The first week of the season vaulted Alabama to the No. 1 spot in the polls (much to Nick Saban’s disappointment) while at the same time knocking Michigan down a few pegs.
Beyond those two teams, it was a relatively quiet first week of the season.
After Week 2, we saw some real recalibration. The defending Big 12 and Big Ten champions lost to teams that didn’t make bowl games last year, and that doesn’t count Big Ten contender Nebraska losing to UCLA, who finished 6-8 a year ago.
When the day ended, four top 20 teams lost to unranked opponents -- No. 8 Arkansas, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 18 Oklahoma State. Rankings flip flopped as all four fell out of the AP top 25. Here’s what else we learned out of Week 2.
THREE AND OUT: WEEK 2 RECAP
MOVING THE CHAINS
Pac-12’s new coaches. The four new coaches in the Pac-12 went 4-0 on Saturday, and three of them picked up signature victories for early in their tenures. The most impressive performance may have been from UCLA and Jim L. Mora. The Bruins entered the fourth quarter tied with Nebraska, but Rick Neuheisel’s old players seemed to have a new toughness under Mora. UCLA picked up a safety, and Brett Hundley, who left the game briefly with an injury, threw the game-clinching touchdown pass to beat Nebraska 36-30. In Arizona, the Wildcats fell behind 14-0 early, but Arizona put up 501 yards to win 59-38. Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt, making his first road start, helped out with three interceptions, and the Cowboys picked up 167 yards in penalties. However, the Arizona backfield of Matt Scott (320 passing yards, 55 rushing yards, three total touchdowns) and Ka’Deem Carey (126 rushing yards, three touchdowns) put up Pat White/Steve Slaton-type numbers for Rich Rodriguez. Elsewhere, Arizona State coach Todd Graham took advantage of the injury to Illinois starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to win a 45-14 romp. Only Mike Leach had to sweat a little as Washington State defeated Eastern Washington 24-20.
The SEC’s old guard. Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s “Old Man Football” barb looked ill-advised by the end of the day Saturday when the SEC’s old guard of Georgia and Florida both emerged in the second half to defeat new conference members on the road. Georgia trailed or was tied for most of the first three quarters before the Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points in the second half thanks to Jarvis Jones’ forced turnovers and Aaron Murray’s three touchdown passes. Florida also clamped down to shut out Texas A&M and plucky quarterback Johnny Manziel in the second half.
Mississippi State. The knock against Dan Mullen’s tenure at Mississippi State was a winless record against SEC West opponents not named Ole Miss. The Bulldogs changed that with a 28-10 win over Auburn. Cornerback Johnthan Banks delivered on his preseason All-American credentials with two interceptions, but the Bulldogs major discovery was the play of quarterback Tyler Russell. The junior was 20 of 29 for 222 yards with three touchdowns.
Arkansas’ defense. Tyler Wilson didn’t play the second half against ULM, and John L. Smith is no Bobby Petrino. All that much is true, but the Razorbacks shouldn’t lose a game to a Sun Belt team if they fashion themselves SEC West contenders. The Hogs’ defense was atrocious in the second half against the Warhawks, blowing a 28-7 lead and allowing 550 yards. Arkansas was horrible in crunch time as ULM converted 8 of 23 third downs and 6 of 7 fourth downs, including Kolton Browning’s game-winning scramble on fourth and 1. Browning, who went to high school 55 miles outside of Dallas in Mabank, Texas, finished 42 of 68 for 410 yards with three touchdowns and an interception to go with 78 rushing yards. Browning’s 488 yards of total offense was a Sun Belt record against any major conference team, never mind an SEC team.
Big Ten. If the Big Ten thought recent New Year’s Days were bad, the second Saturday of this season was even worse. Ohio State pulled away from UCF in the second half, and Northwestern’s defense rebounded against Vanderbilt. Otherwise, Saturday was a day to forget for the Big Ten. Defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin mustered only one touchdown against Oregon State. Despite Denard Robinson’s heroics, Michigan struggled to put away Air Force. Purdue put up a good effort against Notre Dame before losing on a field goal as time expired. Without quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois lost in a rout to Arizona State. Thanks to four missed field goals, Penn State lost at Virginia. And Iowa failed to score a touchdown at home against Iowa State. With Ohio State ineligible, the winner of the Leaders Division is anyone’s guess, while the Legends looks like Michigan State’s to lose.
Injuries. The image of ambulances and stretchers on football fields were far too common in the second week of the football season, starting with Tulane safety Devon Walker suffering a broken neck after a helmet-to-helmet collision with a teammate. The injury required CPR and a tracheotomy on the field before he was taken to the hospital. Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel also was carted off the field after a head-to-head collision. In less serious injury news: Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson may or not have a broken collarbone that will keep him out of Saturday’s game against Alabama. Oregon’s potential All-American safety John Boyett may also miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Indiana’s hopes of a competitive season may also be dashed with a broken leg to Tre Roberson. USC center Khaled Holmes, Missouri left tackle Elvis Fisher and Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel were among other key players leaving Saturday’s games with injuries.
Jarvis Jones, Georgia. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu finished in the top five in Heisman voting in the last three seasons. If a defensive player is going to make a Heisman push, the discussion might as well start with Jones. The Georgia linebacker had eight tackles, an interception and a sack with a forced fumble in the Bulldogs’ 41-20. His turnovers led to 14 Georgia points in the fourth quarter.
Matt Barkley, USC. The preseason Heisman favorite had an opportunity to impress East Coast voters against Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J. Though his game was uneven at times (and delayed during halftime due to weather), Barkley finished 23 of 30 for 187 yards, matching his own school record with six touchdown passes. If there was any flaw in his game, Barkley completed 21 passes to Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and only two passes to other receivers.
Collin Klein, Kansas State. Miami’s defense is flat-out bad (1,055 yards allowed in two games), but what Klein did against the Hurricanes earned plenty of buzz. Klein picked up where he left off last season in the ground game with three rushing touchdowns on 81 yards. Klein was nearly as efficient through the air, completing 9 of 11 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His only miscue may have been this:
61. Montee Ball’s 61 rushing yards in the 10-7 loss to Oregon State was his lowest total since Oct. 23, 2010 against Iowa. Ball also ended his streak of 21 consecutive games with a touchdown. Oregon State limited him to 2 yards or fewer on nine of his 15 carries.
200/200. Michigan had a close call in a 31-25 win over Air Force, but Denard Robinson had another standout game. A week after a disastrous start against Alabama, Robinson passed for 203 yards and rushed for 218 against the Falcons, giving him the third 200-200 game in his career. Vince Young is the only other quarterback who has accomplished the feat more than once.
0. Iowa’s failure to reach the end zone continued in a 9-6 loss to Iowa State. The Hawkeyes, who had one touchdown in the first two games this season, have not scored a touchdown in the first three quarters of a game since a 31-21 win over Purdue on Nov. 19, a span of four games.
BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
DANG, THEY’RE BAD
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Spencer Benton’s 61-yard field goal. Clemson didn’t need his field goal as time expired in the first half, but Benton put his name in record book anyway in the 52-27 win over Ball State. The 61-yarder was the longest in ACC history and the first 60-yarder in more than two seasons.
Louisiana Tech 56, Houston 49. Houston forced offensive coordinator Michael Nesbitt to resign after last week’s loss to Texas State. Whatever changed as a result brought about instant results, at least as far as offense is concerned. Houston quarterback David Piland was 53 of 77 (six short of Drew Brees’ record of 83 attempts) for 581 yards before a fourth-quarter comeback bid fell short. Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech was the favorite in the WAC, but the Bulldogs’ allowed 692 yards.
Stephen F. Austin’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Sorry Arkansas and Auburn, your team did not have the worst day in college football. That belongs to Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks had 10 turnovers against SMU, a feat that included six interceptions and four fumbles. And if that’s not enough, Stephen F. Austin had two field goals blocked. Not surprisingly, SMU won 52-0.
THREE SECOND HALF COMEBACKS
Florida. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel looked like a future star in the first half of his first career start, but Florida’s defense contained him in the second. Florida limited the Aggies to to 46 yards in the second half, shorter than any single possession in the first.
Rice. A new coach and a new quarterback brought similar results for Kansas. The Jayhawks led 24-13 in the third quarter, but a Bryce Callahan interception of Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist, a 93-yard touchdown drive from quarterback Taylor McHargue and a 45-yard field goal from Chris Boswell as time ran out gave Rice a 25-24 win.
USF. The Bulls eased the memory of losing five consecutive one-score games in the second half of last season with a late burst at Nevada. Despite game-ending knee injuries to the Bulls’ best receiver (Sterling Griffin) and cornerback (Kayvon Webster), USF answered with two touchdowns in the final 2:55. Quarterback B.J. Daniels completed touchdown passes of 52 and 56 yards for the win.
THREE COACHES WITH GRAD ASSISTANTS AVOIDING EYE CONTACT
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's team is ranked 115th nationally in rush defense.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska. The Cornhuskers didn’t have Rex Burkhead this week, but more of the focus may be on the Nebraska defense. UCLA rolled up 638 yards despite not having quarterback Brett Hundley for a stretch in the second half. A week after an impressive passing performance, quarterback Taylor Martinez reverted to his old self, going 17 of 32 for 180 yards with an interception. UCLA sacked him four times. Pelini’s not known for a sunny disposition, for starters. With a struggling defense and quarterback, don’t look for that to improve.
Gene Chizik, Auburn. Without Cam Newton taking snaps, Chizik is 16-12 at Auburn, including 2-8 on the road and 7-10 against the SEC. This week, Chizik have to answer for the loss to Mississippi State and keeping Kiehl Frazier in the game even though he says backup Clint Moseley is healthy.
John L. Smith, Arkansas. Bobby Petrino’s absence was felt earlier than anyone could have expected as the Razorbacks lost 34-31 to ULM in overtime. Sure, Arkansas didn’t have Tyler Wilson for the second half, but the Hogs were outgained 557-397, thanks primarily to Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning.
THE THREE LONELIEST MEN IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN WEEK 2
Sam Ficken, Penn State. He wasn’t even supposed to be the Nittany Lions’ main kicker this season, but Anthony Fera’s departure left him in the lurch against Virginia. Ficken left 13 points on the field in a 17-16 loss at Virginia. Ficken went 1 of 5 on field goals and had an extra point blocked. Ficken missed field goals of 40, 38, 20 and 42 yards, the final one as time expired.
Kiehl Frazier, Auburn. Cam Newton he is not. Frazier accounted for all five of Auburn’s turnovers (three interceptions, two fumbles) in the loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. He’s 16 of 39 passing on the season.
Jon Embree, Colorado. A week after losing to Colorado State, the Buffaloes blew a fourth quarter lead to lose 30-28 to Sacramento State of the FCS. Making matters worse, Colorado State followed its win over the Buffs by losing 22-7 to North Dakota State, a team ranked No. 1 in the FCS coaches’ poll. Embree is 3-12 as Colorado’s coach.
THREE CHANCES AT REDEMPTION
Tommy Rees, Notre Dame. The embattled former starter entered Notre Dame’s game on the final possession to lead a two-minute drive in place of Everett Golson, who hurt his hand and had trouble gripping the ball. Even without tight end Tyler Eifert (concussion), Rees converted two third downs to set up the game-winning 27-yard field goal in a 20-17 victory over Purdue. His final line (3 of 8) wasn’t great, but he didn’t turn the ball over in the red zone in a critical situation, either.
David Amerson, NC State. Tennessee twice burned the preseason All-American and Thorpe finalist for touchdowns in the opener, but in the second game he recorded one of NC State’s three interceptions against Connecticut. Then, he broke up a pass on UConn’s final drive of the Wolfpack’s 10-7 win.
Maryland. Defeating Temple shouldn’t be a big moment for an ACC team, but it was Saturday for Randy Edsall’s Terrapins. Maryland nearly gave it away, leading by 23 at halftime before Temple narrowed the lead to 2 in the fourth quarter. With a 36-27 win, Maryland upset a team favored by 10, matched its 2011 win total and defeated its first FBS team in more than a year.
by David Fox