Week Two of the college football season brings another mega matchup of powerhouse programs that could still be contending for a national championship when the four playoff teams are set in three months.
Better yet, unlike last Saturday’s sputtering offensive showing by both Alabama and Florida State, Saturday’s game between No. 5 Oklahoma (1-0) and No. 2 Ohio State (1-0) should have plenty of fireworks.
The two teams squared off last season with Ohio State claiming a 45-24 win on the Sooners’ home field, so first year Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley will face his first huge motivational test having to take his team to Columbus, Ohio.
Both are led by dynamic quarterbacks with J.T. Barrett closing in on 10,000 yards of total offense in his career with the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield has already topped 10,000 yards passing and has 89 touchdowns in just 34 games as a starting QB.
The Sooners routed UTEP 56-7 in their opener last week, piling up 676 yards of offense and 35 first downs. Mayfield had just one incompletion, connecting on 19 of 20 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes will counter with a more balanced attack. Despite getting off to a slow start at Indiana in a Thursday night game, J.T. Barrett finished with 304 yards passing, completing 20 of 25 passes with three TDs, en route to a dominant second half for a 49-21 win. Also, freshman running bak J.K Dobbins set a school record for a freshman running back in his first game, racking up 181 yards.
Defensively, the Buckeyes also only surrendered 17 yards rushing to the Hoosiers.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Iowa at Iowa State, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Indiana at Virginia, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ACC Network Extra
Pittsburgh at Penn State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Nebraska at Oregon, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox
Oklahoma at Ohio State, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ABC
- Ohio State (1-0, 1-0): Last Week: The Impact: Despite sluggish start, Buckeyes finished with 596 yards in 49-21 rout of Indiana behind J.T. Barrett (365 yards total) and J.K. Dobbins (213 total, 189 rushing).
- Penn State (1-0): Last Week: The Impact: Nearly half of Saquan Barkley’s 172 rushing came on one run but he only had 13 other carries while scoring two TDs.
- Michigan (1-0): Last Week: The Impact: QB Wilton Speight threw for 3 touchdowns against Gators but 2 were pick-6s.
- Wisconsin (1-0): Last Week:The Impact: Badgers averaged 7 yards per play in piling up 478 yards.
- Maryland (1-0): Last Week: W, at Texas, 51-41. The Impact: After Terrapins’ 51-41 upset, the University of Texas football team was also in need of disaster relief.
6. Iowa (1-0): Last Week: W, Wyoming, 24-3. The Impact: QB Nate Stanley completed just 8 passes but 3 went for touchdowns.
7. Northwestern (1-0): Last Week: W, 31-20, Nevada. The Impact: Wildcats had trouble stopping the run but managed to pull away from Nevada in fourth quarter.
8. Michigan State (1-0): Last Week: W, Bowling Green, 35-10. The Impact: Mark Dantonio has to be concerned about ball security after 3 turnovers against Bowling Green.
9. Purdue (0-1): Last Week: L, vs. Louisville, 35-28. The Impact: The buzz new coach Jeff Brohm has created was validated when Boilers went toe-to-toe with Louisville.
10. Indiana (0-1): Last Week: L, Ohio State, 49-21. Hoosiers appear to have enough talent to go bowling again if they can develop any consistency.
11. Nebraska (1-0): Last Week: W, Arkansas State, 43-36. The Impact: Cornhuskers, who surrendered 500 yards to Arkansas State, next face an Oregon team that racked up 700 yards and 77 points last week.
12. Minnesota (1-0): Last Week: W, Buffalo, 17-7. The Impact: P.J. Fleck became first Gophers’ coach since 1986 to win his debut at school.
13. Illinois (1-0): Last Week: W, Ball State, 24-21. The Impact: Lovie Smith got a much-needed season-opening win but his lllini didn’t look very good doing it.
14. Rutgers (0-1): Last Week: L, Washington, 30-14. The Impact: Scarlet Knights are still a bad football team, but at least some of their students were able to kick off season while watching from the comfort of hot tubs.
(All times Central; projected winners in bold caps)
Ohio at PURDUE, Friday, 7 p.m., Fox
Northwestern at DUKE, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPNU
IOWA at Iowa State, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Towson at MARYLAND, Saturday, 11 a.m., BTN
*Florida Atlantic at WISCONSIN, Saturday, 11 a.m., BTN
Cincinnati at MICHIGAN, Saturday, 11 a.m., ABC
Western Michigan at MICHIGAN STATE, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., BTN
Eastern Michigan at RUTGERS, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., BTN
INDIANA at Virginia, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ACC Network Extra
Pittsburgh at PENN STATE, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Nebraska at OREGON, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox
Oklahoma at OHIO STATE, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ABC
WESTERN KENTUCKY at Illinois, Saturday, 7 p.m., BTN
Minnesota at OREGON STATE, Saturday, 9 p.m., FS1
- Game has not been postponed or cancelled
Last Week: 10-3
Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten on Wednesday, the SEC on Thursday and ACC on Friday. I covered teams in each of the conferences during my 41 years as a sports journalist and I’m not ready to give it up in retirement.