A look back at my Week 1 What to Watch shows that the five games were settled by an average of 5.4 points with 9 points being the largest margin of victory (TCU over Oregon State) so I feel pretty good about ignoring calls that I should've included the oh so exciting Southern Miss at South Carolina (the Gamecocks won by 4 TDs.) With that being said, I'm abandoning complete objectivity a little bit this week in order to focus on some of our rivals. With that being said, here's five non-Alabama games to watch for Week 2 of the 2010 college football season. And remember, all times listed are central and rankings are based on the USA Today poll until BCS rankings are released later in the year.
AUBURN (20) at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Thursday 09 September - 6:30 PM - ESPN
Davis Wade Stadium
The Auburn offense rolled up 608 yards on the hapless Arkansas State defense in Cam Newton's debut. Newton rushed for 171 yards and 2 TDs as well as passing for 186 yards and 3 TDs. That should be expected when a high powered offense lines up against a middling Sun Belt squad. Auburn's cause for concern though is their defense, which surrendered 26 points, 22 first downs and 366 yards to a team that's...well...not very good. Though the outcome was never in doubt, Arkansas State still managed to draw first blood and scored three times overall in the first half (2 TDs, 1 FG).
While Mississippi State won't exactly provide the test of a Top 10 team, they're going to be infinitely more formidable than Arkansas State. MSU managed some cupcake destruction of their own over the weekend taking Memphis to task to the tune of 49-7, and they nearly pitched a shutout only giving up a TD in garbage time (1:50 left in the game.) Mullen may just have the ability to turn things around in Starkville and this will be an interesting litmus to see how far things have come in year two of his reign.
GEORGIA (19) at SOUTH CAROLINA (25)
Saturday 11 September - 11:00 a.m. - ESPN2
Columbia, South Carolina
Personally, I'm not buying all of the South Carolina hype just yet. Despite the lopsided scoreline, the Gamecocks still surrendered 400+ yards of offense and 23 first downs to Southern Miss. Georgia kicked Louisiana-Lafayette's teeth out in their season opener in a track meet that ended 55-7. Over the last decade, the meetings between these two teams have typically been closely contested, yet Georgia holds a 7-3 record. Both teams need to win this game badly if they're going to challenge Florida for a spot in Atlanta at the season's end.
FLORIDA STATE (18) at OKLAHOMA (10)
Saturday 11 September - 2:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
Two traditional powerhouses squaring off. These are the games that people really want to see in early season non-conference games. Florida State shredded Samford in their opener and Oklahoma, surprisingly, appears to have struggled a bit with the Aggies in their first game. The Sooners outgained Utah State by a whopping 1 yard and Sooner QB Landry Jones threw two picks and was sacked three times. It'll be interesting to see Jimbo Fisher in his first true test as well as to see whether Stoops & Co.'s scare at the hands of Utah State will be wake up call or a sign of an impending lackluster season.
MIAMI (12) at OHIO STATE (2)
Saturday 11 September - 2:40 p.m. - ESPN/ESPN 3D
Another marquee matchup as far as traditional powerhouses are concerned, I'm thinking this one could either be a lot of fun or a total snooze. Both teams easily disposed of their opening weekend cupcakes with Miami over Florida A&M 45-0 and Ohio State defeating Marshall 45-7. This is the first of a tough three game road stretch for Miami (Pitt and Clemson follow) whereas Ohio State is on cruise control next week against Ohio. I'm just elated that all of the good games aren't happening while Alabama's playing this week. Fun fact for this game: Miami's backup QB is named Spencer Whipple.
OREGON (8) at TENNESSEE
Saturday 11 September - 6:00 p.m. - ESPN2
Oregon and Tennessee beat their opening weekend opponents by a combined score of 122-0 (Oregon 72-0 over New Mexico and Tennessee 50-0 over Tennessee-Martin.) None of that means very much given they both played unbelievably awful teams. Needless to say, Derek Dooley is going to have a rougher go of things trying to earn win #2 of his Vol tenure this weekend. Oregon are the reigning Pac-10 champs, but they've got a lot of different personnel on board and you've gotta think the heat and humidity (not to mention the 100+K of Neyland) will do a bit to equalize things. That being said, the Ducks are 12.5 point favorites and we can only hope they cover and much much much more.