The Best Game in Each Conference: Week 2

September 5, 2019

ACC: No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson

The matchup between the Aggies and Tigers last year was an instant classic and was one of the best games early in the 2018 season. The one thing that was missing for Clemson in that game, however, was Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers’ Heisman Trophy candidate looks to lead his team to another big win after his impressive performance against Georgia Tech in Week 1.

 

However, the Aggies are a much different - and much better - team than the Yellow Jackets. Jimbo Fisher is pretty familiar with Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, so that could make a huge difference for Texas A&M. The Aggies had almost 250 yards on the ground with two backs each rushing for over 100 yards.

 

Despite this, the Tigers showed that they were more than capable of stifling the rushing attack of Georgia Tech last week and they should be up to the challenge in Week 2. Clemson wins.

 

Prediction: Clemson 44, Texas A&M 20

 

American Athletic: Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State

 

This is a pretty interesting in-state matchup between two teams that should win their conferences this year. The Bearcats already have a Power 5 win under their belt with beating Chip Kelly’s UCLA team last week. However, the Bruins are not nearly as talented as the Ohio State Buckeyes, so that could prove to be a problem for Cincinnati.

 

Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder had a pretty impressive game against UCLA last week with nearly 250 yards through the air and 40 yards on the ground. However, Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields had a near-flawless debut for Ohio State, throwing for 234 yards, rushing for 61 and accounting for five scores.

 

The Ohio State Buckeyes want to prove themselves worthy of a College Football Playoff berth in 2019. If last week’s demolishing of Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls wasn’t enough, a big win over the Bearcats could help their cause.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 35, Cincinnati 16

 

Big 12: Coastal Carolina at Kansas

 

This game is simply interesting to watch because of the possibility of Kansas getting to 2-0 in their first season under Les Miles. The Jayhawks just barely got past FCS Indiana State last week, but the Chanticleers lost to Eastern Michigan. That bodes well for the Jayhawks.

 

Quarterback Carter Stanley looked rather impressive in his opening game for Kansas and he should be able to have just as good a game against Coastal Carolina. The Eagles threw for three touchdowns against Coastal Carolina last week, so Kansas should be able to perform just as well.

 

In all honesty, there aren’t very many other games to pick from in the Big 12 this week. The best game from the Big 12 is Texas hosting LSU and we will definitely mention that one later on. Kansas wins big and makes everyone think they are for real.

 

Prediction: Kansas 42, Coastal Carolina 10

 

Big Ten: No. 25 Nebraska at Colorado

Nebraska’s season-opening win over the South Alabama Jaguars was about as “meh” as it could have been. They will need to show up this week if they want to keep their Big Ten hype alive going forward. A win over the Colorado Buffaloes could do just that, but it certainly won’t come easily.

 

The Buffaloes, who most believe will struggle as much as they did in 2018, impressed with a huge 52-31 win over Colorado State last week. Steven Montez looked like a possible sleeper for the Heisman Trophy while Alex Fontenot was a big part in their win with over 100 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

 

However, it is very likely that quarterback Adrian Martinez shakes off the early season rust and performs to the standard everyone believes he will. The Cornhuskers will also have to get something going with the rushing attack after going for less than 100 yards on the ground. If they get the same performance from their defense and special teams, which combined for three touchdowns against the Jaguars, Nebraska should come out just fine.

 

Prediction: Nebraska 27, Colorado 24

 

Conference USA: Marshall at No. 24 Boise State (FRIDAY)

 

The Boise State Broncos had an amazing game against the Florida State Seminoles last week and made a huge comeback to get a big win in Tallahassee. They should be able to handle the Thundering Herd pretty easily this week, but Marshall will be playing with some emotion on their side.

 

Linebacker Jaquan Yulee suffered a horrific injury last week when he broke his neck against VMI, but despite being a man down, Marshall should be playing for their teammate. The Thundering Herd also played a good game with two quarterbacks combining for over 300 yards through the air and a host of running backs nearly putting up 300 yards on the ground.

 

However, the Broncos will likely prove to be a little too much for Marshall. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier had as impressive a freshman debut as anyone could as he went for over 400 yards against a Florida State defense that is usually pretty stout. Robert Mahone also had a good day on the ground with 142 and two scores. This should lead to a win for the Broncos.

 

Prediction: Boise State 38, Marshall 17

 

Mid-American: Ohio at Pittsburgh

 

The Ohio Bobcats got off to a nice start for the 2019 season when they cruised past FCS opponent Rhode Island last week. Pittsburgh could have certainly had a better day against ACC foe Virginia when they lost 30-14 and were barely able to get things going against a stout Cavalier defense. If last week is any indication of how things will go in this game, we could see yet another Group of Five team pull off a Power 5 upset.

 

Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke seemed to throw his name in the Heisman Trophy race last week as he amassed over 250 total yards of offense and three total touchdowns. The Panthers struggled to get much of anything going on the ground as they rushed for just 78 yards as a team and quarterback Kenny Pickett threw two interceptions.

 

The Bobcats have a tall task to overcome this weekend as they travel to Heinz Field. If Rourke can have a good day like he did against the Rams and the defense shows up, this could end up being another long day for Pitt.

 

Prediction: Ohio 21, Pittsburgh 13

 

Mountain West: Minnesota at Fresno State

 

The Fresno State Bulldogs looked to have start off their run to a possible New Year’s Six bowl game last week when they faced off against USC. They just barely missed pulling off the upset over the Trojans, falling 31-23. They have another chance to upset a Power 5 conference this week as they host Minnesota, who barely beat FCS South Dakota State 28-21 in Week 1.

 

Fresno State’s Jorge Reyna had a pretty good day against an overall high-end defense as he threw for over 250 yards and rushed for 88. The Golden Gophers let the Jackrabbits rush for almost 200 yards on the game, so imagine what Reyna and running back Ronnie Rivers could do to Minnesota.

 

The Bulldogs are out for blood this week and are looking for a win that could be huge in their quest for a spot in the Cotton or Orange Bowl later this year. I don’t think they are going to let another opportunity slip past them. Fresno State wins and PJ Fleck’s boat starts to fill up with water.

 

Prediction: Fresno State 28, Minnesota 20

 

Pac-12: No. 23 Stanford at USC

 

 

There are two teams in the Pac-12 that could sneak into the College Football Playoff this year: the Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinal. The latter team had a great defensive showing last week against the Northwestern Wildcats and they could certainly benefit from another good showing this week against conference rival USC.

 

The one thing that will hurt the Trojans, who barely got past Fresno State Week 1, this week is losing quarterback JT Daniels for the season to injury. Kedon Slovis will get his first full game of play this week after he went 6-8 with 57 yards and an interception last week against the Bulldogs in relief of Daniels.

 

Slovis will have to come in with his head on straight as he faces a Cardinal defense that forced four turnovers last week against a usually disciplined Wildcat squad. One or two mistakes could, and should, lead to a big Stanford victory.

 

Prediction: Stanford 30, USC 24

 

SEC: No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Texas

This game HAD to be on here because it is our first top ten matchup of the season and College GameDay is back in Texas for the second week in a row. I picked LSU to beat Georgia Southern last week, but I was not at all ready for the 52-point beatdown they gave the Eagles. The Longhorns performed very well against Louisiana Tech as well, so this game could end up being a preview of the College Football Playoff later this season.

 

Joe Burrow broke the LSU record for touchdowns in a game as he threw for five against the Eagles, which shows that Ed Orgeron was serious about the offense changing things up as they got away from their ground game. Sam Ehlinger also threw for 276 and four scores for the Longhorns, so this could easily be a shootout.

 

However, the Tigers boast something the Longhorns do not: a stout defense. Michael Divinity returns from suspension and both Rashard Lawrence and K’Lavon Chaisson are already in midseason form. LSU’s defense coupled with a new-look offense should lead to a big road win for the Tigers.

 

Prediction: LSU 35, Texas 21

 

Sun Belt: Liberty at Louisiana-Lafayette

 

This game is a meeting of two teams who gave their opponents all they could last week, but just could not pull off upsets. Liberty saw Syracuse pull away late after they trailed just 10-0 at halftime while Louisiana-Lafayette’s comeback against Mississippi State came too little too late.

 

The Flames should get head coach Hugh Freeze back on the sidelines after he coached the game from the pressbox while recovering from a staph infection. That could certainly help out quarterback Stephen Calvert, who showed major improvements against the Orange.

 

Louisiana-Lafayette got some good quarterback play from Levi Lewis while running back Raymond Calais provided some help with 80 yards on the ground as well. The Ragin Cajuns’ did score against the Bulldogs, so that should give them momentum against the Flames.

 

Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 27, Liberty 15

 

 

 

 

 

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