9/11 Tributes, New Teams in Big 12, Upsets and Close Calls - Week 2 Highlights...
Sun Devil Stadium's tribute to the fallen heroes of 9/11 perfectly highlighted the importance of perspective on a weekend where some shock scorelines upset the pecking order in college football. Headlines also included the additions of Brigham Young, UCF, Houston and Cincinnati to boost a Big 12 conference that threatened to fade from prominence in forthcoming years with the losses of Texas and Oklahoma. On the field, upsets continued and some close calls show that this season could see some different contenders emerge for the end of season playoff.
Here's my highlights of the week:
No.12 Oregon 35-28 No.3 Ohio State
Mario Cristobal's Oregon announced themselves as contenders for the College Football Playoff with a stunning road victory over Ohio State, their first win over the Buckeyes in nine years. Oregon are an interesting story, sometimes overlooked because of the perceived lack of competition in the PAC-12, but backed by the marketing might of Nike and millions of their CEO and Ducks booster Phil Knight. You know when Oregon are playing - their bright, garish uniforms and sparkling offensive play are hard to miss, Yet their end of season has rarely matched their potential in recent years.
Missing star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon seemed to have a mountain to climb in Columbus, but 161 yards and two touchdowns from running back C.J. Verdell, the highlight being a 77-yard run for a score, set the platform for a shock win. Ohio State's run defense is stuttering into the season. Minnesota's Mo Ibrahim ran for 170 yards against them in Week One. Ryan Day has work to do. This was his only his first regular season loss as head coach. Buckyes quarterback C.J. Stroud passed for 484 yards, huge numbers for a losing game, so there is optimism they can turn this round. Adjustments will quickly be needed to ensure Day goes a while before his second loss.
No.10 Iowa 27-17 No.9 Iowa State
The CyHawk showdown in Ames was the first time both teams from the Hawkeye State were in the top 10 rankings. Entering the season with lofty expectations, Iowa State couldn't get past a stingy Iowa defense. The Cyclones turned the ball over four times, with Jack Campbell returning the ball from a Breece Hall fumble for a touchdown. It wasn't an offensive masterclass from either team. In a defensive-heavy Big Ten conference, Iowa are impressing. This win sees them leapfrog their in-state rivals after their sixth consecutive win in the CyHawk showdown and coupled with an opening week 34-6 win over Indiana, they are a team on the rise. Back to the drawing board for Matt Campbell and Iowa State after two shaky games to start the season.
New Big 12...
The impending four new members of the Big 12 all celebrated with impressive wins.
No.21 Utah 17-26 BYU
The "Holy War", is so called as Brigham Young University is owned and administered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while the University of Utah, only 50 miles away in Salt Lake City, is run as a public university with a large proportion of students being Latter-day Saints church members.
Hosting the this latest round in Provo, BYU snapped a nine-game losing streak in this rivalry, upsetting Utah in their first win over the Utes in 2009. Cougars QB Jaren Hall threw three touchdown passes and ran for 92 yards. Coach Kalani Sitake will understand what this rivalry means, having played for the Cougars and with a spell coaching Utah. BYU plays Arizona State this week. The No.23 Sun Devils beat UNLV 37-10.
For other new Big 12 joiners, Dillon Gabriel led UCF to a 63-14 rout of Bethane-Cookman, the Knights racking up 671 yards of total offense for Gus Malzahn's team. No.7 Cincinnati scored 42 unanswered points having trailed Murray State to win 42-7 and Houston won the Bayou Bucket, beating Rice 44-7.
No.15 Texas 21-40 Arkansas
A sobering preminition of future life in the SEC for the Longhorns, who were dominated in the trenches by Arkansas before a frenzied crowd of 74,000 in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks' offensive and defensive lines put the brakes on Texas, holding QB Hudson Card to just 61 yards passing before he was replaced by Casey Thompson in the third quarter. Sam Pittman's team rushed for 333 yards, their largest in a game since 2016.
Florida State slipped to 0-2 with a humbling 20-17 loss at home to Jacksonville State, their first ever loss to an FCS team. The Seminoles had gone into the matchup as 27 point favourites. No.14 USC hit reset on their football program, firing coach Clay Helton after a 42-28 loss to a much more physical Stanford team. 6'6" Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee tore apart the Trojans' secondary. He's an interesting story, suiting up for Stanford having returned from a two-year Mormon mission before this season.
No.5 Texas A&M 10-7 Colorado
Texas A&M took their winning streak to ten games with a narrow win over the Buffaloes, a stretch second only to Alabama. The Aggies lost freshman quarterback Haynes King to a foot injury which could rule him out for a few weeks. In stepped sophomore Zach Calsada who looked inconsistent but his throw to running back Isaiah Spiller proved to be the winning score. The Aggies will hope King returns soon to keep their challenge going, and host New Mexico this week. Colorado are at home to Minnesota.
Toledo 29-32 No.8 Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish narrowly avoided a huge upset in South Bend, trailing Toledo with 1:36 left in the fourth quarter. QB Jack Coan recovered from a dislocated finger to throw the winning touchdown pass to Michael Mayer, denying the Rockets a famous win and a number of media outlets a "Holy Toledo" headline.
Appalachian State 23-25 No.22 Miami
The Hurricanes escaped with a win over the Mountaineers thanks to a field goal from Andy Borregales with two minutes left. Jalen Virgil had returned a kick off 100 yards for Appalachian State as Miami moves to 1-1, needing more momentum to launch a challenge for the ACC.
Business as usual...
Bryce Young has thrown seven touchdown passes in No.1 Alabama's first two games. adding three in a 48-14 win over Mercer. Nick Saban seemed underwhelmed with the Crimson Tide's performance, adding that they will have to raise their game against Florida this week.
No.2 Georgia overwhelmed UAB 56-7 as the Bulldogs' offense opened up after their defensive show against Clemson last week. QB Stetson Bennett threw five touchdown passes in just 10 completions. No.6 Clemson and their quarterback DJ Uiagalelei meanwhile, returned to form with a 49-3 win over South Carolina State.
No.3 Oklahoma brushed off their close encounter with Tulane last week by annihilating Western Carolina 76-0 in Norman. The Sooners' high-octane offense gained 624 yards on offense. Spencer Rattler completed 20 of 26 passes for 245 yards and threw five touchdown passes. Heisman rival Sam Howell also bounced back this week, leading No.24 North Carolina to a 59-17 win over Georgia State.
Matt Corral continues to catch the eye of NFL scouts. The Ole Miss signal-caller threw five touchdown passes for a No.20 Mississippi team that also ran for over 300 yards, sweeping aside Austin Peay 54-17.
Is a quarterback battle unfolding in Gainesville? No.13 Florida beat South Florida 42-20, giving coach Dan Mullen his 100th head coaching win. Despite rushing for 363 total yards, the story in Florida is who lines up at quarterback this week vs. Alabama. Starter Emory Jones was benched in favour of Anthony Richardson, whose stat line made incredible reading. He completed all three of his passes for 152 yards and ran four times for a further 115 yards. The sophomore also ran for an 80-yard touchdown. Richardson tweaked his hamstring and is a concern for this week's SEC showdown with the Crimson Tide.
No.25 Auburn warmed up for their showdown with Penn State by thrashing Alabama State 62-0. Their opponents this week, the Nittany Lions, beat Ball State comfortably, 44-13.
Kenny Pickett led Pitt to a 41-34 win over a Tennessee team where Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker stepped in for Joe Milton at quarterback.
In one of the more intriguing storylines in college football this week, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron lined up on the opposite sideline to his son, McNeese quarterback Cody Orgeron. There's clearly no room for family sentiment in college football. LSU sacked their coach's son six times in a 34-7 win.
Look out for...
No.1 Alabama @ No.9 Florida - having seen their state rivals Miami dispatched by the Crimson Tide in Week One, can Florida provide a stiffer test for Alabama?
No.20 Auburn @ No.12 Penn State - a good matchup for these 2-0 teams. Bryan Harsin will have a real measure of his new side as they travel to a feverish 106,000 capacity Beaver Stadium.
Nebraska @ No.4 Oklahoma - while this rivalry might not be as closely fought in recent years, it remains one of college football's most historic showdowns, the 1971 Game of the Century seeing then No.1 Nebraska beat No.2 Oklahoma 35-31 for the national title.
Here's this week's AP Top 25...
Rank Team Record
1 (1) Alabama 2-0
2 (2) Georgia 2-0
3 (3) Oklahoma 2-0
4 (12) Oregon 2-0
5 (10) Iowa 2-0
6 (6) Clemson 1-1
7 (5) Texas A&M 2-0
8 (7) Cincinnati 2-0
9 (3) Ohio State 1-1
10 (11) Penn State 2-0
11 (13) Florida 2-0
12 (8) Notre Dame 2-0
13 (16) UCLA 2-0
14 (9) Iowa State 1-1
15 (19) Virgina Tech 2-0
16 (17) Coastal Carolina 2-0
17 (20) Ole Miss 2-0
18 (18) Wisconsin 1-1
19 (23) Arizona State 2-0
20 (-) Arkansas 2-0
21 (24) North Carolina 1-1
22 (25) Auburn 2-0
23 (-) Brigham Young 2-0
24 (22) Miami 1-1
25 (-) Michigan 2-0