Week one was full of exciting action. LSU and Florida State played one of the most exciting games and it did not make our list ahead of the week. Oregon and Georgia had plenty of hype but the Bulldogs ended the game quickly. The Backyard Brawl was one of the best games of the weekend but feels like an eternity ago already. Week two is filled with nonconference games which will give fans plenty of action to keep them entertained.
5: #1 Alabama vs Texas (12:00 EST, FOX) – Spread Alabama -20.0: If we are being honest with ourselves, this is a helmet game. Two of the biggest brands in college football are matching up but the talent differential is significant. Texas is in a serious rebuild while Alabama is the favorite to win the National Championship. Nonetheless, there are some intriguing storylines with this game. Steve Sarkisian used to be the offensive coordinator for Alabama under Nick Saban where he helped them win a National Championship following the 2020 season. Texas also is starting former number one recruit Quinn Ewers. Ewers was considered one of the most complete recruits in recent memory. He struggled at times in his debut but finished with 225 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Longhorns also feature one of the best running backs in the country with Bijan Robinson. Robinson’s combination of strength and agility make him difficult to tackle. Alabama is playing their first road non-conference game since 2011 when the Crimson Tide traveled to play Penn State. Alabama excelled in their season debut playing a flawless game against Utah State. Heisman winner Bryce Young threw for five touchdowns and added another rushing touchdown. The Crimson Tide did not register a sack against Utah State but they did manage five tackles for loss and four QB hurries. Fox has done a fantastic job marketing this matchup but do not be surprised if the game is over by halftime. The Tide will roll on Saturday.
4: #25 Houston vs Texas Tech (4:00 EST, FS1) – Spread Texas Tech -3.0: The Houston Cougars are coming off a thrilling victory over UTSA. Clayton Tune led the way throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for an additional touchdown. His main target, Nathaniel Dell, caught five passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns. The duo of Tune and Dell will be important on Saturday if the Cougars are going to have a shot at beating Texas Tech. Houston finished with only 346 yards of offense which will need to improve. The Cougars had one of the best offenses last year so we are safe to assume they will likely improve over the season. Texas Tech started the season with a 63-10 win over Murray State. Typically it is hard to evaluate a team when they play an FCS opponent due to the difference in talent. Texas Tech played three different quarterbacks and saw 14 different receivers catch a pass. The Red Raiders did lose starting quarterback Tyler Shough to a collarbone injury and he will miss next week’s game. Donovan Smith is expected to start in his absence. SaRodorick Thompson is going to be one of the key players for the Red Raiders this weekend. Thompson is a powerful running back who has averaged 5.0 yards per carry for his career. Houston cannot fall behind against Texas Tech like they did against UTSA. Look for Dana Holgorsen to get creative in his play calling early to help jump start the momentum for the Cougars. Texas Tech will fight back and ultimately I believe the Red Raiders will win this game with clutch plays in the fourth quarter.
3: #20 Kentucky vs #12 Florida (7:00 EST, ESPN) – Spread Florida -5.0: The Florida Gators shined in their season debut with a 29-26 win over Utah. Anthony Richardson completed 17 of 24 passes for 168 yards. He was a difference maker with his legs rushing for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Richardson appears to be a threat for the Gators and could be their best quarterback in recent memory. The defense could be a concern for the Gators after allowing 230 yards rushing and 5.9 yards per carry to the Utes. The defensive line also failed to register a sack and only totaled two tackles for loss. Billy Napier is off to a fast start in Gainesville but a loss to Kentucky could halt any momentum. Kentucky struggled early against Miami (OH). The Wildcats only led by a score of 13-10 at halftime before taking a commanding lead in the second half. Kentucky would win 37-13. Will Levis was hyped up as a possible first round pick in the next NFL Draft. Levis threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest question for Kentucky is the rushing attack. Chris Rodriguez Jr is currently suspended and will not be back for this weekend’s game. Ramon Jefferson and JuTahn McClain are expected to miss the game against Florida due to injury. Kavosiey Smoke has played in more than 30 games but tallied slightly more than 1,300 yards. The lack of rushing attack will ultimately help the Gators and propel them to a 2-0 start on the season.
2: #24 Tennessee vs #17 Pittsburgh (3:30 EST, ABC) – Spread Tennessee -6.5: Pitt and Tennessee are coming off completely different opponents. Pitt played their arch rival for the first time in over a decade and won in an emotional way. A late pick six helped Pitt pull off the victory over West Virginia. Pitt generated most of their success through the air. Kedon Slovis threw for 308 yards in his debut for the Panthers. Konata Mumpfield is a transfer from Akron and appears to be the favorite target for Slovis. He led the team in receptions with five and also totaled 71 receiving yards. Pitt’s defense struggled to consistently stop the running allowing West Virginia to average 5.6 yards per carry. Pitt is looking to replicate their success from last season and an early season win over Tennessee would help put them in the position to rise in the rankings. The Volunteers dominated Ball State in week one winning by a score of 59-10. Defeating MAC schools early in the season is hard to judge a team. Tennessee surprised people last year after many expected them to struggle. Hendon Hooker played well in the season opener throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He also added two touchdowns on the ground. The Tennessee defense showed up ready to play against Ball State. The defense forced three turnovers and only allowed 74 rushing yards. Tennessee’s defense was efficient on third downs allowing Ball State to only convert on five of 14 attempts. The matchup between Pitt and Tennessee is likely to come down to the quarterbacks. Slovis and Hooker are both experienced quarterbacks who know what it takes to win. Hooker has more experience and chemistry with his team which is a main reason why I expect the Volunteers to win on Saturday.
1: #9 Baylor vs #21 BYU (10:15 EST, ESPN) – Spread BYU -3.5: One of the last games of the night will be one of the most anticipated games. Baylor is coming off a Big 12 championship and returned enough starters to be one of the favorites. The Bears defeated Albany easily in their first game so evaluating them is tough. New starting quarterback, Blake Shapen, was effecient completing 17 of 20 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. The rushing attack averaged 6.3 yards per carry and is likely to be a focal part of the offense this season. The Baylor defense allowed just 150 yards passing. Albany’s quarterbacks combined to complete just 13 passes on 30 attempts. Albany may not be the toughest task but Baylor did not show any weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball in week one. BYU opened the season with a slightly tougher opponent in USF. USF actually started former Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon. BYU had no trouble with him as they defeated USF by a score of 50-21. Christopher Brooks had a field day rushing for 135 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Jaren Hall was excellent under center completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. BYU has the schedule to make the College Football Playoffs if they go undefeated but can they survive the gauntlet. One of the first steps requires them to beat Baylor. The Bears return key players but BYU returns a total of 17 starters. If the game was in Waco, Texas I would probably feel different. The game is in Provo, Utah so I like the Cougars to get their first signature win of the season.
Honorable Mentions: South Carolina vs #16 Arkansas, Washington State vs #19 Wisconsin, Missouri vs Kansas State, Iowa vs Iowa State, Oregon State vs Fresno State