NCAA Marquée Match-Ups in Week 2: The Few, the Proud, the Nut-Cutters
With Week 1 of the college football season almost in the books, Week 2 already can't match it in the number of quality pairings, but what it does have on tap makes the weekend worthwhile.
Oregon hosting Michigan State is the clear headliner. Both the Ducks and Spartans are well in the mix for the new four-team playoff at the end of the season. Both had glorified scrimmages for openers:
- Oregon opened their season with a 62-13 victory over South Dakota; and
- Michigan State toyed with Jacksonville State, 45-7.
The Ducks and Spartans probably had closer spring games.
Nôtre Dame and Michigan opened with easy victories over inferior opponents and will meet each other Saturday night in South Bend.
- The Irish welcomed back quarterback Everett Golson, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for three as Nôtre Dame beat Rice, 48-17.
- Devin Gardner also tossed for a trio of touchdowns as the Wolverines had their way with Appalachian State -- this time -- 52-17.
The Pac-12 has an early-season showdown as Stanford, one of the favorites, hosts USC and new coach Steve Sarkisian.
- The Cardinal smacked UC Davis, 45-0, while
- The Trojans defeated Fresno State, 52-13, with Cody Kessler throwing four touchdowns.
It's useful to recall their meeting last season. Lane Kiffin had been turfed, Ed Orgeron stepped in, and the Trojans showed their roster may have been sanctions-thin -- it still is -- but the talent is there.
Stanford remembers, of course. This one could well be Exhibit A as to why the Pac-12 champion will likely emerge with two losses. The conference schedule is loaded with clashes of similar dynamics.
Also of note in Week 2:
- Ohio State struggled with Navy on Saturday and now gets Virginia Tech at home; and
- UCLA, who also struggled on the road at Virginia, hosts upstart Memphis.
Yes, it's very early, but with only four teams in the new playoff system, think of the selection committee as that old aunt who puts on the white gloves when she visits, running her finger along your fireplace mantel or behind your X-Box and checks it for dust, Cheez-It residue, or typhoid and then turns her narrowed eyes on you.
That's why the regular season is so important. Ask South Carolina, who after being blown out at home against Texas A&M, cannot slip up the rest of the way. They'll no doubt make the East Carolina Pirates feel the wrath of their frustrations, but ringing up an expected victory won't be the focus as much as how they do it.
Because Georgia is coming to town the following week.