Week two of the college football season was a bit chaotic. Hurricane Irma caused multiple cancelations. Many of watched the Weather Channel more than football games. But some football did take place. A lot of top teams were playing cupcake games by paying small programs to come to town to be thrashed. But there were some big matchups and at least one major upset over the weekend. I went 3-1 in my picks Picking Oklahoma, Clemson and Georgia correctly but missed on my pick of Stanford to upset USC.
Oklahoma went to the Horseshoe with revenge on their mind and got the job done in convincing fashion. Clemson’s offense was held in check by Auburn but Jarret Stidham was mostly ineffective yet again. As I mentioned in last week’s column, Stidham’s much herald saving of the Auburn offense might have been a bit overstated in the offseason. As much as it pains me to do so, I must give credit to the Georgia Bulldogs for going on the road and coming away with a big win over Notre Dame. Now, let’s look at this week’s bigger games.
Florida hosts Tennessee: There was some concern whether this game was going to be played in Gainesville after Irma moved through last weekend but the game will proceed as planned. The Gators played poorly in their opener against Michigan and Tennessee has won their first two games. Yet, the Gators are a five-point favorite in the game. Tennessee’s defense has not looked good, especially against the run. If Florida can run the ball successfully and use that to open up the passing game allowing starter Felipe Franks to gain some confidence, the Gators should win this game. I would suggest a revenge factor after Tennessee broke a 12-game losing streak last year against the Gators but the Michigan game should have been a revenge game as well and we all saw how that worked out for Florida. Both teams have their share of inexperience on defense. I see this as the pivotal point in Florida head coach Jim McElwain’s era with the Gators. A loss here and an 0-2 start to the season might prove to be the beginning of a downward spiral for the head coach. He must feel more than a little betrayed by a number of his players and it remains to be seen if he can hold it together. I believe he will respond accordingly and so will his players. Gators win a close one.
LSU-Miss State: At face value, most would just chock this up as an LSU win and look for a better game on TV. To quote the geriatric Lee Corso, “Not so fast”. Dan Mullen has assembled a certain amount of talent in StarkVegas and they will defend their home turf against a Tiger team that still has not found all the answers on offense. I think LSU has more talent. Miss State has the better coach. I’m picking this as my upset warning of the weekend. The Bulldogs in a close game.
Kentucky-South Carolina: This is a big game for both programs. The winner of this game puts themselves firmly in the discussion for the SEC East. That discussion will end over the following few weeks but the victor will get to bask in the sun and spotlight for a little while. South Carolina has the edge in talent and home field advantage. But, having witnessed Will Muschamp up close as the Gator coach, I keep waiting for the real Muschamp to resurface. It will, but not this week. The Gamecocks win against another mediocre opponent and become media darlings for a week or two.
Clemson-Louisville: This is one of the two big games this weekend. Clemson escaped the Auburn game more than won it. Louisville has looked explosive at times and ineffective at times. Has there ever been a returning Heisman winner getting less respect and media love than Lamar Jackson? This is the week you see why. The Clemson defense smothers Jackson creating scoring opportunities for a Tiger offense still trying to find its way in the post-Watson era. Clemson finds a way to win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
This is the last week of mostly unintriguing games. Next week the conference schedules crank up full scale and the battle for championships begins in earnest. At least we have a few games of note Saturday. I want to wish all of those caught in Irma’s aftermath a speedy and painless recovery. If you have a little time this weekend, and electricity, sit and watch a game or two and take a breather. The entire nation wishes you the best.