The Essential Week 2 College Football Viewing Guide

By Amy Daughters -
Stanford Cardinal

Stanford hosts USC in a rare Week 2 Pac-12 game. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

With Week 1 in the books, it’s time to plan your attack for the nationally televised games featured in Week 2.

This week’s buffet is more traditional, with games stretching from Thursday to Saturday instead of the Wednesday to Monday blitz we feasted on in Week 1.

As an overview for your Saturday, the noon time slot is booked up with what look like mismatches on paper, so if you have to devote any of the day to non-football related activities, plan to be back in front of your TV by 3:30pm ET for the kickoff of USC-Stanford.

Primetime kicks off early with Oregon-Michigan State at 6:30pm ET and then lasts all the way until the wee hours of the night. Week 2 is not for the weary.

Thursday, Sept. 4

8:00PM ET, FOX Sports 1: ARIZONA at UTSA: The festivities kickoff with a rematch of last season’s first-ever meeting between these two, a game the Wildcats won 38-13. The interesting matchup is UTSA’s No. 34-ranked rushing defense from 2013—which returned six to the front seven—squaring off with Arizona’s No. 11 ranked rushing attack from a year ago. Though the Wildcats lost their top three rushers from last season, it returns almost its entire offensive line and hung up 353 yards rushing on UNLV in Week 1. UTSA held Houston to minus-26 yards rushing last week in its 27-7 upset, but keep in mind that the Cougars committed six turnovers in the rout.

Friday, Sept. 5

7:00PM ET, ESPN: PITT at BOSTON COLLEGE: The first-ever meeting between the two as ACC members, they last played one another in 2004 when both called the Big East home, a game the Panthers won 20-17. Both squads have a new starter at quarterback in 2014 and both fueled their Week 1 wins with 100-yard performances. Pitt’s James Conner rushed for 153 yards and four touchdowns in the 62-0 beat down of FCS Delaware, while BC’s Tyler Murphy threw for 147 yards and one touchdown and ran for 118 more and another score in the 30-7 win over UMass. Both held their opening opponents to fewer than 50 yards of rushing.

10:30PM ET, ESPN: WASHINGTON STATE at NEVADA: Washington State is 1-10 in non-conference away games since 2006, the only win coming in 2012 when it traveled to UNLV and won 35-27. Nevada hasn’t beaten a power-five team since 2012 when it downed Cal 31-24 in Berkeley. Though Washington State lost to Rutgers in Week 1, it did manage to hang up 532 yards of passing on the Scarlet Knights. This set up an interesting scenario for Nevada, which finished last season ranked No. 88 vs. the pass. The Wolf Pack gave up 380 yards of total offense and 224 through the air last week in their 28-19 win over FCS South Utah.

Saturday, Sept. 6

12:00PM ET, ABC/ESPN2: No. 4 OKLAHOMA at TULSA: The Sooners are 7-0 against Tulsa since 2001, the Golden Hurricanes haven’t beaten Oklahoma since 1996 and haven’t won in Tulsa since 1942. Tulsa’s aerial attack—which racked up 438 passing yards on Tulane last week—will be a good early test for the Sooners’ secondary, which will be tasked with squaring off with the rest of the high-flying Big 12. Keep an eye on Golden Hurricane receiver Keevan Lucas, who led the nation in Week 1 with 233 yards and three touchdowns on 13 catches. On the other side of the ball, look for Oklahoma’s rushing attack to have fun against a Tulsa defense which gave up 254 ground yards (No. 103 in the FBS) to Tulane last week.

12:00PM ET, ESPN: No. 24 MISSOURI at TOLEDO: Don’t let the fact that game this looks like mismatch on the surface fool you, it has all the makings of an early-season shocker. Missouri beat FCS South Dakota State 38-18 in the opener last week, but is secretly one of the least experienced teams in the nation. Returning only nine starters from their triumphant 12-2 finish last year, the Tigers rank No. 122 out of the 128 FBS teams in returning starters and are also No. 122 in Phil Steele’s comprehensive experience rankings. Toledo hung up 666 yards of offense on FCS New Hampshire in its opener, quarterback Phillip Ely throwing four touchdown passes in the 54-20 rout. Missouri ranked No. 109 vs. the pass last season and returns only one member of the secondary. And, oh yeah, Toledo has never lost a non-conference game in the Glass Bowl under head coach Matt Campbell.

12:00PM ET, ABC: AKRON at PENN STATE: Akron hasn’t beaten a Big Ten team in 120 years, or since 1894 when—led by quarterback John Heisman—it triumphed 12-6 over Ohio State. There is not a lot on paper to make you believe that this game will even be close. That said, keep an eye on Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl, who threw for 304 yards and four scores in Week 1’s 41-0 shutout of FCS Howard. He’ll take on Penn State’s secondary, a unit that ranked No. 74 last season and gave up 222 yards to UCF’s rookie offense in Week 1. Remember that the Zips put the fear of God in No. 11 Michigan in the Big House last season, losing 28-24 on a late Wolverine touchdown. This is another chance for Terry Bowden to get a signature win at Akron.

12:00PM ET, SEC NETWORK: FLORIDA ATLANTIC at No. 2 ALABAMA: This game shouldn’t even be close, Alabama hasn’t lost a home opener since 2001 when No. 17 UCLA came to Tuscaloosa and beat the No. 25 Tide 20-17. FAU travels to Alabama after its Week 1 road trip to Lincoln, Neb., a game it dropped 55-7 to the then No. 22 Cornhuskers. With everyone freaking out about Alabama’s underwhelming performance in Week 1, this game becomes just a bit more interesting, but not really. If nothing else Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon might go off on the Owls’ defense, a unit that gave up 498 yards of rushing to Nebraska last week.

12:00PM ET, FOX SPORTS 1: No. 20 KANSAS STATE at IOWA STATE: After taking care of FCS Stephen F. Austin in Week 1, K-State gets a chance to start earning its preseason ranking in Week 2. Though the Wildcats haven’t lost to the Cyclones since 2007, they are 1-1 in Ames in their last two tries, contests decided by an average of 8.5 points. Iowa State struggled on both sides of the ball in last week’s loss to FCS North Dakota State, but head coach Paul Rhoads is a great motivator and K-State is very young, returning only 10 starters, No. 112 in the FBS ranks. Iowa State has a habit of keeping things interesting against ranked foes visiting the Ames metropolitan area.

12:00PM ET, BIG TEN NETWORK: WESTERN KENTUCKY at ILLINOIS: If you don’t get the Big Ten Network, cross this one off your list. If you do, flip over from your game(s) of choice to see Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty take on the No. 105-ranked Illinois scoring defense from last season. Doughty threw for 569 yards and six touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 59-13 rout of Bowling Green (a team that finished 10-4 last year) in Week 1. If you’re thinking this is the week that Oklahoma State transfer quarterback Wes Lunt will air it out for the Illini, keep in mind that WKU ranked No. 10 (in the nation) in pass defense last year, unfortunately only three starters are back.

3:30PM ET, ABC: No. 14 USC at No. 13 STANFORD: The flagship afternoon game to base your remote switching from, this contest gives Stanford an opportunity to exact revenge on USC after the unranked Trojans spoiled its No. 5 ranking with a 20-17 upset last season. Both teams had Top 20 ranked scoring defenses in 2013, but Stanford finished the year with the No. 98-ranked pass D. This creates an intriguing matchup with the Trojans offense, which racked up 424 yards through the air in last week’s 52-13 shellacking of Fresno State. If this one gets close, USC’s senior kicker Andre Heidari went 15-of-22 (68.2%) on field goal attempts last season and missed a 39-yarder last week.

3:30PM ET, ESPN2: BALL STATE at IOWA: Not only has Ball State never beaten Iowa, it’s never scored a point on the Hawkeyes. Iowa finished last season ranked No. 9 vs. the pass but gave up 380 yards through the air in last week’s 31-23 win over FCS Northern Iowa. Ball State, on the other hand, is breaking in a new quarterback and managed a paltry 203 yards passing in its opening win over FCS Colgate. The Cardinals’ new-look offense is led by two backs who managed a 100-yards a piece last week— Horactio Banks and Jahwan Edwards—a duo which should be a good matchup for the three returning starters from Iowa’s front seven from a year ago.

4:30PM ET, ESPN: No. 15 OLE MISS at VANDERBILT: The SEC opener for both schools, Ole Miss comes into this game after scoring 28 fourth quarter points in Week 1 to down Boise State 35-13 in Atlanta. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, fell 37-7 to Temple, which hadn’t beaten a power-five team since a 2011 win over Maryland. Though it will be interesting to see how Vandy’s young defense—it returned only three starters this season—deals with Bo Wallace and the Rebels’ passing attack, this one may come down to which team can hold on to the ball. The two teams combined for 10 turnovers in Week 1: Ole Miss’ Wallace threw three picks and the Commodores lost four fumbles and had three interceptions of their own.

6:30PM ET, FOX: No. 7 MICHIGAN STATE at No. 3 OREGON: Do not look ahead to what’s on primetime Saturday night and forget about this game, a top ten matchup that will drop one of these teams out of the College Football Playoff hunt. Michigan State has never won in Eugene and hasn’t won a regular-season game on the West Coast since 1957 when it beat Cal 19-0 in Berkley. Oregon hasn’t beaten a Big Ten team in the regular season since 2009 when it edged Purdue 38-36 at home. Though on paper this is a battle between two of last season’s top ranked units—Michigan State’s No. 3-ranked scoring defense vs. Oregon’s No. 3 ranked scoring offense—there is more than meets the eye. Where the Ducks brought back nine offensive starters from last season, the Spartans returned only four to their stellar D. Despite this, it’s as close to seeing the History Channel take on the Sci-Fi Channel for an Emmy as we’re going to get early in the season.

7:00PM ET, ESPNU: EAST CAROLINA at No. 21 SOUTH CAROLINA: After getting throttled by Texas A&M at home last week, South Carolina’s defense cannot afford another disastrous game against East Carolina’s aerial attack in Week 2. The Pirates return quarterback Shane Carden, his top two targets and most of the starting offensive line to the No. 11-ranked pass offense from a year ago. The Gamecocks gave up 511 yards through the air to the Aggies in Week 1, the most in the Steve Spurrier era. ECU averaged 328 passing yards per game last season and threw for 374 vs. FCS North Carolina Central last week. It’s hard to believe that South Carolina will do anything but make ECU pay for what happened against the Aggies last week, but the secondary needs to be ready.

7:30PM ET, SEC NETWORK: SAM HOUSTON STATE at No. 12 LSU: A definite sleeper that will likely be snore-worthy, don’t forget that FCS Sam Houston State is just one season removed from back-to-back FCS national championship appearances. Will they beat LSU? No, BUT if the Tigers overlook this game, or have a letdown performance after rallying to beat Wisconsin in the opener, it could at least get interesting. You’ll need to remember the check the score updates to see if flipping over is worth your while, just don’t forget to watch the bottom of your screen.

7:30PM ET, NBC: MICHIGAN at No. 16 NOTRE DAME: Perhaps the most compelling prime-time matchup, Notre Dame is 2-6 against the Wolverines since 2006 but both wins came at home in South Bend. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has never beaten a ranked team on the road. The Irish are one of the youngest teams in the nation this season, returning only 11 total starters and coming in at No. 120 in Phil Steele’s experience rankings. The upside is the return of quarterback Everett Golson, who played well in the debut and may have a big day against a Wolverine defense that gave up 410 yards of passing to Indiana last season. Keep an eye on Michigan running back Derrick Green, who ran for 170 yards in Week 1 and will be facing an Irish defense that returns a mere two starters to a front seven that gave up more than 200 yards of rushing five times last season.

7:30PM ET, FOX SPORTS 1: BYU at TEXAS: A rematch of last season’s game in Provo when unranked, seven-point, underdog BYU hung up 550 rushing yards on the No. 15 Longhorns on the way to a 40-21 decision. Texas has only beaten BYU once in four tries, a 17-16 win in 2011 in Austin. The Longhorns are the better team on paper and with the help of defensive-minded Charlie Strong ought to win this game. That said, BYU returns all six of its top rushers and the entire starting offensive line to what was the No. 10 ranked rushing attack in the FBS last season. Texas ranked No. 84 vs. the run in 2013 and returns five starters to its front seven. This will be a tremendous early test for Strong’s rebuilding project in Austin.

8:00PM ET, ESPN: VIRGINIA TECH at No. 8 OHIO STATE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. Tune in to see Ohio State’s new starting quarterback—J.T. Barrett—in his second game, this time against the No. 11 ranked defense from last season, allowing only 19.3 points per game. On the other side of the ball, watch out for Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer (a transfer from Texas Tech) and the top three receivers from last season as they square off with a Buckeye secondary that ranked No. 112 against the pass in 2013. The Hokies are 0-3 against the Top 10 since 2010, last beating No. 9 Miami (Fla.) in 2009. Ohio State hasn’t dropped a non-conference, regular-season game since falling to, guess who, Miami (Fla.) in 2011.

10:00PM ET, PAC-12 NETWORK: MEMPHIS at No. 11 UCLA: One of two late West Coast games, if you have access to the Pac-12 network, watch UCLA’s offense try and rebound after it sputtered in Week 1. The Bruins scored only one offensive touchdown in their 28-20 close call at Virginia last week, a far cry from the 37-points per game they averaged last season. Memphis, on the other hand, returns six of its defensive front seven from the No. 12 ranked rushing defense in 2013. The Tigers do have a weakness though, their No. 99 ranked pass defense from 2013, which may reignite Brett Hundley’s Heisman campaign. Memphis beat FCS Austin Peay 63-0 in Week 1, the first opening win for the Tigers since upsetting Ole Miss in 2004 and the most points scored in a single game since 1969 when they hung up 69 points on Louisville. These two teams have never met. UCLA hasn’t lost returning home off a road trip since 2010. Memphis has only played football in California twice in history—at USC in 1991 and vs. San Jose State in the 1971 Pasadena Bowl—and is a perfect 2-0.

10:15PM ET, ESPN 2: COLORADO STATE at BOISE STATE: The late game to swap with Memphis-UCLA, this is the Mountain West conference opener for both Mountain division programs. Colorado State has had three whacks at the Broncos all-time, going down in flames by double digits on each occasion. Boise State is perfect in its last 12 home openers, last falling in 2001 to Washington State. The Broncos gave up 387 yards of passing in their Week 1 loss to Ole Miss and this week will face a unit that ranked No. 30 in passing offense last season. Boise State’s quarterback Grant Hedrick will have to improve on his four-interception performance last week to score first-year head coach Bryan Harsin’s first-ever win on the blue turf.

11:00PM ET, FOX SPORTS 1: TEXAS TECH at UTEP: If you’re up late, tune in to Fox Sports 1’s presentation of Yard-mageddon, the Red Raiders at the Miners. Ask yourself which is scarier: UTEP giving up 477 yards of offense to New Mexico in Week 1, or Texas Tech allowing 406 yards to FCS Central Arkansas? Watch out for UTEP running back Aaron Jones, who rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns last week and Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez who caught 11 balls for 184 yards and two scores in Week 1. Tech’s last visit to El Paso was in 2006 when it barely survived 38-35. UTEP hasn’t bested a power-five opponent since 1967 when the Miners edged Ole Miss 14-7 in the Sun Bowl.

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