Week 2 marked the second straight week in college football that the ACC made a statement at the expense of the SEC. Last week it was Clemson beating Georgia. This time around it was Miami beating Florida, as the Hurricanes knocked off the Gators 21-16, and with the win Miami sent the message that they expect to be in the group with Clemson and Florida State vying for the ACC crown, Orange Bowl bid, and with a little luck, maybe more.
Miami’s defensive front seven is young, and the ACC isn’t exactly renowned for physical front walls in any case. With Florida showing a tough running game last year, and then again last week, there was little reason to expect the Hurricane rush defense to make its mark on Saturday. But that’s exactly what happened.
Florida ran it 44 times, but could muster only 122 yards. When they had to go to the air, disaster was the result. Jeff Driskell threw three interceptions, and the Gators as a team turned it over five times. It was reminiscent of 2012 when Florida turned it over six times and lost to Georgia, costing the Gators the SEC East title, the chance to play Alabama, and a chance at the national championship.
Miami didn’t have to do much, but just left Florida self-destruct. Give the Hurricanes a lot of credit—it used to be that their quarterback, Stephen Morris, was the one who could be counted on to beat himself. He didn’t on Saturday and his team got a big win as a result.
ELSEWHERE WITH THE FIVE FAMILIES
The most notable games of Saturday were South Carolina-Georgia, Notre Dame-Michigan and BYU-Texas. TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage delved into those games and the attendant effect on the BCS bowl projections. We’ll close out Week 2 with a few other thoughts on the five power conferences of college football, beyond the ACC…
SEC: I’m getting intrigued by LSU. No, I’m not overreacting to the fact that they blew out UAB. But I like how efficient Zach Mettenberg was in the passing game—16/19 for 282 yards and his obvious ability to hook up with receivers like Odell Beckham for big plays. I wasn’t high on the Tigers to start the year I’m still not sure what to make of the win over TCU—how good are the Horned Frogs?—but LSU is working its way back onto my radar.
Big 12: Baylor is in its second straight year of quarterback transition. Nick Florence was a credible replacement for the Heisman-winning RG3 a year ago, and now Bryce Petty has the job. Petty threw for 338 yards. Granted, it was only against Buffalo, but Big 12 defenses have become soft in recent years and if Petty can produce, Baylor is going to be a dark horse.
And can Oklahoma State run the ball? Not to pick nits in their 56-35 win over UT-San Antonio. UTSA isn’t a bad team and the score was 42-7 at one point. But the Cowboys ran for just 87 yards on 32 carries. This is an open conference race and one Okie State can certainly win, but this needs to improve.
Pac-12: It’s time to open the betting on when Lane Kiffin is going to get fired at USC. The Trojans lost 10-7 to Washington State at home, and as the score would indicate, the offense was terrible. USC’s two quarterbacks combined to throw for just 54 yards. While Washington State is well-coached under Mike Leach, the boss has never been noted for his defensive prowess. This is an appalling loss for Southern Cal.
Big Ten: Speaking of coaches in trouble, I’m not opening betting lines on Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, but I’m worried about him. Iowa already lost at home to Northern Illinois last week. Now the Hawkeyes looked very mediocre in beating Texas State 28-14. This was a 21-14 game in the fourth quarter and while Iowa controlled the trenches, they committed 11 penalties. It’s been a long time since Iowa looked like a real threat in the Big Ten.
WRAPPING IT UP
Any thoughts that Louisville might get trouble in the American Athletic Conference took a further blow on Saturday. Cincinnati got waxed by previously y inept Illinois, and SMU had to struggle past Montana State, 31-30. The Bearcats got muscled on the ground. The Mustangs’ problems were self-inflicted, but the opposition also much weaker.
The MAC looks strong at the top. Toledo played competitively in a loss to Missouri, the second straight week they’ve competed respectably against a decent SEC team (Florida being the other). We mentioned Northern Illinois knocking off Iowa. And Bowling Green rolled to another win, looking good in dismantling Kent State in a conference game.
Even better for the MAC’s elite is that at the lower rungs, some disasters are shaping up—Eastern Michigan, UMass, Akron and Western Michigan have all looked really bad. All the better for a potential BCS-buster.