After a spectacular and fun Week 1, I’m not going to lie…Week 2 is not a great slate. Many of the top programs are facing lower level G5 or FCS opponents. Some games lost a little luster because of losses in the first week. However, it’s easy to make these lists when there’s tons of good games – the elite college football writer (like yours truly) can find diamonds in the rough to enjoy in weekends like this one. Plus, college football is notorious for having weeks like this that seem dull all of a sudden blow up with strange upsets.
With that said, here are the Top 10 Most Meaningful Matchups for Week 2 ->
10. Appalachian State @ Miami – 7:00 PM on ESPNU – Appalachian State could sneakily be the best team in the Sun Belt despite the publicity that Louisiana and Coastal Carolina got all off season. This is a tricky game for a Miami team that needs to get back on track after being demolished by the Tide in Week 1. A loss here could mean that a season that seemed to hold great promise could be on the skids before conference play even begins in the ACC. Miami is favored by 8 points, I’d take App and the points.
9. #21 Utah @ BYU – 10:15 PM on ESPN – The Holy War in Utah is always a tough matchup. BYU is coming off their best season in years and Utah is looking to get back into the top rung of the PAC12 like they were in 2019. Should be fun if you want to stay up late.
8. N.C. State @ Miss. State – 7:00 PM on ESPN2 – Two teams that may be going in opposite directions on the season – the Wolfpack was dominant in their first game against overmatched competition and seem to have as much talent on the lines and skill positions as any non-Clemson ACC team. Truly this seems like the year for them to make their move but to have a truly special season, they need to win games like this one against an SEC school that was fortunate to win on Saturday. The Bulldogs came from 20 points behind in the 4th quarter to beat La. Tech. Big game for both teams.
7. Missouri @ Kentucky – 7:30 PM on SEC Network – A sign of how not great Week 2’s slate is is that this early season conference matchup makes it. However – these two teams seem improved from last year and the winner has a leg up in battle for third (and maybe second) in SEC East.
6. Stanford @ #14 USC – 10:30 PM on FOX – This matchup lost luster when Stanford got blitzed by Kansas State in the opener but for USC this is a chance to strike a blow in winning the South. Stanford needs a win or at least a solid performance to get back on track. This and the Utah/BYU matchup are the best late night options for you.
5. #15 Texas @ Arkansas – 7:00 PM on ESPN –This is a classic rematch of an old Southwest Conference rivalry – and a preview of future SEC matchup. Texas SHOULD win this, they are more talented and Sarkisian seems to be off to a good start but Arkansas has been a tough out since Sam Pittman arrived as head coach. It’s in Fayetteville which should count for something. The atmosphere should be great.
4. Washington @ Michigan – 8:00 PM on ABC – This game lost a lot of luster when Washington bit the dust against Montana last week. Michigan looked good in their opener against overmatched Western Michigan. These two programs have played each other in Rose Bowls and it’s a great “helmet” matchup. Both teams need to win, I would expect a tight defensive struggle.
3. #5 Texas A&M vs. Colorado – 3:30 PM on FOX (“Neutral” Site – Denver, CO) – An old Big 12 matchup is reborn with a top 5 Aggie squad traveling to Denver to play a Buffalo squad that has been very frisky the last couple of years if not overpowering. This could be a tight, tough basically road game. It should be a fun afternoon at Mile High.
2. #18 Iowa @ #7 Iowa State – 4:30 PM on ABC – Two top 20 teams renewing their annual in-state rivalry. Iowa looked phenomenal against Indiana last week, Iowa State did not look so good barely beating FCS Northern Iowa. This is a huge game for both teams but particularly there is pressure on ISU as this is possibly their best team ever. A loss here makes it seem like another slow start to the year – which has plagued the Cyclones in the past. This is always a tough, tight game no matter the records.
1. #12 Oregon @ #3 Ohio State – Noon on FOX – The premiere matchup for the week (thankfully Oregon outlasted Fresno State or this would have been diminished). Ohio State had some shaky moments but overall had a solid win on the road against Minnesota to open season. Can QB C.J. Stroud show even more improvement for Ohio State? Will Kayvon Thibodeaux be healthy enough to play for Oregon and rush the passer? Can Ohio State stop Oregon’s running game – can the Ducks be more consistent on offense? This would be a huge win for the PAC 12 and would put the Ducks in great position for a playoff run. Conversely, Ohio State could show they will continue to dominate. This is clearly the best game of the weekend.
Didn’t quite make the cut:
Air Force @ Navy – 3:30 on CBS - The first leg of the “Commander-in-Chief” Trophy competition between Air Force, Navy & Army. Navy did not look good in week 1 against Marshall and Air Force seems pedestrian but service academy football is always unique and fun.
California @ TCU – 3:30 PM on ESPNU – A rematch of one of the most un-epic bowl games in the past several years (the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl). Cal had a disappointing loss to Nevada to open season while TCU looks to continue winning start. This is actually an important game in the context of each team’s season and goals to get beyond 6-7 wins. PAC-12 could sure use an out of conference Power 5 win.
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee – Noon on ESPN – Both teams started off 1-0 in not super impressive fashion but – as above – this is an important swing game for both programs. Tennessee doesn’t look like a team that should win more than 4-5 games but if they are to sniff bowl eligibility, they need this one. Pitt likewise is trying to get to a point where they aren’t just 6-6/7-5. If they don’t win this one, I think it spells trouble for Narduzzi.
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