Week two is not the best week of college football, but it’s still better than the best week of NFL football.
College football is a variety show with sketches, deep political discussions, slapstick humor, great musical guests, and there’s always a hilarious monologue from USC’s defense.
The NFL is basically just reruns of NCIS starring Lt. Phil Simms.
Meanwhile, with college football you are guaranteed to see something new every week. That’s what makes this sport so difficult to predict, and so impossible to turn away from.
We are all basically pre-rubbernecking. We know something disastrous is going to happen if we just watch a little bit longer.
We are sadists if nothing else. And we are legion.
Friday September 8
Illinois (1-0) at Kansas (1-0) (-3) | 7:30 pm | ESPN2
Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels is expected to start this week after missing last week’s opener against Southwest Missouri State with back tightness. He can be a dynamic playmaker when healthy, but back issues have a way of showing up at the worst possible times. They’re basically the neighbors from hell. They’ll poison your animals or park their RV in the yard or show up on your doorbell camera at 3 in the morning slurring Bob Seger songs. Illinois comes into this game off of a 30-28 desperation win over Toledo. Rockets quarterback Dequan Finn threw for 230 yards and ran for 75 more. Jalon Daniels could have a big day, but so could Illini quarterback Luke Altmeyer, who threw for 206 and ran for 69 in the win over UT. He will need to avoid the bad turnovers, however. Given Illinois’ overall struggles against Toledo, (1) I like Kansas -3 in this one.
Saturday September 9
No. 10 Notre Dame (2-0) at North Carolina State (1-0) (+7.5) | 12:00 pm |ABC
It seems like people are wanting to buy into Notre Dame right now given their 2-0 start. It’s not every team in the nation that could beat Navy and Tennessee State to open the season, but it is most of them. North Carolina State quarterback Brennan Armstrong lit up the ACC two years ago as Virginia’s quarterback, but he missed the Notre Dame game that year with a rib injury. He should be able to cause some trouble. If he can avoid the turnovers, this could go down to the final possession. Irish quarterback Sam Hartman continues his obligatory Heisman campaign as college football tips its cap to its old ways, back when the sport fought in two World Wars and worked for 62 years as a mail carrier. (2) That being said, I will take Hartman to throw over 1.5 touchdowns.
Nebraska (0-1) at No. 22 Colorado (1-0) (-3) | 12:00 pm | FOX
No team has captured the imagination of the college football universe like Nebraska. Specifically, people are wondering if Scott Frost has just executed the biggest con of all-time and pulled a Face/Off with Matt Rhule? Is Matt Rhule actually sedated in a hospital bed somewhere with no face, while Frost is out living it up as Mayor McRunza once again in Lincoln? Based on how badly Nebraska collapsed in their loss to Minnesota last week, I think the only answer is yes. Colorado, meanwhile, shocked everyone with a week one shootout win at TCU. This is not your grandfather’s Buffs team (mainly because your grandfather’s Buffs team could actually run the ball). Shadeur Sanders threw for 500 yards against TCU, so who knows what he’s going to do in this one. Despite what Deion Sanders is trying to tell everybody, Colorado is still an unknown. If Nebraska is going to steal this one, they’ll need a more consistent game from quarterback Jeff Sims. Expect Sims to be used heavily as a runner, which is why (3) I like the over on his 67.5 rushing yards. And while we’re talking quarterbacks, go ahead and (4) give me the over on Sanders’ 315.5 yards passing. It is way too early to start having expectations for what this Colorado offense is, but if Coach Prime is eventually going to find out what we’re all saying about his team, I’d like to have some positive things written for him that I can point to.
No. 20 Ole Miss (1-0) at No. 24 Tulane (1-0) (+7.5) | 3:30 pm | ESPN2
This line has climbed from 6 to 7.5 over the course of the week. Tulane should be relatively tough for Ole Miss to run against, but that’s why the Rebels have one of the best tailbacks in the game. Quinshon Judkins didn’t get much work in the opener last week against Mercer, but he may need to be a workhorse in this one. Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt completed 14-of-15 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns last week against South Alabama. He will get his second-consecutive shot at a directional Alabama school this week as the Green Wave take on the West Alabama Rebels. Despite the talented offenses, (5) I’m taking the under because 66.5 is too many points this early in the season.
No. 23 Texas A&M (1-0) at Miami (1-0) (+3.5) | 3:30 pm | ABC
A capacity seating chart of 64,992 places to sit will be witness to one of the biggest games of the week. And many of those places to sit will actually have fans in them! Texas A&M beat Miami 17-9 last year in College Station, but this year they’ll have to do it in the relative silence of Hard Rock Stadium. For the traveling Texas A&M fans, I want to reassure you that just because the place looks like an abandoned Sea World, there is no Shamu skeleton stashed away in a room somewhere. That was sold to a private buyer decades ago. And if anybody in a Hurricanes jersey tries to ask if you want to go see it, do NOT go with them. In terms of the on-field stuff, picking against the SEC West generally goes poorly for me, but I don’t know if A&M really qualifies since they play more like an SEC East team. This game confuses me. I can see a shootout with two talented quarterbacks or I could see a bunch of athletes on defense causing problems for two offenses that have yet to be tested.
Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0) (+3.5) | 3:30 pm | FOX
Everybody talks about the CyHawk Trophy being up for grabs in this game but nobody ever talks about how the losing team has to eat the entire Iowa State Fair butter cow before they can go home. If you combined both of these offenses, they’d have the No. 20 offense in the nation in terms of yards per game. The over/under on this is 36.5 points. Even with these two teams, that feels too low to take. But then if you think a 20-17 score seems high — which I do — don’t you have to (6) take the under? You’re never going to go broke taking the under with the Hawkeyes, after all.
No. 11 Texas (1-0) at No. 3 Alabama (1-0) (-7) | 7:00 pm | ESPN
The Game of the Year of the Week. It sure looked like Alabama was gonna lose this game last year until they knocked Quinn Ewers out of the game. They took a page out of their playbook from the national championship game in 2009 when they knocked Colt McCoy out of the game. Despite having that knowledge, I am still riding with Ewers in this one — to a point, at least. This should be a bit of a shootout, so (7) I like Ewers over 250.5 yards passing, and (8) over 1.5 touchdown passes. (9) I’m still taking the Tide -7, however.
No. 13 Oregon (1-0) at Texas Tech (0-1) (+6.5) | 7:00 pm | FOX
Texas Tech did not have a good start last week, losing 35-33 at Wyoming. Contrast that with Oregon’s 81-7 win over Portland State, and you’d expect a larger spread here. The fact that it’s under a touchdown should tell you that both teams are expected to bounce back closer to reality this week. If so, this could be one of the more entertaining games of the week. While everybody is starting the 7:00 o’clock hour with Texas and Bama, it could be this one that takes the 10 o’clock hour.
No. 19 Wisconsin (1-0) at Washington State (1-0) (+6) | 7:30 pm | ABC
Leave it to Wisconsin to implement a new passing offense that rushes for 314 yards. If we expected Baskin-Robbins to open up a salad restaurant, it was our own fault. The Badgers may still be running the ball, but they’re doing it with more tempo. This could lead to a shootout, especially if Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward plays close to the way he did in the opener against Colorado State. In a 50-24 win over the Rams, Ward threw for 451 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 40 yards and a fourth touchdown. Luke Fickell’s defense is still being developed, and they’re going to have their hands full in Pullman. This couldn’t feel more like a trap for Wisconsin if Admiral Ackbar was calling the game. One thing the Badgers have going for them is the fact that Wazzu beat them in Madison last year, so at least they understand the possibilities here. Wisconsin has lost three-consecutive regular season contests against Pac 12 teams, so nobody is happier about the conference’s collapse than they are, which is pretty petty on their part. (10) And yes, I already feel stupid for taking the over on 58 points, which begs the question of why I don’t just edit this to take the under? Okay, let’s go with the under. Does this make me feel better? Not really.
UCLA (1-0) at San Diego State (2-0) (+14) | 7:30 pm | CBS
UCLA freshman quarterback Dante Moore was impressive last week. He didn’t start, but he provided an offensive spark, completing 7-of-12 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Chip Kelly isn’t announcing a starter just yet, but even if Moore doesn’t start, he can change the tone and momentum when he comes in. The Aztecs come into this game undefeated, but they needed an injured Ohio quarterback in week one to make that happen. An 8-point win over Idaho State last week was unimpressive. The Bruins have won their last five games as road favorites, but 14 points seems like a lot to cover right now.