(18) Mississippi State vs Kansas State, Noon ET, ESPN
Give Kansas State credit. They’re actually playing someone out of conference and I think this game could be a fairly comfortable win for the Bulldogs based on what we saw in week one. Mississippi State took care of Stephen F. Austin and now they will be getting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald back. Kansas State needed a big fourth quarter to beat South Dakota. I’m expecting a better performance from Kansas State, but I think the Bulldogs will win this one.
Prediction: Mississippi State wins 41-24
Arizona vs Houston, Noon ET, ABC
The Wildcats laid a real egg in the debut of Kevin Sumlin against BYU and if they’re going to go on the road and beat a more talented than they played last week, lead by stud defensive tackle Ed Oliver, they will need to play much better. The start of them playing better in my opinion would be them getting Khalil Tate going more in the running game. He only attempted 8 runs last weekend and was pretty sporadic in his 34 pass attempts. I’m expecting a better gameplan from Kevin Sumlin and I think this will be a good game. The Houston defense should definitely show up and then it’ll come down to how well D’Eriq King and the rest of the Houston offense play. The Arizona defense looked like they got worn down last weekend against BYU, but I think a lot of that was the offense putting them on the field too much.
Prediction: Arizona wins 27-24
Duke vs Northwestern, Noon ET, ESPNU
Both of these teams looked pretty impressive in their week one wins and seem to be poised for pretty nice seasons. I personally think Northwestern will have a little bit too much offense and they will find a way to win this game, plus I think them being at home will make a big difference because I could see either team winning this game if it were on their home field. I do think this will be a close game though and could likely come down to a few plays here and there that’ll make the difference.
Prediction: Northwestern wins 34-27
Georgia Tech vs USF, Noon ET, ABC
Georgia Tech played Alcorn State and USF played Elon last week so it’s pretty difficult to really take anything away from either of those two games, but the one thing that is true is the triple option can be really tough to prepare for in just one week. Now there’s a chance that USF was preparing a little for Georgia Tech, knowing they had Elon coming up to start the season. USF definitely has the talent to beat Georgia Tech, but they weren’t overly-impressive last week and I think Georgia Tech will win this game even though it’ll be a hard fought game on the road.
Prediction: Georgia Tech wins 35-24
Liberty vs Army, Noon ET, CBS Sports Net
I know most people won’t watch this game, but it’s a fairly interesting game between two independent schools. Army took it on the chin last weekend against Duke, and that wasn’t too surprising because they didn’t return a lot of talent on offense from last years team. They’re a solid defensive team however and they will present a much tougher task for Steven Calvert and the rest of the Liberty offense than Old Dominion did last week.
Prediction: Army wins 24-20
(3) Georgia vs (24) South Carolina, 3:30 PM ET, CBS
This game will be tougher for Georgia than a lot of people probably think in my opinion. Jake Bentley is a pretty good quarterback and the Gamecocks will be playing at home. On top of that they have a defense that should be able to keep them in the game. It’ll be the first real test for both of these teams this season and that should be interesting. The experience at the skill-positions also has me optimistic that South Carolina can contend in this game. The spread is around 10-points in Georgia’s favor depending on where you look, and while I’m not going to pick South Carolina to win, I think they can definitely cover that spread and keep this game tight.
Prediction: Georgia wins 24-20
Colorado vs Nebraska, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
How’s this for a throwback rivalry? It’ll also be the Nebraska debut of Scott Frost after last weeks game got cancelled because of inclement weather. I think some points will be put up in this game based on what we know about Frost’s ability to call offense and based on what we saw from Steven Montez and Colorado last weekend and the fact that Nebraska is still trying to build up the talent and depth on the defensive side of the ball. Another big thing to watch is this will be the college debut for Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez and this will be a tougher debut than Akron would’ve been last week. I’m actually going to go with a Colorado road win in this one in a shootout.
Prediction: Colorado wins 41-37
Memphis vs Navy, 3:30 PM ET, CBS Sports Net
Speaking of points, some should definitely be put up in this game and this is a crazy important game in determining who wins the West division in the American conference. The Navy defense really struggled last week on the road against Hawai’i, but at least this week they get to play at home. I wouldn’t be shocked if both teams reached the 50s in this game, even though I’m not going to quite predict that. The contrast in styles of offense should also be pretty fun to watch.
Prediction: Memphis wins 55-45
Iowa State vs Iowa, 5:00 PM ET, FOX
Before the season started I would’ve picked Iowa State to win this game, but their game last week against South Dakota State was cancelled by inclement weather and Iowa won by a lot more against Northern Illinois than I was expecting. When I was looking ahead to the week two schedule before week one started, I viewed this game as a close Iowa State win, but them not getting to play last weekend, combined with Iowa looking pretty good and getting to play this one at home, I think the Hawkeyes are going to win a very close, competitive game.
Prediction: Iowa wins 27-21
(2) Clemson vs Texas A&M, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN
This is the first huge test for Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, and it’s a big one, obviously. While the Aggies aren’t ranked, we know they have a good amount of talent and the Clemson offense is still limited to a point in my mind, with Kelly Bryant yet to prove that he can really throw the ball downfield, and Trevor Lawrence has yet to play in a road game at a place that can get as loud as Kyle Field will on Saturday Night. Also note that Dabo Swinney has said that both quarterbacks will play in this game. The Texas A&M offense is also limited in my mind and I’m not going to put too much stock in Trayveon Williams running for 240 yards last week because they were playing Northwestern State. This game has low-scoring defensive battle written all over it and while I think the Aggies will impress people by how competitive they are in this game, Clemson has been in a lot of these battles and I think they’ll find a way to pull away a little bit late.
Prediction: Clemson wins 24-14
Kentucky vs (25) Florida, 7:30 PM ET, SEC Network
Last week Kentucky needed to play both quarterbacks against Central Michigan and neither Terry Wilson or Gunnar Hoak were super impressive. Also take into account the Florida secondary gave up a total of 3 passing yards last week to Charleston Southern. I’m obviously not expecting that, but I am expecting the first SEC win at Florida for Dan Mullen because I think Kentucky will really struggle to move the ball against this Florida defense.
Prediction: Florida wins 27-13
Utah vs Northern Illinois, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNNews
This could be a tough test for Utah, but I also thought that last week when Northern Illinois played Iowa but they couldn’t get anything going on offense. I think Northern Illinois will be able to do a nice job slowing down the Utah offense, but the Utah defense will simply be too good for the Northern Illinois offense.
Prediction: Utah wins 31-10
Fresno State vs Minnesota, 7:30 PM ET, Fox Sports One
A lot of people probably don’t know how good Fresno State is. I think they’re actually going to go into Minnesota and win this game. The Gophers looked good after a slow start last week against New Mexico State. They better come to play right at the kickoff though because if they don’t come to play right away Fresno State can put up some points, unlike New Mexico State.
Prediction: Fresno State wins 35-31
(13) Penn State vs Pittsburgh, 8:00 PM ET, ABC
Last time these two teams played in 2016, Pitt got off to a huge lead and then Penn State came back and nearly completed the comeback but Pitt held them off. That game also likely kept Penn State out of the College Football Playoff in 2016. I’m fully expecting Pitt to hang in this rivalry game even though Penn State has the talent advantage. I do think however that Penn State will come out with some fire after nearly losing the home opener last week to Appalachian State.
Prediction: Penn State wins 38-27
Cincinnati vs Miami (OH), 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3
Cincinnati looked very physical last week in their win at UCLA and Miami (OH) looked good going in and almost beating Marshall, who is one of the better group of five teams. I’m expecting this to be a very tight game, but I think Miami (OH) will have more offense than UCLA did last weekend and they’ll ultimately be able to win a tough game.
Prediction: Miami (OH) wins 27-20
(17) USC vs (10) Stanford, 8:30 PM ET, FOX
This’ll be a tough test in only the second career start for USC quarterback JT Daniels. This game has physical, defensive battle written all over it to me, but the one thing that Stanford showed last week was they could put up passing yards when a team was selling out to stop Bryce Love last week against a good San Diego State team. Now USC is more talented than San Diego State, but the big key will be how they are able to deal with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who went for over 200 yards last week. I think this will be a very physical, competitive game, but ultimately USC will not be able to generate quite enough offense and Stanford will come away with a huge, early season conference win.
Prediction: Stanford wins 23-14
Cal vs BYU, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2
I was surprised last week when BYU went into Tucson and beat Arizona. Now they’re playing in their home opener against a Cal team that a lot of people expect to be improved, but also a team that only beat North Carolina 24-17 last week despite four interceptions from Nathan Elliott. I think this game will also be low-scoring and if Cal doesn’t find a way to generate more offense they will lose this game.
Prediction: Cal wins 27-17
(15) Michigan State vs Arizona State, 10:45 PM ET, ESPN
Michigan State really struggled to beat Utah State at home in their opener last week and that is concerning because now they are going into what should be a pretty tough environment on a Saturday Night where weird things can happen in Tempe at night. They’re also facing a Sun Devils team that racked up 10 sacks last week, albeit against a weaker UTSA team. Michigan State will also have to deal with Manny Wilkins and an even more dangerous player and a guy who might be the best receiver in college football in N’Keal Harry. Michigan State better come ready to play from the kick and they’ll probably have to put up some points to go on the road and win a game that I think will be a tough one, and for them to put up points they will need to keep the Arizona State front off of Brian Lewerke.
Prediction: Arizona State wins 38-34