Week 1 of the college football season was defined by chaos in the Top 10, but don’t expect more of the same when Week 2 kicks off.
While clashes between ranked teams reigned supreme during a captivating few days that shook up the collegiate landscape, there isn’t a single Week 2 game that features a meeting between teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
As a result, Saturday’s slate will offer teams that faltered in Week 1 a chance to rebound and find some semblance of balance as September progresses.
Here’s a rundown of the latest college football rankings, an overview of this weekend’s key games and some predictions for what lies ahead.
Notable Week 2 Games
Although this week’s schedule is devoid of compelling matchups, there’s plenty to keep an eye on. Namely, teams that are eyeing redemption after falling victim to Week 1 upsets.
Chief among the programs that will be under the microscope are the LSU Tigers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Oklahoma Sooners—all of which faltered with a chance to start their seasons off with a bang.
The good news for those clubs is that they’re all heavily favored to move to 1-1 and build some much-needed momentum.
The Sooners opened as a 44-point favorite over Louisiana-Monroe, while the Fighting Irish are 26-point favorites at home against Nevada. LSU’s spread against Jacksonville State hasn’t been disclosed because the Gamecocks play in the FCS, but it’s safe to say the SEC powerhouse is heavily favored to leave Saturday with a win.
And while it may sound a bit silly on the surface, the Sooners’ Week 2 meeting with Louisiana-Monroe is a must-win game. Specifically, it’s a game Oklahoma must win in emphatic fashion.
The Sooners looked out of sorts against the Houston Cougars during their 33-23 loss last Saturday, and a Week 3 showdown against the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes could threaten to sink the Sooners even more in the rankings.
As a result, the pressure is on quarterback Baker Mayfield and Co. to shape up and dispatch Louisiana-Monroe with gusto.
“The message was ‘this isn’t the end of our season,'” Mayfield said, per the OU Daily‘s Kelli Stacy. “We can always bounce back…for example, last season we lost to Texas in Week 4. And, obviously, Saturday was Week 1 and we lost that one.”
The story is similar for Notre Dame, which will face a Nevada team that barely escaped Cal Poly last week before it faces off against No. 12 Michigan State on Sept. 17.
While the Fighting Irish offense looked sharp in a 50-47 double-overtime loss against Texas, its defense was in shambles all night long and had no answer for freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and signal-caller-turned-human bulldozer Tyrone Swoopes.
That said, head coach Brian Kelly has preached patience in advance of Saturday’s game against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
“It’s the first game,” he said, per the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Skrbina. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. … We had a lot of guys that got their first start. Everybody needs to tap the brakes and relax.”
Kelly’s defense will be presented with a nice chance to rebound against the Wolf Pack, who needed overtime to secure a Week 1 win over an FCS opponent, but the prospect of a 1-2 start is in play considering the Spartans will be coming off a bye week when they travel to South Bend.
LSU is in a similar boat, although it will receive a slight reprieve in Week 3 when it meets a Mississippi State team that lost to South Alabama, 21-20, last Saturday.
The Tigers offense underwhelmed in a way that has become all too common over the past couple of seasons, as running back Leonard Fournette struggled to find creases in Wisconsin’s defense, and quarterback Brandon Harris looked positively overwhelmed in the pocket.
“LSU is one game through a 12-game schedule, but Saturday’s performance—against an unranked Big Ten program—doesn’t send an optimistic wave through a frustrated administration and fanbase,” the Advocate‘s Ross Dellenger wrote.
LSU should settle into a more comfortable rhythm against Jacksonville State, and a blowout win will send Harris’ confidence trending in the right direction.
Look for the Tigers to join the Sooners and Fighting Irish in the win column as all three prestigious programs make the turn for Week 3.
Prediction: Oklahoma, Notre Dame and LSU all bounce back with big Week 2 wins.
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News