Like we’ve done in years past, every Friday throughout the season we’ll be highlighting the best games of the coming weekend. We’ll be doing it a little differently this year, however. We’ll rank the top five games we’re most intrigued by while also providing some insight on other games that will be worth your time.
Week 1 of the 2017 college football season was about as awesome as we could have hoped. There were a ton of awesome matchups, and there are nearly as many in Week 2.
Here are the games you should be watching this weekend, including some teams on upset watch.
All times Eastern
5. Boise State at No. 20 Washington State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Washington State finally got its first opening weekend victory of the Mike Leach era when it knocked off FCS Montana State last weekend. We think the Cougars have a chance to compete with Stanford and Washington atop the Pac-12 North, and facing perennial Mountain West favorites Boise State should be a good test.
Wazzu QB Luke Falk looked fantastic in Week 1, completing 33-of-39 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns. The quarterback position for Boise will be interesting to watch. Brett Rypien, now in his third season as starter, yielded snaps to mobile Kansas grad transfer Montell Cozart to give the Broncos a different dimension on offense. We’ll see if that time split continues in Pullman for some #Pac12AfterDark.
4. No. 15 Georgia at No. 24 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This one has quickly turned into a battle of inexperienced quarterbacks.
With Jacob Eason out with a knee injury, Georgia freshman Jake Fromm will make his first career start in a tough road environment. Fromm was solid in relief of Eason in Week 1, but that was at home against Appalachian State. Expect a heavy dose of the UGA running game with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The Irish weren’t very good against the run against the run (or in general) in 2016.
Notre Dame blew out Temple last Saturday and redshirt sophomore Brandon Wimbush had a pretty good showing in his first career start. Wimbush, who has a huge arm and is very mobile, threw for 184 yards and two TDs and rushed for 106 yards and another score in a 49-16 win.
Oh, and you know the fanbase of the team that loses this one won’t be too happy with its coach. Fire up the narratives.
3. No. 14 Stanford at No. 6 USC (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX): What did we do to deserve such a juicy early-season conference matchup?
Defending Rose Bowl champions USC didn’t have its best performance in Week 1. The Trojans didn’t pull away from MAC champions Western Michigan until midway through the fourth and their Heisman candidate quarterback Sam Darnold didn’t throw a touchdown. Defensively, the Trojans allowed 263 yards on the ground to the Broncos. That must improve if they want to knock off Stanford. The Cardinal just completely overpowered Rice a few weeks back in Australia. USC will be a much tougher test, but it really doesn’t look like there will be a huge drop-off from Christian McCaffrey to Bryce Love, who put up 180 yards on only 13 carries.
We expect this one to come down to the final possession at the Coliseum.
2. No. 13 Auburn at No. 3 Clemson (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): Auburn looks like it finally has a top-tier quarterback in Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham, but he’s going to need a lot of help if his team is going to upset defending national champions Clemson. Auburn’s offensive line needs to find a way to generate some push against Clemson’s vaunted defensive line. If Auburn can move the ball on the ground with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, it will give Stidham the time to make some plays in the passing game. If the run is stuffed, it could be tough sledding for Gus Malzahn’s group in Death Valley.
For Clemson, Kelly Bryant will make his second career start after looking at ease in Week 1 against Kent State. Facing a defense like Auburn is obviously a much bigger challenge than the Golden Flashes, but he could be on the receiving end of some short fields thanks to the Clemson defense.
1. No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC): Ohio State had some trouble with the passing attack of Richard Lagow and Indiana, so that doesn’t bode well for the Buckeyes with Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma rolling into Columbus, right? The Ohio State front seven is really stout but the secondary is definitely a bit vulnerable. Oklahoma’s offensive line is strong but has a lot of unproven commodities at receiver and running back. OSU will key in on tight end Mark Andrews, who is more like an enormous receiver with how little he actually puts his hand in the dirt, and Kentucky transfer Jeff Badet, a big play threat.
For the Buckeyes, freshman running back J.K. Dobbins emerged with 181 yards in his debut against the Hoosiers and will surely see plenty of touches even if Mike Weber, the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, returns. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett has played in plenty of big games and is coming off 365 total yards and four touchdowns against the Hoosiers. That’s a promising start to 2017 with Kevin Wilson now in place as offensive coordinator. Can that carry over against a more talented Sooners team?
Ultimately, this game should play some kind of role when the College Football Playoff rankings get rolling later this fall. The winner having a nice resume booster and the loser won’t have much, if any, margin for error entering conference play.
Keep an eye on…
Pittsburgh at No. 4 Penn State (3:30 p.m., ABC): Penn State dropped a 42-39 heartbreaker on the road to the Panthers last year before its march to a Big Ten title. Pitt, with USC transfer Max Browne at QB, looked sluggish at home and eked out an OT win over FCS Youngstown State last weekend. Penn State is a heavy home favorite, but you never know what could happen in a rivalry game.
South Carolina at Missouri (7 p.m., ESPN2): South Carolina had a nice win over NC State last weekend in Charlotte despite only putting up 246 yards of offense. On the other hand, Missouri put up an absurd 815 yards while allowing 492 in a 72-43 win over FCS Missouri State. We’re willing to bet the Gamecocks will put forth a bit more resistance on Saturday in Columbia.
Utah at BYU (10:15 p.m., ESPN2): Ah, the Holy War. The hatred the Utah and BYU fan bases feel toward one another is right up there among any rivalry college football has to offer. The Utes have won nine straight in the series, but the last four years have been decided by a touchdown or less. Last year’s contest finished 20-19 in favor of the Utes. Expect this one to come down to the wire as well.
Nebraska at Oregon (4:30 p.m., FOX): The new 3-4 Nebraska defense, led by ex-UConn coach Bob Diaco, surrendered 497 yards in a 43-36 win over Arkansas State that came down to the final seconds. The Ducks, with new coach Willie Taggart in place, have a lot more team speed than the Red Wolves and put up 703 yards last week against FCS Southern Utah. Oregon’s defense didn’t exactly impress against SUU either. Expect a lot of offense in this one.
No. 23 TCU at Arkansas (3:30 p.m., CBS): This game came down to a blocked field goal by a 6-foot-10 Arkansas offensive tackle last year. We’re looking for a similarly nutty conclusion to part two of this home-and-home on Saturday in Fayetteville. Both teams crushed FCS opponents in Week 1. We’ll get a better idea of what these teams bring to the table in this one.
Western Michigan (+7.5) at Michigan State (3:30 p.m., BTN): Michigan State won 35-10 in its opener against Bowling Green, but turned it over three times. The Spartans can’t afford to do that against Western Michigan, which was tied with USC midway through the fourth quarter in Los Angeles before the Trojans pulled away. The WMU rushing attack put up 263 yards against USC. MSU will be in for a challenge.
Iowa at Iowa State (+3) (Noon, ESPN2): This spread reflects how much of a chance the Cyclones have to reclaim the Cy-Hawk Trophy Saturday. Iowa looked really, really solid in its opener — a dominant 24-3 win over Josh Allen and Wyoming. However, most of that dominance came from the defense. If Iowa State, which knocked off Northern Iowa, can force Nathan Stanley and the Hawkeyes offense to turn it over a few times, this one could come right down to the wire in Ames.
UTSA (+17) at Baylor (8 p.m., FSN): UTSA, whose opener against Houston was canceled because of Hurricane Harvey, is coming off a bowl berth in 2016 and is a sleeper in Conference USA’s West Division. Baylor lost its opener to FCS Liberty and lost its top running back JaMycal Hasty in the process. The 17-point spread looks like it’s way too big, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Roadrunners won this one outright.
The “so bad it’s good” Game of the Week:
UNLV at Idaho (7 p.m. ET, ESPN3): So how does UNLV recover from the worst point spread loss in college football history? Well, a trip to the Kibbie Dome, of course! May God have mercy on our souls.
Honorable mention: Wake Forest at Boston College, Minnesota at Oregon State
More college football from Yahoo Sports:
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