Welcome To Upset City – College Football Week Two Review

The second verse is the same as the first, as we hit the ground running with my weekly college football roundup. This week I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the biggest upsets, highlighting some players that caught my eye and even putting my athletic director cap on. Let’s make like Whitney’s Miltank and roll out:

Big Kitties Smack The Gators

After a massive leap from the unranked realm to the #12 spot, the Florida Gators were trying to add a second ranked win in as many weeks. Welcoming in the #20 Kentucky Wildcats, the Gators and quarterback Anthony Richardson’s hype train seemed to be trending upwards. The Wildcats, who have been historically terrible in this SEC rivalry until recently, needed a top tier performance in order to pull out a win.

On Saturday night the ‘Cats did just that, clawing their way through “The Swamp” as they made Richardson look pedestrian, going 14-35 with two interceptions. One of those interceptions was a 65 yard pick-six by Keidron Smith to make it 23-16 late in the third. That was all it took as Florida went scoreless the whole second half. After watching this game from the opening kick to the final whistle, I was so impressed that Kentucky was firmly planted at #9 inside my top 10.

Bounce House Bullet

When observing the Louisville Cardinals vs. the UCF Knights on Friday night, one observation is blatant: UCF running back Johnny Richardson is absolute lightning in a bottle. He gives off De’Anthony Thomas vibes from his Oregon days, whether it’s his change of direction or immediate top speed, it’s just a very similar package. Either way, he’s must see TV and should be called “The Bounce House Bullet” from here on out, paying homage to their stadium nickname.

Unfortunately his efforts weren’t enough as the Knights fell just short, much in part due to the incredible showing by Louisville signal caller, Malik Cunningham. Even though he wasn’t accurate, going 14-29 for 201 yards, his legs are what always make him dangerous. His 121 yards on the ground, highlighted by his untouched 43 yard draw to the endzone, gave the Cardinals the lead which they never gave back.

Party Of Two, In The ‘Shoe

Ohio State Buckeye wideouts Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are walking first round picks, just like their predecessors Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. They had “The Shoe” rocking on Saturday afternoon with their playmaking ability, from running past defenders in the open field to making acrobatic grabs in traffic. This dynamic duo is going to become even more lethal when the third head of the three-headed monster, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, becomes healthy again.

A Star Is Laborn

After Notre Dame lost on the road to Ohio State week one, the return to South Bend was supposed to be all about them. Unfortunately, Marshall Thundering Herd running back, Khalan Laborn, had something so say about it. He deserved all of his 163 yards, especially the 42 yard scamper that left numerous defenders on the turf while trying to stop his nasty jukes and jab steps. That glorious tote set up the go ahead touchdown with under six minutes to play.

A Marshall pick six following that drive put the icing on the cake, but in no way could his effort go unnoticed. This is a fearless running back that should be an all-conference performer by the end of the season.

The Magic Pitt

Like clockwork, it’s another week and another nail-biter for the Pitt Panthers. I’m starting to wonder if the football gods have rewarded us by renaming the giant ketchup bottle (Heinz Field) to something else (Acrisure Stadium). Nevertheless, here’s to hoping we get more close, action packed games when the Panthers head into conference play.

Sunny Days For The Sun Belt Conference

I already hit on Marshall’s win, but they weren’t the only Sun Belt team to complete an upset. I mentioned in my article last week that I knew the Texas A&M Aggies were in trouble following a really poor showing against Sam Houston State. Their youth and inexperience were on display, playing against a veteran and confident team in the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

For most of the 60 minutes, the Mountaineers held possession and pushed A&M off the ball to run it down their throats. If not for some miscues in week one against North Carolina, App State could be sitting at 2-0 and flying up the rankings. They currently are sitting just outside the top 25 though in the most recent poll, which seems fair to me.

Take Iowa To The Craps Table

In the same fashion that Pitt plays close games, the Iowa Hawkeyes will get you seven. From the 7-3 win last week, to a 7-10 defeat against rival Iowa State, this team is consistent in the worst possible way. We’ll spark the thought here and wonder if this is may be the end of head coach Kirk Ferentz’s run with the Hawkeyes. If so, it would put an end to the longest tenured coach in college football, which started in 1998.

Iowa is scoring 8.5 points per game over their last four contests, which is not sustainable in this era of college football. In the two games this season they’re averaging only 158 yards per game. Sadly, many teams this season have had a quarter with that many yards gained.

It has to be completely embarrassing averaging 2.8 yards per play, which is why I can fully understand why wideout Charlie Jones, who is now on Purdue, transferred out at the end of last season. I anticipate more offensive players will do the same during or after this season depending on if they decide to change up the offensive philosophy.

Hot Seat Thaws The Frost

While Ferentz’s fate is yet to be determined, another coach from the same division wasn’t so lucky. After a tumultuous tenure with his alma mater, the time for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and head coach Scott Frost to part ways has come. Frost’s record ends at 16-31 following a 45-42 loss to Georgia Southern, who are of course a part of the trendy Sun Belt this week. Things only get worse as Nebraska has #6 Oklahoma coming to town, and the rest of conference play following that.

This is a program that has all the materials in place to succeed, but it just hasn’t in the 21st century. In the 2001-2002 season, the Cornhuskers got walloped by the Miami Hurricanes in the National Championship. That loss to arguably the greatest college team assembled was of course tough, but it shouldn’t have set the program back two whole decades.

Bo Pelini was their most successful coach since then, going 67-27 during his tenure. His background was on the defensive side of the ball, which may be the way Nebraska needs to go with their next hire. Mickey Joseph will get a trial run for the rest of the season, but if I was Nebraska’s athletic director, I have two people already on speed dial.

Plan A would Chris Petersen, because he can win anywhere and he’d be rejuvenated after being away from the game a few years. The man led Boise State to that Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, and Washington to the College Football Playoffs. Plan B is Gus Malzahn, simply because he runs an offensive scheme that just flat out works in today’s game.

Presidential Matters Lie Ahead

The James Madison University Dukes, the school named after…(shocker) James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, has already exceeded expectations between the white lines. The initial task was a tall one this year, making the coveted leap from FCS and into FBS, which is ironic for a school representing the shortest President of them all. Well, after a marvelous 2-0 start where the Dukes are averaging 53.5 points per game and only allowing seven, they will find themselves front and center of the college football world next weekend.

After a little bit of help from the aforementioned Mountaineers of Appalachian State, College Gameday has chosen Boone, North Carolina as it’s next destination. Thinking out loud here I ask the question: what if all this exposure gets in the Mountaineers’ heads and creates a situation of overconfidence and cockiness? They just played back to back thrillers that went down to the wire, which may mean their bodies could already be fatigued coming into this matchup.

All I’m saying here is if the Dukes can pull off this upset, it would be one of the greatest college football stories this season. As FCS National Champions, or runners-up three out of the last six years, they aren’t the typical FCS squad. A win here may possibly be good enough to get them ranked, which would be awesome for their first year being eligible for the polls.

Final Thought

Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer needs to call it a career and sit out the rest of the season. No need to put his TE1 status in jeopardy with hospital passes from an inexperienced quarterback room. Ja’Marr Chase turned out just fine by sitting out his junior year at LSU, opting to train for the NFL Draft instead. An injury could cost him millions of dollars, and trying to save the season for an already 0-2 team with ample tests down the road is not worth it.

Derek Worley

Sports Analyst

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