1 PM ET - UCLA at #6 Oklahoma on FOX - Chip Kelly’s worst nightmare is the Sooners offense
First-year Bruins coach Chip Kelly was already on the losing end in his home opener against the Cincinnati Bearcats 26-17. Now, he makes a road trip to Norman for the chance to play QB Kyler Murray and perhaps the most explosive offense in all of college football:
“He’s not just a runner back there,” Kelly said. “He can beat you with his arm. And he’s got a lot of talent around him. He’s as good an athlete as we’ll see at the quarterback spot.”
Indeed, Murray hit 9 of 11 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns against FAU, including a beautifully weighted deep post to Marquise Brown for a 65-yard touchdown. Murray’s passer efficiency rating in his official OU debut was 310.4 — more than 18 points higher than Mayfield’s best single-game number — and all he did was break the NCAA record passer efficiency rating. Twice.
What to expect: The Bruins run defense will have it’s hands full and they already had a poor showing against the Bearcats last week. The Sooners are going to take this one by a pretty big margin. Our pal, Samuel Camp at Crimson and Cream Machine had this to say:
With the combination of the talented Mr. Anderson (as Gus Johnson likes to call him), Trey Sermon and the elite offensive line, I think the Sooners can potentially run all over UCLA on Saturday. If the offensive line continues to play at the level we have become accustomed to, then Oklahoma should continue to roll offensively. The UCLA defense also does not have the luxury of stacking the box with guys like Ceedee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on the outside. This pivotal matchup could tell the tale of the game this Saturday.
3:30 PM ET - #3 Georgia at #24 South Carolina on CBS - The Dawgs need their secondary to step up
Georgia is one of the best teams in all of college football but they open their SEC conference play against a Gamecocks team that is resilient. The Gamecocks also have a nice group of talented receivers. Here’s what our friends over at Dawg Sports are worried about:
3) UGA Secondary. See #1 above, again. Mentioned above, South Carolina wasn’t shy about passing in their opening weekend. They spread it around too – 11 different players caught a ball, 9 before the first half ended. Unless they’re hiding something, USCe is working around the loss of their all-around star TE Hayden Hurst. But they definitely warmed up future NFL draftee Deebo Samuel, giving him 7 touches and plenty of other targets. Plus they have OrTre Smith and Bryan Edwards joining Samuel, all of them veterans of prior seasons and SEC play. This doesn’t account for a very real pass catching threat out of the backfield in the form of extremely capable Rico Dowdle.
While our young secondary may not have to worry about responsibilities spying on Dowdle, they will have their hands full with the receiving corps of South Carolina and a quarterback who is gaining confidence – think of a Tyler Bray minus the hideous back tattoo and poor apartment-living decision making. Or a poor man’s Drew Locke. Whatever, the boy was molded to be a quarterback and is now playing the part.
What to expect: The Bulldogs should get their first victory in SEC conference play but this one will be a lot closer than expected. The Bulldogs must protect their quarterback and the offensive line will be tested this week. Dawgs win by 10 points.
7 PM ET - #2 Clemson at Texas A&M on ESPN - Analyst puts pressure on Clemson to perform
The Tigers are constantly in the playoff picture as they should be but they have shown in the past to have a mulligan in them. ESPN Analyst David Pollack says that Clemson needs to take it to A&M and not let up:
“For Clemson, this isn’t a big game for them. That’s the problem,” Pollack said. “They’ve shown you every year that they get a mulligan. They’re good enough where they can still lose this game and go to the Playoff. I think that’s one thing that (Texas A&M) has going for them. Clemson is the marked team for the Playoffs. Everybody will put Clemson and Alabama in the playoffs. Me included...I think A&M’s expectations are not that.
”Now when you talk about wanting to beat the bully and everybody knows they’re the favorite. Clemson lost last year to Syracuse - and to Pitt, and still played in the national title game...It means more to A&M I think.”
On A&M’s potential to upset Clemson: “I think it would have to be low-scoring,” Pollack said of the Aggies’ path to victory. “Defensively (A&M) would have to play pretty well. I don’t think (A&M) is going to consistently block that defensive line. I don’t think anyone can. It will take Kellen Mond throwing downfield. We can talk as much as we want about blocking that front-four but they’re going to have to take some shots and take advantage of some players (not in that front-four). Not named Bryant, Lawrence, Ferrell, Wilkins. They’re all freaks.
”Getting the ball to (running back) Trayveon Williams in space - I think he’s the most underrated running back in college football. Trayveon is awesome...It will take Kellen Mond throwing the ball well in the air, reading things and taking shots.”
What to expect: Clemson may let the Aggies hang around but in the end, the Tigers defensive line will become unblockable for the outmatched Aggies’ O-Line. Tigers win by a touchdown.
8 PM ET - #13 Penn State at Pittsburgh on ABC - In-state rivalry renewed, can the Panthers pull the upset on the Nittany Lions?
Last year’s battle just wasn’t pretty after Pitt couldn’t hang around with Penn State because their offense was almost non-existent. Our friends over at Cardiac Hill expect things to be much more competitive this time around:
Everything starts at quarterback and Pitt is just much more equipped to compete against Penn State this season as long as they can keep Pickett healthy. Does that mean a win? Not necessarily. But with the game at home and more stability at quarterback, I expect them to be more competitive than last season at Penn State.
Pitt will certainly have an uphill battle this weekend, though - quarterback or no quarterback. The Nittany Lions are a top ten team with aspirations of getting into the National Championship playoffs. They’re led by quarterback Trace McSorley and, even though running back Saquon Barkley has moved on to the NFL, the Nittany Lions have plenty of firepower left.
I know a lot of hopeful Pitt fans are pointing to Penn State’s near disaster in Happy Valley against Appalachian State this weekend where they needed overtime to win. But while scares like that happen from time to time, they’re not necessarily indicative of a team’s talent level.
What to expect: Expect a closer game through three quarters of football but Penn State will pull away by two touchdowns late.
8:30 PM ET - #17 USC at #10 Stanford on FOX - PAC-12 shootout set for second week of the season?
USC pulled it off last season against the Cardinal, can they do it again with a freshman quarterback? USC’s freshman sensation, JT Daniels, will be tested by a stout Stanford defense. Either way, this game has the feel of a high-scoring affair:
In the leadup, the game has the makings of a 38-31 or 44-37 game, the winner being the quarterback who has the ball last. Both signal-callers have the opportunity for 300-yard nights, which means that every drive will hold added importance.
The x-factor in Stanford’s favor is both the overall size of the Cardinal receivers and the safety blanket of tight end Kaden Smith.
All of the receivers who will get playing time Saturday are 6-foot-2 or taller, meaning they have the height advantage over the starting corners of USC. Stanford moving their bully-ball football from the trenches to the air is the best case scenario for the Cardinal. Costello also has the benefit of a tight end who can kill USC in the red zone, catching five scores last season and set for a big year in 2018. Tyler Petite, is far more of a blocking tight end, only catching 23 balls in 2017 and not a viable lifeline for the young Daniels.
What to expect: USC’s offense will have their moments but in the end, Stanford will win this by a touchdown being able to play ball-control against the Trojans.