College football 2017: Week 2 games to watch

Andrew Kitchener Roar Guru

By , Andrew Kitchener is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Need a primer for the college football week ahead? Look no further! Here are a few of the games worth checking out in week two.

    No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State (Sunday, 9:30am AEST on ESPN2)
    This match is the week’s most appealing match-up: an early chance to see how Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield deals with not having Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook as offensive weapons. He would have watched Ohio State’s secondary get picked apart by Indiana’s Richard Lagow early last Thursday night and fancy his chances of doing the same, and then some. Mayfield is a Heisman candidate for good reason.

    It took the Buckeyes a couple of quarters to get rolling last week, but once they were on track it was a scary sight. Freshman J.K. Dobbins had an incredible debut game against the Hoosiers and filled the gap left by the injured Mike Weber. It’ll be very interesting to see how much success he has against the Oklahoma front. Then there’s J.T. Barrett at quarterback and his duel with Mayfield, which promises to be the highlight of what I’m sure is going to be a high-quality game.

    Ohio State are favourites with the sportsbooks, and for good reason given they’re at home. I expect they’ll win. It’ll be close though – I don’t see the Buckeyes triumphing by more than ten points.

    No. 14 Stanford at No. 6 Southern California
    We saw the Cardinal impress mightily two weeks ago in Sydney with running back Bryce Love gashing the Rice defence early and often. He must be salivating at the thought of going against a Trojan defence that gave up a whopping 263 rushing yards to Western Michigan last week. If USC doesn’t sure up their front seven, Love is going to have another field day.

    There’s been plenty written about Sam Darnold in the week. His stats weren’t helped by a few interceptions that weren’t his fault and the fact that he ran in a touchdown rather than passed for one. Darnold hasn’t forgotten how to play and will be better for last week’s start. He’s ably protected by an offensive line that paved the way for Ronald Jones to run for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Expect Jones to be similarly prominent this week.

    For whatever reason, USC struggle beating Stanford, and I’m a nervous Trojan fan going into this game. Hopefully the defensive issues last week were just guys ironing out the kinks of the long off-season – they looked much better in the second half, with linebacker Cam Smith back directing things after sitting out the first half due to a Rose Bowl Game ejection penalty – and they manage to plug holes against Stanford that they couldn’t against Western Michigan.

    But I’m not sure, and I have a sinking feeling that Stanford will prevail again, narrowly. Unfortunately.

    No. 15 Georgia at No. 24 Notre Dame
    Amazing what a win over a not-that-great Temple squad does for Irish fans, who were proclaiming all sorts of things this week. Let’s wait and see how they go against a Georgia team who comes into South Bend minus starting quarterback Jacob Eason (injured) but with a solid run game led by Nick Chubb and featuring the equally talented Sony Michel. They’ll need to shoulder most of the load, with Eason replaced by freshman signal-caller Jake Fromm.

    No worries for Georgia, because Fromm is a serious talent and, anyway, he’s going to spend much of the game handing off two of either of his two stud running backs. The kid can throw, too, so the Irish won’t want to stack the box too often.

    It’s safe to say we’re going to get a good indication of how solid Notre Dame’s run defence is, and their quarterback Brandon Wimbush – who, admittedly, looked very proficient in Brian Kelly’s offense last week against Temple – will be seeing a vastly improved defensive squad chock-full of SEC talent compared to what he saw in Week 1, and I believe Georgia’s defence will be the difference here.

    I had Georgia with more confidence before Eason’s injury, but I feel like Fromm and the combination of Chubb and Michel gets the job done, with a turnover or two from their SEC-hardened defence. Bulldogs on the road.

    Nebraska at Oregon
    This one is interesting. The Huskers offence looked great against Arkansas State but their defence resembled a sieve, leading to pointed questions aimed at offseason hire defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Nebraska won – barely – but their performance on defence was woeful.

    Oregon poured on 77 points against Southern Utah but conceded 21 in Willie Taggart’s Eugene debut, so the jury’s out as to whether they’re any better on defence than Week 2 opponents Nebraska. I’ve got a feeling this game becomes a shootout between young quarterbacks Justin Herbert for the Ducks and Tanner Lee for the Huskers.

    Maybe it comes down to the last team with the football winning, but I’ve got the Ducks narrowly at home in what should be a brilliant game.

    Boise State at No. 20 Washington State (Sunday at 12:30pm AEST on ESPN2)
    The Broncos had a narrow three-point win in Boise one year ago, but Washington State figure to be a better team than they were last season, and as much as the BSU defence looked good against a pretty decent Troy team on Saturday, that Sun Belt offence isn’t anything compared to what Luke Falk can bring to bear for Mike Leach’s Cougars.

    Boise will have to be as good this week as they were last week on defence to limit the damage. One thing that I see making life difficult for Falk is the excellent Bronco pass rush that was on full display last week. Replicate that, and I can see Bryan Harsin’s men troubling WSU on the road. If you give Falk time, he’s going to make you pay.

    The quarterback situation at Boise took a strange turn on Saturday when starter Brett Rypien shared time with Kansas transfer Montell Cozart when the Bronco offence stagnated with the third-year starter under centre. They’ll need a vastly improved offensive performance this week, no matter which quarterback gets the snaps, and I think Rypien, at least, bounces back to his old self, but he’ll need to make careful decisions with the football. Turn the ball over to Falk with a short field? Not ideal.

    I’ve got Washington State narrow winners at home but don’t be surprised if Boise pull one of their patented upsets.

    Other notable games
    No. 13 Auburn at No. 3 Clemson (Sunday at 9:00am AEST on ESPN2)
    Quarterback Kelly Bryant, fresh off of 313 total yards last week, gets a look at an SEC defence for the first time. Clemson narrowly.

    Louisiana-Monroe at No. 10 Florida State
    It’s James Blackman’s team now that Deondre Francois is out for the season, and the Seminoles play at midday to get in ahead of Hurricane Irma. Blackman gets a 0-1 LA Monroe team in his first college start. FSU by plenty.

    Utah at Brigham Young
    The Holy War – one of the great rivalries in college football. Not much more needs to be said. The Cougars couldn’t move beyond the 50-yard line last week against Louisiana State and it doesn’t get much easier for them this week. Utah wins on the strength of its run game.

    Iowa at Iowa State
    Another early season in-state rivalry. Hawkeyes looked impressive battering Josh Allen last week, and the Cyclones also come in at 1-0. Something’s got to give, and I can’t see the Iowa State front holding up for too long against the ferocious Iowa run game. Iowa by a couple of touchdowns.

    Enjoy the weekend!

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