It was desert week in the Southeastern Conference as most programs were preparing for marquee matchups later in the season. South Carolina was the lone SEC school that got tested Saturday. This week I’ll take a look at what week two provided from a national perspective.
The spotlight was on the Big Ten Saturday. The conference had an opportunity to prove its worth in the college football playoff by having three statement games.
Saturday’s Big Ten Matchups
Summary: Notre Dame embarrassed Michigan to end the rivalry. Everett Golson has been superb since his return from academic ineligibility. Golson passed for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Devin Gardner had gone five games without tossing an interception. He had three against the Irish. The Wolverines outgained Notre Dame on the ground (MICH 100—ND 54), but four turnovers cost them the game. Notre Dame won 31-0 and embarrassed Michigan in the process.
Summary: Michigan State carried the conference flag to the northwest for the matchup against Oregon. Classes don’t start until September 29, but that didn’t stop students from piling into Autzen Stadium to support the Ducks. Oregon grabbed an early lead, but the Spartans led 24-18 at halftime. Both teams combined for 973 yards of offense, but it was Oregon’s defense that made crucial plays. Connor Cook was intercepted twice while Marcus Mariota recorded 318 passing yards and three scores. Oregon won 46-27.
Summary: Ohio State was 15-0 at home under Urban Meyer, but Virginia Tech changed that unblemished record on Saturday. The Hokies are a rebuilding program that came to play against the Buckeyes. Virginia Tech’s defense hit J.T.Barrett constantly and forced three interceptions. Ohio State struggled on third downs, converting 25 percent (4 for 16). The Hokies outgained the Buckeyes on the ground (VT 125—OSU 108) and Michael Brewer had two touchdown passes. Virginia Tech won 35-21. Watch out for the Hokies this year.
Summary: Nebraska was the flicker of hope for the conference. Give McNeese State credit for taking them to the wire, but the Cornhuskers held their ground. Ameer Abdullah was the story of the game. He rushed for a touchdown and caught three passes for 96 yards, including a 58-yard game-winning touchdown reception with 20 seconds left. Nebraska survived 31-24.
The season is young, but it’s not starting well for the Big Ten. The conference has to start winning huge games in order to secure seating in the playoff.
Oregon and Arizona State rolled, but two Pac-12 schools were involved in close games Saturday. Still, the Michigan State-Oregon game was closer than the score shows. Michigan State held their own for three quarters in one of the most difficult venues in college football.
Close Games in the Pac-12
Summary: It was supposed to be speed versus physicality, but the game turned into a defensive slugfest. Stanford outgained USC (STAN 413—USC 291), but the Trojans’ defense forced two turnovers. Stanford scored 10 points in the second quarter, but USC scored 13 for the game and held the Cardinal scoreless in the second half. Kevin Hogan had a better day passing than Cody Kessler (285—135), but the Trojans got the huge win 13-10.
Summary: Is UCLA overrated or was Memphis underrated? Both scenarios came into question in Saturday’s matchup. UCLA was tabbed to run away with this game; however, Memphis provided a scare for them. The Bruins’ offense was clicking, but its defense struggled. Brett Hundley had 396 passing yards and three touchdowns, but it was a 17-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Fritz Etienne that tied the game for Memphis in the fourth quarter. Memphis fell short, despite its late push and UCLA won 42-35.
The Atlantic Coast Conference went 11-0 in week two. Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson and Louisville all won last week. As the season moves on, it will be interesting to see which teams will continue to improve and which ones will fall. The ACC has the title contender; it will be interesting to see how its depth develops. With Virginia Tech’s impressive victory and Louisville’s addition to the conference, the ACC looks like it will continue its upward trend in recent years.
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