The college football season moves into Week 2. The obvious question everyone asks == and should ask — after Week 1 is if teams will maintain their initial patterns and identities or if they will change significantly. The caliber of opponent certainly affects this question, but various teams will respond differently to their situations. Week 1 results often looks different in October, after more games have been played. Week 2 can often be tougher to figure out than Week 1. Let’s look at the SEC’s slate of games this week as well as the odds for those who bet online.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Colorado St. Rams
Odds: Colorado State -7
This is one of the sadder games of Week 2. Both Vanderbilt and Colorado State lost decisively to FCS teams in Week 1. Vanderbilt scored only three points while Colorado State allowed 42 to South Dakota State. Can Vanderbilt generate more offense? Can Colorado State play better defense? Vanderbilt scoring just three points against East Tennessee State suggests that its offense is going to struggle mightily all season, even against Colorado State. The Commodores are starting over under new coach Clark Lea, who was an excellent defensive coordinator at Notre Dame but now has to manage a full team, including an offense. He obviously didn’t manage his offense very well in Week 1. The Commodores will need dramatic improvement on that side of the ball, given that their defense could not shut down East Tennessee State.
Texas Longhorns at Arkansas Razorbacks
Odds: Texas -7
The Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Longhorns are old enemies who used to play in the same league, the Southwest Conference. They will soon be conference rivals again when Texas completes its move to the SEC. This will be a very emotional game in Arkansas and a chance for the Razorbacks to show how much they have grown in the past year under coach Sam Pittman. The Longhorns are guided by former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who has spent most of the past five years working for Nick Saban at Alabama. Sarkisian is a former head coach at USC and Washington. He didn’t succeed at those programs, but he might have learned a few things from Saban. He is out to prove that he is ready to take Texas back to the top tier of college football. The Longhorns looked really sharp in a 38-18 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, a team expected to contend for the Sun Belt Conference title. Texas looks like the ascendant team in this game.
Pittsburgh Panthers at Tennessee Volunteers
NCAA Odds Pittsburgh -3
This is the Johnny Majors game, set up to honor the former coach of both Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Majors died not that long ago. He coached Pitt to the 1976 national championship and was both a player and coach for Tennessee. He coached the Volunteers to Sugar Bowl victories in 1986 and 1991. Majors finished second in the 1956 Heisman Trophy voting, and many people thought he should have won.
Pitt and Tennessee both crushed bad teams, UMass and Bowling Green, respectively, in Week 1. This is anyone’s game, but Tennessee is rebuilding under a new head coach in Josh Heupel. The Vols are in a state of transition, which might give Pitt an edge.
North Carolina State at Mississippi State
Odds: North Carolina State -1½
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are coming off a comeback win against Louisiana Tech in which they trailed 31-14 at one point. Beating Louisiana Tech 35-34 does not suggest that Mississippi State is ready for North Carolina State, a team which won eight games last year and looked solid in a 45-0 win over South Florida in Week 1. North Carolina State is physical on the front line, probably the biggest reason to take the Wolfpack over the Bulldogs in this game. North Carolina State has a good chance to finish second in the ACC Atlantic Division this year.
Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats: The Missouri Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats scored comfortable victories in Week 1, but Kentucky achieved a blowout of Louisiana-Monroe while Missouri was noticeably less convincing in its 34-24 win over Central Michigan.
Alabama State Hornets at Auburn Tigers: The Auburn Tigers have a new head coach, Bryan Harsin, who came over from Boise State in the offseason. People wondered what Harsin would do for quarterback Bo Nix. In Week 1, the opponent was terrible, but the results were still good as Auburn scored 60 points against Akron.
Florida Gators at South Florida Bulls: The South Florida Bulls lost by 45 points to North Carolina State in Week 1. If they lost by 45 to N.C. State, they are at least 30 points worse than Florida.
UAB Blazers at Georgia Bulldogs: This is the letdown week for Georgia after a physically punishing and mentally challenging 10-3 win over Clemson in a fierce defensive slugfest.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Colorado Buffaloes (in Denver): The Aggies looked sluggish on offense in Week 1 against Kent State. Colorado was solid but not spectacular in a comfortable win over Northern Colorado last week.
McNeese Cowboys at LSU Tigers: The LSU offensive and defensive lines were both exposed by UCLA in a 38-27 loss to the Bruins. The Tigers will try to iron out their problems against McNeese and should win handily.
South Carolina Gamecocks at East Carolina Pirates: The South Carolina Gamecocks shut out Eastern Illinois 46-0. Does that mean the Gamecocks have a good team? We don’t know. East Carolina was competitive against a good Appalachian State team before losing 33-19 last week
Austin Peay Governors at Ole Miss Rebels: The Rebels played Monday night against Louisville, so they will be at low energy for this game and will rotate a lot of players in and out of the lineup. Ole Miss might win by 30, but it won’t win by 65, which it might have done if it had gained normal rest for this contest.
Mercer Bears at Alabama Crimson Tide: This game is a cupcake. Alabama is obviously 70 or 80 points better than Mercer on paper, but Saban might play backups a lot and give them meaningful snaps to build them up for 2022. For those making their college football picks, Alabama should cruise.