College Football Research


Week 2 Preview

by Big Al

In amidst our talk of college football, Houston is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Florida is bracing for Hurricane Irma. College football doesn't seem like all that big of a deal right now. But we do have games, so let's talk about them all the same.

It's something of a light weekend in the early going, but it picks up fast in the evening. Of course, there's one gigantic game, and we'll get to that soon enough. It's kind of a shame that all the great games are being played at the same time. Particularly when you are the fan of one of those teams playing. For fans that are not fans of teams playing in one of those late games, it's pretty awesome: if a game sucks, you can always find another one.

TCU at Arkansas

I know diddly-squat about either team. So I'm not going to make a pick. But this is one of the better games of the weekend. This game will set up one team or another as a team to be reckoned with once conference play arrives. Well, okay, it will if TCU wins. Arkansas isn't likely to dethrone Alabama anytime soon.

Cincinnati at Michigan

This is not a big game. And Michigan is going to win. But it is the biggest game of Luke Fickell's early career as a head coach. Luke Fickell, who both played and coached at Ohio State. I think he'll be fired up for this one.

Auburn at Clemson

We'll see who's setting up for a playoff run here. Clemson has returned to the top tier of college football and they look like they might be able to stick around for a while. But Auburn is not going to make it easy on them. Or at least they aren't planning to; it is pretty early in the season, so who knows how either team will shape up. I expect Clemson to win, but this is a game where we learn many of the things that we don't know coming into the game.

Georgia at Notre Dame

One of the reasons Notre Dame was such a big deal back in the early days of college football is that they went places and played in big games. Their schedule would change enough every year that every game they played was a big deal. But Notre Dame's schedule began to ossify: they played the same teams pretty much every year. Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Army, Navy, USC, Stanford, and some variation or combination of Penn State, Boston College, and Miami. So Notre Dame settled into a pseudo-conference schedule. Habit took the place of interest. And while those are a lot of big games against big teams, it was the same thing all the time. What made Notre Dame into Notre Dame was rarity: you had a few shots against them, and you'd better make them count, because they were moving on afterward.

Now they are getting back to playing a more novel schedule. Admittedly, they are not the Notre Dame of yore, but they are still pretty good. Beating the Irish is still nothing to sneeze at. So good for them for getting out there and playing interesting games.

And good for Georgia for being willing to schedule a game that's no pushover. They already have an end-of-year game against Georgia Tech, so they could easily skip the big games and focus on tuneups for SEC play. But they will be much better for playing a game like this than they would by playing Eastern West Caroginia T&A.

And I would love to make a pick in this game, but this is another game where we will answer questions we have coming in.

Stanford at USC

Now we see what Sam Darnold is made of. Stanford has built itself on a stout defense (which, it should be noted, wins championships), so I expect that our preseason Heisman winner will have some work to do here.

Boise State at Washington State

I think darn near everybody has a soft spot for Boise State... unless your team is playing them or lost to them in a major bowl game. They are kind of like the little engine that could. They could and frequently did. But they haven't held up at the same level in the last few years. I guess we'll see what they're made of this weekend.

Oklahoma at Ohio State

And we have ourselves another top-10 matchup this weekend. As mentioned several times in the interest of disclosure, I am a pessimistic Ohio State fan, so if I had any regular readers, they would all know who I'm picking here. But this is a very interesting game. Oklahoma's defense has been a liability the last few years, and Ohio State's offense spent much of its late season last year spinning its wheels in mud. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's offense is lights-out good, and Ohio State's defense has been darn near impenetrable.

Well, Oklahoma dominated UTEP in every phase of the game last weekend and Ohio State... well, they had a good second half. But they clearly could not deal with tall receivers or an advanced passing attack. Unless their defensive line got sacks, their secondary was a liability. And Ohio State's offense is not good: their receivers can't catch. Hard to stretch a defense when it's impossible to complete a pass. Oklahoma rolls.


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