On to Week 2. What an exciting Week 1— multiple upsets (Duke, Colorado) including Power 5 teams losing to pay teams (Fresno State, Texas State), teams absolutely demolishing their FCS opponents (looking at you Oregon, Ole Miss, Oklahoma), Week 1 perfectly encapsulated what’s so great about college football. The three games I picked last week (Colorado vs TCU, UTSA vs Houston, and LSU vs FSU) all ended up being excited games for multiple reasons. I’ll get into Colorado (spoiler, they are back this week), UTSA vs Houston ended up being 17-14 in favor of Houston (UTSA kept turning the ball over), while FSU thwacked LSU in front of huge tv audience 45-24. This week, I have three more games I think are must watch— a prime time game between two blue bloods, a top 25 battle between the Land Sharks and Green Wave, and will the Cornhuskers finally win a one score game or are the Prime Time Buffs legit? Here are my three Games to Watch: Week 2.
Nebraska at #22 Colorado
12:00PM Kickoff on FOX (9/9)
Nebraska: 0-1 (0-1 BIG 10)
Colorado: 1-0 (0-0 PAC 12)
Man, no matter what coach the Cornhuskers seem to get, they can’t win one score games to save their lives. Losing to Minnesota last Thursday 13-10 was not the start Matt Rhule wanted at Nebraska. On the flip side, Deion Sanders started off his time with the Buffs with a STATEMENT, defeating TCU (National Champ Runner-ups) 45-42.
Losing to a game winning field as time expires sums up where Nebraska has been since Frank Solich was fired 20+ years ago, perpetual sadness. Some positives for the Cornhuskers in Week 1— They held Minnesota to only 13 points— that’s about it. The Defense collapsed the last four minutes, blowing a 7-3 lead. Even with the collapse the defense held the Golden Gophers to 196 passing yards, just 55 rushing yards, and even managed to get an interception. How will this defense fair against Colorado? Heres a hint— not well. On the offensive side of the ball, the game screamed “BIG 10,” meaning low scoring and lots of turnovers. Cornhusker QB Jeff Simms 11 of 19, 114 yards, 1 TD/3 INTS, and 91 yards rushing. Not the ideal to have your QB be your leading rusher (especially in Week 1), without Simms, the Cornhuskers rushed just 90 yards (181 total rushing yards), between four rushers— yikes. The best offensive drive Nebraska had was two plays that ended with a 34 yard TD pass to Alex Bullock (lead team with 56 yards) to take the lead early in the 3rd Quarter. The name of the game this week for Nebraska: DO NOT TURN THE BALL OVER, 3 interceptions and 1 fumble is how you lose games— see this past weekend.
Boy, I don’t want to say I called it (because I was a little apprehensive of Colorado), I laid out how much of turnover player wise both TCU, and Colorado (leads NCC with transfers), and I even said it wouldn’t be shocking if Colorado came out swinging with a high tempo offense. That is exactly what they did. The two players to really talk about are QB Shedeur Sanders and WR/CB Travis Hunters— they are absolute DAWGS. In Sanders first start, he broke Colorado’s single game passing yards record— going 38 of 47, 510 passing yards, and 4 TDS, an absolute insane first game performance. Sanders had four receivers all topping 100 yards receiving (a school record), with Dylan Edwards leading the team with 135 yards 3 TDS, but Travis Hunter is the star of the show. Along with playing almost 90% off game time snaps, he had 119 yards receiving 1 TD along with an insane interception on defense. The Buffs are incredibly fun to watch on offense, but the defense had a tough time keeping a depleted and young TCU team at bay. Do I think this is a one-off win/TCU was overrated at #17 or Colorado is a legit team? I am leaning towards a mix of both. TCU was overrated at #17 (being ranked there purely based off of last season’s success, the downside of early season rankings) and the Colorado offense as I have stated is great, but the season is still young, they have dates with Oregon and USC back-to-back coming soon. Week 1’s performance was enough to be ranked #22 going into Week 2.
I think Colorado will win this game, the Nebraska defense will have a very hard time going up against this fast, fun, and explosive Buff Offense. While on the flip side, I think Nebraska will score more that 10 points this week but it won’t be enough to keep up. Expect to see Colorado again in one of these “Games to Watch” articles soon.
#20 Ole Miss at #24 Tulane
3:30PM Kickoff on ESPN2 (9/9)
Ole Miss: 1-0 (0-0 SEC)
Tulane: 1-0 (0-0 AAC)
A battle between two 25 teams is my headlining 3:30PM game. Tulane, the top Group of 5 team at the moment vs an Ole Miss team trying to prove they have what it takes to compete with the Alabama SEC West. Both of these two teams of high-powered offenses to make this a very intriguing matchup.
Ole Miss absolutely throttled their FSC opponent, Mercer, 73-7. QB Jaxson Dart led the charge going 18 of 23, 334 passing yards, and 4 TDS (even adding 36 rushing yards, second best on the team). Even back up QB, Spencer Sanders (transfer from Oklahoma Sate) got in on the scoring, going 8 of 14 for 134 yards, and 2 TDS. Receiver Tre Harris was tied for first in receptions with 6, but lead with 133 receiving yards, and also a team leading 4 TDs. Rushing wise the team had 143 total yards, with Quinshon Judkins leading the team with 13 carries for 60 yards, and 2 TDS. I hoped Ole Miss would have have scored that much against an FCS team. This really was a tune up game of the offense along with getting experience for backup, and Jaxson Dart trying to separate himself from Spencer Sanders as the starter. Defensively, Ole Miss held Mercer to 254 total yards of offense, 142 passing yards and 93 rushing yards, and 1 TD. That TD came in the first quarter where Mercer RB Carter Peevy broke off a huge 75 yard rushing ending in said TD (the only play on that drive was the TD). That TD tied the game 7-7, and Ole Miss went on to score 66 straight points. This week against Tulane will be the first real test for the Land Sharks/Rebels.
The Green Wave beat South Alabama 37-17, lead by the nearly perfect performance of QB Michael Pratt. Pratt against the Jaguar D went 14 of 15 for 294 yards, and 4 TDs, he averaged 19.6 yards per completed pass. The one incompletion for Pratt came on the Green Wave’s second drive, which ended in an field goal putting them up 10-0. All of Tulane’s TDS came off of Pratt, but they had a 142 total rushing yards with Pratt again helping (second on the team with 39). The biggest issue with Tulane on offense is the turnovers— three drives ended with fumbles. They have to protect the rock better against a team like Ole Miss, who will score immediately when given the chance. On defense, the Green Wave held USA to 265 total yards— 190 passing, 75 rushing, while also getting 4 turnovers— two interceptions and two fumbles, only two of which led to points (10 total points off turnovers). The Jaguars offense is for sure a step-down from what the Green Wave will face this weekend with Ole Miss, but I think it’ll be a great matchup.
#20 Ole Miss vs #24 Tulane should be an exciting high scoring game! My gut says Ole Miss will come out on top but Tulane will make it a fight to the end. Don’t write off Tulane if they lose. They are still one of the top Group of 5 teams in the country and can make a New Year’s Six Bowl game with one loss on the year.\
#11 Texas at #3 Alabama
7:00PM Kickoff on ABC (9/9)
Texas: 1-0 (0-0 BIG 12)
Alabama: 1-0 (0-0 SEC)
My “Game of the Week”— a battle between two teams, Texas and Alabama, hoping to make the college football playoffs along with winning their respective conferences. Oh, and it’s a rematch from last season’s exciting game, with a very questionable call, that lead to Alabama winning 20-19 in Austin. This weekend, the game is in Tuscaloosa with even more hype.
Texas won their opening game against Rice 37-10. After a slow first half of the game (leading 16-3 at half), the Longhorn offensive finally got going behind two Quinn Ewers TD pass and a rushing TD from Ewers, as well. Speaking of Ewers, he went 19 of 30 for 260 yards and 4 TD pass, along with 1 rushing TD. With former standout RB Bijan Robinson off to the NFL the running back room was split between Jaydon Blue and Jonathon Brooks, both of which had 10 carries (Blue) to 12 carries (Brooks) and 55 rushing yards (Blue) to 52 yards (Brooks). Three different receivers caught TDs from Ewers, Ja’Tavion Sanders, Jonathan Brooks and Adonai Michell, while Xavier Worthy led the team with catches and yards, 7 receptions and 90 yards. Also, a quick shoutout to Bert Auburn, who made almost everyone of his kicks, going 4/4 on extra points and 3/4 on field goals (one miss over 50 yards). Auburn scored all the points in the second quarter for the Longhorns. Allowing only 176 total yards of offense in game one is a great start (even though it was against a Rice team that was greatly out matched). They allowed 149 passing yards, and just 27 rushing yards, also getting 3 turn overs (two interceptions and 1 fumble recovery).
Have “cracks” started to emerge in the Alabama Crimson Tide Dynasty? Losing two games last year (Tennessee, and LSU) and winning three one score games (Texas, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss) Alabama’s offense seems to have lost its “umph,” relying a lot on Bryce Young, who is now in the NFL. The Crimson Tide won big against a overly matched Middle Tennessee team, 56-7. QB Jalen Milroe, who saw some playing time last year in place of an injured Bryce Young, went 13 of 18 for 194 and 3 TDS, along with a team leading 48 rushing yards and 2 TDS. Running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams split the bulk of the carries having combined 75 yards, the Tide had 205 total rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs (even backup QB and recent Notre Dame Transfer Tyler Buchner scored one). Offensive Coordinator, Tommy Reis had the Tide clicking against the Blue Raiders— but again, it is against Middle Tennessee one of the middling Group of 5 schools. The Tide Defense held Middle Tennessee to 211 total yards— 133 passing and 78 rushing and forcing two fumbles. I think the Tide defense will be outmatched by the Longhorn offense.
Nick Saban used to beat his proteges all the time, recently his luck has changed. I expect this to continue when Steve Sarkisians’ Longhorns beat the Tide. Unlike last year a bogus call won’t save Alabama and Quinn Ewers will stay healthy and not get locked out. Regardless of the outcome, we are in for a treat!
-Wil Weddington (@Wil_Weddington)