On paper it’s not a very compelling week. There are very few games of supposed importance, notably Texas A&M-Clemson and LSU-Texas. But, a lot of the nation opens conference play, there’s a renewal of the NU-CU rivalry, and there are several tests for SEC teams like Missouri and Vanderbilt.
So, here’s what we have for Week Two, how to watch ‘em, and why you should care. With all due respect to NMSU, I’ve placed this evening’s full slate in the Victory Thread.
Presumptuous, I know. I done jinxed it! UPSET ALERT FOR BAMA, PAWWWWL!
Saturday Morning/Afternoon Schedule
|Ohio at Pittsburgh||11:00 AM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Cincinnati at #5 Ohio State||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Army at #7 Michigan||12:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Rutgers at #20 Iowa||12:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#21 Syracuse at Maryland||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Old Dominion at Virginia Tech||12:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|UAB at Akron||12:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Kennesaw State at Kent State||12:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Southern at Memphis||12:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|West Virginia at Missouri||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Charleston Southern at South Carolina||12:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Vanderbilt at Purdue||12:00 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Bowling Green at Kansas State||12:00 PM||Fox Sports Net||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Western Carolina at NC State||12:30 PM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Northern Illinois at #13 Utah||1:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Fordham at Ball State||2:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|South Florida at Georgia Tech||2:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Tennessee Tech at Miami (OH)||2:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|#12 Texas A&M at #1 Clemson||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Central Michigan at #17 Wisconsin||3:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#25 Nebraska at Colorado||3:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Southern Illinois at UMass||3:30 PM||NESNplus||NESNgo|
|Charlotte at Appalachian State||3:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Grambling at Louisiana Tech||3:30 PM||NFL||None|
|Richmond at Boston College||3:30 PM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Illinois at UConn||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Eastern Illinois at Indiana||3:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State||3:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|New Mexico State at #2 Alabama||4:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Murray State at #3 Georgia||4:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|UTSA at Baylor||4:00 PM||Fox Sports Net||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Western Illinois at Colorado State||4:00 PM||AT&T SportsNet||WatchStadium.com|
|San Diego State at UCLA||4:15 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Northern Colorado at #22 Washington State||5:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|UL Monroe at Florida State||5:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|North Carolina A&T at Duke||6:00 PM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|Gardner-Webb at East Carolina||6:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Maine at Georgia Southern||6:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|South Dakota at #4 Oklahoma||7:00 PM||PPV||SoonerSports.tv|
|#18 UCF at Florida Atlantic||7:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Furman at Georgia State||7:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Jackson State at South Alabama||7:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Wyoming at Texas State||7:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Western Kentucky at Florida International||7:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Tennessee State at Middle Tennessee||7:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|North Texas at SMU||7:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Eastern Kentucky at Louisville||7:00 PM||ACCNX||WatchESPN.com|
|BYU at Tennessee||7:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Coastal Carolina at Kansas||7:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|McNeese at Oklahoma State||7:00 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|#6 LSU at #9 Texas||7:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Tulane at #10 Auburn||7:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|UT Martin at #11 Florida||7:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Buffalo at #15 Penn State||7:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Nevada at #16 Oregon||7:30 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Western Michigan at #19 Michigan State||7:30 PM||BTN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Eastern Michigan at Kentucky||7:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Arkansas at Ole Miss||7:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Stony Brook at Utah State||7:30 PM||None|
|Liberty at Louisiana||7:30 PM||ESPN+||ESPN+|
|Prairie View at Houston||8:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Miami at North Carolina||8:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UTEP at Texas Tech||8:00 PM||Fox Sports Net||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Tulsa at San Jose State||9:00 PM||ESPN3||WatchESPN.com|
|Arkansas State at UNLV||10:00 PM||None|
|California at #14 Washington||10:30 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#23 Stanford at USC||10:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Minnesota at Fresno State||10:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Northern Arizona at Arizona||10:45 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Oregon State at Hawai'i||11:59 PM||Spectrum Sports (Hawai'i only)|
Nebraska (-4) at Colorado (2:30, Fox) — These long-time Big 8/Big 12 rivals renew acquaintances in Boulder. There were many rivalry games that were lost with conference realignment, and this was one series that was under-the-radar in terms of bad blood. It’s had plenty of memorable moments, characters, beatdowns, and national ramifications. This one likely won’t; but, it is still bound to be a pretty good game between two fairly-matched teams. You should tune in just to watch CU’s receivers, if you haven’t seen them the past two years. Alongside Alabama, Clemson, and OU, the Buffs have among the best in the country.
No. 12 TAMU (+18) at Clemson (2:30, CBS) — It’s a light week for compelling games or ones of national import. But, this is one of them. It’s been circled on the calendar since Kelly Bryant bailed out the Tigers in College Station last season. Which version of Jimbo’s team shows up — the one who maximizes talent and is competitive, or the unprepared heartless chumps that curl up and die? But, hey, $10 million a year!
BYU at Tennessee (-4) (6:00, ESPN) — Tennessee is the car crash you can’t turn away from. After suffering the fourth-worst loss in CFB history last week, the Vols return to the Garbage Worker Convention to face a BYU Cougars team that is stout up front and loves to pound the ball...the same formula that led to a physical whipping and a Vol loss last week. Grab the popcorn. I think it happens again this week. At the very least, this will be one of the more physical games of the week (see also, Auburn vs. Tulane).
USC (-3.5) vs. Stanford (9:30, ESPN) — Both teams are without their starting quarterbacks in what was already likely to be a weird game between these inter-divisional rivals. Rarely has a home field meant so little than the Coliseum does under Helton, and that’s about what the spread reflects. I still think the wrong team is favored, BTW. New Trojan OC, new Trojan offense, new Trojan quarterback vs. an established defensive coach with a good track record of bottling up the air raid? Seems to favor the Cardinal. If this game is unwatchable — and that is a very real possibility — then feel free to switch over to Fresno State - Minnesota.
Be Ready to Grab the Remote:
Cincinnati +16 @ No. 4 Ohio State (11:00, ABC) — Ordinarily a game with a three-score MOV isn’t appointment viewing. But, this is a chance for former Buckeye DC/Interim HC Luke Fickell to show off what he’s building at Cincy (spoiler: Tresselball-lite) And, for Justin Fields, it’s the first competitive defense he’s seen since Alabama stoned him on a fake punt. Last week told us almost nothing about the Buckeyes. This nationally-televised intrastate game may wind up being competitive. Likely not...but that’s why you have a remote.
No. 21 Syracuse +2 at Maryland (11:00 ESPN) — Admit it, you’re kind of pulling for Mike Locksley, provided he doesn’t screw with our DMV recruiting, right? Let’s see what he’s got cooking with the Terps. Syracuse is going to be ten shades of distracted too with Clemson coming to town next week. Tuesday I said to take the Terrapins as a 2.5 point underdog. That line completely flipped in just about 50 hours — the Orange are now the underdogs.
Mizzou (-15) vs. West Virginia (11:00, ESPN) — Surely Mizzou wasn’t as bad as they looked last week, right? This one could be nip-and-tuck. Barry Odom can’t drop the home opener though or Interim Coach Derek Dooley is closer than you think. Will Muschamp already got the Dread Vote of Confidence today. A loss to the ‘Eers will likely earn the Native Son one as well
San Diego State (+8) at UCLA (3:15, P12) — UCLA looked woeful last week against an AAC team. The Bruins’ road does not get easier as they open their home slate with another quality Group of 5 team. The Aztecs probably won’t be as good as they have been the past three seasons, but the defense and stiff running game is still more than capable of wrecking UCLA’s weekend and patchwork roster. What is Chip Kelly even doing in Westwood?
No. 18 UCF (-10) at FAU — Is this really Lane Kiffin’s best FAU team to-date? With BJ Emmons’ season sidelined (again) by a broken foot (again), the Owls lost one of their key offensive cogs. Meanwhile, I’ve not seen any indication the defense is better. But, UCF’s defense is a tire fire too, and they’re on the road, where they’ve not been quite as dominant. There’s potential for fun here. Could turn into a Must-Watch late.
You do feel for BJE though :(
Minnesota at Fresno State (+3) — Rumors of the Bulldogs’ demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated. FSU almost got Minnie in the Cities last year (21-14 late loss). The Gophers aren’t anything special, tend to struggle on the road, are 2000 miles from home, are offensively challenged, and this one starts 9:30 Central — tough spot for PJ Fleck. Can Fresno’s death-by-a-thousand-cuts offense and surprisingly solid defense spring another Midmajor coup in some #Pac12AfterDark?
No one actually wants to watch Vandy (+7) at Purdue. This one is proof that a close, competitive game doesn’t actually have to be a good game.
No. 2 Alabama (-55) vs. New Mexico State. If you’re going to miss an Alabama game this season, this is the one to skip. It’s a good day to do your fall errands around the house. Maybe drop in around the 4th quarter though to watch ‘Lia, Hellams, Battle, Sopsher, Alfano and some other Freshmen.
Cal (+13.5) at No. 13 Washington. The Huskies should roll; they usually do at home. See how Jake Eason performs against a semi-functional FCS defense after looking great last week.
This Week’s Unwatchable Filth:
Arkansas (+7) at Ole Miss (6:30, SECN) — This is expected to be a close game. And, for two teams who want to open it up and light up scoreboards, neither showed very much last week.
They could have both been sandbagging, of course.
Maybe Arkansas doesn’t drop that many passes when they’re not playing a 4-8 FCS team? Maybe the Hogs can complete more than 50% of their attempts when not facing Portland State...and not be shut out of the endzone? Maybe they can average 5 yards a carry against an SEC team instead of a 4YPC output against the Vikings...or possibly score more than 20 when they’re not playing a team that allowed 72 points to Nevada? Maybe the Rebels can get more than 2 yards a carry if they’re not facing one of the worst rushing defenses in the country? And, like Arkansas, maybe the Rebs can aspire to hit 50% of their passes against a divisional opponent? Maybe they can even complete passes totaling in the double digits?!
But don’t count on it. Don’t count on any of this.
Take two subpar head coaches, two minimally-talented SEC teams that haven’t even begun to stare in the maws of their schedules, a lot of youth on the roster, both in dire need of a prominent win to jumpstart to their season, and this could — nay, shall — be one hella’ ugly, sloppy struggle. And it won’t at all be watchable. To the contrary, like Vanderbilt-Purdue, this is living proof that a close game doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one.
Don’t do this to yourself, man. You’ve been warned.