, right? Nope. They are who we thought they were, and so is quarterback Brock Purdy.

Yours truly has been doing whatever the opposite of pounding the table for someone is when it comes to Purdy for quite some time now. Purdy is way too experienced to be as bad a decision-maker as he is, and it led to three interceptions in his latest big-game dud of a performance, as Iowa won 27-17.

The Hawkeyes might have their best team in quite some time under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Two quality victories to begin the season not only has Iowa as a legitimate Big Ten contender, but also puts the team squarely in the CFP conversation.

Sark Attack short circuits for Texas Longhorns

Takeaways from Saturday’s college football Week 2 action
Sep 11, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) and head coach Steve Sarkisian during the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

New Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, per the ESPN telecast, was 0-18 trailing by 10 or more points at halftime going into Saturday’s matchup at Arkansas. As it turns out, Sark didn’t buck that trend off a 16-0 deficit, as the Longhorns lost to the Razorbacks 40-21.

It looked like Texas was ready to rock when it came out firing in a 38-18 romp over Louisiana-Lafayette in Week 1. The offense was cruising, the defense was flying to the football, and Sark could seemingly do no wrong. Austin fans in attendance were ecstatic.

Related: College Football Top 25 Rankings – No. 1 Alabama holds strong, Ohio State crashes after Week 2 loss

What happened? You can blame an emotional letdown from the contest before, yet it was quite shocking to see the Longhorns’ offensive line that was so tenacious before get worked off the line of scrimmage by Arkansas.

Even though the Razorbacks are in the SEC, they were behind Rice 10-7 after two quarters in their 2021 opener. Maybe it was premature to tap out on Arkansas and crown Sarkisian. Either way, Texas had a real chance to back up its coming-out party against the Ragin’ Cajuns, and straight-up flopped.

Stetson Bennett may have sparked a Georgia QB controversy

This isn’t quite as facetious of a headline as you might be expecting, because it’s impossible to ignore what Stetson Bennett did for the Bulldogs in Saturday’s 56-7 rout of UAB:

Bennett started in place of injured Georgia QB JT Daniels, and proceeded to complete 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns.

When you’re getting mentioned in the same company as Kansas City Chiefs MVP Patrick Mahomes, you’re doing something right.

You can take all this with a grain of salt, sure, given the level of competition. Nevertheless, Bennett got benched for Daniels last year and watched the latter lead the Bulldogs on a nice run. There was a sudden sliver of opportunity in Week 2, and Bennett blew the doors off with his performance.

This unexpected development at least has to give head coach Kirby Smart pause when considering how to proceed. Quarterback play has cost Georgia several big games in recent years, even a shot at a national title.

Having a multi-QB system almost never works, so Smart may be faced with a real dilemma, especially as Daniels averaged a meager 4.5 yards per attempt in Week 1’s 10-3 win over Clemson.

Did Bennett do enough to eclipse Daniels on the depth chart? We shall see.