The first full week of the college football season is in the books. Crowds are back and excitement is aplenty. Week 2, naturally, offers its own intriguing matchups.
All times Eastern. Statistics in parenthesis are from last week unless noted.
The Chanticleers will be going for three wins in three straight seasons over Kansas. Coastal quarterback Grayson McCall threw three touchdowns and ran for two scores during last season's 38-23 victory over Jayhawks. He was an efficient 16-for-19 for 262 yards with a touchdown pass during the Chants' 52-14 rout of the Citadel last week. Kansas has a respected coach in Lance Leipold, but snapping a nine-game road losing streak still seems like a tall order this week.
Prediction: Kansas (+25 1/2)
The Bryan Harsin era at Auburn has a chance to get off to a great start. The Tigers amassed 613 total yards during its 60-10 blowout of Akron and should have little trouble dispatching of FCS Alabama State, which lost 63-9 when it visited the Plains in 2018. Bo Nix was a stellar 20-of-22 for 275 yards with three touchdowns last weekend for the Tigers -- a potentially huge confidence booster for the junior. Auburn's main goal is to come out of this one healthy, with a visit to Penn State up next weekend.
Prediction: Auburn (OFF)
The X-factor in this early-season, marquee matchup remains the health of star Oregon defender Kayvon Thibodeaux. Still, even with the uber-talented defensive end on the field, the Ducks were going to have their hands full with Ohio State's offensive athletes. C.J. Stroud (13-of-22, 294 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) finally found his form for the Buckeyes against Minnesota, but they need a better defensive effort after giving up 203 rushing yards. Ohio State has won all nine meetings with Oregon, most recently 42-20 in the national championship game of the 2014 season.
Prediction: Ohio State (-14 1/2)
Emory Jones (17-of-27, 113 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) was far from stellar to open the season for the Gators against FAU. More importantly, Jones knows he must be better. However, Florida could stay on the ground this weekend against a USF group that allowed 293 rushing yards during its 45-0 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina State. This is the first meeting between the schools since 2010.
Prediction: Florida (-28)
One of the more impressive performances in Week 1 came at Virginia Tech. Coach Justin Fuente's seat might not be as hot after the Hokies sacked North Carolina star quarterback Sam Howell six times and intercepted him on three occasions. While it would seem a 2-0 start is given, Virginia Tech has no reason to overlook Middle Tennessee, especially after managing just 296 total yards of offense against the Tar Heels. That said, the Hokies sacked current Blue Raiders quarterback Bailey Hockman three times and picked him off twice last season while he was at North Carolina State.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee (+19 1/2)
Let's put aside Brian Kelly's backward attempt at postgame humor, and dig deeper into his point. The Irish need to be better than the team that blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead before beating Florida State in overtime. Notre Dame yielded 442 total yards, including 264 on the ground. And, it should not sleep on Toledo, which ran for 205 in a 49-10 victory over Norfolk State last weekend. The spread for his contest is a bit deceiving, and expect the Rockets to hang around and earn a cover.
Prediction: Toledo (+16 1/2)
Arguably the biggest statement of Week 1 was made by Georgia. Particularly a defense that held Clemson without a touchdown, to 180 total yards, and recorded seven sacks. Now, the Dawgs come home to face a UAB team that's 35-16 since the start of the 2017 season. Georgia is surely the better team, but the point spread is quite large. The Blazers blanked FCS power Jacksonville State 31-0 last weekend and could give JT Daniels (22-of-30, 135 yards, one interception) some trouble.
Prediction: UAB (+25)
The Bearcats didn't allow a point until the fourth quarter of last weekend's 49-14 win over Miami (Ohio). Desmond Ritter (20-of-25, 295 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) and the offensive are full-speed ahead, but Cincinnati's 2021 fate could be found in a defense that yielded 278 total yards last week. That group should be able to stymie Murray State, even though it rushed for 307 in a 35-0 win over Mississippi Valley State last weekend. Since 1999, Murray has been outscored 375-71 while going 0-6 against Top 25 opponents.
Prediction: Cincinnati (OFF)
The Aggies might be one of the most offensively balanced teams in the nation after rushing for 303 and totaling 292 through the air in last weekend's 41-10 victory over Akron. Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller combined for 240 of those rushing yards, while Ainias Smith caught eight passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. That all presents an obvious difficult test for a Colorado defense that held Northern Colorado to 256 total yards in last weekend's 35-7 victory.
Prediction: Texas A&M (-17)
Penn State's bend-but-don't-break defense was the story in its 16-10 upset at then-No. 12 Wisconsin to open the season. Sean Clifford's 247 passing yards and 49-yard touchdown pass to Josh Dotson are also worth highlighting. Now, the Nittany Lions return home but don't expect a runaway. Ball State is the reigning Mid-American Conference champion and riding an eight-game winning streak. However, the Cardinals did allow 367 passing yards to Western Illinois last weekend.
Prediction: Ball State (+22 1/2)
It would seem a 16th consecutive victory is all but academic for the Crimson Tide, who showed off some new offensive parts during their 44-13 win over then-No. 14 Miami, Fla., to open the season. Bryce Young set a school record with four touchdowns in his starting debut and Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams caught four balls for 126 yards. Alabama's starters likely won't play long while trying for a 37th consecutive home victory over a non-conference opponent. Out of the FCS, Mercer is 0-3 all-time against the Crimson Tide and lost 56-0 at Alabama in 2017.
Prediction: Alabama (OFF)
No offense to Oregon-Ohio State, but this matchup of ranked rivals could highlight the Week 2 slate of games. Remarkably, this is the first time in the storied history of the rivalry that both schools are ranked for the contests. Iowa has won five straight in the series and enters after allowing 233 total yards in an impressive 34-6 romp of then-No. 17 Indiana. Iowa State, however, struggled to put away pesky Northern Iowa, from the FCS, in its opening 16-10 victory. The energy should be extremely high in Ames after COVID-19 kept last's season matchup from happening.
Prediction: Iowa (+3 1/2)
The concern-meter might be high at Clemson after that 10-3 loss to then-No. 5 Georgia. But, it will likely be shut off this weekend against FCS-member South Carolina State, which has been outscored 411-33 while going 0-8 against Top 25 teams since 2007. The Tigers totaled 180 yards rushing, against that daunting Georgia defense, so there's plenty of improvement to be made. D.J. Uiagalelei was out of sync, but we expect him to rebound this weekend and the Tigers' universe to momentarily align again.
Prediction: Clemson (OFF)
A rivalry renewed. And, likely one that will keep going with Texas primed to joined Arkansas in the SEC. These former Southwest Conference foes are hooking up for the first time since 2014, and first in the regular season since '08. The Longhorns still have some work to do, but looked solid in beating then-No. 23 Louisiana 38-18 last weekend. Their defense did not allow many big plays and should feel confident on the road against Arkansas, which rallied from a 17-7 second-half hole to beat Rice by 21.
Prediction: Texas (-6 1/2)
After struggling to contain Alabama's athletes last weekend, Miami faces another potentially stiff test against this perennial Group of Five power. The Hurricanes allowed 147 rushing yards to the Crimson Tide. Now, they must deal with the pair of Nate Noel and Cameron Peoples, who combined for 226 on the ground in the Mountaineers' 33-19 home win over East Carolina. Miami won 45-10 when these schools met in 2016, but this one seems ripe for an upset.
Prediction: Appalachian State (+8)
Heisman Trophy candidate Spencer Rattler (30-of-39, 304 yards, 3 TDs; one rushing TD) pretty much did his part, but the Sooners' defense did not get off to the start it had hoped by allowing 396 total yards -- 296 in the air -- during that 40-35 win over Tulane to open the season. We expect that unit will be much better against Western Carolina, out of the FCS, which has scored 80 points while going 0-8 against Top 25 programs since 1994. The good news for Sooners fans is the defense is not happy at the moment.
Prediction: Oklahoma (OFF)
Aside from a few blown coverages by the Badgers' secondary in the second half, Wisconsin was its usual stout self during that opening 16-10 loss to then-No. 19 Penn State. That said, the major concern that should come out of the defeat for Wisconsin is the play of quarterback Graham Mertz (22-of-37, 185 yards, two interceptions). His offensive line didn't help much, but Mertz needs to find a rhythm and some confidence. Let it also be known that EMU has won its last three games versus Big Ten opponents (Rutgers, Purdue, Illinois), but has been outscored 381-65 while going 0-7 against Top 25 programs from the league since 1994.
Prediction: Wisconsin (-25 1/2)
We know this about Ole Miss in 2021 -- its games should certainly be entertaining. The Rebels totaled 569 yards during Monday's 43-24 win over Louisville. However, they also gave up 355 yards and were penalized 14 times. Both are areas in need of improvement, and if Ole Miss isn't careful, one too many mistakes could prove costly against Austin Peay, ranked 17th in the FCS and playing with nothing to lose. That said, it's unlikely the Governors have the overall talent to stop Ole Miss' Matt Corral, who went 22-of-32 for 381 yards and a touchdowns earlier this week.
Prediction: Mississippi (OFF)
From the top 10 to near the bottom of the AP rankings, Mack Brown's Tar Heels have some work to do in bouncing back from that 17-10 loss at then-unranked Virginia Tech. Yes, Heisman candidate Sam Howell (208 yards, one TD, three INTs, sacked six times) struggled, but the Carolina defense allowed the Hokies to convert on six of 13 third-down plays. Georgia State was just hammered by Army, but it also won at Tennessee in 2019 and fell in overtime at then-No. 19 Louisiana last season.
Prediction: North Carolina (-25)
One of the best rivalries in college football is back after a one-year, COVID-19 hiatus. It would have been interesting to see if the 2020 BYU squad that went 11-1 was able to halt its nine-game skid to the Utes. The Cougars get the chance this weekend, but the order will again be quite tall. Baylor-transfer Charlie Brewer (233 passing yards, two TDs, one INT) was serviceable for Utah against Weber State, but its defense could give BYU fits. Still, the atmosphere should be roaring in Provo for a potential instant classic.
Prediction: BYU (+7)
The Sun Devils rolled up 228 rushing yards during their 41-14 win over Southern Utah last weekend. However, Jayden Daniels might want to air it out against a UNLV team that allowed 374 passing yards in its double-overtime loss to FCS power Eastern Washington. Arizona State is 12-1 against non-conference home opponents and has won five straight, since the start of the 2014 season.
Prediction: UNLV (+32 1/2)
Pac-12 play begins for a pair of programs seemingly on opposite ends of the league spectrum. Kedon Slovis (24-for-36, 256 yards two TDs) and Drake London (12 receptions, 137 yards) were at their best in last week's 30-7 win over San Jose State. Slovis was 28-of-33 for 377 yards and three touchdown passes during the Trojans' 45-20 home victory in the most recent meeting, Sept. 7, 2019. The Cardinal are trying to avoid going 0-2 for a second straight season.
Prediction: USC (-17)
Tennessee rushed for 331 -- 237 coming from Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small, but quarterback Joe Milton was rather pedestrian during its 38-6 win over Bowling Green. Things will get tougher this weekend against Pitt and its vaunted pass rush, which recorded five sacks during a 51-7 rout of UMass last weekend. The Panthers also held the Minutemen to 42 rushing yards. This contest has been branded "The Johnny Majors Classic," honoring the late legend who coached both programs.
Prediction: Pittsburgh (-3 1/2)
The Cornhuskers rebounded from that opening loss at Illinois by rolling over FCS foe Fordham 52-7. Still, things are far from rosy for coach Scott Frost. And, there's reason to believe Nebraska could be in for another competitive contest this weekend. Buffalo ran for 312 yards during a 69-7 win over Wagner last week, and the Cornhuskers have yielded 296 on the ground in two games. The key, however, could be the consistency of Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (486 passing yards, two touchdowns; 144 rushing yards, three TDs).
Prediction: Buffalo (+13 1/2)
The first meeting between these old-school Rose Bowl rivals since 2002 might have lost some luster when Washington fell 13-7 to perennial FCS power Montana at home last weekend. The good news, the Huskies allowed just 232 total yards, the bad was that they managed 291 and quarterback Dylan Morris was picked off three times. Paced by Blake Corum (111 rushing yards), Michigan ran for 335 yards during its 47-14 win over Western Michigan but will face a tougher task this week. Losing star receiver Ronnie Bell to a knee injury is a huge blow to the Wolverines. It will be interesting, though, to see which team will be hungrier: the visitors desperate for a win or the hosts looking to build on a solid opening victory?
Prediction: Michigan (-6 1/2)
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.