College Football: Week 2 Takeaways on Big Ten Saturday

This is my favorite time of year.  I love the NFL, but there is nothing quite like college football.  The traditions, the rivalries, the musings on whether Alabama could beat the Cleveland Browns in a game (Roger, make this happen please).  Each week, I’ll try to write a recap on the games I watched, along with the major action I missed.  I’m a Sooner fan, but I always try to watch the highest ranked games I can.  If I write in detail about a specific game, it means I watched at least some of it.  Hope you enjoy!

Michigan 36 Cincinnati 14

The score is a bit deceptive for this game.  At halftime, the score was 17-7, and Michigan looked streaky at best on offense throughout the first half.  Last week against Florida, Michigan suffered two interceptions returned for touchdowns, but still won handily thanks to a terrific defense.  Today, they had two defensive touchdowns of their own.  QB Wilton Speight threw for 2 TD’s, but also fumbled twice, losing one of them, while the team suffered another turnover on a punt return.  Cincinnati missed a few potential TD’s on drops and overthrows, and failed to take advantage of Michigan’s first half offensive woes.  Michigan will continue to rely on its defense to keep them in games, but the offense will need to play more consistently if they are to challenge the winners of the next game I watched……..

Penn State 33 Pittsburgh 14

Another slow start for another Big Ten powerhouse.  I don’t know how a team can be ranked #4 in the nation and be flying under the radar, but that’s what it feels like with Penn St.  The Ohio St-Michigan rivalry may get the headlines, but the Nittany Lions look legit.  An early turnover by Pittsburgh helped PSU score early in the game, but their offense, and specifically star RB Saquon Barkley, failed to do much damage in the first half.  That changed in the second half, when Barkley scored two TD’s, one rushing and one receiving.  Penn State QB Trace McSorley isn’t the perfect QB, but he runs the offense well and has great weapons in Barkley and ultra athletic TE Mike Gesicki.  If Penn State can survive playing Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks, watch out for them in the playoffs.

Oklahoma 31 The Ohio State Buckeyes…….16

What a huge and redemptive win for the Sooners, who no doubt were thinking about the beating they received from the Buckeyes last season in Norman.  This was the game of the day, #2 vs. #5 on a day when the other two great teams from the Big Ten won.  By halftime we knew……well just about nothing.

A 3-3 score was maybe the last thing to be expected by two teams led by J.T. Barrett and Baker Mayfield.  The Sooners turned the ball over on downs on their first series, and proceeded to watch their next few drives ruined by turnovers and a missed FG.  Ohio St. couldn’t capitalize on those turnovers, only managing a FG themselves as Barrett struggled to throw the ball accurately.  Injuries also hurt the Sooners, who lost TE Mark Andrews early in the game (he did not return), and also saw Baker Mayfield come out for a few plays at a time.

Ohio State started off the 2nd half with a long kick return, which set up a TD that may have had the OSU fans breathing a sigh of relief.  But it was Baker Mayfield’s night in Columbus, as the Super Sooner threw for 3 TD’s in the 2nd half, at one point completing 14 passes in a row. The OSU front was especially confused on a play the Sooners continually ran with success, a direct snap to the RB with a pitch option.  OSU lost a lot of talent to the NFL in the draft this year, and this game showed that the defense has a long way to go if OSU is to lose only one game this year.

Speaking of defense, OU’s unit played one of the better complete games they’ve had in years.  Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE for the Sooners, continually made J.T. Barrett uncomfortable in the pocket, frequently beating one on one assignments.  Barrett didn’t account for a TD all night, and threw a poor INT on OSU’s side of the field.

The Sooners had to win this game to keep up with Oklahoma State, and OSU needed to do likewise to keep up with Penn St. and Michigan.  It’s a long season, but the Sooners next three contests are against unranked opponents, so they will breathe a bit easier.  OSU still has a chance to win the conference, but they will need help, and they will have to play much better if they are to beat Penn St. and Michigan later in the year.

Extra Points

Alabama looked dominant as always in an easy win over Fresno State.  Who wants to try and tackle Jalen Hurts when he runs?  Anybody?  No thanks.

Clemson won a close game against Auburn in which they only scored 14 points at home.  I have to think they’ll lose some “style points” for that and drop in ranking this week, for absolutely no reason at all.

They love Sam Darnold at USC.  A good win for them tonight against Stanford.  USC has been down for awhile, and while I don’t think they can compete with a team like Alabama or Michigan quite yet, they are trending up.

Obligatory post about how Lamar Jackson is basically the real life version of taking a “Create your own player” in Madden and making all the stats 99.  500 yards and 6 TD’s today for the Louisville QB.  It’s early, but I don’t know how you can put Mayfield, Darnold, or anyone else over this guy for Heisman.  No one player is more valuable to their team.

What To Watch For Next Week

Not too many top 25 head to heads, but there are a few worth mentioning.  Clemson and Louisville play each other in an ACC matchup (the game last year was memorable, with Lamar Jackson getting whopped on each play and still almost winning the game).  And Tennessee plays Florida in a classic SEC rivalry game.  Last year the Volunteers came back from about 300 points down to beat the Gators, who have been looking for a QB since Timmy Tebow left to play pro base….I mean football.

I always cheer for Colorado teams, but next week will test that.  Air Force plays Michigan in the Big House (yikes) and Colorado State plays Alabama in Tuscaloosa (double yikes). Lane Kiffin is practicing lifting his hands over a head for a TD before it happens even though he isn’t at Alabama anymore.

See you next week!

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