Thursday, September 8, 2011

What To Watch: Week 2

Here's what we're looking at for Week 2...unfortunately, there really aren't any games as big as the two primetime games last week, but there are still some good ones to watch if you keep an open mind. With that said, the conference schedule first:

Around The Big Ten

Michigan-Notre Dame (8 ET...!): I'll be in attendance for this one and I've been counting down the days since I took the plunge and locked in my ticket/plane tickets over a month ago. It will be nigh surreal to be in the Big House so late in the day, and the only conceivable negative about the whole affair is that we'll have to wait all day for it to start. I had Notre Dame penned in as a loss for the Wolverines, but now I'm obviously not so sure. I don't think the Irish are as bad as they played last week, and I don't think they make the same soul-crushing miscues (re: turnovers) this Saturday. Likewise, I really doubt Michigan can expect to get two touchdowns from its defense every week, let alone just this week. I definitely see the Wolverine defense forcing some turnovers (after all, they did last year under the "tutelage" of GREG ROBINSON), as both Rees  (and Crist, it it comes to him) are prone to mistakes. The Irish playing this one in a jacked up Big House only amplifies this propensity for handing the ball over nicely to the other team.

However, this game will be close, and I think many are overlooking the fact that the Western game could easily have been a much more stressful affair, and that ND dominated the Bulls in every stat but the end result. If you put a gun to my head and told me to make a pick right now, first I'd say: a) calm down man, it's just a game and b) Michigan wins. There, I said it. Michigan had no problem with Floyd last year, and although I think he probably has a little more success this year, it won't be enough to negate the mistakes that I think Rees will make (unforced and forced). Herron was the beneficiary of the defensive pressure last week, but this week I'm looking to the secondary--which will be tested early and often--to make some plays. Prediction: Woolfolk makes the first pick of his career this Saturday night.

Wisconsin-Oregon State (12:00 ET): The Beavers lost to Sacramento State last week...yeah. The Badgers roll for the second week in a row, and Wilson probably doesn't come out as seemingly jittery (re: overthrowing open receivers) as he did in the first half of the UNLV game.

Ohio State-Toledo (12:00 ET): The Rockets should provide a little more resistance than the Zips did last week, but this should be another blowout, especially considering that the Buckeyes get tailback Jordan Hall and corner Travis Howard back after they served a one-game suspension extra benefits received at a charity event. OSU wins in another blowout.

Michigan State-Florida Atlantic (12:00 ET): I know literally nothing about FAU other than that Howard Schnellenberger, who is awesome, is their head coach and that the Gators whooped them up and down the field last week. MSU beat them pretty unimpressively last year (17-0), so let's see what happens this time. I think the Spartans look better than last week, but I need to see improvement from the offensive line and front 7 to start being more worried about the MSU game than I currently am.

Iowa-Iowa State (12:00 ET): Iowa goes to Ames to face their in-state rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes should crush the Cyclones, but [insert platitude about throwing out record books]. Seriously though, Iowa wins. Iowa State beat Northern Iowa 20-19 last week...they are not good.

South Dakota State-Illinois (12:00 ET): Don't watch this. Illinois wins big.

Alabama-Penn State (3:30 ET): It's amazing how a game like this can seem so under the radar...two classic programs that are nearly mirror images of each other (defensive prowess, plain but iconic jerseys, classic home venues, etc.), only on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line. As much as I despise the Crimson Tide, I really don't see Jay Pa finding any soft spots in the Alabama defense. Penn State's only chance is selling out to stop Richardson in the hope that McCarron/Sims make mistakes. Alabama wins, but it's not a blowout like last year.

Eastern Illinois-Northwestern (3:30 ET): It looks like the Wildcats will be without quarterback Dan Persa again. No worries, though, because it's just Eastern Illinois and Kain Colter was actually pretty good in Chestnut Hill last week.

New Mexico State-Minnesota (3:30 ET): The home debut for new Minnesota head honcho Jerry Kill; a slip-up would be pretty disheartening after a gutsy performance on the road at USC last week.

Purdue-Rice (3:30 ET): Kind of a strange match-up here...not sure why Purdue is travelling to Texas to face Rice of all teams but whatever. Recruiting inroads? Who knows. In any case, Rice got clobbered by Texas last week if that means anything. I couldn't tell you a thing about Rice but I do know that Purdue is pretty bad at everything, which you'd know if you saw them barely escape with a win last week against Middle Tennessee State. I think Purdue joins Indiana and Minnesota this week in the loser's bracket, unfortunately.

Fresno State-Nebraska (7:00 ET): Fresno lost to Cal at Candlestick Park last weekend 21-36; Nebraska is just a tiny bit better than Cal. Fresno shouldn't be able to move the ball too much, and Martinez, Burkhead, Kinnie, etc. will do their thing.

Virginia-Indiana (7:00 ET): Having been to Bloomington a couple of times, I kind of have slight desire to see the Hoosiers not be unequivocally terrible at football. New coach Kevin Wilson seems like a good guy, too, and I genuinely wish IU successs. However, after losing to Ball State last week, things look grim yet again. UVA is far from a football powerhouse, but they stand a pretty decent shot at winning, especially considering that they actually won last weekend (against William & Mary, but still).

Around The Country

The national schedule this week isn't nearly as deep, but there are still a few interesting games with some interesting implications.

Missouri-Arizona State (Friday, 10:30 ET): I'll be in Ann Arbor at this point so I'm not sure if I'll get to watch much of this at all, but this is basically a battle between two decidedly meh teams that I kind of have hovering in and out of the back end of the top 25. Mizzou was kind of underwhelming last week against Miami (OH), and Arizona State dominated UC Davis. Brock Osweiler looks like a definite upgrade over Steven Threet; I'll side with ASU and Vontaze Burfict in this one.

Mississippi State-Auburn (12:20 ET): It's going to be a long, long year on the Plains for Auburn. If the Tigers couldn't handle Utah State's offense, there's literally no way they'll be able to check Chris Relf, Chad Bumphis, and Vick Ballard. With Manny Diaz serving as Mack Brown's new DC, Mississippi State's defense instantly got less fearsome. Memphis was able to move the ball some against the Bulldogs last week, so there's hope for the Tigers on that front. Auburn still has the offensive talent to score on teams, with Emory Blake out wide, Philipp Lutzenkirchen at tight end, and Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb in the backfield. Barrett Trotter is pretty weak sauce after the Year of Cam, but Gus Malzahn made Chris Todd (CHRIS TODD!) a viable threat in 2009. Auburn should score a good bit, but that defense is a sieve and Ted Roof is quite frankly not very good at his job.

Georgia-South Carolina (4:30 ET): This is an interesting match-up for the simple fact that Mark Richt is fighting for his job at this point. After a stellar run in Athens, a few mediocre years have really destroyed Richt's public perception, and his incompetent coordinators (previous DC Willie Martinez and current OC Mike Bobo) aren't doing him any favors. South Carolina, on the other hand, is trying to prove that last year wasn't a fluke, and that they still deserve to be at the top of the SEC East. Anything can happen on the road in the SEC though, especially a tough venue like Sanford Stadium. Although Georgia was methodically dismantled by the Broncos in ATL last weekend, I think Georgia comes out a gets a big win that will engender some suspicion of the SEC East's quality from the national media (a team that lost to Boise State beating the division favorites probably isn't good for the conference's perception).

Utah-USC (7:30 ET): Utah's first game in a big time conference and they draw the looks like the Utes will get their left tackle back this week (who was out last week with a concussion), which is nice. USC looked completely uninspired last week, so I'm not sure how big of an upset this would even be these days. Marc Tyler is back for the Trojans, and they better hope he performs because the USC running game was atrocious against the Gophers. I think that USC shapes up and wins this one in a close, hard-fought contest.

No comments:

Post a Comment