Sep 1, 2016; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones celebrates with the team after winning in overtime against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL Mocks staff takes a look at some of the more intriguing Week Two college football matchups.
After a fantastic opening weekend that featured several top five teams getting upset, the college football season rolls on as we enter Week Two.
While the matchups this week lack the luster of the “The Greatest Opening Week Ever”, there are still plenty of storylines one can look forward to this Saturday. There are a pair of rivalry games that always make for entertaining football. After a surprising loss for Iowa State and a less than stellar performance for Iowa, the two face off in what is always a big battle between the two schools. Both the Panthers and the Nittany Lions are coming off of victories when they face each other in Week Two. After not playing each other since 2000, both teams look forward to renewing their in-state rivalry.
The NFL Mocks staff has gone through this week’s slate of games and have picked who they think will come with the victory in Week Two.
Sep 3, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Desmond King (14) leads the team off the field before the game against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
(16) Iowa vs. Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones have enjoyed recent success on their last couple of trips to Kinnick Stadium. They have won their last two matchups with the Hawkeyes, but this year’s team is still trying to find it’s identity. Under new coach Matt Campbell the Cyclones lost their opener to FCS Northern Iowa, and are in for a tougher matchup with the Hawkeyes.
Despite a shaky performance in Week One against Miami (OH), Iowa is still the 16th best team in the country. With a newly signed extension, coach Kirk Ferentz should have no trouble leading his team over a rebuilding Cyclones team.
Sep 3, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back James Conner (24) and defensive back Jordan Whitehead (9) celebrate after defeating the Villanova Wildcats at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh vs. Penn State
Penn State is coming off a Week One 33-13 win over Kent State. While their offense appeared to be out of sync at times, sophomore phenom running back Saquon Barkley helped carried the load. Against Kent State Barkley ran the ball 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. He will be counted on to shoulder the load against a tougher Pittsburgh defense.
Not to be outdone, the University of Pittsburgh have a talented running back of their own in James Conner. The junior running back is enjoying his first year back in football after suffering a season-ending knee injury followed by a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2015. After a strong performance against Villanova, Conner should have a big day battling Barkley.
Oct 31, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (93) rushes as Oregon State Beavers quarterback Nick Mitchell (14) passes the ball during the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 27-12. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
BYU vs. Utah
The Holy War is always one of the more entertaining rivalries in college football. Utah has recently had the upper hand against BYU. They have won the last five matchups between the two schools, with their last matchup in December ending in a 35-28 win for the Utes. Against the Cougars, Utah will rely heavily on a defense that shutout Southern Utah last week.
The BYU Cougars have had a recent love affair with dramatic finishes. Last week BYU beat Arizona, 18-16, on a last second field goal. For them to win again this week they will rely heavily on running back Jamaal Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill. The Cougars also feature a tough defense, so this game could come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes.
Jan 1, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA;Tennessee Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd (1) is congratulated by teammates as he scores a touchdown against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second half in the 2016 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Virginia Tech vs. (17) Tennessee
Tennessee failed to live up to their pre-season ranking as the ninth ranked team in the country. The Volunteers did just enough to get by Appalachian State with a 20-13 win in overtime. But a win’s a win and they sit at 1-0 as they prepare to face Virginia Tech in Week Two. For the Volunteers to continue their winning ways they will have to rely heavily on running back Jalen Hurd to lead the way. With 28 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown last week, Hurd is a true workhorse that the offense will lean on to help relieve the pressure on quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
With Joshua Dobbs’ shaky Week One performance look for the Hokie’s to rely on their defense. The Bud Foster led defense will throw every blitz package imaginable in an effort to keep Dobbs from getting into a rhythm. On the offensive side of the ball look for Virginia Tech to target first-team All-ACC wide receiver Isaiah Ford early and often.
Sep 3, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill (7) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman Matt Pryor (64) against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the second half on an NCAA football game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU won 59-41. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Arkansas vs. (15) TCU
Despite both winning their opening games in Week One, they didn’t exactly have an easy time. South Dakota State made it difficult for the Horned Frogs while Arkansas struggled against Louisiana Tech.
After a slow start TCU Kenny Hill started to light up the Bison defense. He ended up finishing the game with 439 yards with two touchdowns. He also did some damage on the ground, rushing for 45 yards and three more touchdowns. If the TCU defense can improve they should be able to handle Arkansas with relative ease.
Arkansas’ offense is predicated around running the football. Which is something they struggled with against Louisiana Tech. For them to have success they will have to get the running game going to open the defense up for quarterback Austin Allen.
Sep 27, 2014; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears running back Khalfani Muhammad (29) carries the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. The California Golden Bears defeated the Colorado Buffaloes 59-56 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Cal vs. San Diego State
The Golden Bears began their season in Australia where they took down Hawaii 51-31. Led by graduate transfer David Webb’s 441 yards and four touchdowns, Cal was able to pull away after a sluggish start to the game. Their defense struggled early against the run but did not enough to keep the Rainbow Warriors at bay.
San Diego State also began their season with a victory over New Hampshire. The Aztecs feature a balanced offense. Quarterback Christ Chapman passed for 283 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Their rushing attack was led by Donnel Pumphrey who finished the game with 98 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Sep 3, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Kent State 33-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
Dec 30, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) cannot get to a pass as Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Darius Hillary (5) defends during the first quarter in the 2015 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
David: Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech – Despite being one of the top receivers in the ACC, Isaiah Ford is still one of the more underrated prospects in the country. Against Tennessee Ford proves he belongs in the discussion for best receiver with a big performance over fellow NFL Draft prospect Cameron Sutton.
Eric: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC – After coming up invisible against Bama & rocky practices, Smith-Schuster has a dominate performance vs. Utah St.
Kyle: Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State – McSorley was efficient in his starting debut and will be asked to do even more Week Two. He’ll respond to the moment, leading the Nittany Lions to a statement victory over in-state rival Pitt.
Matt: Greg Howell Jr, RB, FAU – After breaking out 15 carries for 128 yards and 2tds, Greg is in the position to stun Miami and pull off the upset. Look for 20+ carries for 150yards and 2 more tds.
Hardy Nickerson, ILB, Illinois – The Cal transfer will be expected to help out as a pass defender against UNC, as well as slowing down RB Elijah Hood. In Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2, he should have the opportunity to record about 15 tackles in this game.