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This Weekend in College Football: Week 2

Noon:

  • Georgia Tech @ South Florida (ABC/ESPN2): Right at the top, eh? Well, we didn’t find out much about either team in their tune-ups last weekend. I especially didn’t because I didn’t see basically any games from the entire weekend. That said, Tech will need to ramp up quickly against a quarterback who can throw and a Bulls team that has been game for the past few seasons and is looking to avoid any drop-off under new coach Carlie Strong.
  • Arizona @ Houston (ABC/ESPN2): Speaking of unknowns, how about this one? Arizona really needs to get back on track after losing to BYU at home last weekend, which really makes this seem like Houston’s to lose.
  • Mississippi State @ Kansas State (ESPN): This is a major test for a Miss State team that’s supposed to be pretty good, because weird stuff can happen in the Little Apple. On talent alone I have to stick with the Bulldogs though.
  • Western Michigan @ Michigan (FS1): Angst aside, the Wolverines got this one.
  • Duke @ Northwestern (ESPNU): This game will be… surprisingly watchable? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Going with Northwestern.
  • Nevada @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Vandy can probably win this one?
  • New Mexico @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisky.

12:30: Georgia State @ North Carolina State (ACC/RSN): Wolfpack.

1:00: California-Los Angeles @ Oklahoma (FOX): UCLA’s got a long way to go.

3:30:

  • Colorado @ Nebraska (ABC): CU @ NU! Classic Big 8 action! Nebraska got lightninged-out last weekend, so this will be the first game for the Huskers under Scott Frost. Will they be any good? Uh, let’s go with TBD, but I’ll take them over the Buffs.
  • Ball State @ Notre Dame (NBC): Domers.
  • Georgia @ South Carolina (CBS): South Carolina might be the second best team in the SEC East this year, and this game will likely show how much that isn’t going matter.
  • Arkansas State @ Alabama (ESPN2): To quote Steven Godfrey on this week’s Podcast Ain’ Played Nobody: “Do you like snuff films?”
  • North Carolina @ East Carolina (ESPNU): I think the Tarheels might win themselves at least one game this year!
  • Rutgers @ Ohio State (BTN): Well, Rutgers is slightly better than Arkansas State, but… yeesh. Yeah, probably good to just get this one out of the way early.
  • Memphis @ Navy (CBSS): Navy looks to get its season back on track after losing at Hawaii last weekend. For now, I’ll stick with the Midshipmen, but losing at home to a good Memphis team might not be a good sign for them.

5:00: Iowa State @ Iowa (FOX): While El Assico is still funny, last year’s instance of everyone’s favorite Week 2 rivalry was… actually really good? Let’s hope for more of the same, though on paper the Hawkeyes are the better team.

7:00:

  • Clemson @ Texas A&M (ESPN): “Well, that’s a good offer, and while the SEC West is tough, at least I won’t have to play Clemson anymore.” “should we tell him?” “nah”
  • Wyoming @ Missouri (ESPNU): Hey, Mizzou, are you going to be good this year? Because you should win this.

7:30:

  • Fresno State @ Minnesota (FS1): I don’t pick enough upsets, and Fresno is kinda good, and Minnesota kinda isn’t, so what the heck, I’ll take the Bulldogs here.
  • Utah @ Northern Illinois (ESPNEWS): Uh, Utah? Probably.
  • Kentucky @ Florida (SEC): November 16, 1986. Kentucky defeats Florida 10-3. Would anyone in Commonwealth stadium that day believe you if you told them that over the next three decades, Kentucky would not have beaten Florida again? That’s a lot of seasons, and this ain’t exactly Navy and Notre Dame. Sure, there’s been more bad years than good for Kentucky in the interim, but this is just plain bad luck. Luck that doesn’t look like it’ll change again this year.
  • Virginia @ Indiana (BTN): Indiana? Sure.
  • Arkansas @ Colorado State (CBSS): Arkansas? Probably.
  • Florida International @ Old Dominion (beIN): ODU?

8:00: Pennsylvania State @ Pittsburgh (ABC): This is one of the nastiest rivalries out there, but it’s way too early in the season for Pitt to Pitt things up just yet.

8:30: Southern California @ Stanford (FOX): Hey, here’s an important Pac-12 South game in week 2. You should watch this! I probably give the Cardinal a slight edge.

10:15:

  • California @ Brigham Young (ESPN2): BYU has already defeated one Pac-12 team this year, but I don’t trust them quite enough to say they’re going to make it two.
  • Connecticut @ Boise State (ESPNU): After this, UConn will have played both UCF and Boise this year. Kingmakers!

10:45: Michigan State @ Arizona State (ESPN): Arizona State was college football’s biggest offseason joke. After firing their coach and hiring the mother of all retreads in Herm Edwards, they claimed the dubious hire was so they could keep their coordinators. Less than a week later, both bolted for other jobs, leaving the Sun Devils with… Herm Edwards. So, probably Sparty here?

11:00: San Jose State @ Washington State (Pac12): Wazzu.

 

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday
7:00:

  • Central Florida @ Connecticut (ESPNU): The Defending National Champions look to hold their own in the Civil Conflict, which is totally an actual rivalry that people care about. Seriously, UCF should roll.
  • New Mexico State @ Minnesota (BTN): Yeah, after getting demolished in Week 0 last week it looks like the shine is off the Aggies after being one of college football’s major feel-good stories last year. Alas.

8:00:

  • Northwestern @ Purdue (ESPN): A Week 1 weekday Big Ten game at night?!?!? Surely monocles across the Midwest are being dropped as we speak. But hey, this could well be the game of the day. The Wildcats are more consistent than most remember and Purdue should be that much better this year. This could be, dare I say, fun?
  • Wake Forest @ Tulane (CBSS): Wake Forest is good. Tulane, less so.

Friday
6:00: Syracuse @ Western Michigan (CBSS): Syracuse really needs this one, mostly because this is the year Dino Babers needs to start showing signs of improvement. They should get it, but still, this could be dicey.

7:00:

  • Army @ Duke (ESPNU): If Duke loses to a service academy and then beats us again this year I am going to be so mad. For the time being, I’m not worried about that scenario.
  • Utah State @ Michigan State (BTN): I’ll still list Big Ten Network games even though, as far as I know at the time of writing, this game will likely not be on your TV unless you live in the Midwest. That said, you shouldn’t need to watch this to know Sparty should roll.

9:00:

  • Western Kentucky @ Wisconsin (ESPN): I don’t know much about WKU going into this, and I know Wisconsin should be good. Nonetheless, I feel like this could be better than many expect.
  • San Diego State @ Stanford (FS1): If you like watching large men grinding each other into dust, amazingly it won’t be any of the Big Ten games, but a game involving a team from the Pac-12 and another from San Diego. Stanford should win, but yeah, this is where you want to be if you want to watch teams good at running the ball.

9:30: Colorado vs. Colorado State (@Denver, CO; CBSS): Colorado: you may want to investigate the shovel pass. If the Hawaiis of the world can use to run all over the Rams defense, well, the tape is there. Just sayin’.

Saturday
Noon

  • Florida Atlantic @ Oklahoma (FOX): Come for the potential hilarity of Lane Kiffin threatening Oklahoma at all, stay for the chance that it might actually be closer in the third quarter than anyone actually expected. (The Sooners will rally to win comfortably in the end, though. Probably.)
  • Oregon State @ Ohio State (ABC): Ohio State.
  • Mississippi vs. Texas Tech (@Houston, TX; ESPN): Well, this is definitely a football game in a sterile NFL dome in Houston for some reason. Uh, Ole Miss?
  • Texas vs. Maryland (@Landover, MD; FS1): Speaking of sterile NFL environments… Texas can’t lose to Maryland again, can they? Not in year 2? Surely?
  • Coastal Carolina @ South Carolina (SEC): Your annual reminder that Coastal Carolina is now in the FBS.
  • Texas State @ Rutgers (BTN): As is Texas State. Also, Rutgers isn’t quite bad enough to lose this. I think.
  • Kent State @ Illinois (BTN): Illinois will win at least one game this year. I think.
  • Houston @ Rice (CBSS): I wonder if Houston has enough cachet to fill Rice Stadium these days. It’d be nice to see a few tens of thousands of people there. Also apparently this game is known as the “Bayou Bucket Classic“.

12:30: Alcorn State @ Georgia Tech (ACC/RSN): This will hopefully be significantly less stressful for me than last year’s opener. Nonetheless, I will probably be killing my phone battery while I’m at PAX because of this game.

3:30:

  • Washington vs. Auburn (@Atlanta, GA; ABC): This game is the Game of the Week for Week 1, and I’d hope that it’s obvious why. Two potential playoff teams, which could still be true for either after this game. It’s also a solid West Coast-South matchup, with one of the Pac-12’s more physical teams versus one of the SEC’s consistently best offenses. I’m also having a hard time seeing which way this one will go myself. Flipping a coin, I’m going to go with… UDub.
  • West Virginia vs. Tennessee (@Charlotte, NC; CBS): Going into the season no one seems to have a read on either of these teams, so I’m going to go with the relatively more consistent Mountaineers.
  • Central Michigan @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Kentucky… probably?
  • Northern Illinois @ Iowa (BTN): Iowa.
  • Appalachian State @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Penn State.
  • Washington State @ Wyoming (CBSS): I would be so unsurprised that Wyoming wins this game that I’m actually just going to straight-up pick them.

4:00:

  • North Carolina @ California (FOX): The Tarheels venture west for an early afternoon kickoff in Berkeley. Just by body clock logic along, I’m going with Cal.
  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Southern California (Pac12): USC.

6:00: Boise State @ Troy (ESPNEWS): This could well be the game to find on your TV dial after Washington-Auburn is over. In someways, it’s that game writ small: a team from the Northwest versus a team from Alabama along with New Year’s Day bowl game implications. The winner here could very well set themselves up to be the G5 rep. I like Boise here.

7:00:

  • Cincinnati @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN): We may find out very quickly if Chip Kelly learned anything from his NFL experience and whether he can adapt to the changes in the college game since he left. I’m going to go with UCLA, but yeah.
  • Indiana @ Florida International (CBSS): Indiana…. probably.

7:30:

  • Michigan @ Notre Dame (NBC): It’s almost too obvious that this will the game of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE here in the first weekend of September that won’t be relevant at all by the time November rolls around, right? That said, if one of these teams actually could break out, I think it’s actually Michigan. They have to do better than third at some point, right? Going with the Wolverines here.
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Vanderbilt (SECA): Screw it, MTSU.
  • Southern Methodist @ North Texas (Stadium): SMU?

8:00:

  • Louisville vs. Alabama (@Orlando, FL): I don’t think I would’ve liked Louisville’s odds with Lamar Jackson here, so… yeah.
  • Akron @ Nebraska (FOX): Nebraska.
  • Bowling Green @ Oregon (Pac12): Oregon.

10:30: Texas-San Antonio @ Arizona State (FS1): HERM jokes aside, Arizona State. (Probably.)

10:45: Brigham Young @ Arizona (ESPN): What in the world has happened to BYU? Right now it’s hard to see anything other than ‘Zona rolling here.

11:00: Navy @ Hawaii (CBSS): This could well be an offensive explosion, which, let’s face it, is EXACTLY what you want out of the late game out of Hawaii. I still like the Midshipmen though.

Sunday

7:30: Miami vs. Louisiana State (@Arlington, TX; ABC): I think LSU is more talented and that Miami got supremely lucky last year. Going with LSU.

Monday

8:00: Virginia Tech @ Florida State (ESPN): And finally, five solid days of football ends with an ACC matchup on Monday night. And it figures to be a good one too, except that, well, VPI may not be able to field a defense. Whoops. Going with the ‘Noles.

 

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference State: SEC

Y’all know the drill by now, but for those that don’t: FCS teams are in italics and “N-” indicates a neutral site game.

  1. Texas A&M (1 legit, 1 FCS): Northwestern State, Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama-Birmingham. Let me put this gently: SEC OOC scheduling remains pretty dire. Despite sticking with four OOC games, most of these teams only have one other P5 team on the docket. But hey, at least that means we get Jimbo’s return to Clemson pretty early.
  2. Louisiana State (1, 1): N-Miami, Southeastern Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, Rice. I will more about this in the weekly writeup, but I feel like LSU-Miami is flying under the radar a little bit. But then again, neutral site games are, just, well, not that exciting. Mostly.
  3. Vanderbilt (1, 1): Middle Tennessee State, @Notre Dame, Nevada, Tennessee State. Vandy might be go 1-3 against this schedule, but hey, it’ll at least get them ranked third in something.
  4. South Carolina (1, 1): Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Tennessee-Chattanooga, @Clemson. Again, it’s worth repeating that annual rivalries are usually discounted a bit, and the rest of this schedule was not enough to buoy the Gamecocks any higher.
  5. Auburn (1, 1.5): N-Washington, Alabama State, Southern Mississippi, Liberty. Liberty is transitioning to FBS, so they count as half a FCS school for now. In the meantime, this schedule has a fairly large hurdle to clear and would ordinarily be ranked second. Rules are the rules, though.
  6. Florida (1, 2): Charleston Southern, Colorado State, Idaho, @Florida State. In fairness to the Gators, Idaho was a FBS team when they scheduled them, and I’m assuming they couldn’t get out of the deal. So that’ll give me something to remember come bowl prediction season, I guess.
  7. Georgia (0.75, 1): Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, Massachusetts, Georgia Tech. As a reminder, the people who do these ratings every year (my brother and I, that is) are Georgia Tech alums. We may be biased in terms of our legit value.
  8. Alabama (0.5, 1): N-Louisville, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, The Citadel. There’s not much to recommend on this one. Yeah, they’re playing Louisville, but… without Lamar Jackson that’s just not that interesting.
  9. Mississippi State (0.5, 1): Stephen F. Austin, @Kansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech. Road trip to the Little Apple? Nice. Two small Louisiana schools, eh, less o.
  10. Tennessee (0.5, 1): N-West Virginia, East Tennessee State, Texas-El Paso, Charlotte. Playing Tennesse-West Virginia in a neutral site should be a crime. Especially when that neutral site is Charlotte, of all places.
  11. Kentucky (0.5, 1): Central Michigan, Murray State, Middle Tennessee State, @Louisville. I have no opinion about this schedule.
  12. Missouri (0, 1): Tennessee-Martin, Wyoming, @Purdue, Memphis. Now, see, this is a spicy, yet low-rated schedule. Two good G5 teams and a road trip to an up-and-coming Big Ten team? Sign me up! Whether Barry Odom agrees in a few weeks remains to be seen.
  13. Mississippi (0, 1): N-Texas Tech, Southern Illinois, Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe. At least Houston is between these two campuses, but it’s still far. I keep hoping these games will go away, but of course this is the fifth SEC team involved in a neutral site game this season. Ugh.
  14. Arkansas (0, 1): Eastern Illinois, @Colorado State, North Texas, Tulsa. Colorado State has a cool new stadium, which kudos on getting the Hogs in for that. Other than that, there’s not much here.

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference State: Pac-12

As usual, “N-” means neutral site, and italics indicates an FCS team.

  1. Southern California (2 legit, 0 FCS): Nevada-Las Vegas, @Texas, Notre Dame. As usual, the Trojans are right out front in terms of good scheduling, even accounting for the fact that they play Notre Dame every year.
  2. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): Cincinnati, @Oklahoma, Fresno State. That said, this is also spicy. Cincy should be better, Fresno was legitimately good last year, and then there’s the trip to Norman. It still doesn’t add up to beat USC’s, but this is still exciting.
  3. Oregon State (1, 1): @Ohio State, Southern Utah, @Nevada. Well, no one will say the Beavers aren’t trying. Well, at least in the scheduling department.
  4. Washington (1, 1): N-Auburn, North Dakota, Brigham Young. The two road games gave Oregon State the edge over Washington. Also, we generally do want to encourage more home-and-homes.
  5. Colorado (1, 1): N-Colorado State, @Nebraska, New Hampshire. So I probably should’ve mentioned this in the Big 12 preview, but this works too. Ever notice the school abbreviations for the former Big 8 schools that don’t have “state’ in their names? You know, CU, NU, OU, KU, and MU? Yeah, those are all short of “University of Colorado”, “University of Nebraska”, etc. I’m not entirely sure of the order, but I have a hard time thinking of examples outside of the former Big 8. For instance, look at the former Southwest Conference: UT for Texas and UH for Houston. Or even other schools that could potentially be confused for the others, i.e., UK is Kentucky, UM is Michigan, and UO is Oregon. I’m not sure the history behind it, per se, but it’s a good reminder of the shared history that’s still there, even if the Big 8 is now long-gone.
  6. Stanford (1, 1): San Diego State, California-Davis, @Notre Dame. We will find out a lot about the Cardinal very quickly with that early SDSU game.
  7. Arizona State (0.5, 0): Texas-San Antonio, Michigan State, @San Diego State. Speaking of early SDSU games, boy howdy, it bears mentioning here in case you haven’t heard: Herm “You Play to Win the Game” Edwards is now the head coach at Arizona State! So… maybe if you’re serious about football you should no longer consider Arizona State 🙁
  8. California (0.5, 1): North Carolina, @Brigham Young, Idaho State. Well, this could get the Bears off to a good start. That Carolina game is anyone’s guess, but they could very well take it and be well on their way to a 3-0 start.
  9. Arizona (0.25, 1): Brigham Young, @Houston, Southern Utah. If Arizona’s defense puts in a repeat performance of last year’s defense that game at Houston could go south very, very quickly, Khalil Tate or no.
  10. Utah (0, 1): Weber State, @Northern Illinois, Brigham Young. Utah, you’re not in the Mountain West anymore. You don’t need to take road trips to MAC schools! But hey, at least the Holy War is back on the calendar.
  11. Washington State (0, 1): @Wyoming, San Jose State, Eastern Washington. I think it’s safe to say the last thing Wazzu needs is a roadtrip to Wyoming and their defense. Oy.
  12. Oregon (0, 1): Bowling Green, Portland State, San Jose State. Well, this is definitely the sort of schedule you’d want when breaking in your second new head coach in as many years.

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference Slate: Big 12

Next up, the Ten that Call Themselves Twelve. The “N-” prefix is for neutral site games and the italics indicate games against FCS teams.

  1. Texas (1 legit, 0 FCS): N-Maryland, Tulsa, Southern California. Will this… be the year that Texas can beat Maryland? Also, a rematch of one of the greatest national title games of all time. Not bad.
  2. Oklahoma (1, 0): Florida Atlantic, California-Los Angeles, Army. This is an OOC schedule of extremes for the Sooners. They should go 3-0 against this slate. If it’s anything other than that, it’s a disaster.
  3. Texas Christian (1, 1): Southern, @Southern Methodist, Ohio State. I fully appreciate the late-September out-of-conference game, especially since if they win it’ll give the Horned Frogs to go into Big 12 play as the favorite.
  4. West Virginia (1, 1): N-Tennessee, Youngstown State, @North Carolina State. Speaking of extremes, this schedule is sort of a microcosm of WVU’s potential this season. It could be good-to-great, but it could all go wrong very quickly.
  5. Texas Tech (0.5, 1): N-Mississippi, Lamar, Houston. Again, seems like a lot of all-or-nothing schedules in the Big 12. If Kliff goes 3-0 against this slate, he’s off the hot seat. 1-2? Hoo boy.
  6. Oklahoma State (0.5, 1): Missouri State, South Alabama, Boise State. Well, at least they’ve got Boise.
  7. Iowa State (0.5, 1): South Dakota State, @Iowa, Akron. The most interesting possibility, by far, is the part where they lose to SDSU and beat Iowa. Mostly because there’s a chance it could happen!
  8. Kansas State (0.25, 1): South Dakota, Mississippi State, Texas-San Antonio. K-State versus Miss State will be one of those games with something for everyone, mostly because those offenses will be nothing alike.
  9. Baylor (0.25, 1): Abilene Christian, @Texas-San Antonio, Duke. Ugh, Baylor.
  10. Kansas (0, 1): Nicholls State, @Central Michigan, Rutgers. I feel like whoever shows up to Rutgers @ Kansas should get, like, one free ticket to an actual football game as an incentive.