2019 NCAAF Week 2 Weekend Preview

September 7, 2019

Whereas with Week 1 fans were just happy to have meaningful football on their TV screen throughout Saturday, Week 2 brings a handful of heavyweight matchups that will shake up the Top 25 in a big way.

After a tough first weekend for the guests, I have taken a quick lead in the head-to-head prediction game – thanks, Cheeks. The overall standings now look like this:

K. Becks – 5-1

Guests – 2-4

This week my beer buddy Matt will join Around The Corn to make picks on the biggest games.

Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Cincinnati at #5 Ohio State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

This “rivalry”, if you want to call it that, definitely has more animosity coming from one side than the other. Cincinnati often gets the reputation as the little brother in the Buckeye State, much to the dismay of Bearcats fans. This game will be an opportunity to at least temporarily put an end to that notion, with Luke Fickell’s stout defensive squad getting a shot to shut down Justin Fields and the Ohio State offense at The Shoe. That will be easier said than done, of course, with Fields looking very comfortable operating Ryan Day’s offense in the first quarter before the Buckeyes were able to essentially cruise against Florida Atlantic last weekend.

Fickell’s defense looked every bit like a squad that will be able to give the Buckeyes some trouble last week against UCLA, but the bigger question for the Bearcats is whether or not the offense can keep pace. Ohio State is going to score points in this game, just maybe not 45 of them. Desmond Ritter appeared to take a healthy step forward in his development last Thursday, but the Buckeyes are going to come after him more and will be better in the secondary than the Bruins. This one may be uncomfortable for Ohio State for a half, but the Buckeyes should eventually pull away.

My Pick: 34-17 Ohio State

Matt’s Take: Cinci 17 OSU 35

#12 Texas A&M at #1 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

One of the 2018 season’s most exciting matchups sees a second round at Death Valley. You can safely assume that the date was circled on Texas A&M’s calendar well before spring ball even started, because the Aggies felt like they were robbed of a potentially Playoff alternating victory in last year’s game. Now that Kellen Mond is a year older and nearly a household name, Jimbo Fisher’s squad has to quietly like its chances. Throw in the fact that even Trevor Lawrence looked human in Week 1 (1 touchdown, 2 interceptions and a 56 percent completion rate) and Texas A&M fans should feel like redemption is possible.

The Aggies stifled Texas State last weekend on the ground, allowing only 8 yards rushing on 15 attempts. That group up front will need to be dominant again against the Clemson offensive line and force the Tigers into being one dimensional on that side of the ball. If that happens, we already know Mond is capable of slicing up the Tigers. This is likely the only Top 15 opponent Clemson will play during the regular season, but it’s not one that Dabo Swinney’s team can take lightly. Expect a tight game well into the fourth quarter.

My Pick: 34-30 Clemson

Matt’s Take: Texas A&M 21 Clemson 41

BYU at Tennessee (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Neither one of these teams was able to earn a victory in Week 1, but for Tennessee the loss was far more damning. A home defeat at the hands of Georgia State, a team Around The Corn picked to finish near the bottom of the Sun Belt conference, looks much worse on the résumé than BYU’s fairly competitive loss to Utah. Tennessee’s passing game looked strong with Jarrett Guarantano, but we’ll find out this weekend whether that was fool’s gold. The Cougars were gashed on the ground but held their own against the pass versus Utah and will be harder to move the football against through the air.

Winning on the road is never easy, but BYU fans have to be hopeful after watching what the Panthers were able to do in Knoxville last Saturday. The Cougars also have a very capable quarterback leading the offense with sophomore Zach Wilson; unfortunately, he just ran up against what will likely be one of the Pac-12’s top defenses in Utah. This game will be a close one, but Tennessee’s secondary was exposed in a bad way last weekend and Wilson has the ability to do similar things on Saturday evening. If BYU is able to dictate the pace of play, it will win this game.

My Pick: 21-16 BYU

Matt’s Take: BYU 28 Tennessee 24

#6 LSU at #9 Texas (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

On Saturday evening in Austin, we will find out whether Texas is back when it takes on LSU in the marquee matchup of the weekend. The Longhorns come in confident that its offense, led by Heisman hopeful Sam Ehlinger, is good enough not only to win the Big 12 this season but also be effective against an SEC defense, which it could face in a Playoff scenario. Ehlinger was great in his first start of the season against Louisiana Tech, throwing four touchdowns and competing 73 percent of his passes, but the Tigers will be a much stiffer test. Not only the LSU defense, but also Joe Burrow, will have a say in that. Burrow was even better last weekend, throwing 5 touchdown passes and competing 85 percent of his passing attempts.

As both quarterbacks have shown the ability to torch a defense if pressure is not being applied, it will be up to the LSU and Texas defensive lines to create an advantage for one side. Both looked good in Week 1 stopping the ground game, but only Texas had to deal with an offense that wanted to pass in situations other than desperation. Whether LSU’s secondary will be able to slow down the multi-faceted Texas offense remains to be seen, but “multi-faceted” may be in name only. The injury to Jordan Whittington last week could spell doom for Texas’s running game, which is very thin behind the freshman back. Whereas Around The Corn was inclined to side with the home team if Whittington was healthy, LSU should get enough out of its defense to steal a victory on the road.

My Pick: 34-31 LSU

Matt’s Take: LSU 35 Texas 32

#23 Stanford at Southern Cal (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Football is a game of bumps and bruises, a fact that is epitomized in this game. Neither team’s starting quarterback from last week will participate, with JT Daniels tearing his ACL and MCL in the first half of Southern Cal’s victory over Fresno State, while K.J. Costello was ruled out after suffering a head injury in Stanford’s win against Northwestern. Enter true freshman Kedon Slovis for the Trojans and junior Davis Mills for the Cardinal, each making their first career start at the FBS level. The pressure is real, the inexperience realer.

As much as this game will be a test for the freshman Slovis, it’s an even bigger one for Southern Cal offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. As a new hire with the weight of Clay Helton’s hot seat an added burden, Harrell will be tasked with calling plays that Slovis is capable of handling yet are also complex enough to keep Stanford’s defense on its toes. Although the Cardinal are not expected to be an otherworldly defensive unit this season, it would be somewhat embarrassing to David Shaw if he were bested by a kid who was on a high school field last season and was not supposed to see a college one any time soon. Stanford’s defense must force Slovis into situations where he has to make plays, or that could happen.

My Pick: 20-17 Stanford

Matt’s Take: Stanford 41 USC 42

5 Games to Flip To

Army at #7 Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Black Knights were poised to be a tough opponent for the Wolverines heading into the season, but a very lackluster performance last weekend against Rice may signal otherwise.

San Diego State at UCLA (Saturday, 4:15 PM ET)

The Bruins will look to avoid going 0-2 to start the season, and luckily for Chip Kelly’s team it appears that the stylistic change offensively is a definite work in progress for the Aztecs.

Western Michigan at #19 Michigan State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

Another “rivalry” game where little brother looks to earn respect could be closer than the one being played in the Buckeye State.

Miami (FL) at North Carolina (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

After last weekend’s surprise victory over the Gamecocks in Charlotte, all is cheerful in Chapel Hill and Mack Brown is a savior. The Hurricanes will look to end the party early.

Minnesota at Fresno State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

The Golden Gophers need to find a way to be more effectively offensively if they want to come out of Fresno with a victory. The Bulldogs were competitive against Southern Cal and won’t be the least bit intimidated by P.J. Fleck’s squad.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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