If the first weekend of the year didn't do IT for you, then the second weekend must have been more to your liking, eh? It's hard to put into words what we saw this past college football weekend, but let's try, huh?
1. Michigan – Yet, again, the Wolverines found a way to beat Notre Dame, even in a game that was seemingly dominated by the Domers. This was the third straight Michigan victory in the series and it was nearly a replica of the 2009 win in Ann Arbor.
As such, Michigan QB Denard Robinson was The Man, again, and Brian Kelly has to hate seeing him already in only 15 games as the head coach of the Irish. Robinson started 2 of 9 passing, but then he hit throws all over the field that no one else in college football could make. The throw that he made in the third quarter with Michigan down 24-7 with an Irish defender hanging all over him and two more ready to take his head off for a key first down to get Michigan out of their end was beyond description. But, the defense created turnovers, yet again, even if it did struggle in the first half. The second half was much improved, but there are still lapses that have to be corrected. However, correcting lapses when you're 2-0 is a lot easier, than not, for a new coaching staff.
2. Arizona State – Sure, the Sun Devils were 9.5 point favorites and Missouri was missing two key defensive starters. However, winning a game against a top 25 ranked team from the Big 12 was a big feather in the cap of Dennis Erickson and the Pac-12.
It didn't come without drama. Arizona State found a way to hold off a gritty Missouri team. A quick note on Missouri, it showed a ton of guts getting back in this one in the fourth quarter and it may have found it's next star quarterback. James Franklin was great in the second half (84 yards rushing and 319 yards passing, accounting for a total of 3 touchdowns).
Back to Arizona State... It escaped, but it had moments when it looked as if it has a chance to be a top-15 team. Now, it also had its "we're going to be 6-6" again moments. QB Brock Osweiler is a guy to watch the rest of this season. He completed 75% of his 32 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns…and no picks. The defense has work to do and has to be more consistent, but it has the athleticism to be very good down the road.
3. Alabama – it was a typical smashmouth, Big 10 type game that the SEC's best dominated as Alabama hammered Penn State in Happy Valley. The Tide defense gave up a field goal on the first drive, but after that, not much. The defense locked its sights on the blue and white and fired. All game long. The Alabama offense chipped away at the Penn State defense and used blunt trauma to leave Big 10 country with a good win.
4. Texas QBs Case McCoy and David Ash – finally getting the call that was probably a week or so late, the two freshmen led the Horns back from behind to a gritty 17-16 win over BYU. The Cougars' defense is better than most people think and both "rooks" made enough plays to beat that BYU ‘D' and get the Horns to 2-0.
5. Rice – David Bailiff's Owls came away with a win over a team from a BCS conference, beating Purdue 24-22 at home, the Saturday before a bye week. This was the first win over a team from a BCS conference since 2001.
6. USC LT Matt Kalil – late getting on the field for the field goal block defense, he arrived on time with the block that saved a 17-14 win over Utah. Or was it 23-14. Either way, one of the best left tackles in college football had one of the best special teams plays of the weekend.
7. FIU WR/KR TY Hilton – I've been singing his praises for a while and he came up HUGE in a win against Louisville. Seven catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 win over the Cardinals – FIU's first ever win over a team from a BCS conference. Electric skills.
8. Auburn RB Michael Dyer – 18 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the most scintillating SEC matchup of the weekend (a 41-34 nailbiter over Mississippi State).
9. UCF – George O'Leary has turned UCF into a non-BCS power team that is on the verge of garnering the respect that has been reserved for Boise State, TCU, Utah and Houston. The Golden Knights dominated a less-than healthy Boston College squad, but it was nonetheless a 30-3 UCF win over an ACC team. Start paying attention, peeps, the Golden Knights are legit.
1. Georgia – This one was winnable. If Georgia hadn't shot itself in the foot so often, it would've won THE key game in the SEC East. Georgia gave up a fake punt for a touchdown, a pick six for a touchdown, a fumble on a sack on a screen (which should never happen) returned for a touchdown. It made enough plays to win the game and it made enough poor plays for an entire season. Guess which one won out?
2. Notre Dame – Another game the Irish dominated, for the most part, and yet turnovers killed the Irish. I mean, how many times can Notre Dame turn the ball over inside the ten yard line? Ridiculous. I'll tell you anyway. Too many. That's how many. Now, Michigan State comes to South Bend, a place where MSU has made itself at home over the past few appearances (sans 2009).
3. Oregon State – the Beavers typically start poorly, or better put, they've made a habit of closing well and starting poorly. But, this is a bit much. They lost to a D1AA team in week one and then took it on the chin in Mad Town on Saturday. Now, there's no shame in losing to #8 Wisconsin on its home turf, but, uh, 35-0? Uh, Mike Riley has a challenge on his hands, that's for sure.
4. Memphis – I don't know when it gets better, but losing to Mississippi State is one thing. Losing to Arkansas State is another. But, reasonable, right? Uh, is 47-3 to a non-BCS team from the Sun Belt? Don't even answer that.
1. The Sun Belt conference turned in one of its best weeks ever, the North Texas loss to Houston, notwithstanding.
2. Penn State lost to Alabama, but I was impressed by #42 LB Michael Mauti – 13 tackles and a ton of respect garnered.
3. South Carolina DT Melvin Ingram now has twice as many touchdowns on the season as All-World WR Alshon Jeffery. Okay, so that'll change soon, but if you didn't see the big fella rolling down the field on the fake punt, wow, you missed one of the sights of the season. Think Jerome Bettis wearing #6 flying down the sideline (as a side note, you want to know a punt returner's worst nightmare? How about seeing this train running down the sideline all alone and you're the only player in his way? That was the dilemma that faced Brandon Boykin... and he munched ankles and got nothing).
4. Michigan has Denard Robinson and he makes a huge difference, don't get me wrong, but his crew of receivers – Ray Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon and Junior Hemingway are one of the best trios in the nation.
5. I'm sure that it went unnoticed, but Auburn head coach Gene Chizik re-upped his deal for another year with Beezlebub. Just FYI. Only explanation for how this team wins games the way it has the last two years.
6. If the Pac-12 continues to give us games like Utah-USC and Cal-Colorado, this is going to be a conference worth watching this season.
7. Suffice it to say, I hate dinner parties. I hate hosting dinner parties most of all. Just so we're clear.
8. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon doesn't play like he's 6'1". He's unbelieveable and makes QB Brandon Weeden's life oh-so sweet. But, I still think that the best pure receiver in college football is Notre Dame's Michael Floyd. The baggage will kill him at draft time, but he does everything and does it smoothly and well. And, by everything, I mean, well, everything.
9. It's easy to get spoiled, but I hope that Mack Brown can relax a bit and enjoy a hard-fought win by the Horns. I hope that he found out last year they're not automatic, those wins that came so easily earlier in his tenure at Texas. The more he can keep his cool and "enjoy" the coaching process, the better off this young team will be in the future.
1. Oklahoma at Florida State – Oh boy, this game you can actually get excited about. Penn State-Alabama didn't do anything for me at all. LSU-Oregon was meh. Boise State ran Georgia out of the Georgia Dome. And, I'm not completely sure how excited I was for those games at all; this matchup has me a little tingly, to be honest. I wish Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis weren't injured, but that's about all that's missing from this one.
2. LSU at Mississippi State – With the way MSU's offense has played this season, LSU's defense will get tested in a major way. The Tigers have struggled in Starkville with lesser MSU teams in the past and this is the best MSU team in some time. LSU's offense will continue to be a lot of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, but the two LSU QBs – Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger – completed a combined 17 for 21 against D1AA Northwestern State. On a short week, this is a tough spot for both teams, especially MSU after it went toe-to-toe in a physical battle with Auburn.
3. Ohio State at Miami – It's a marquee name battle, but this matchup won't remind any of us of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Miami will have the majority of its suspended players back for this one, including starting QB Jacory Harris. Ohio State struggled to knock off Toledo at home, but remains 2-0 without the Ohio State Four. It won't be pretty, but there will be a bunch of athletes on that field on Saturday night.
4. Michigan State at Notre Dame – the Irish are in a must win situation, but the Spartans aren't the team the Irish want to see on the other sideline in a must win situation. Notre Dame is on the verge, that's for sure. On the verge of what is the question. Implosion? Offensive greatness? Mt. Brian Kelly eruption? We'll find out more on 2:30 PM CST on Saturday.