Auburn Escape, Oklahoma 2OT Thriller Highlight Week 2 in College Football
Michigan State and Oklahoma showed they will be players in the title hunt while Auburn narrowly avoided the biggest upset in history. Those are just some of the story lines from Week 2 in college football. Here are some of the things we learned this week.
Don’t Start Handing Out Conference Championships Just Yet
There weren’t a lot of big games this year, but two big ones showed a couple of conference races might be competitive after all.
Michigan State showed it was not ready to concede the Big Ten to Ohio State, knocking off then-No. 7 Oregon, 31-28. The Spartans’ defense was in midseason form–after giving up an early score, Michigan State kept Vernon Adams and the Oregon offense off the scoreboard until a fourth-quarter rally that fell just short. The Spartans, who picked up two first-place votes in this week’s AP poll, have now avenged one of their two losses from last season. They can now set their sights on a second shot at redemption, November 21st against Ohio State.
Further south, Big Game Bob Stoops made a long-awaited appearance as No. 19 Oklahoma came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat No. 23 Tennessee, 31-24, in 2OT. While I’m not ready to go as far as Stoops in praising the win (“Of all our wins, this may be my favorite.”), the game showed that Oklahoma will be a player in the Big 12 race. Not only has Baker Mayfield stepped right into his role running the Sooners’ new offense but TCU and Baylor have both shown problem areas this year. OU should be a solid favorite in every game until facing those two teams in mid-November and could make the Big 12 race a lot more interesting.
Football Karma is Real
If there’s one sure-fire way to get a heaping helping of karma, it’s to bite the hand that feeds you. So it raised a few eyebrows this week when Arkansas coach Bret Bielema went out of his way to belittle Ohio State’s Big Ten strength of schedule. While his comments might or might not have been justified, let’s not forget that this is the same Bielema who spent 17 years as a player or coach in the Big Ten, including seven as head coach at Wisconsin.
So, what did ol’ Bret do after pointing out that he still has eight ranked teams on his upcoming schedule? Go out and lose to Toledo.
That sound you just heard was the collective laughter of every fanbase not in the SEC.
The Upset That Almost Was
And speaking of which (sorry, SEC fans), Auburn almost made history this weekend–and not the good kind.
FCS Jacksonville State (which, contrary to popular belief, is not in Florida) was up 10-6 on the Tigers at halftime and seized a 20-13 lead with less than six minutes left on the clock. After Auburn fumbled with 3:06 to play, it appeared JSU had all but locked up the upset. But a celebration penalty and a quick three-and-out followed by a shanked 17-yard punt gave Auburn new life. The Tigers’ finally capitalized, scoring the tying touchdown with 39 seconds to go before going on to win, 27-20, in overtime.
According to Vegas oddsmakers, it would have been the biggest upset in history, with Auburn being listed as anywhere from a 41 to 45-point favorite.
Auburn fans can say “A win is a win”, but we all know no one really believes that. While Jacksonville State is a decent FCS team, the game said more about Auburn’s anemic passing game and struggling secondary. Despite the Tigers’ lofty early ranking and playoff talk, this may have just been the first red flag of the season.
The Luck of the Irish May Be Short-Lived
Trailing by one with 1:54 to play, Notre Dame’s backup quarterback DeShone Kizer led a game-winning drive, finishing the game with a 39-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left to let the Irish escape Virginia with a 34-27 victory.
But the victory itself may be overshadowed by the loss of starting quarterback Malik Zaire, who will be lost for the season after suffering a broken ankle in the 3rd quarter. No. 8 Notre Dame still has talent to be sure. But Zaire’s injury, combined with the transfer of Everett Golson and last week’s season-ending knee injury by starting running back Tarean Foster has to make you wonder about the Irish’s skill position depth. While Kizer’s clutch relief performance (8-12 for 92 yards and two touchdowns) gives signs of hope, with games against No. 14 Georgia Tech and No. 11 Clemson in the next three weeks, Notre Dame’s margin for error is getting thinner by the day.