Week 2 College Football Takeaways

Week 2 College Football Takeaways

By JD Biagioni

No. 2 in the Atlantic is wide open

Coming into the season, everybody knew the ACC would be Clemson and everybody else. The Coastal division would be wide open, as evidenced by all seven team receiving first place votes in the preseason coaches poll. North Carolina and Virginia have emerged from the chaos through two weeks, but the division is still up for grabs. Across the conference in the Atlantic, just about every team except Louisville could stake a claim to Clemson’s top challenger. Florida State and Syracuse were expected to separate from the pack, but, if the first two weeks are any indication, both the Seminoles and Orange were overhyped coming into the season. FSU blew a late double-digit lead against Boise State and needed a missed extra point to defeat UL-Monroe of the Sun Belt conference in overtime.

After looking just fine in Week 1, Syracuse was stomped by former ACC foe Maryland 63-20. Tommy Devito played well enough, throwing for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns, but the defense, which was supposed to be a strength of the 2019 Orange squad, got eviscerated both on the ground and the air.

North Carolina State is 2-0, but both wins have come over directional schools. Sophomore quarterback Matt McKay is still largely unproven in his journey to replace the second-leading passer in program history, Ryan Finley. Boston College and Wake Forest picked fifth and sixth in most major ACC polls, respectively, have arguably looked like Clemson’s toughest challengers in-division. The Eagles opened with an impressive 35-28 victory over Virginia Tech, and the offense looks like it’s shaping up to be best Steve Addazio’s seven year tenure on the Heights. Wake Forest escaped against a very good Group of 5 opponent, Utah State, in the opening week of the season. Junior quarterback Jamie Newman has impressed, throwing for a combined 700 yards through two games. Even Louisville, the consensus worst team in the Atlantic, held its own against nationally-ranked Notre Dame. 

LSU is the third best team in the SEC, but the Tigers are deservedly a Top 4 team in the nation…

LSU-Texas definitely delivered as College Gameday’s Week 2 matchup. The Tigers only trailed once, when the score was 7-3, but the game remained tight most of the night. In the 100-degree heat, the two Top-10 teams traded blows deep into the Texas night. When all was said and done, it was LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow who stole most of the headlines. An SEC QB, Burrow was more than up to the task of winning a Big 12 shootout, throwing for 471 yards, the most of his career, as well as four touchdowns. Despite yielding 38 points, LSU’s vaunted defense came up clutch in big spots. Grant Delpit and co. buckled down early in the first for two big defensive stands. Both times, Texas had the ball in a goal-to-go situation. And both times, the Horns came up empty against LSU’s defense. That’s exactly the type of production Tigers fans can expect from a defense that boasts arguably top five units in the nation on the line, at linebacker, and in the secondary. LSU isn’t in the same conversation as Alabama or Georgia just yet, but the Tigers may give the SEC the best chance a conference will ever have of getting three teams into the College Football Playoff. 

…And Texas football is back

Texas lost, but the Longhorns have nothing to be ashamed of. Sam Ehlinger, while not as sharp as Burrow, threw for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. At receiver, Brennan Eagles appears poised for a sophomore leap, and senior Devin Duvernay will help alleviate the loss of Lil’Jordan Humphrey. both had over 100 receiving yards against the Tigers. The running back position is still a bit of a question mark, and the defense, while decent, is still a Big 12 defense that’ll get exposed by other Power 5 teams, like it did Saturday night. Nevertheless, as Ehlinger said after Texas won the 2019 Sugar Bowl, “We’re back.” Last season was a step forward, as the Longhorns finished with a double digit win total for the first time since 2009. This year has the potential to be even better. The loss to LSU shouldn’t obscure the idea that Texas is in for a special season. They’d probably have to beat Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma twice to do it, but a Big 12 isn’t out of the question. The LSU loss may hurt their chances at a Playoff spot, but the Longhorns still remain contenders to end up playing in the Peach or Fiesta Bowl come December. 

Michigan may be in for another disappointing season

Is Shea Patterson still the answer in Ann Arbor. The Ole Miss transfer was supposed to finally allow Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines to take the next step, and through a year and two games they haven’t. They still didn’t beat Ohio State. They got embarrassed by Florida in the Peach Bowl. And this past week, they barely got by Army. Patterson looked shaky all game long; he went 19-of-29 and lost two fumbles. Sure he missed star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, but the elite quarterbacks around the nation are supposed to be able to overcome that. Maybe it was just a temporary bump in the road, but Michigan, and especially Patterson, will need a strong showing at Wisconsin after the bye week to restore some of the faith. 

The Pac 12 is still a mess

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but the entire Pac 12 has essentially been eliminated from College Football Playoff contention after just two weeks of game action. Oregon couldn’t finish off Auburn in the Pac 12’s best opportunity to show that it can hang with the top teams of other Power 5 conferences. Stanford lost KJ Costello for a few weeks and then lost to USC, who is starting true freshman Kedon Slovis after losing JT Daniels for the season with a torn ACL. At 0-2 UCLA is a mess, having had both defeats take place at the hands of Group of 5 teams. Despite Khalil Tate’s best effort, Arizona couldn’t beat Hawaii in a Week 0 matchup. And then Washington gets upset at home by California. Maybe Oregon rebounds (the 7-6 beat down of Nevada was a good start). Maybe Anthony Gordon keeps throwing for 400-plus yards and Washington State can rekindle some of the magic that Gardner Minshew had last season. Maybe Utah sneaks up on everyone. Maybe Slovis is the real deal for the Trojans. Or maybe everything falls apart for the Pac 12 like it has every year since Marcus Mariota left Oregon. If I were a betting man, I’d but my money on the latter. 

What’s in store for Week 3:

  • College Gameday travels to Ames, Iowa for the first time ever, as Iowa travels to face Iowa State.
  • UCF finally faces a Power 5 challenger in Stanford. KJ Costello should be back for the game.
  • Boston College hosts Kansas in a Friday night game, but it’s not the Red Bandana game. That’ll be November 9th against Florida State.