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1) Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0) def Fresno State 41-10
Alabama’s defense sets the tone again. No matter how many players they lose to the NFL, the machine keeps churning. They gave up less than 300 total yards and simply suffocated the Bulldogs’ offense. The offense looked equally good (not what other teams want to hear). Almost 500 total yards on offense. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was efficient passing (14-18) and exceptional running (154 yards). He seems to have a great understanding of how to run this offense. Another day at the office for the Crimson Tide. This win coupled with last week’s dominating performance against then #3 Florida State has Alabama at #1.
2) Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) def Ohio State 31-16
The Sooners used a dominating 2nd half to get an impressive road win at the Horse Shoe. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was outstanding and thrust his name into the Heisman discussion with 386 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Not what we were expecting against an elite Buckeye defensive line. The difference was Oklahoma’s defense. They held Ohio State in check and made all the big plays when needed. If they can get this type of performance from their defense, a playoff berth will be a certainty. Easily the most impressive win of week 2 and the reason they catapulted to the #2 spot.
3) Clemson Tigers (2-0) def Auburn 14-6
The defense was lights out with 11 team sacks and tons of pressure. This is the strength of this team and will keep them in every game. The offense is inconsistent and needs to improve. If the Tigers want to get back to the playoffs, they better fix the offense. 14 points won’t cut it. Less than 300 yards of total offense is not Clemson-like. They struggled to get anything going against Auburn. Quarterback Kelly Bryant is talented but can the Deshaun Watson comparisons stop now? He has a long way to go before he reaches that level.
4) USC Trojans (2-0) def Stanford 42-24
After struggling last week, the Trojans bounced back in a big way. USC made a statement against a team they have recently struggled with. A new found running game (307 yards) with freshman Stephen Carr and junior Ronald Jones compliments the passing game. Quarterback Sam Darnold continues to live up to the hype but needs to protect the ball better (2 interceptions). The defense was impressive and as physical as Stanford. That was surprising and a very good sign for USC. The Trojans cleared their first huge hurdle.
5) Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0) def Pittsburgh 33-14
The Nittany Lions offense was asleep for most of the game. The defense was not much better as the Panthers out gained them 342-312. Yes, they won but this is not a good sign for a playoff contender right now. Penn State has too much talent to struggle against an average Pittsburgh team. Quarterback Trace McSorley was underwhelming despite throwing 3 touchdowns. Running back Saquan Barkley was not much better: 88 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns (1 rushing & 1 receiving). Some adjustments need to be made moving forward.
6) Washington Huskies (2-0) def Montana 63-7
The Huskies made easy work of the Grizzlies. Nothing to take from this game. The only good thing is Washington got a lot of back ups some playing time. Montana could only muster 163 total yards and committed 4 turnovers. In limited time, quarterback Jake Browning and the offense was so-so. The running game was lackluster. Play like this won’t get it done against top teams. The defense got the day off and looked bored in this virtual scrimmage. After getting a taste of the playoffs last year, it’s playoffs or bust.
7) LSU Tigers (2-0) def Chattanooga 45-10
The excitement in Baton Rouge is palpable. We expect to see a defense that’s fast and tackles well. The running game has been a strength with Derrius Guice and some talent at wide receiver doesn’t hurt. The quarterback position has been a source of frustration but Danny Etling is exactly what the Tigers need at quarterback. A very efficient and accurate passer who does not turn the ball over (22-31 passing with 0 interceptions). Special teams seems to be shored up as well. Can Etling make enough plays to beat Alabama?
8) Michigan Wolverines (2-0) def Cincinnati 36-14
The defense has dominated so far for the Wolverines. Holding the Bearcats to 68 yards rushing made them one dimensional and easy to defend. Another defensive touchdown (3rd of the season) via interception return. The running game came alive (5.2 yards/attempt) and made the play action effective (3 passes over 30 yards). Quarterback Wil Speights needs to be much better than the first two games in order for the Wolverines to reach their lofty goals of a Big Ten title and playoff berth. Turnovers (2 fumbles) did not hurt them this game but could be a problem against better competition.
9) Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) def Florida Atlantic 31-14
It’s all about the running game for the Badgers. They have another good one in freshman Jonathan Taylor, who shredded the Owls defense for 223 yards. I’m still not convinced quarterback Alex Hornibrook can make enough plays to get them over the top. The defense was it’s usual fundamental, disciplined self, holding Florida Atlantic in check with 248 total yards. The offense turned the ball over twice as well, uncharacteristic for them.
10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-0) def South Alabama 44-7
The Cowboys’ offense is in mid season form, putting up points in bunches. Heisman hopeful quarterback Mason Rudolph has been red hot, completing over 72% of his passes. It also helps to have one of the top wide receivers in the country in James Washington, who is averaging a ridiculous 30.4 yards per catch. The running game may be the Achilles’ heel. They’re getting it done by committee because no one player has stepped up. As always, the defense will dictate how far this team goes. If they are good, a Big 12 title and playoff berth are possible. If they are average, a disappointing trip to a Bowl game it is.