What to Watch: Week 02 of the 2011 College Football Season

Matt Barkley and the Trojans host Utah for the Utes first Pac-12 conference game.

There's not a lot on tap this week to appeal to SEC fans outside of our game against Penn State and one other. The networks tried to line up some games that perhaps were interesting at the time they were set up, but week one results watered their appeal down greatly (Notre Dame vs. Michigan / South Carolina vs. Georgia / etc.) There's not a whole lot on this week that will appeal to the general viewer, but there are a few noteworthy contests as we inch closer towards getting into the full swing of conference play. All times listed are central and all rankings are from the USA Today poll until the BCS rankings come out in October.

ARIZONA at OKLAHOMA STATE (7)
Thursday, September 8th - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN
Boone Pickens Stadium
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State and their no defense having selves gave up 34 points to Louisiana-Lafayette in week one, but the OSU offense put up its trademark gaudy numbers (666 yards of offense and 61 points) and proved once again that defense doesn't really matter if you're content to win 9-10 games a year and only occasionally challenge for the conference title. Maybe it's their way of filing a Pac-12 application. Who knows? Arizona put up 412 yards through the air against hapless Northern Arizona in a 41-10 win in their season opener. The Wildcats find themselves among "others receiving votes" in both the AP and USA Today polls, but after Oklahoma State they face Stanford and Oregon for a tough three game stretch that will likely find them not receiving any votes among others. Still, they're there for now and considering all else that's on tap this week, it makes this a game of semi-interest. It's Thursday night time slot doesn't hurt its case either. I expect Oklahoma State will roll, but what the heck else are you gonna do tonight?

MISSOURI (19) at ARIZONA STATE (23)
Friday, September 9th - 9:30 p.m. - ESPN
Sun Devil Stadium
Tempe, Arizona

One of three games this week between ranked teams, I'll be tuning in to see how our potential 14th member looks this season. Missouri stumbled to an ugly 17-6 victory over Miami (OH) in their season opener. Quarterback James Franklin gave himself a grade of "D" for his performance but then changed it to a "C-" trying to be positive because of the victory. Missouri spanked the RedHawks 51-3 last year and maybe the Tigers' slugglish performance can be chalked up to thinking it'd be an easy victory. The team was also Richt-esque in racking up 81 yards of penalties. Needless to say, Arizona State will provide a bit more of a challenge. Arizona State rolled UC-Davis 48-14 via 512 yards of offense in their opener (with the 14 points they allowed coming in 4th quarter garbage time.) After a stellar first season with the Sun Devils, Dennis Erickson has put together three seasons in a row hovering right around .500. His contract expires in June 2012 and I imagine his seat is warming up.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (17) at AUBURN (22)
Saturday, September 10th - 11:21 a.m. - SEC Network / ESPN Gameplan / ESPN3
Jordan-Hare Stadium
Auburn, Alabama

Amazing that one of three games between ranked team is the breakfast game. Oh well, at least it doesn't conflict with our game...well, most of it anyway. What can be said about this game? Auburn had a narrow, ugly, sloppy win over one of the worst teams in FBS and Mississippi State had a big, ugly, sloppy win over one of the worst teams in FBS. Who knows how this one will wind up, Mississippi State is the favorite, but Auburn and their toothless leader clearly have some crazy hoodoo going on right now. At least the Bulldogs handled their business against their vastly inferior foe. These are two teams that gave us the great 3-2 contest of a few years ago so anything can happen I suppose. I personally wouldn't mind a 4-3 Mississippi State victory. Go Bulldogs.

CINCINNATI at TENNESSEE
Saturday, September 10th - 2:30 p.m. - ESPN2
Neyland Stadium
Knoxville, Tennessee

I know some of y'all will be crying "What about South Carolina vs. Georgia?" Well, let me tell you this...I'm tired of hearing about Georgia and am not really excited about that game at all. My hatred of Tennessee is what prompts me to want to watch this one. Tennessee beat Montana in week one and that tells you next to nothing about anything. Cincinnati absolutely smashed Austin Peay to the tune of 72-10. While Cincinnati is no world beater, they're certainly light years ahead of Montana and should provide a better barometer for what Tennessee is made of this season. We can only hope Cincinnati has similar success in Knoxville as they did in their season opener.

UTAH at USC
Saturday, September 10th - 6:30 p.m. - Versus
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, California

Alabama fans certainly don't have to be told that Utah has put together a string of pretty good seasons recently. Sure, they played in a weaker conference, but they also whipped us up and down the field in New Orleans at the end of the 2008 season. That being said, they've graduated to the big league and will be playing their most challenging schedule in school history this year and it'll be interesting to see what kind of growing pains they experience. After a not so spectacular win over Montana State in week one, the Utes travel to take on Hello Kiffin and the Trojans. The on probation Trojans opened their 2011 campaign with a narrow victory over Minnesota.

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