Don’t bother checking. There isn’t a game this week between two ranked teams. There are only five conference games total between Power Five opponents. One of the featured games of the day is in Ames, Iowa, for gosh sakes.
Still, don’t you dare miss Week 3.
No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Oklahoma all venture out for their first true road games of the season. Suddenly, we must pay attention to No. 24 USC. No. 21 Maryland may have a turtle as its mascot, but its offense is running like its hare is on fire.
UCLA is giving away tickets … against Oklahoma. Miami is looking for its first win this late in the season since 1978 (the last time it started 0-2).
Try to ignore the fact there are 44 games this week with double-digit spreads. The upsets are out there.
(Carrier) Dome frenzy: They’ve sold out at Syracuse for the first time since 1998. They’d settle for a repeat of a two-year-old trend against Clemson. The Tigers last loss a regular-season game on Oct. 13, 2017, at what was still called the Carrier Dome. Last year, in Trevor Lawrence‘s first career start (vs. Syracuse), Chase Brice had to come off the bench to save the Tigers. Things won’t be as desperate this time. Eric Dungey is gone, and the Orange just gave up 63 to the Terrapins.
Remember 2010: South Carolina is hanging much of its hope against Alabama on its 2010 upset at Williams-Brice Stadium. That was the Steve Spurrier team that had Marcus Lattimore, Stephen Garcia and lightning in a bottle. It also lost the next week at Kentucky and finished 9-5 while winning the SEC East. to challenge in the division this season.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide come to town having piled up 14 touchdowns in their first two games against Duke and New Mexico State. Alabama’s two freshman linebackers (Shane Lee and Christian Harris) have combined for 18 tackles, a tackle for loss and a recovered fumble. You’ll hear from them more significantly later in the season, one way or another.
UCF‘s biggest chance: K.J. Costello is back at quarterback for Stanford, but his chief protector, left tackle Walker Little, is out for the season. This is one way to analyze how big this game is for No. 17 UCF: It is its lone Power Five game (at home!), a chance to make a bid for a fourth New Year’s Six bowl since 2013. If the Knights get there, they will likely do so without beating a currently ranked team. Get ready for another College Football Playoff debate.
Coach Josh Heupel is still playing games with the injury status of quarterback Brandon Wimbush. UCF freshman Dillon Gabriel could start his second straight game. Three different quarterbacks have started the Knights’ past three wins dating back to last season.
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Independence Day for BYU? The Cougars have sort of wandered in the wilderness as independents for nine years. Last week’s win at Tennessee — as bad as the Volunteers might be this season — was one of the biggest of that journey. USC coming to town gives BYU an opportunity against a ranked opponent.
Complicating matters withis the Trojans potentially being good to this point. Freshman Kedon Slovis appears to be the difference-making quarterback USC has not had in a while. These Cougars have character, too. They’re tied for sixth in red zone scores (a perfect 8 for 8).
Cy-Hawk Trophy: Just a heads up for ESPN’s “College GameDay.” You might not know what you’ve gotten yourself into at Ames. Iowa State fans are some of the most rabid in the country. Period. For starters, they drink Kansas City dry each spring at the Big 12 Tournament whether the Cyclones win or not.
For Iowa State to upset No. 19 Iowa, quarterback Brock Purdy has to become more mobile. He was a pocket passer against Northern Iowa, which probably contributed to a narrow overtime escape. Iowa has a big, active defensive line that demands attention. Preseason All-American A.J. Epenesa had 10.5 sacks last season … coming off the bench.
Sneaky good in Starkville: Two of the most highly charged offenses in the country meet Saturday. You read that right: Mississippi State is T13 nationally in explosive plays of 10+ yards, and Kansas State is right there at T16. Kylin Hill ran all over the Wildcats last year in Manhattan, Kansas (211 of his season-total 734 yards). This season, K-State leads the Power Five in rushing. This is no surprise with first-year coach Chris Kleiman having run all over FCS (three national championships at North Dakota State). Bulldogs quarterback Tommy Stevens is day-to-day.
Attrition in Lexington: Kentucky is without starting quarterback Terry Wilson, who is out for the season. No. 9 Florida will be without two starters in wide receiver Kadarius Toney and future NFL cornerback C.J. Henderson. Feleipe Franks has yet to reveal who he is going to be for Florida in 2019. The Gators are out for revenge after the Wildcats ended UF’s 31-year winning streak in the series last season in The Swamp.
Kentucky fans are intensely interested in Sawyer Smith. The graduate transfer quarterback from Troy was the MVP of the Dollar General Bowl (320 yards, four touchdowns against Buffalo). Smith committed to UCF, played two seasons at Troy and left after Neal Brown went to West Virginia. “I think Sawyer will step up,” Brown said.
The Ohio State Letdown: Ryan Day, Justin Fields go on the road for the first time — in their current positions as head coach and starting quarterback. No. 6 Ohio State’s mission is to buck an annoying habit of playing close/losing to overmatched Big Ten teams on the road. Last year in Columbus, Ohio, it was Indiana that led in the second quarter and pulled within 35-26 in the second half. Four of IU’s 23 gains of 30+ yards last season came in the game.
Do I have to remind you about Iowa and Purdue the past two seasons? That said, the Buckeyes didn’t get enough credit for shutting out what was supposed to be a fairly good Cincinnati team. Indiana hasn’t won this matchup since 1988. Face it, this about how Fields/Day react on the road together for the first time. If so, will be to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The phenomenon that is Maryland: The 43-point victory margin against Syracuse was the largest by an unranked team over a ranked team in 20 years. The 142 points are the most by a Big Ten team through two games since 1936. The Terrapins go on the road for the first time against Temple, but something special is going on under coach Mike Locksley. Josh Jackson is the first Terps QB to throw seven touchdown passes to begin a season since 1977. Locksley is one of seven new coaches (out of 27) to start 2-0.
Upper Midwest revenge: It will be about 30 degrees cooler for Michigan State at home against Arizona State. Herm Edwards used fantastic clock management and the 100-degree heat to wear down the Spartans last year in Tempe, Arizona. N’Keal Harry is gone, the Sun Devils offensive line is struggling mightily, Michigan State is healthy and Saturday’s high at Spartan Stadium will be 81 degrees.
Quick hits: LSU (vs. Northwestern State) has scored at least 100 points in its first two games for only the second time in the wire service era (since 1936) … Ole Miss (vs. Southeastern Louisiana) has held consecutive opponents to less than 20 points. The last time the Rebels accomplished that was October 2015 … Iowa-Iowa State is the hottest ticket in the state in the past five years behind Paul McCartney (2017, Des Moines) and Garth Brooks (2016, Des Moines), according to Vivid Seats … In rallying against Nebraska, Colorado (vs. Air Force) gained a school-record 258 yards in the fourth quarter. That surpassed the previous record of 231 in the Hail Mary To the Victors win over Michigan in 1994 … How far has UCLA fallen? The school is offering free tickets for Oklahoma, an opponent that ought to pack the Rose Bowl. This is meant as a reward for those who sat through the heat last week against San Diego State. But Marketing 101 teaches you not to give away tickets to your best game.