College football Week 2 doesn’t have jaw-dropping games that will reverberate throughout the season (unless there’s some kind of shocking upset), but there are six good games that are worth at least tuning into on Saturday. Earlier this week, TheSportsNotebook took a look at the undercard games and assessed the impact of Florida State losing Brandon Jenkins for the year. Now we’ll conclude our prep for Saturday with a look at six showcase games, starting with a big SEC doubleheader…
Georgia-Missouri: Because it’s a conference game in what promises to be an open SEC East race (the side of the league where MIzzou was slotted) this prime-time kickoff from Columbia gets the nod as the best game of Saturday. The Tigers were the more impressive of the two teams in the opening tune-ups, although that’s going to mean less than the fact they have to deal with SEC talent for the first time. Georgia’s Aaron Murray can exploit inexperienced Missouri safeties, and a running game led by emerging freshman Todd Gurley can make some hay against a soft defensive line. The Tigers have playmakers, led by receiver T.J. Moe, but that’s not enough to beat a team as good as Georgia. It’s a Welcome To The SEC kind of moment as Georgia silences the home crowd.
Florida-Texas A&M: Kicking off at 3:30 PM ET, this is on right ahead of Georgia-Mizzou. Because A&M is in the Alabama-LSU side of the conference, there are no big thoughts for them. Florida, meanwhile, can compete in the East if they can get some kind of passing game going. The offense was mediocre in a ho-hum win over Bowling Green and Jeff Driskell will have to justify the decision to make him the #1 quarterback for Saturday. But even if he doesn’t, the Gators play better defense, they can run the ball with Mike Gillislee and then there’s that whole Welcome To The SEC thing.
Purdue-Notre Dame: Purdue made a bowl game last year, brought back 13 starters and then warmed up by blowing out Eastern Kentucky. They have good reason to be optimistic about this season. Notre Dame did everything right offensively in its win over Navy. Both the Irish and Boilers suspended their quarterbacks for Week 1, but only Purdue’s Caleb TerBush gets his job back this week. Brian Kelly is sticking with Everett Golson. The one area ND looked weak in was pass defense. Navy, running the triple option, was not equipped to exploit that. Will TerBush fare any better in his first game back? From a matchup standpoint and considering homefield, the signs still point to the Irish. But this is still a game in a dangerous schedule spot—right after the game in Ireland and right before the game against Michigan. At the very least, Purdue’s going to keep this one close—closer, as Lee Corso might say than the experts say. And the experts say Notre Dame by two touchdowns.
Miami-Kansas State: I wasn’t expecting Miami’s road win over Boston College, though I’m inclined to write it off more to BC incompetence than anything special about a very young Hurricanes team. It does mean that Al Golden can coach and that K-State will start to playing football considerably earlier than they did a week ago, when they messed around with Missouri State for three quarters before dropping five touchdowns in the final period. One thing to consider—K-State’s young on the offensive line, with two freshman starting, meaning the sluggish starts might not be all about focus. I expect the focus to be there, Collin Klein will be there and playing at home that likely means a Wildcat win. But I won’t be surprised if it’s less than pretty. Las Vegas is pegging 58 as the number for combined points in this game and I don’t think it’s going anywhere near that.
USC-Syracuse: This game is in MetLife Stadium, where the Giants and Jets play, as Syracuse looks to increase its exposure to recruits. If any high school defensive backs are visiting, Doug Marrone might want to get them in uniform early because a defense that was lit up by Northwestern is going to be positively scorched by Matt Barkley and the Trojans. There’s no question who’s going to win this game, but I’m interested to see how ‘Cuse quarterback Ryan Nassib fares. He threw for over 400 yards in Week 1 and a nice showing here would send a clear signal that Nassib is ready to carve up the Big East defenses ahead on the schedule.
Washington-LSU: Washington set new levels of stupidity this week in having a caged tiger at its practice field this week. Which led me to wonder what kind of moron—either in the athletic department or at the zoo—actually approves such a request. Washington might have been better served in wondering why their offense was so-so in a win over rebuilding San Diego State. Or trying to figure out how the young front seven will stop an LSU rushing attack led by Spencer Ware. Then again, if I had to figure these things out, maybe I’d do what Steve Sarkisian did and just bail out by creating an unnecessary and potentially dangerous distraction.