The college football season moved into Week 2 and produced another weekend full of interesting and unexpected results — especially for those who bet online. Coaches are falling onto hot seats and the nature of conference and division races is unfolding in fascinating ways … and we have three months of football left to play before the bowl games.
1. Oregon is for Real
The Ducks looked like the real deal in beating then-No. 3 Ohio State on the road 35-28. Running back C.J. Verdell consistently outflanked the Ohio State defense, at one point busting loose for a 77-yard touchdown early in the second half to sustain a lead and make it harder for the Buckeyes to mount a rally. Ohio State had two possessions late in regulation with a reasonable chance of tying the game (not counting a third possession inside their own 20 with under 30 seconds left), but the Ducks’ defense stood tall.
One of the things which makes this performance so impressive for Oregon is that the Ducks were without pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, widely regarded as their best defensive player. Oregon suffered a few other injuries during the game, but it remained the superior team, especially in the trenches. The Ducks were much more physical than Ohio State and controlled the game from start to finish. There was no real point after the first five or six minutes when Ohio State had the upper hand. Oregon made a big statement and gave the Pac-12 Conference real hope that it can crash the College Football Playoff this year, so keep your eye on its NCAA odds to win it all.
2. Ohio State Soft on Defense
The Ohio State offense is soft, but the defense is especially soft. The Buckeyes scored 28 points against Oregon, which is well below the standard they expect to set, but their defensive performance was even worse versus the Ducks. Ohio State’s defensive line was obliterated by Oregon’s offensive front. The Buckeyes’ linebackers were constantly out of position and did not communicate well in this game.
It was only when Oregon got very conservative in the fourth quarter, trying to run out the clock, that Ohio State finally collected a few defensive stops. The Buckeyes were gashed by Oregon’s running game, with the Ducks usually going to the left side of their offensive line and consistently gaining large chunks of yards. Oregon was able to steadily maintain a lead of seven to 14 points, which reduced the strain on its defense and enabled the injury-plagued Ducks to be fresh late in the fourth quarter.
Oregon’s defense was able to cruise through portions of this game and have mental reserves in stock for the final five minutes of regulation, when they stuffed Ohio State. The Buckeyes did not look well-coached at all and they need to dramatically improve on defense if they are going to make the College Football Playoff. Careful taking them with your college football picks for now.
3. Texas is Not Back
The Longhorns looked really good under new head coach Steve Sarkisian in Week 1 versus Louisiana-Lafayette, but in Week 2 they were completely demolished by Arkansas in a 40-21 loss. Arkansas played with much more fire, energy and focus over 60 minutes. Texas was sloppy and mistake-prone, but the biggest sin committed by the Longhorns is how passive they were.
Texas scored a touchdown to trim its deficit to 16-7 early in the third quarter, but Arkansas then ran the ball down the Longhorns’ throat on the next drive to immediately restore a 16-point lead at 23-7. Texas never mounted another serious threat. Sarkisian has a lot of work left to do. This is not a quick-fix situation, even at a program with the resources and brand name of Texas.
4. Texas A&M Has Offensive Problems
The Texas A&M Aggies beat Colorado, but they didn’t look good doing it. A&M scored just 10 points and won because the defense stood on its head, making a fourth-down stand inside the 5-yard line. Texas A&M needed over 57 minutes to score its only touchdown. Quarterback Haynes King has struggled and needs to evolve if this season is going to reach its level of promise and potential for the Aggies.
Coach Jimbo Fisher needs to find ways to put King and the skill position players in a much better position to succeed. He hasn’t done that. A&M’s offense struggled in the first half of the previous week’s game against Kent State, so this game against Colorado didn’t come from nowhere. This is a trend, not an isolated occurrence.
5. Washington is a Disaster
The Washington Huskies scored only 10 points, one week after scoring only seven points. Moreover, the 10 points they scored against Michigan came only after they trailed 17-0. Their touchdown occurred only after they were down 24-3. This is an abysmal offense led by offensive coordinator John Donovan.
The Huskies need a complete makeover on offense and they don’t seem to be in a position to do that. Washington hasn’t lost a Pac-12 Conference Game just yet, but at 0-2 the Huskies are already in a position where the only way they will make a big bowl game is to win the Pac-12 championship. No one would say they have a good chance of doing that at this point.
6. Pac-12 South Division is a Mess
USC, Utah, Colorado and Arizona all lost. Utah and USC were viewed as Top 25 teams but took big hits with unexpected losses to Stanford and BYU, respectively. Arizona State won but looked bad against UNLV. UCLA is the only team in this division which looks noticeably strong and solid. The Pac-12 is a conference where Oregon and UCLA look great, and the rest of the conference looks very bad through two weeks, which is not what anyone was prepared to expect.
7. North Carolina State Overrated
The North Carolina State Wolfpack were viewed by many teams entering this season as the likely second-place team in the ACC Atlantic Division behind Clemson. Yet, they stumbled badly at Mississippi State, scoring only three points until a late touchdown with the game was already out of reach. N.C. State squandered multiple red zone trips, including an interception on a jump pass thrown by the running back. This game was a mess and the Wolfpack will have a hard time overcoming the scarring nature of this loss in a game they were favored to win.
8. Navy Can’t Score
The Midshipmen won 11 games two years ago. Now they can’t do anything on offense, scoring just 10 combined points in their first two games. They fired offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper after their 23-3 loss to Air Force on Saturday, a shocking move which was not expected by people in the college football world.
9. Oklahoma State (2-0) in Trouble
The Cowboys barely beat Missouri State and Tulsa, two bad teams. Tulsa lost to UC Davis in Week 1, and Oklahoma State beat the Golden Hurricane by only five points in a poorly played contest. Oklahoma State won’t even finish in the top five of the Big 12 if it doesn’t improve dramatically.
10. Iowa Legitimately Good
The Hawkeyes beat Iowa State for the sixth straight time, winning one of the bigger rivalry games in history. With Wisconsin losing to Penn State, Iowa has to be seen as the current favorite to win the Big Ten West Division. The Hawkeyes have a ferocious defense that has smothered the opposition and allowed very few huge plays. The offense isn’t making big mistakes. That’s the Kirk Ferentz formula for success for 22 years at the University Of Iowa.