Week two, the cream puff week, the week nobody plays anyone; when all of college football surrenders to the NFL’s kickoff week. Starters will be rested early. Pickings for great football will be slim. If you are going to take the kids to the park or the wife to the mall or the parents to dinner, this is the Saturday to do it.
If you try to maintain a social life throughout the football season, now is the time to give it a chance. For the rest of us, these are the top five games to watch.
My record: 3-2
5 - Arizona Wildcats vs. Houston Cougars - Houston the 3.5-point favorite
In a weekend of bad matchups, this meeting features the most exciting quarterback duel of any game. Kahlil Tate started slow against BYU for the Wildcats but showed a glimmer of last season’s explosive playmaker with a 33-yard launch to Shawn Poindexter.
The Cougars’ D’Eriq King is the one who erupted in week one, passing for 320 yards and three scores. Arizona is a few fixes from truly unleashing Tate, but it appears the Cougars already have the formula for King. Points will come in heaps, but the Cougars posses a more balanced attack, paring 257 yards on the ground with King’s outing in week one.
Prediction: Houston wins 48-34
4 - (15) Michigan Spartans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils - Michigan the 65-point favorite
Michigan has been languishing in mediocrity ever since quarterback Connor Cook’s departure. No signal caller has proven up to the task, and the team is still waiting for running back L.J. Scott to break out in his third season.
For all the Sun Devils defensive shortcomings, quarterback Manny Wilkins and the offense are a proven unit and a reliable entity in the late-night clash. Four offensive linemen, both running backs and three of the four starting wide receivers all returned with Wilkins this season, getting back to mid-season form by posting 49 points in their opener. Michigan State barely slipped past Utah State. Upset alert.
Prediction: Arizona State wins 35-27
3 - (3) Georgia Bulldogs vs. (24) South Carolina Gamecocks - Georgia the 10-point favorites
Already, Bulldogs signal caller Jake Fromm will need to show his brass and carry the full weight of this team. Five-star running back Zamir White tore his ACL in a scrimmage, leaving the backfield of the Bulldogs in disarray. Despite the dominant 45-0 victory over Austin Peavey, no one went for over 100 yards or double-digit carries out of the backfield.
Now the Bulldogs encounter a defense that only allowed 147 rushing yards per game and 20.8 points. The handicapped backfield will get zero breathing room, putting it all on Fromm. But last season, when Jacob Eason went down, Fromm stepped up and performed. Now, he will just have to do it again.
Prediction: Georgia wins 31-17
2 - (3) Clemson Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies - Clemson the 12-point favorites
The Jimbo Fisher led Aggies went for 503 yards on the ground (the most ever by a Fisher team), headlined by Trayveon Williams’ 240 yards and three scores. Williams also averaged 12 yards per carry, the best YPC average of any Aggie since Johnny Manziel against Oklahoma in 2013. Fisher is already having positive impact on this team.
But Clemson allowed only 112.8 rushing yards per game in 2017, 13th best in the country. Moreover, the Clemson attack has seen the running style of Fisher led teams before in the ACC. His personal and scheme will not throw Clemson off, despite the new uniforms. Clemson and their defensive front have won the last three meetings with Fisher, holding his ground game to 21, 163 and 197 yards. The Aggies will not touch 500 in week two.
Prediction: Clemson wins 24-18
1 - (17) USC Trojans vs. (10) Stanford Cardinal - Stanford the 10-point favorite
Both PAC-12 opponents have found their quarterbacks. K.J. Costello passed for 332 yards, marking the first time in two years the Cardinal overcame a mediocre running back outing.
J.T. Daniels, the true freshman phenom, passed for 282 yards in his collegiate debut as the Sam Darnold replacement.
Both have revved their engines, getting comfortable as the established, QB No. 1 in their respective systems. Now they are meeting in a rivalry game between two programs that stretches back to 1905. In the Cardinal corner of this quarterback duel, however, is running back and preseason Heisman favorite: Bryce Love. He started slow, but with Love, that has always been an exception rather than a trend. Expect him to find his footing in week two.
Prediction: Stanford wins 45-37