It might only be two weeks into the season, but the college football world has already seen a seismic shift.
Week 1 was considered the most loaded opening weekend of college football in history, and it didn’t disappoint.
The shake-up can be seen clearly in the latest AP and Amway Coaches polls. Houston is now a unanimous Top 10 team after defeating Oklahoma in Week 1. Wisconsin shot all the way up from the unranked to No. 10 in the AP poll and earned respect from the coaches with a No. 16 ranking in their poll.
Here’s a look at where everyone stands after the first week:
Week 2’s slate isn’t nearly as loaded as the opening week. However, there are still some interesting contests to keep an eye on. Here’s a look at each of the games with the latest lines from Odds Shark used to make some picks against the spread:
Top Games of the Week
Louisville vs. Syracuse
If you love points, do yourself a favor and tune into Louisville’s game against Syracuse on Friday night.
You might already be familiar with Louisville and its high-powered offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals put up 70 points against the Charlotte 49ers to open up their season at home in Week 1, and they’ll travel to Syracuse as 15-point favorites.
While 15 points might not seem like a whole lot for a team that just put up 70, there’s reason to pump the brakes on backing Louisville this week.
First, it’s always important to beware the home dog. The Orange getting 15 points at the Carrier Dome makes Louisville a risky pick to begin with, and when you consider some other factors, the odds of a blowout continue to decrease.
The Friday kickoff for this game gives the Cards one less day to prepare, and given what Dino Babers‘ fast-paced offense brings to the table, that’s important.
According to Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com, the Orange offense averaged just 22.5 seconds between plays in their season opener against Colgate. Yet, Nate Mink of Syracuse.com quoted Babers as saying that would be the slowest fans would ever see Syracuse play.
As good as Jackson is at extending plays and putting the Cards in a position to score, Syracuse’s Eric Dungey is off to a promising start as Babers‘ starting signal-caller. The ACC Digital Network passed along a clip of what the quarterback can do with his feet:
Under ordinary circumstances in Louisville, the Cardinals might win this one going away. Head coach Bobby Petrino’s squad is tough to defend and has an excellent pass rush on defense that should slow down most spread attacks.
However, with an offense that wants to relentlessly run plays for four quarters at home, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals are challenged early in this game and struggle to pull away.
Prediction: Louisville 42, Syracuse 34
Arkansas vs. TCU
Arkansas is going to be the trendy upset pick of the week.
It’s easy to see why. TCU struggled to stop South Dakota State in Week 1, relying on the offense to finally score enough points to get separation late in the game (59-41) after a competitive three quarters.
Now, they’re more than a touchdown favorite against a team from the SEC.
A closer look at the numbers reveals why the Frogs are still a 7.5-point favorite, though.
The Razorbacks are a more talented team than South Dakota State, but they aren’t necessarily equipped to hurt the Frogs the same way that SDSU did. A large portion of the Jackrabbits success was due to wide receiver Jake Wieneke simply taking over the game.
The two-time All-American had eight catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns against TCU’s secondary. Quarterback Taryn Christion went 19-of-30 for 333 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Arkansas doesn’t have a receiver as accomplished as Wieneke on the roster. Drew Morgan is the team’s leading receiver, and he only had five catches for 47 yards in a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech. By the way, in the 2015 Jeff Sagarin rankings, South Dakota State finished at No. 80. Louisiana Tech was No. 81.
Despite the FCS label, South Dakota State can play with the lower end of the FBS.
Neither Arkansas nor TCU looked great in Week 1, but picking against the Frogs based upon their performance in Week 1 doesn’t necessarily make sense given Arkansas’ own struggles against Louisiana Tech.
Prediction: TCU 34, Arkansas 24
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
Speaking of teams that looked bad in Week 1. Let this serve as a friendly reminder that the nation once again gets treated to Tennessee’s offense in prime time.
Head coach Butch Jones and Co. can’t be happy with the way their season started. The Vols got the W against a tough Appalachian State team but still saw a near-historic drop in the AP poll, per the Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo:
These two offenses might be meeting at Bristol Motor Speedway, but neither team did anything that resembled racing on offense in Week 1. Tennessee squeaked by with a 20-13 win over Appalachian State, while Virginia Tech turned the ball over four times in a 36-13 win over Liberty.
In a matchup like this, it’s important to realize it’s hard to project based off one week, especially early in the season. Recency bias says that the Vols shouldn’t come close to matching the 11.5-point spread they’ll try to cover in this game.
However, there’s a reason Tennessee entered the season with as much hype as it did. There’s a lot of talent. The offensive line struggled, but Jones said this week it’s something that will be addressed and hinted that changes might be afoot.
“The five individuals that give us the best chance to win the game, those are the five that will start the game,” Jones said, per Mike Griffith of SEC Country. “Just like any week, every position, they are competing for it, and it’s who has the best week of practice.”
With a few tweaks along the offensive line, the Volunteers can still experience quite a bit of growth from Week 1 to Week 2. That means the more experienced team will come out on top in a nationally televised game that should have an interesting atmosphere.
Prediction: Tennessee 28, Virginia Tech 14
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News