The College Football Report

By Mike Luce

Big games do not typically take place in the second week of the season. For ranked teams, Week 2 is a time to regroup (after an opening loss), build momentum (following a win), and run up the score. Outside of Columbus and Ann Arbor, the trend held true . . . with one significant exception. As always, for entertainment purposes only . . .

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  • Game: Clemson 27 @ # 15 Georgia Tech 30 (-5.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Clemson entered the season with question marks at quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker, and placekicker. Despite these trifling issues, many projected the Tigers to compete for the ACC title. Meanwhile, some pre-season analysts predicted a sophomore slump for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets enjoyed immediate success in 2008 during the first year of new coach Paul Johnson. But league opponents may adjust this season, forcing Tech to abandon last year's winning formula - running out of the option.

    What actually happened? Tech's triple option seems alive and well. The passing game, however, may need some work. For example, starting QB Josh Nesbitt completed two more passes than kicker Scott Blair. Usually not a good sign. Yet the Yellow Jackets racked up more than three hundred yards rushing and held a 24-0 lead before the Tigers woke up. Clemson nearly came back to win the game, but conference standings don't include an "Almost" column.

    *

    Game: Troy 6 @ #1 Florida 56 (-37)

    What was supposed to happen? Another game, another opportunity for QB Tim Tebow to pad his stats. This week, Tebow will spend the fourth quarter turning water into Gatorade on the Florida sidelines.

    What actually happened? The Gators do not play a tough schedule this year. Do yourself a favor - write a note and stick it to your fridge in an envelope labeled "Open October 9th." The note should read: "If LSU is a double-digit underdog tomorrow, take the points!"

    *

    Game: #2 Texas 41 (-31.5) @ Wyoming 10

    What was supposed to happen? I'm not sure why Texas played on the road for this game. I have to assume it was the first half of a home-and-home deal, with Wyoming visiting Texas in the future. Why else would you travel to Laramie?

    What actually happened? For almost thirty minutes, the Cowboys had the Longhorns corralled. But faster than you can say "stampede!" Texas reeled off five straight touchdowns. Nice shootin', McCoy.

    *

    Game: #3 USC 18 (-7.5) @ #8 Ohio St. 15

    What was supposed to happen? Depends who you believe. The oddsmakers did not favor Ohio State. Most casual fans of college football, recalling OSU's recent 0-5 record against Top 5 teams (including last year's 35-3 drubbing by USC), looked at this game as a likely repeat. Buckeye fans, however, expressed a confidence leading up to the game that bordered on the delusional. I thought the game could get ugly, with USC pulling away late to win by several touchdowns.

    What actually happened? It was ugly all right. OSU's confidence did have a basis in fact: USC was starting a true freshman quarterback on the road in one of the most intimidating venues in college football. And for most of the game, Matt Barkley looked like a spooked 19-year-old kid.

    With 7:29 remaining in the game, USC took over on their 14 yard-line trailing by five points. Immediately, the Buckeyes sacked Barkley for a loss of four. Next play - false start, loss of five. USC seemed about to come unglued.

    Fifty-eight yards from Barkley and Joe McKnight (remember him?) later, and the Trojans stood in OSU territory surrounded by a quiet "Horseshoe." The high pitched squeaking you heard on Saturday night? That was the sound of 106,033 sphincters puckering in Ohio State Stadium. Buckeye fans realized the inevitable well before Trojan RB Stafon Johnson sprinted in for the winning score nine plays later.

    Yet as much as Barkley's late-game heroics have dominated the press, conservative play-calling cost Ohio State the game. After scoring a safety to lead 12-10 with 9:03 remaining in the third quarter, Buckeye coach Jim Tressel apparently thought, "That should do it." On OSU's remaining possessions, play selection on first down was feeble at best: rush (1 yard), pass (incomplete), rush (fumble, OSU recovers), rush (2 yards), pass (incomplete), rush (-2 yards), rush (6 yards), rush (3 yards), pass (incomplete, intentional grounding penalty), and . . . game over.

    My advice to Tressel: PLAY TO WIN.

    *

    Game: Florida International 14 @ #4 Alabama 40 (-34)

    What was supposed to happen? This should have been a tune-up game for the Tide against FIU.

    What actually happened? Sure enough. Florida International University (you know, "Miami's Public Research University") plays another SEC superpower later this year. The Golden Panthers face Florida on November 21 in what might as well be considered an off week for the Gators. FIU:MPRU will be hoping for a swine-flu outbreak.

    *

    Game: Houston 45 @ #5 Oklahoma St. 35 (-16)

    What was supposed to happen? I think we can safely say that Oklahoma State expected to win the game. Vegas agreed. Nobody told the Cougars.

    What actually happened? The SI Cover Jinx - Double Whammy Edition! In Week One, we pointed out that Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State and Mississippi appeared on the regional covers of Sports Illustrated's college football preview issue. To make matters worse, Cowboy WR Dez Bryant appeared on the cover of SI last week. And that was it. No one escapes the double whammy.

    After Week Two, the combined records of the SI Four are: 5-2 (straight up) and 2-5 (against the spread). Worth noting.

    *

    Game: Syracuse 7 @ #7 Penn St. 28 (-29.5)

    What was supposed to happen? The arrival of former Duke point guard Greg Paulus to play QB for the Orange raised some interest in the '09 Syracuse football season. The interest level now registers at "passing," up from "imperceptible."

    What actually happened? I suspect Penn State has yet to open up the offensive playbook. Or the loss of three starting WRs has hurt more than Paterno wants to admit.

    *

    Game: #9 BYU 54 (-19) @ Tulane 3

    What was supposed to happen? In the words of a friend, let's call him Chad, Tulane lost big to Tulsa last week in a game that made the Green Wave "look like a high school team." Why didn't I hear about that until today? I would be writing this column from my new houseboat off Palm Beach.

    What actually happened? Tulane looked like a high school team. Again.

    *

    Game: E Washington 7 @ #10 California 59 (n/a)

    What was supposed to happen? California wants to continue flying under the radar for a few weeks. That this is even possible gives credence to the supposed "East Coast Bias" theory.

    What actually happened? If you missed it, refer back to the Creampuff Equation from last week. And circle Saturday, October 3 in your calendar. Cal welcomes USC to Berkley and the winner may play in the BCS title game.

    *

    Game: Vanderbilt 9 @ #11 LSU 23 (-14)

    What was supposed to happen? Vandy decided to get started early on the annual festival of pain that is playing in the SEC East.

    What actually happened? I can't work up much interest in LSU. In a conference featuring five ranked teams, the Tigers appear oddly mediocre. At the least, the offense is underwhelming. Les Miles should take full advantage of the next two weeks before traveling to Athens to face Georgia.

    *

    Game: Miami (OH) 0 @ #12 Boise St. 48 (-39)

    What was supposed to happen? Boise needed to regroup after last week's tough win over Oregon. Miami of Ohio was running low on potatoes. Sometimes these things just work out.

    What actually happened? At one time the Broncos covered double-digit spreads with ease. For those needing to make up ground after too many ill-advised decisions on Saturday afternoons, Boise offered a soothing cure-all. Let's hope those days have returned.

    *

    Game: Idaho St. 0 @ #13 Oklahoma 64 (n/a)

    What was supposed to happen? After losing to BYU last week, the Sooners fell 10 spots in the polls. Would OU bounce back against the Idaho State Vandals?

    What actually happened? Ummm, yes. Oklahoma is not a bad team. I think we should keep this in mind.

    *

    Game: Marshall 10 @ #14 Virginia Tech 52 (-20)

    What was supposed to happen? Marshall watched We Are Marshall 19 times leading up to this game. The coaching staff hoped the movie, hailed as "serviceable" and "oddly comic" by the critics, would inspire The Thundering Herd to greatness.*

    What actually happened? (*Note: I made this up.) Va Tech caught a breath before games against Nebraska and Miami while Marshall had an excuse to leave Huntington, WV.

    *

    Game: #16 TCU 30 (-13) @ Virginia 14

    What was supposed to happen? After reading more about last Saturday's games, I lost a bit of confidence in my picks. However, I still had faith in my Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Spiky amphibians have never let me down.

    What actually happened? TCU covered. A good thing too, as my other two picks won straight up but fell short against the number. Yet even a trained seal can guess one of three correctly. Maybe the Beachwood Sports Seal can hang out with the Weather Monkey.

    *

    Game: #17 Utah 24 (-14) @ San Jose St. 14

    What was supposed to happen? Would the Utes show signs of life?

    What actually happened? Not really. Why do we all fawn over this team? I don't get it.

    *

    Game: #18 Notre Dame 34 (-3) @ Michigan 38

    What was supposed to happen? The Rich Rodriguez Era has not gotten off to a good start in Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, Charlie Weis continues to perspire under the gaze of Touchdown Jesus in South Bend. (Then again, Weis could stand to sweat off a few pounds.) While this is only the second week of the season, the loser of this game could be in for a tough year.

    What actually happened? Last week, I suggested that the Wolverines could win this game straight up. Turns out I was right. The Irish are not as good as advertised. Yet.

    *

    Game: #19 North Carolina 12 (-6) @ UConn 10

    What was supposed to happen? We mentioned this game last week when discussing the future of UNC's season. Teams ranked in the 16-25 neighborhood can struggle on the road early in the season. Most teams in that position are good, but no one knows how well they will play when the season starts.

    What actually happened? What a struggle. The jury is still out on UNC. Stay tuned this week as the Tarheels return home to host ECU.

    *

    Game: South Carolina 37 @ #21 Georgia 41 (-7)

    What was supposed to happen? We are all ready to welcome South Carolina's Steve Spurrier back into the limelight. Spurrier is to the SEC what Favre is to the NFL - like him or hate him, the league is better with him in it. Having labored in Columbia since 2005, Coach Spurrier deserves a piece of the action. To climb that ladder, however, SC will have to pull off a few upsets.

    What actually happened? As predicted, this game proved far more watchable overall than USC-OSU. Both came down to a last-minute drive, but SC-UGA featured plenty of scoring and some great plays. A classic moment: with time expiring, Gamecocks QB Garcia misses his target in the end zone. Instant replays captured two jubilant Georgia state troopers fist bumping as they stood on the sidelines behind Spurrier. The troopers then left the stadium to arrest SC fans, hand out parking tickets, and set up a speed trap.

    *

    Game: Arkansas St. 9 @ #22 Nebraska 38 (-21.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Why did this game earn a point spread?

    What actually happened? If the final scores are to be trusted, Arkansas State is nowhere near as bad as SE Missouri.

    *

    Game: SE Missouri St. 3 @ #23 Cincinnati 70 (n/a)

    What was supposed to happen? Cincinnati will make a bid to repeat as Big East champion this season. After starting off the season strong by dismantling Rutgers, the Bearcats look to have their act together.

    What actually happened? See the Creampuff Equation. Again.

    *

    Game: #24 Kansas 34 (-13.5) @ UTEP 7

    What was supposed to happen? I don't really know, but I think waving wheat was to be involved. Can we consider KU nationally relevant? Hard to say. The Jayhawks' 2007 campaign (highlighted by a BCS win) impressed me and last year was solid. But with Nebraska and Okie State (this week's setback notwithstanding) on the rise I think the door might be closing.

    What actually happened? The wheat was waved. So was the white flag of surrender.

    *

    Game: Bowling Green 20 @ #25 Missouri 27 (-18.5)

    What was supposed to happen? The polls granted Missouri a spot after an impressive 37-9 audition over Illinois in Week One. Teams at either end of the Top 25 suffer a great deal of scrutiny, however, so the Tigers needed another solid performance.

    What actually happened? The Tigers didn't fare too well at the Judges Table. Their one-week engagement in the Top 25 ended this week, as the updated polls released Sunday night added Houston and Michigan at the expense of Mizzu and Notre Dame.

    *

    For a look ahead to this weekend's Top 25 action, tune back in later this week. I will be going head-to-head with the Sports Seal on a few games. Loser buys the fish.

    -

    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report twice a week; first as a look back at the festivities, and second in a look ahead at the festivities. He welcomes your comments.

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