Bleacher Report Expert Predictions for Week 2 in College Football

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    Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm

    Georgia quarterback Jake FrommAssociated Press

    With faces covered in egg from Week 1 predictions gone wrong, Bleacher Report’s college football experts are ready to rally in Week 2.

    All six of our experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—agreed that Michigan would beat Notre Dame and that Bryce Love would at least show up against San Diego State. Five of the six picked Florida State over Virginia Tech. There were also four votes of confidence in Miami over LSU.

    Whoops!

    The good news is—like Washington, Miami, Michigan, Texas and Florida State—we can learn from our early Ls and still have plenty of time to recover and make a run to the College Football Playoff.

    For the most part, Week 2 is looking like a weak slate of games. Once again, there are roughly 30 cases of an FBS team hosting an FCS team, eight of which should be merciless blowouts by ranked teams. But with No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Georgia both playing road games against quality opponents, things could get wild.

    The six experts peered into the future to make eight predictions on the weekend ahead, including:

  • Will USC or Stanford win the early Pac-12 showdown?
  • Could South Carolina knock off Georgia?
  • Which AP Top 25 teams are in danger of losing to unranked opponents?
  • And which off-the-radar game is guaranteed to get Twitter buzzing?

Our experts are on the case to let you know.

1 of 8

    Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside

    Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-WhitesideAssociated Press

    Matt Hayes

    Stanford by four. The Cardinal eat up these early Pac-12 games, and much of that revolves around their ability to be more physical. The one thing that stood out for USC against UNLV last week is the Trojans’ inability to control the lines of scrimmage until well into the second half. But Stanford, too, had trouble run blocking against San Diego State. K.J. Costello is getting more comfortable in the Stanford pass game, and JT Danielsthough uber-talentedwill be experiencing his first Pac-12 road game. Advantage: Cardinal.

            

    David Kenyon

    Do we believe in Stanford’s passing game? I’m intrigued by Costello, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a stud. But I still think Bryce Love and the offensive line are the key for the Cardinal at home. USC had difficulty stopping UNLV in the opener, giving up 308 yards on the ground. I’m taking Stanford, 31-27.

                            

    Adam Kramer

    I’ll take Stanford. Love is going to run for more than 29 yards on 18 carries. We can all agree on this, yes? More than that, though, I think this feels like the right time to play USC. Daniels is going to be a problem for teams in this conference for quite some time. But he’s still young and will probably make a few mistakes—especially in his first road start. I don’t see this as a blowout whatsoever, though. I think it has a chance to be close and probably ugly. But I’ll take the Cardinal in a rather important early game in the Pac-12.

                

    Kerry Miller

    After a Week 1 dud against San Diego State, Love should be back with a vengeance in this one. USC had a lot of trouble slowing down UNLV’s rushing attack last week, allowing more than 300 yards on the ground. Couple that with a true freshman QB playing the first road game of his career, and I like Stanford to win by two touchdowns. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    This is a tough game to predict because of the Trojans’ young talent, but I love Stanford’s offensive balance. Remember, Love was a non-factor in the season opener against San Diego State, but that didn’t matter. His mere presence opened the field for Costello and Arcega-Whiteside. That ability to rely on the run and pass, an experience edge and the game being in Palo Alto makes me lean toward the Cardinal in a close one. Stanford, 24-19.

                   

    Ian Wharton

    Neither team started off as well as they’d hoped in Week 1. Maybe both teams were caught looking ahead to this one? Stanford’s offense struggled to create running lanes for Love when SDSU overloaded the box, but Costello and Arcega-Whiteside saved the day with stellar performances. USC will create more of a pass rush than the Aztecs did, but they must prove stout against the run. The Trojans have the talent to win, but their youth and overall inconsistency against UNLV was troublesome. Stanford by 10.

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    South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel

    South Carolina wide receiver Deebo SamuelLance King/Getty Images

    Matt Hayes

    No. The Gamecocks will score on Georgia and keep it close in the second half, but this game will come down to which defense figures it out first. Eventually, the Georgia secondarylikely the lone weakness on the defensewill find a way to limit (with help from the pass rush) the damage from South Carolina QB Jake Bentley and his talented group of receivers. 

            

    David Kenyon

    No. How’s that? Short and simple. South Carolina has decent potential for 2018 as a whole, but I can’t trust the offense against top competition. Case in point: Bentley threw a combined seven interceptions against Georgia, Florida and Clemson last season. Georgia’s defense will own the day.

                     

    Adam Kramer

    I want to say yes. I really do. And to the gamblers out there, go ahead and grab the points at home. South Carolina will compete in this game, and it feels like the Gamecocks are still a team that a lot of people are sleeping on. They’re balanced, they have weapons on offense, and they should be good on defense. The problem is that Georgia looks like it has more talent and depth than just about anyone, and ultimately that should win out. That being said, it would not surprise me in the least to see the Bulldogs go on the road and get pushed here. I can’t wait for this one.

                

    Kerry Miller

    I had South Carolina at No. 17 on my preseason Top 25 ballot, so I’m higher on the Gamecocks than most. But Georgia was one of my picks to reach the College Football Playoff, and I think the Bulldogs are too talented to let this one slip away. This should be the best game of the week, though. Things could get super interesting if Deebo Samuel takes a kickoff to the house. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    I love this game because it’s going to be one of the best in the SEC in the early going. Unless Florida or Missouri makes a leap, this is essentially for the early driver’s seat in the SEC East. South Carolina has a lot of offensive weapons, and Samuel being back healthy is huge. But the Bulldogs are just too talented. Again, this will be a close, low-scoring game, but UGA prevails in a rugged road tilt, 27-17. 

                   

    Ian Wharton

    No. South Carolina’s offense looked solid against Coastal Carolina, but quarterbacks who create only average velocity on their passes are the ones who struggle the most against defenses filled with elite athletes like Georgia’s. Samuel, Bentley and receiver Bryan Edwards are good enough to keep this game close, but Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm isn’t one to panic in tough situations. The Bulldogs offense will chew up the clock and convert in the red zone more effectively than the Gamecocks, leading to a tight victory on the road.

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    Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence

    Clemson quarterback Trevor LawrenceAssociated Press

    Matt Hayes

    Yes. The problem at Texas A&M: The Aggies still have issues on the interior lines, which is Clemson’s strength. The Tigers have the best combination of talent and experience in the nation (that’s right, better than Alabama) and will impose their will on Texas A&M. The ideals that Jimbo Fisher has been preaching to his new teamtoughness, playing smart, getting stronger in the fourth quarterwill be on display on the other side of the ball.

            

    David Kenyon

    Kellen Mond’s terrific performance in Week 1 demands more national attention than it got, but it doesn’t rattle my confidence in Clemson in this one. As long as the Tigers can limit running back Trayveon Williams, it probably won’t even be a nerve-racking win for the favorites. Trevor Lawrence has an ideal opportunity to stake a claim to the starting job, too.

                     

    Adam Kramer

    Defensively, Clemson will be too much for Texas A&M to overcome. As impressive as Williams was in the opener for the Aggies, there just won’t be the same space in this game. That’s not a knock on him or an A&M team that could surprise a lot of people this year. This just feels like a game that Clemson, in its current form, was constructed to play. My biggest curiosity is how Clemson handles its evolving quarterback situation. Both Kelly Bryant and Lawrence saw ample playing time last week, although it seems likely Lawrence will slowly take that job away. In one of the best environments in college football, this is the perfect time for him to solidify himself as the starter. He does that in a victory.

                

    Kerry Miller

    Led by Williams, Texas A&M rushed for 503 yards and five touchdowns against Northwestern State. It was a great coaching debut for Fisher. But it doesn’t mean the Aggies are ready to string together long drives against Clemson. This is where we find out just how dominant Clemson’s defense is going to be, as well as who the primary Tigers QB will be the rest of the way. It won’t be a blowout, but the result also will never really be in doubt. Clemson wins by a score of 31-13. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    Nobody figured Mond would beat out Nick Starkel for A&M’s QB job. Not only did he do that, but the dual-threat quarterback also looked sharp in a Week 1 win. The competition ramps up this weekend, though, as he’ll play against one of the top defenses in the country. This won’t be easy for the Tigers at rocking Kyle Field, and Bryant’s veteran presence may actually be a bonus early on. But Lawrence will come in and make a couple of big plays, and the Tigers will survive. Mike Elko’s defense isn’t there. Yet.

                   

    Ian Wharton

    The Fisher era started off well as Mond and Williams dominated Northwestern State. But this Aggies team is running into a buzz saw in Clemson. The Aggies are too young to overcome the talent difference between the two teams, even with the advantage that Kyle Field provides. Clemson is also boosted by the potential of Lawrence’s passing upside in case Bryant struggles on the road. The Tigers’ riches provide them comfort and flexibility in these situations, and they will win comfortably.

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    Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke

    Michigan State quarterback Brian LewerkeGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Matt Hayes

    The best chances both come from the SEC, where No. 18 Mississippi State plays at Kansas State and new No. 25 Florida plays host to Kentucky. Mississippi State should win going away; the Bulldogs have better players, and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back from a one-game suspension. But K-State can slow the tempo with its power run game and only needs a couple of turnovers. The more likely candidate to lose is Florida. The Gators don’t necessarily deserve to be ranked anyway, and we have no idea what QB Feleipe Franks can really do. UK should’ve beaten Florida two of the last three years but instead extended its losing streak in the series to 31 games. The Wildcats could finally snap that streak on Saturday.

            

    David Kenyon

    I’m saying no, so…expect a whole bunch of chaos. Arizona State has the best chance at an upset against No. 15 Michigan State, and I won’t count out Kansas State against Mississippi State. Otherwise, it seems like a tame weekend. That’s the recipe for madness, of course.

                     

    Adam Kramer

    Yes. In the spirit of chaos, let’s hope many. But it feels like Arizona State really is in a fine spot to upset Michigan State at home. While it’s hard to gauge much from the first week, Arizona State’s nine Week 1 sacks made for a pretty unbelievable start. The Sun Devils won’t duplicate that number, but the pass rush could be enough to unseat Michigan State, which was underwhelming in its opener. Another one to look out for: Penn State. Was the Week 1 scare a fluke or a sign of things to come? Pittsburgh could be a tricky road opponent for the Nittany Lions.

                

    Kerry Miller

    Michigan State better watch out. The Spartans didn’t look good in the season opener against Utah State, and now they have to play a late road game against an Arizona State squad that might not be too shabby. Granted, the Sun Devils had an easy draw in UTSA, but they moved the ball at will and recorded nine sacks in that blowout win. Even if it isn’t an upset, this game should be closer than most would have guessed one week ago. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    It’s going to be very interesting for No. 13 Penn State, which survived a massive overtime scare at home against Appalachian State. Penn State and Pittsburgh don’t play each other every year, but two seasons ago, the Panthers pulled the early-season upset. It could happen again. But the biggest upset possibility I see is Arizona State hosting Michigan State. I’m not a Spartans believer, and now Mark Dantonio’s team has to go across the country to play a Sun Devils team that is sneakily decent? Give me ASU. 

                   

    Ian Wharton

    Mississippi State and Penn State are both at risk. The Bulldogs have a very difficult matchup as they travel to Kansas State with Fitzgerald returning from his one-game suspension. Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder will have his Wildcats ready to exploit mismatches and play above their talent level. I think the Wildcats pull this one off.

    Penn State’s rivalry game against Pittsburgh is another possible upset. Quarterback Trace McSorley looked like he was all alone against Appalachian State. The Nittany Lions should’ve lost the game after falling behind late, and falling asleep this week would result in a loss. I’ll pick Penn State to get its act together and win, but this is closer to a coin flip than lock for me.

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    Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell

    Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa State coach Matt CampbellAssociated Press

    Matt Hayes

    Arizona at Houston. If for no other reason, it will be a chance to see if new Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin will recognize what’s most important in the Wildcats offense: star quarterback Khalil Tate’s legs. It was coaching negligence that Tatethe most dynamic quarterback in the gameran the ball just eight times in a Week 1 loss to BYU. Eight times! Time to run zone-read football and quarterback power and get back to what works: Tate’s running to set up his throwing.

            

    David Kenyon

    Houston and Arizona will potentially have the highest score of the week, so that’d be a safe bet. I’m most interested in Iowa State at Iowa, though. The Hawkeyes are a sleeper of a Big Ten contender, and this in-state rivalry is a great chance to prove it.

                     

    Adam Kramer

    Scott Frost’s debut at Nebraska will be a big deal, especially considering Cornhuskers fans had to wait an extra seven days after last week’s game was rained out. There’s also something about a Nebraska-Colorado game that feels all warm and fuzzy—a kind of nostalgia that seems to hit home. Add into the fact that these two could combine for a whole bunch of points, and this game is unquestionably the one I will be glued to.

                

    Kerry Miller

    I could definitely see Colorado and Nebraska going off the rails, but my pick is the early battle between Arizona and Houston. Tate had a great big dud in the season-opening loss to BYU, but you can’t tell me you’re not excited to watch him run around the field with defensive tackle Ed Oliver in pursuit. Plus, if Arizona falls to 0-2 in this one, the Kevin Sumlin hot takes on Twitter are going to be straight fire. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    The Iowa State-Iowa game is always so much fun. Cyclones running back David Montgomery is one of the most underrated players in the country, and this would be a nice, early signature win for Matt Campbell. But the Hawkeyes have been on a roll against their in-state rivals lately, winning three in a row, including a 44-41 overtime thriller last year. This is a big conference pride game as well as a rivalry, and people will be watching and talking about it a lot on social media. 

                   

    Ian Wharton

    I’ll say Iowa State at Iowa. The Cyclones have a terrific head coach in Campbell and are always well prepared for their opponents. Montgomery is a star and highlight creator, so he’ll manufacture buzz on his own. This is also a big year for Iowa, so attention will be on quarterback Nate Stanley and tight end Noah Fant to play well. This should be a highly competitive game that draws attention due to that combined star power.  

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    Texas head coach Tom Herman

    Texas head coach Tom HermanRob Carr/Getty Images

    Matt Hayes

    There’s too much talent in the state for the Longhorns not to recover. But the reality is, another loss to an inferior Maryland teamin the midst of its own turmoil, no less—is not a good look. Tom Herman is one of the game’s brightest coaches, but he has to figure out what works and stick with it. The Longhorns were most successful last season when quarterback Sam Ehlinger was more involved in the run game.

                

    David Kenyon

    I believe the Longhorns will beat Tulsa this weekend, but the upcoming schedule is brutal. There’s a really good chance Texas has two more losses by mid-September and Herman starts feeling uncomfortable on that hot seat. But if UT rebounds and stays near the top of the Big 12, all will be (mostly) forgiven.

                      

    Adam Kramer

    I suppose this depends on how you would define “recover.” The Longhorns probably will fall short of being the team we have waited for them to be. But I don’t think the Week 1 loss to Maryland will define the season. The reality is that at some point, given the way the program has recruited and consistently added talent, they will probably break through. They still have USC, Oklahoma, West Virginia and some tricky road games that can be lost, but this is a schedule that sets up for a lot of wins. I still think they win nine games, but anything less would qualify as a disappointing year.

                            

    Kerry Miller

    There were some encouraging signs in the Week 1 loss to Maryland, most notably receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay making incredible catches. But, on the whole, this team looked hopelessly undisciplined. Late turnovers doomed a loss made possible by bad penalties and poor execution on special teams. Maybe those things improve with time, but even if we disregard the mistakes, the Longhorns simply didn’t look any better than Maryland. That’s terrifying, and it’s probably going to result in another 7-6 type of season. 

                      

    Brad Shepard

    Texas is a tough team to figure out. Herman is recruiting as well as anybody (except for Alabama and Georgia), and you have to figure those kids are going to emerge on D eventually. But when? Do they have a real difference-maker at signal-caller? Do I think they could rally for eight wins? Yeah, I guess. But the early-season schedule is brutal after Tulsa; the Longhorns will host USC and TCU, followed by a trip to Kansas State and then the Red River Rivalry. If they start 1-5, the noise is loud. That’s danger-zone time. They need to take care of business this week, then beat the Trojans to get back on track.

                        

    Ian Wharton

    It’s too early to completely write off Tom Herman and believe he’ll never steady the ship, but I don’t think he’s the guy to fully restore the program to its potential as a powerhouse. The recruiting classes continue to be strong, but there’s been little evidence of development once the players hit the field. That’s what has plagued Herman the most so far. His offense has also been too bland, and his need to take over play-calling just to create some points against a mediocre Maryland team is a sign that changes to his approach and maybe his staff are needed in the near future.

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    Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor

    Wisconsin running back Jonathan TaylorDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Matt Hayes

    Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He’s going to put up incredible numbers all season while leading a talented offense. This week, against undermanned Rutgers, will look a lot like last week, against undermanned Oregon State.

            

    David Kenyon

    San Diego State’s trend of running back excellence is truly amazing. Donnel Pumphrey rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2016. Rashaad Penny did the same last year. And Juwan Washington is well on his way after 158 yards in the season opener against Stanford. He gets to face an FCS defense this week (Sacramento State), so expectations should be high.

                     

    Adam Kramer

    Give me Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, in part because playing Rutgers helps. But more than that is the fact that he looked so, so good in the opener. This is not meant to be a knock on J.T. Barrett or Braxton Miller, both of whom were unbelievable at the collegiate level. But even after only a handful of throws, you got a sense that the playbook is now wide open with Haskins at quarterback. And let’s make sure to reiterate that he’s facing Rutgers here. 

                

    Kerry Miller

    Bit of an off-the-Heisman-radar pick here, but give me TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson. He threw for three touchdowns and rushed in two more in the season opener against Southern. Meanwhile, his Week 2 opponent (SMU) got destroyed by North Texas. The Mustangs had one of the worst defenses in the country last year, and if anything, they might have gotten worse. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    In a 62-30 win last week over Incarnate Word, New Mexico allowed 244 rushing yards at rate of 7.2 yards per carry. Yes, against Incarnate Word. Now, New Mexico has to go to Wisconsin. Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor is a Heisman Trophy candidate who rolled up 145 yards and a pair of scores in Week 1. This is a good opportunity to get him some big numbers, but you just don’t want to get him hurt. Look for him to rack up 180 yards with three or four scores. If UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton plays for a while against South Carolina State, that stat line is going to be nasty, too. 

                   

    Ian Wharton

    Give me North Texas quarterback Mason Fine. Fine is a terrific deep-ball passer, and he’s coming off a game in which he went 40-of-50 for 444 yards and three touchdowns against SMU. He faces Incarnate Word* this week. Rarely is it a safe bet to say a player will throw for over 400 yards, but Fine will get there if he plays long enough.

              

    *Editor’s note: Bet you didn’t think we’d make multiple references to Incarnate Word in the entire 2018 season, let alone in back-to-back paragraphs written independently.

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    Memphis quarterback Brady White

    Memphis quarterback Brady WhiteJoe Murphy/Getty Images

    Matt Hayes

    Rice at Hawaii, defense optional.

            

    David Kenyon

    Navy decided it didn’t want to stop Hawaii through the air in Week 1. That’s a massive problem entering a matchup with Memphis, but the Tigers probably aren’t going to play much defense either. I have this contest hitting 76 points with ease.

                      

    Adam Kramer

    Give me Memphis-Navy. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Both teams can score, and neither should be able to stop the other. Navy just gave up 59 points to Hawaii, while Memphis dropped 66 in the opening week. I feel like this game will be close, and it also might take five hours to play. It wouldn’t shock me to see this total skyrocket over 80.

                

    Kerry Miller

    The smart money is probably on Memphis at Navy, but give me UCLA at Oklahoma. Chip Kelly’s debut with the Bruins was a disaster, but they should be able to put a few points on the board. Combine that with the 56 points the Sooners may well score in this one, and you’ve got an impressive total. 

                     

    Brad Shepard

    Navy showed against Hawaii that it isn’t very good on defense, and now the Midshipmen have to play a Memphis team that scored 66 points in the openerproving that life after Riley Ferguson might not be all bad. The Rainbow Warriors are one of the biggest early surprises of the season, but that doesn’t change the struggles for Navy defensively. This has the makings of a 50-44 type of game that goes back and forth and back again.

                   

    Ian Wharton

    Lamar at Texas Tech. Seriously. The Lamar Cardinals hung 70 last week, and Texas Tech allowed 47 to Ole Miss. Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury still hasn’t found a way to build anything but a horrific defense, so even Lamar could light them up. That being said, the Red Raiders will also score with relative ease and find the end zone enough to earn a victory. But if you’re looking for a scorefest, I’d start here.  

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