Not a bad start to the season with the picks, as I went 6-1 with my week 1 picks (UNC came within eight yards of covering and making it a perfect 7-0 in the final minute of its loss to USC).
The Week 2 slate of games is not all that appetizing outside of the three intriguing match-ups I’ll break down below.
No. 9 Florida at No. 24 Miami- Saturday Noon ET on ESPN
A trip down to Sun Life Stadium is about as close as the Gators will ever come to an out-of-state non-conference game. It’s the first meeting between these two teams since 2008, and by all accounts will be the last one for a while (especially if the SEC goes to nine conference games).
Florida looked sluggish offensively in it’s season opener, a 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators’ offense finished with 415 total yards, 115 of which came on the ground from running back Mack Brown (he also scored two touchdowns). Quarterback Jeff Driskel still fails to inspire confidence as he was 17 for 22 with 153 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively the Gators are stout, as expected. Toledo gained just 205 yards of total offense and were 1-fo-13 on third-down conversions. Freshman Vernon Hargreaves III showed why he’s a big addition to an already dynamic UF secondary with an interception.
The Hurricanes might have enough power in the backfield to challenge the Gators’ defense. Quarterback Stephen Morris has one of the stronger arms UF will see this season, but the question is do Miami’s wideouts have the ability to make an impact? Rashawn Scott’s shoulder injury will keep him out, which means true freshman Stacey Coley will need to get over a pair of drops he had in Miami’s 34-6 win over FAU last week.
Florida will certainly stack to the box in an effort to control sophomore Duke Johnson, who rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown against FAU. If Morris, who was just 15 of 27 for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception last week, can’t get on the same page with his receivers then it could be a long day for Miami.
Pregame Reading: Miami Herald Columnist Linda Robertson says that Florida and Miami have made no effort to extend the in-state rivalry beyond this year, and that’s a shame for the Sunshine State.
Prediction: I think Miami has enough firepower to hang with Florida, but ultimately the Gators defense will get stops when it needs them. UF wins on the road 20-14 (spread is UF -3).
No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan- Saturday 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
In keeping with the theme of ending rivalries, Saturday’s match-up between Notre Dame and Michigan will be the first of two final scheduled meetings between the two schools (Michigan travels to Notre Dame next season).
The talk all week about whether this game is or isn’t a traditional rivalry has overshadowed the fact that it features two really good football teams.
In the season opener, Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees showed why Brian Kelly and Fighting Irish fans didn’t panic when Everett Golson was ruled ineligible. Rees, who started two games last season, completed 16 of 23 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Temple.
Defensively the Irish gave up 362 yards of total offense, but didn’t allow a play longer than 26 yards on the day. Temple’s running game was kept in check, which will be a tough task to duplicate for Notre Dame this weekend.
Michigan rolled to a 59-9 win over Central Michigan in its season opener. Quarterback Devin Gardner didn’t have a great day throwing the ball (10-15 for 162 yards, a TD and two interceptions) but was effective when ran it. Gardner had 52 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries in the game.
The Chippewas had just 210 yards of total offense, a big improvement for a Michigan unit that allowed 310 yards per game a year ago.
Pregame Reading: SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg says Michigan-Notre Dame was always about the money.
Prediction: Even though he threw two picks in the opener, I like Michigan QB Devin Gardner and the Wolverines’ offense. Tommy Rees is a solid quarterback as well but I just don’t know if the Irish can get a running game going. I’m taking Michigan at home 28-21 (the spread is Michigan -3).
No. 6 South Carolina at No. 12 Georgia- Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Week two and we’ve already got our first elimination game for the National Championship race. After a 38-35 loss to Clemson in week one, it’s do or die for the Dawgs in week two as they host South Carolina.
The Gamecocks have won three straight in the series, including a 35-7 beat down last year. USC has plenty to prove as well. The program is looking to go into uncharted waters this season and much of the country came away unimpressed with its 27-10 victory over North Carolina (because that’s what happens when an entire country tries to watch a defensive lineman).
USC allowed just 293 yards of total offense in the game, but Jadeveon Clowney drew criticism for his conditioning as he looked sluggish (an alleged stomach virus is believed to be the reason he had to spend so much time on the sideline). The Gamecocks offense was effective as Connor Shaw connected with Shaq Roland for a 65-yard touchdown, and running back Mike Davis racked up 115 yards, 75 of which came on a third quarter touchdown run to put the game away.
Georgia’s offense also looked good in its opener as Aaron Murray threw for 323 yards and Todd Gurley racked up 154 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Like last year the defense seemed to be the Achilles heel for UGA. Clemson racked up 467 yards of total offense in the game.
Pregame Reading: Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph writes that UGA is focused on tackling this week in practice.
Prediction: Georgia’s struggles up front against Clemson are worrisome but I still think this is the week that Aaron Murray finally finds a way to win the big game. South Carolina will turn much of its attention to shutting down Gurley and Keith Marshall (and rightfully so), and I think Murray can get it done at home. Georgia keeps its season alive with a 24-17 win over South Carolina.
West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on FOX- The Sooners are favored by 20.5 points and I still don’t think that’s enough. West Virginia looked bad in its opener against William & Mary and I don’t expect that to change a whole lot this week. I’m taking OU 45-17.
Washington State at No. 22 USC- Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1- USC was slow out of the gates against Hawaii last week, while Washington State lost by a touchdown at Auburn. USC is favored by 15-16 points and I think the Cougars can cover that. USC wins 31-24.
No. 16 Texas at BYU- Saturday 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2- The Longhorns are a touchdown favorite in this one and I think that’s about right. BYU runs an uptempo offense, but Virginia was able to slow it down last week in a 19-16 win for the Cavaliers. Meanwhile Texas put up 715 yards of total offense against New Mexico State. I think Texas cruises to a 35-17 victory in this one.
Cincinnati at Illinois- Noon ET on ESPN2- Finding seven compelling games this week was a tough task, which is why this titanic match-up is on the table. The Bearcats are favored by 7.5 and they should win by more than that. Illinois gave up 34 points to Southern Illinois last week. I’m taking Cincy 28-13.