Week 2 Preview: Playoff implications & Heisman bounce back
Hurricane Irma has forced the state of Florida’s four ranked teams to cancel their games this weekend as football has become the least of people’s worries in the Sunshine State.
Strangely, some fans questioned the motives of No. 16 Miami when it was the first to cancel a game. The Hurricanes bailed out of a road game at Arkansas State on Saturday for, among other reasons, concerns about being able to get back to South Florida.
There was enough noise that Miami coach Mark Richt took to Twitter to vent: ”Very sad to read some of the comments of some football fans and some members of the media believing we had some other motive! U Family!!”
College football will be played around much of the country Saturday – and it has a chance to be a significant weekend for sorting out presumed College Football Playoff contenders. Four games match ranked teams.
What to watch for in Week 2 if you’re fortunate enough to be watching football and not the tracking the hurricane.
Some good options with No. 13 Auburn at No. 3 Clemson; No. 14 Stanford visiting No. 6 Southern California and even No. 15 Georgia playing at No. 24 Notre Dame for the first time.
The tastiest matchup of them all will be in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday night when No. 5 Oklahoma meets No. 2 Ohio State. It’s a return match of last year’s Buckeyes’ victory in Norman, Oklahoma. That game essentially decided a playoff spot that likely would have gone to Oklahoma instead of the Ohio State.
Baker Mayfield, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, could jump to the front of the pack by leading the Oklahoma to a victory at Ohio State, but another highly touted quarterback is already looking for a bounce back performance.
The hype machine was spinning around USC’s Sam Darnold all offseason, and then he threw two interceptions and no touchdown passes in the opener against Western Michigan. With a big outing on national television against a Stanford team that has won three straight in the series, Darnold could get back atop the pack.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
6 – Utah’s winning streak against BYU in the Holy War rivalry, longest for the Utes in the series since the 1950s.
1988 – The last time Pitt won at Penn State. The Panthers and Nittany Lions series resumed last year after a 16-year hiatus, with Pitt winning a high-scoring game. The rivalry goes back to Happy Valley this week.
39-7 – Alabama’s average winning score in its home opener during Nick Saban’s 10 years. None of those home openers have been against a Power Five opponent. They have almost always come in week two after playing a big neutral site game. This season’s likely punching bag for the top-ranked Tide is Fresno State, a 44-point underdog.
101 – Yards passing needed by Washington State quarterback Luke Falk against Boise State to become the Cougars’ career leader, passing Connor Halliday’s record of 11,304
OFF THE RADAR
Last week Baylor lost to Liberty, a fledgling football program in the process of transitioning from FCS to FBS. Not a great start for coach Matt Rhule. It won’t get easier this week for the Bears in their pursuit of victory No. 1 under the new regime.
Texas-San Antonio, a team expected to contend in Conference USA under second-year coach Frank Wilson, comes to Waco, Texas.
Other Power Five teams that face tough tests from schools outside the Power Five.
– Arizona hosts Houston.
– Arizona State hosts San Diego State.
– Illinois hosts Western Kentucky.
– Mississippi State travels to Louisiana Tech.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Brian Kelly’s seat at Notre Dame is not nearly as hot as some Irish fans would like to believe. Still, he can’t afford for another season to go totally sideways, and a loss in week two at home to Georgia will only serve to rattle the antsy fan base. Beat the Bulldogs and suddenly things are looking up for the Irish.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Arizona State Sun Devils
- Baker Mayfield
- Baylor Bears
- FBS (I-A)
- Luke Falk
- Miami (FL) Hurricanes
- Ohio State Buckeyes
- Sam Darnold
- South Florida Bulls
- Texas Longhorns
- USC Trojans
- Washington State Cougars