Two absolutely huge games that will have lasting ramifications on the postseason highlighted an entertaining slate of games in college football Week 2.
Saturday afternoon, it was No. 1 Clemson hosting No. 12 Texas A&M in a game that featured plenty of big hits and physicality. In the evening, the primetime matchup of No. 6 LSU visiting No. 9 Texas was a thriller from start to finish.
We’ll dive into both of those games and plenty more examining the top takeaways from college football Week 2.
Ohio State is a nightmare…for opponents
After dismantling Florida Atlantic, the Buckeyes still had some questions to answer. Cincinnati appeared to be a team that could provide some clarity — possessing a strong defense last year and dominating UCLA in Week 1. Not only did Ohio State prove its blowout win over FAU wasn’t a fluke, but this team showed it has another gear with a dominant shutout win over the Bearcats.
Justin Fields was incredibly sharp from the pocket, completing 20-of-25 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He added two more scores on the ground, and J.K. Dobbins romped for 141 yards (including this incredible 60-yard sprint for a score) as the Buckeyes turned up the offense in a big way.
What makes Ohio State truly scary, however, is the way its defense is playing. Led by Chase Young, the defensive line can get after quarterbacks like no team in the nation. There’s a lot of season left, to be sure. But right now, Ohio State is clearly one of the favorites to get into the College Football Playoff.
The Terps are legit
The past two weekends have seen Maryland explode with 142 points on the scoreboard, leading to a couple of blowout wins. Last weekend’s 79-0 thumping of Howard was impressive, yet it was impossible to know how good the Terps really were. After watching them dismantle No. 21 Syracuse, 63-20, on Saturday, we no longer have any doubts.
Maryland is really good.
Led by former Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson, the Terrapins feature an extremely potent, balanced offense.
The team’s defense did an incredible job of shutting down Syracuse’s run game Saturday and forced two turnovers in a tremendous overall performance.
Michigan lucky to escape with a win over Army
It took a double-overtime sack-fumble for Michigan to edge Army at the Big House Saturday. Heading into the game, the Wolverines were 22.5-point favorites to win, so clearly things didn’t play out the way anyone expected.
There are a couple of alarming things to take away from Saturdays’ game.
First off, Shea Patterson has got to stop fumbling. He coughed up two fumbles against Army and had a fumble in Week 1 as well. Secondly, the Wolverines weren’t able to run the ball effectively, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry against the Black Knights. Needless to say, the team’s revamped offense needs to pick things up another notch.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that Oklahoma barely eked out a win over Army last year. So the Black Knights weren’t some cupcake Jim Harbaugh and Co. couldn’t stomach. Yet in no way did Michigan look like the No. 7 team in the nation in Week 2.
Heck of a bounce-back performance from Purdue
Last Friday night, Purdue blew a big lead and lost to Nevada on a 56-yard field goal as time expired. Yet before the collapse, the Boilermakers had been chugging along beautifully on offense. In Week 2, that trend continued as they bounced back in a big way with a 42-24 blowout win over Vanderbilt.
Quarterback Elijah Sindelar was on fire. He completed 34 passes for 509 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore superstar receiver Rondale Moore went for 220 yards on 13 receptions, including this gorgeous 70-yard touchdown.
The Big Ten West is wide open this season. If Purdue can continue to show out like this offensively against the top teams in the conference, then the Boilermakers have a shot to make things very interesting late in the season.
Clemson makes early statement against TAMU
The Clemson Tigers faced a highly motivated Texas A&M team that was looking for revenge after nearly winning last year at College Station. Trevor Lawrence and Co. got off to a rough start offensively, and the sophomore quarterback got banged up a bit in the process. Texas A&M’s defense was swarming. The Aggies went up 3-0 in the second quarter, and it appeared as if the defending champs were on the ropes.
That’s when Lawrence woke up. Following the Aggies’ first score, he led a nine-play, 89-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a gorgeous 30-yard feathery pass across his body as he scrambled to the left, hitting Justyn Ross in stride for the touchdown.
Clemson’s swarming defense did an incredible job locking up the Aggies all game long. Texas A&M gained a total of 289 yards and scored just 10 points. It was a tremendous all-around performance by the Tigers, who got by without a strong statistical game from star running back Travis Etienne.
Given how weak the ACC is overall, we fully expect Clemson to cruise to yet another undefeated season en route to the College Football Playoff. After all, Texas A&M was by far the toughest opponent on the schedule this year. From here on out, it should be smooth sailing.
Just another casual four-touchdown performance from Jonathan Taylor
Wisconsin star running back Jonathan Taylor got his 2019 Heisman campaign started with a bang in Week 1, scoring twice on the ground and two more times through the air. On Saturday against Central Michigan, he doubled his seasonal total with four more scores.
Taylor rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a healthy 5.4 yards per tote. He also caught three passes for 17 yards and a score, showing off his hands for the second week in a row.
We haven’t seen a non-quarterback win the Heisman since Derrick Henry did it in 2015. If Taylor keeps up his current pace, he may just break the trend in 2019.
FSU with yet another awful performance
The Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks gave the Florida State Seminoles all they could handle and then some Saturday in Tallahassee. Ultimately, UL Monroe lost when kicker Jacob Meeks shanked an extra point in overtime.
This game should have never gotten to overtime to begin with, though. Based on talent alone, Florida State should have run the Warhawks out of the building. But just like we saw last weekend, Willie Taggart’s team fell apart in the second half, giving up 27 points and needing a gift in overtime to win. It also gave us the strangest offensive formation we’ve seen all year.
Taggart’s hot seat is currently aflame. If he doesn’t turn things around quickly he could find himself looking for work sooner than anyone anticipated.
Nebraska fails huge road test
Last weekend, it was pretty alarming to see Nebraska struggle at home against South Alabama. The Cornhuskers ended up winning, but the offense was pretty awful, gaining just 276 yards and turning the ball over three times. So, fans were hoping to see some vast improvements on that side of the ball in a huge road game against Colorado in Week 2
The offense did turn things up Saturday, gaining 469 yards. Unfortunately, Adrian Martinez once more struggled with turnovers, and the Huskers finished the game with three total, losing the turnover battle by one to the Buffaloes.
Even worse, Nebraska’s defense absolutely melted down in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Colorado offense burned them once on an incredible 96-yard flea-flicker touchdown, scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and won in overtime when Nebraska kicker Isaac Armstrong missed from 48 yards out.
Needless to say, Huskers fans are feeling a distinct lack of confidence in Scott Frost at the moment.
Joe Burrow has LSU looking like a legit contender
The new offense being orchestrated by coordinator Steve Ensminger suits quarterback Joe Burrow to a T. Following up a five-touchdown performance last Saturday, Burrow was masterful going against what looks to be a very good Texas defense.
Leading the Tigers to a huge road win over the No. 9 team in the nation, Burrow completed 31-of-39 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, he delivered in the clutch, time and time again. This was epitomized by his remarkable 61-yard touchdown strike late in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-17 while being dragged to the turf.
Through two weeks, Burrow has passed for 749 yards and nine touchdowns while leading what appears to be one of the best teams in the nation. In short, Burrow is a legitimate Heisman contender who could get better as the season progresses.
Texas has nothing to be ashamed about
Losing by a touchdown to LSU Saturday night doesn’t reflect poorly on Texas. Tom Herman, Sam Ehlinger and the rest of the Longhorns put together a heck of an effort and played like you’d expect from a top-10 team nationally.
Unfortunately, LSU was just better.
We’re not ready to say Texas isn’t “back,” because if the Longhorns can continue to play like they did Saturday night they’ll be one of the top teams in the nation come the end of the season.
Predictable outcomes for top teams facing cupcakes
We already covered Ohio State’s convincing win over Cincinnati. The other top-5 teams in the nation that went against programs representing nothing more than glorified practice sessions ended up with expected results.
No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Oklahoma won by a combined 154 points over their outmatched opponents. There was no drama. There was no doubt. We’ll have to wait another week to get a better feel for what to expect from these programs long term.