College football’s week two feels kind of like a hangover. I mean, kind of like I imagine a hangover would feel. Memo to my 17 year old daughter who once in a while reads good ol’ Dad’s columns; Dad has never, ever had a hangover because they are really bad and you will never do anything to ever have one either. Ok, back to the football. We had such an electrifying opening week of college football, we have had a bit of a headache this week and are looking for ways to perk up again. The second weekend does not offer the same type of breathtaking match-ups of last week, but there are still some good games that we need to checkout so grab the coffee or the ibuprofen or whatever it is that helps you recover, so you can get ready for week two, (all featured games are Saturday).
Penn State (1-0) @ Pitt (1-0) ; 12 Noon EDT, ESPN
A traditional in-state rivalry in week two is a good dose of recovery coffee for you. Believe it or not, these two have not faced each other since 2000. The Penn State offense was supposed to be more dynamic under new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, but it sputtered in the win over Kent State last week. Running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 105 yards, but the offensive line, which is clearly a production still in the works, struggled at several points in pass protection. James Connor was the story for Pitt in the win over Villanova last week. After missing the 2015 season while battling back from a knee injury as well as a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma, the running back made his return with a touchdown and 53 yards rushing on 17 carries. Both teams need a lot of work, but the foundation is there for a good game. Perfect, since you need to slowly come out of your sluggishness.
Western Kentucky (1-0) @ Alabama (1-0); 3:30pm EDT, ESPN 2
I have heard that a sports drink and ibuprofen help pick up the pace a little. You will need it, because this has the potential to be a high scoring game. We all saw what Alabama did to USC last weekend in a 52-6 thrashing of the Trojans. The Tide front seven that was thought to be the rebuilding portion of the defense dominated the vaunted SC offensive line. True freshman Jalen Hurts took his turn in the Bama quarterback derby and put up a mere four touchdowns, (two rushing and two passing). Still, the Tide have things to work on in their passing defense and in comes a Western Kentucky team that throws the ball about 70% of the time. Quarterback Mike White was 25 of 31 passing for 517 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-14 win over Rice. Now sure, you can say Rice is no Bama and that is true, but here is a number to keep in mind while watching a seemingly over-matched Hilltoppers team. They are 3-2 in their last five games against the SEC.
South Carolina (1-0) @ Mississippi State (0-1); 7pm EDT, ESPN 2
Ordinarily we would not focus on a game between two teams that struggled so mightily in week one, but it’s an early season conference match-up, (the second one already for South Carolina), so it is worthy of little attention. Still, it might be time to get some food in you at this point…something bland though…let’s not go too crazy. Both teams came away looking strong defensively last week and dicey, at best, on offense. Mississippi State should not have even needed a last second field goal attempt to beat South Alabama, much less face the missed kick and the loss. Quarterback Damien Williams is going to have to be more productive. Going two for nine in third down conversions allowed South Alabama to control the ball for 36 minutes of the game. A.J. Jefferson and Jeffrey Simmons played up to expectations and beyond on defense for the Bulldogs. South Carolina’s offense was only slightly better in that it got the Gamecocks an ugly win over Vanderbilt. Perry Orth was 11 of 19 for 152 yards in his quarterback debut and will be the starter again this week.
UTEP (1-0) @ TEXAS (1-0); 7pm EDT, Longhorn Network
Yeah, I know, most of you are going to have to search for the Longhorn Network to see if you even have it. So why are we covering this game? Because Texas proved that Longhorn football is good again in the win over Notre Dame last week, and because UTEP never gives us a reason to write about them, but they are 1-0 going into Austin, so what the heck…channel surf for the game. UTEP got an impressive win over New Mexico State last week; impressive in that the offense actually managed more yards than Texas did in its win, thanks mostly to running back Aaron Jones who had 31 carries for 249 yards and two touchdowns. We all saw the Texas win over Notre Dame. Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes are a legitimate quarterback tandem, (an idea that usually doesn’t work well). The two of them combined for five touchdowns, and now that it is certain Charlie Strong’s seat is a little cooler, he will stick with the two-headed monster. Probably okay to start filling your stomach with some greasy food now also.
BYU (1-0) @ UTAH (1-0); 7:30pm EDT, Fox
Hey! This game is called the Holy War! No getting back into trouble during the game. As a matter of fact, we are going to suggest you go get some fresh air, maybe even some exercise before the game. And keep it to water while you are watching. The Cougars needed a late field goal to win at Arizona last weekend. Quarterback Taysom Hill was 21 of 29 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown, but he also had an interception. Running back Jamaal Williams is going to be counted on more after a 162-yard rushing performance. Utah shutout a bad Southern Utah team last week, with new quarterback Troy Williams going 20 of 35 for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Utah has won the last five over BYU. The two programs don’t like each other, the schools don’t like each other, the fan bases hate each other. That always makes for an entertaining Saturday night.
Virginia Tech (1-0) vs. Tennessee (1-0); 8PM EDT, ABC
This will be one of the strangest settings for college football you will ever see. The game, dubbed Battle at Bristol, is being played at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Yes, they have placed a football field in the middle of a NASCAR track. What are now end zone seats for football are so far away they could just as easily be in neighboring Hawkins or Johnson County. The game is an effort to set the record for attendance at a college football game, and it is likely to happen. What will they see? They will see a Tennessee team that struggled on offense against a good Appalachian State team. The Vols kept it pretty bland with 18 rushing plays and only 10 passing plays on first downs. Josh Dobbs was having to improvise too much at quarterback, because the offensive line broke down so much. Virginia Tech quarterback Jerrod Evans had a big game in his debut last week with 221 yards passing and four touchdowns, albeit against Liberty University. There have been social media rumors of Tennessee students scalping their tickets for twice face value, and the people who had the first guarantee on seats for the game were actually NASCAR season ticket holders, so this is likely to a curious event to see. And at this point, you have recovered the way we suggested, so you just go be you for this game. Who the heck are we to tell you how to watch it?