The 2018 college football season heads into week 2 as some teams look to bounce back from slow starts (UCLA), while others look to keep the momentum going in the chase for national relevancy (Colorado) our panelists breakdown the 5 biggest machups of the week and offer their predictions including USC vs Stanford.
UCLA vs #6 Oklahoma (Saturday at 1:00 in Norman, OK)
Line: Oklahoma by 30
Steen: Oklahoma destroyed a credible opponent (FAU) last weekend, while UCLA was stunned by a so-so Cincinnati team in Chip Kelly’s coaching debut. Oklahoma has a dynamic offense led by Kyler Murray and UCLA doesn’t have the pieces to compete in a big game like this. The question is whether Oklahoma will hang 60+ again not whether UCLA can win. Oklahoma 49, UCLA 14
Yesh Ginsburg: Oklahoma just crushed Florida Atlantic. The Owls might have had expectations a bit too high, but they’re honestly still a better team than UCLA is. Expect Oklahoma to win this one huge. The only question is whether UCLA can score enough so that they can cut it to less than 30 in garbage time. Based on the offense against Cincinnati, I’m saying no. Oklahoma 63, UCLA 17
Lukas Weese: Another mismatch that benefits the Sooners. Oklahoma put up 63 points last week. Sooners QB Kyler Murray went 9/11 for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. I expect the offense to have another big week as Oklahoma trounces the Bruins. Oklahoma 49, UCLA 7
John Bava: These two teams’ season-opening game couldn’t have gone more differently. Oklahoma blasted Florida Atlantic by a 63-14 scoreline while the Chip Kelly era in Westwood got off to a rough start with a 26-17 home loss to Cincinnati. Things figure to get much more difficult for the Bruins with a trip to Norman looming. That fact is made even more apparent considering they’re going to be short-handed heading into this one.
Starting quarterback Wilton Speight suffered a back injury in last week’s loss to the Bearcats and isn’t expected to play. That means freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson will likely make his first-ever start. Compounding the problems for UCLA is they struggled to slow down Cincy’s run game and face an Oklahoma offense that rushed for over 300 yards against FAU. Expect Sooner speedster Rodney Anderson to have a field day. Oklahoma 52, UCLA 20
Mike Loveall: Oklahoma had an impressive opener against Florida Atlantic. The Sooners defense almost looked as good as Kyler Murray and the Sooners offense. UCLA, on the other hand, dropped their opener against Cincinnati. That loss left Bruins fans scratching their head. Which is where we find ourselves with a 30-plus point spread in Norman. It’s hard to take 30.5 against what should be a decent Group of Five team. Oklahoma 45, UCLA 17
#3 Georgia vs #24 South Carolina (Saturday at 3:30 in Columbia, SC) Line: Georgia by 10
Steen: A game that will probably decide the SEC East (unless Florida becomes a factor), South Carolina has dark horse status in the SEC with plenty of skilled pieces like WR Deebo Samuel. Georgia has quickly become the two-headed monster on top of the SEC with Alabama though, whether it’s Jake Fromm or Justin Fields leading the offense the Bulldogs can put up yards through the air and on the ground, while their defense should improve weekly. Carolina will make this a game given it’s a rivalry and they are at home, but I don’t see a shocking upset. Georgia 31, South Carolina 17
Yesh: We know very little about Georgia and South Carolina so far this year. Both easily beat FCS teams to open the season. Georgia might be coming off a national runner-up showing, but South Carolina will come out inspired and with a chip on its shoulder. South Carolina 28, Georgia 27
Lukas: A classic SEC matchup between two physical teams. South Carolina cruises to their first victory against Coastal Carolina 49-15 while the Bulldogs experienced no problems where they won 45-0 in their first game. I see South Carolina keeping it close but Georgia just too deep Top to bottom to remain undefeated. Jake Fromm takes over the game and the Bulldogs win. Georgia 28, South Carolina 14
John: It’s an early season inter-conference showdown as two SEC border foes collide in Columbia. Both these teams began their 2018 campaigns with rather easy victories against FCS squads as Georgia blanked Austin Peay 45-0 while South Carolina knocked off Coastal Carolina 49-15. Needless to say, the degree of difficulty will be ratcheted up a notch in this one.
Will Muschamp seems to have the Gamecocks on the right track as they come into this game a top 25 team. He can really prove that notion with an upset of last year’s national runners-up. But quarterback Jake Bentley will have his hands full against a Georgia defense that gave up just 61 passing yards last week. He should benefit from getting Deebo Samuel back from injury this year. Unfortunately, it won’t be evident in this game. Georgia 27, South Carolina 13
Mike: This is a measuring stick game for South Carolina. Can the Gamecocks handle the pressure this early in the season. Their score in their season opener against Coastal Carolina looked good enough, but Coastal moved the ball a little too easy against South Carolina, especially in the first half. Georgia is loaded, and Kirby Smart isn’t Mark Richt. Sometimes playing at home in games like this is counter-productive. Georgia 34,South Carolina 23
Colorado vs Nebraska (Saturday at 3:30 in Lincoln, NE)
Line: Nebraska by 5.5
Steen: Nebraska is looking to return to past glories under coach Scott Frost, while Colorado is looking to bounce back from an awful 2017 to again contend in the PAC-12. This is a rivalry game and it should be close, but Colorado has an experienced QB in Steven Montez and I don’t expect Frost to fix Nebraska in one game. Colorado 28, Nebraska 21
Yesh: Colorado thumped Colorado State, but the Rams look like they’ve taken a step back the past few years. We saw nothing from Nebraska as weather canceled their opener. I’ll trust Scott Frost to win, though. Nebraska 38, Colorado 31
Lukas: This is Nebraska’s first game of the season as they take on a Colorado team that has already won a game this year. Both teams are incredibly talented but I like Nebraska to take this in a close one, utilizing an RPO up tempo offence to wear down the Colorado defense. Nebraska 24, Colorado 21
John: There was a time, during these schools’ tenure in the Big 8/Big XII, when this was one of college football’s great rivalries. The two sides met every year between 1948 and 2010. One of the most famous games in this rivalry’s history was Colorado’s 62-36 upset of number two Nebraska in 2001. It should’ve cost the Huskers a spot in the BCS title game that year but a string of other upsets meant they ended up playing Miami in the Rose Bowl, losing 37-14.
This year’s matchup marks the beginning of a new era in Lincoln as it’s Scott Frost’s first game as head coach. He was supposed to make his debut against Akron last week but the game got canceled due to weather. He has 15 returning starters but is breaking in a new quarterback in freshman Adrian Martinez. He’s a good fit in Frost’s spread option offense but there could be some growing pains to start. Meanwhile, Colorado junior quarterback Steven Montez is coming off an impressive outing against in-state rival Colorado State. That could push the Buffs ahead in a road surprise. Colorado 31, Nebraska 27
Mike: The Scott Frost era has to wait an extra week. How fast can Frost turn around the Cornhuskers program? It starts Saturday when Colorado comes to Lincoln. The Buffs had an under-the-radar quality win against Colorado State last week. Look for the game experience to pay dividends. Nebraska 28, Colorado 27
#2 Clemson vs Texas A&M (Saturday at 7:00 in College Station, TX) Line: Clemson by 11.5
Steen: Clemson will face a familiar coach on the other sideline as Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M plays host to the ACC’s best team on Saturday night. The Tigers have a great defense and plenty of offensive options. Texas A&M will compete but in the end a slow offense and a still inexperienced squad shouldn’t have enough firepower to win. Clemson 31, Texas A&M 21
Yesh: Clemson is one of the best teams in the country and wants to erase the memory of that embarrassing loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. They’re going to take out some frustration on Jimbo Fisher. Clemson 41, Texas A&M 21
Lukas: The last time Clemson has won a game in Texas was in 1959 beating TCU. The last time these two teams met was in 2004 where the Aggies beat the Tigers 27-6. The Aggies will look to dictate the game on the ground led by Trayveon Williams, who rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns against Northwestern State. The Tigers like to spread their offence wide, utilizing different receivers to gain positive yardage. It will be close but I like the Tigers to take this game and remain undefeated. Clemson 27, Texas A&M 23
John: No non-conference opponent has ever come into Kyle Field ranked as highly as Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney should be quite familiar with his counterpart on the other sideline. He and first-year Aggies head man Jimbo Fisher have faced off the previous eight years when Fisher was still at Florida State. Both have proven to be among college football’s top coaches given that both have a national title under their belt.
Whether or not Texas A&M can be competitive in this game depends on how well they can run the football. Gaining 503 yards on the ground against Northwestern State is one thing. Being able to consistently gain rushing yardage against a Tiger defensive front with multiple surefire NFL players is a much more daunting task. And it’s a big reason why Clemson will cover the double digits on the road. Clemson 37, Texas A&M 17
Mike: While everyone is talking about Alabama’s quarterback “controversy,” Clemson has two very talented quarterbacks battling for the top spot. Both can lead the Tigers back to the CFP. Meanwhile, the Tigers have the best defensive line in the nation. They are tried, tested, and ready to make another run at the title. The Aggies are still trying to find themselves in the Jimbo Fisher era, and I’m not sold on Kellen Mond against the Clemson defense. Clemson 38, Texas A&M 20
#17 USC vs #10 Stanford (Saturday at 8:30 in Stanford, CA)
Line: Stanford by 5
Steen: Stanford’s Bryce Love leads the Cardinal into a huge PAC-12 battle with their Southern California rivals the USC Trojans. This will be a resume building win for either team, and a loss won’t crush the other team’s conference title or playoff chances for what it’s worth. Stanford’s physical play should keep this lwo scoring but I’ll back USC to rise up and pull off a road upset. USC 24, Stanford 21
Yesh: Stanford is one of the best teams in the country, and USC looked very rough in the opener against UNLV. Stanford doesn’t blow out teams, so this won’t be ugly, but the Cardinal should win this game easily. Stanford 31, USC 17
Lukas: An early critical PAC 12 matchup will take place in Palo Alto. Both teams have explosive offenses as we saw in Week 1. Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside really dazzled last week, who generated 226 yards receiving and three touchdowns on six catches. The Achilles heel for USC is their tendency to give up big plays, just like they did to UNLV last week in a 71 yard touchdown run. I like Stanford to take this game in a shootout. Stanford 31, USC 21
John: Saturday’s meeting on “The Farm” between the Trojans and Cardinal will be the 95th all-time between the two schools. That makes this Stanford’s second-most played matchup behind their annual rivalry with Cal. USC owns a 60-31-3 record in the series but Stanford has won seven of the last 11. Vegas expects them to emerge victorious this weekend as well.