The first three weeks of the season hold incredible impact for so many fringe playoff teams, hoping to make a valid case for why they belong with Alabama and Clemson at the end of the season.
These few weeks are the chance for a dark horse playoff teams to add critical, statement wins against ranked, out of conference opponents. Wins these squads can point back to at the end of the season to say, “See? See? We belong here!”
Week two is the premiere week for such matchups, so without further delay: The College Five.
My Record: 2-3
Oregon State Beavers vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors - Hawaii favored by 6.5
The Beavers offense has changed a lot since 2018; posting 448 total yards of offense and 36 points, averaging 5.2 yards per play. Not a bad start for a team that only topped 35 points three times last season.
Now, the Beavers new and improved firing squad head to Hawaii to take on quarterback Cole McDonald and the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii threw up 45 points but also posted seven turnovers against a sorry Arizona defense.
Many mistakes will be made, many points will be scored. In the end, it comes down to who can gut out a win in a shootout. Hawaii, despite some serious turnover problems last week, has proven they can do just that time and again.
Hawaii State wins 50-43
North Texas Mean Green vs. SMU Mustangs - SMU favored by 3.5
The matchup involves two non-power five teams in a prime time slot, am I crazy (yes, definitely)? It cannot be stressed enough how badly each one of you needs to watch quarterback Mason Fine for the Mean Green.
Fine’s accuracy has improved each year (he completed nearly 65% of his passes in 2018), despite his offensive line allowing 99 sacks in three seasons.
Fine and the Mean Green will dice up a defense that allowed Arkansas State to score 30 points (plus you get to pull for a team called the Mean Green, which is a top three college name).
North Texas wins 36-28
(17) UCF Knights vs. Florida Atlantic Owls - UCF favored by 10
Lane Kiffin’s offense ran into a defensive buzzsaw on the road, playing the Ohio State Buckeyes. A defense that smashed the Owls offensive line, collecting four sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
But in the fourth quarter, Florida Atlantic started to find a rhythm behind quarterback Chris Robinson, scoring 15 points.
Despite the possible confidence boost for the Owls found in week one, UCF dropped 62 points last week. Three Knights quarterbacks finished with QBR ratings over 80, and 12 receivers caught passes, five of those found the end zone. On the ground, UCF averaged six yards per attempt.
The most significant factor for the offense; UCF broke nine plays of 20 plus yards.
UCF will overwhelm Florida Atlantic.
UCF wins 45-30
(12) Texas A&M Aggies vs. (1) Clemson Tigers - Clemson favored by 17.5
The wave of expectations has Clemson walking away with this one. The better team is rolling back a Heisman favorite at quarterback and another stifling defense.
The spread says this one is a wash.
But Jimbo Fisher has something rumbling down in college station. Quarterback Kellen Mond looks composed in the pocket, dicing up opponents with ease.
The Aggies running game stomped out 246 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
The defense heaped three sacks, nine tackles for loss and four picks (stay woke on Myles Jones in the secondary) in their opener.
This Texas A&M team looks lethal on offense and dangerous on defense. They give Clemson a handful.
Clemson wins 30-28
(6) LSU Tigers vs. (10) Texas Longhorns - LSU favored by six
The last two Heisman winners have been transfer quarterbacks, and now this year, everyone seems to be looking for the next trophy level nomad. A few names are in the running early, but one that could jump to the for-front is former Ohio State Buckeye, Joe Burrow.
LSU brought in former New Orleans Saints offensive assistant Joe Brady, to help Burrow’s case; and it already looks to be paying dividends after five passing touchdowns in the Tigers’ opener.
Now the revamped offense can sink its teeth into the depleted defense of the Longhorns.
LSU wins 31-26