Recapping Week 2 of the College Football Season
Can we slow things down just a bit? It’s crazy to think we are already in week three of the season. We wait all winter and summer and blink a few times and the season is halfway over.
Overall, week two didn’t disappoint…well, I take that back. For some fans, Saturday was a colossal disappointment and the crescendo of the “Fire ______” chants are growing by the hour for a handful of coaches whose seat is getting quite warm.
Today, I’ll take a quick overview and run through the weekend’s festivities with another edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly that came out of Saturday’s College Football game day.
Don’t look now but LSU may finally have a quarterback in Joe Borrow, which means the Tigers *might* actually be a threat for Alabama in the SEC West. The senior signal caller went 31- 39 for 471 yards and four touchdowns as the Bayou Bengals went to Austin and knocked off the Longhorns, 45-28. Borrow’s 61-yard dart to Justin Jefferson with 2:27 left helped secure the game after LSU only led 37-31 prior to the big-time throw and catch.
For an offense that was held scoreless in a primetime showdown with the Crimson Tide a year ago (29-0) they are averaging 50 points per game through the first two weeks. Only time will tell how the offense holds up through the gauntlet of the SEC-West but LSU gets several of the big dawgs at home: Florida (Oct. 12), Auburn (Oct. 26) and Texas A&M (Oct. 30). Not the biggest stretch to imagine they are 8-0 when they head to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.
In his first career start, freshman Ryan Hilinski gave South Carolina fans reason for optimism as he completed 24 of 30 attempts for 282 yards and touchdowns while rushing for another as the Gamecocks bounced back from a stunning week one loss to North Carolina. The 72-10 woodshed slapping of Charleston Southern was full of emotion in more ways than one.
The freshman was originally dubbed the backup in the spring but was promoted to the starter last Sunday after news surfaced that Jake Bentley was likely out for the year with a broken foot suffered in the loss to UNC. Chants of “Let’s go, Ryan” belted out from the Gamecock faithful as he started out a perfect 11-11 passing for 101 yards. Ryan is the younger brother of the late Tyler Hilinski who was a quarterback at Washington State University before he committed suicide on Jan. 16, 2018.
Ryan wears the same no. 3 jersey is honor of his older brother and pointed up to the sky and held up three fingers acknowledging his guardian angel after he spun a beauty of a 61-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards. What a moment and debut for the freshman. Now, it WAS Charleston Southern and Saturday will be a little tougher when Alabama rolls into town at 3:30 p.m. All that being said, I think it’s safe to say South Carolina will be just fine in life after Jake Bentley who could likely use a medical redshirt and transfer elsewhere for his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer.
Honorable Mention: In what appears to be its toughest contest of the year until a trip to arch rival South Carolina the weekend of Thanksgiving, Clemson passed a big test with a 24-10 win over Texas A&M in Death Valley. A defense that had to reload after losing the likes of Christian Wilkins, Clenin Ferrel, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant didn’t miss a beat. Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables posted another dominant win behind his always-talented defenses. The win also gave Clemson’s Dabo Swinney his fifth straight over coaching rival Jimbo Fisher.
You know sometimes even a win still feels like a loss. Enter stage left, Willie Taggert and the Florida State Seminoles. After blowing an 18-point lead to Boise State in Doak Campbell last Saturday before eventually succumbing to the Broncos 36-3, the Noles found themselves in another dog fight over the weekend. Had it not been for Louisiana-Monroe kicker Jacob Meeks shanking the would-be equalizer extra point in overtime, FSU could very well be sitting at 0-2.
Instead, they hung on for a 45-44 (!!) triumph over the Warhawks. FSU heads to Virginia Saturday where they are 7.5 underdogs to the Cavaliers… in football. The following weeks they host a much-improved Louisville team prior to welcoming NC State. Two weeks later, they travel to Death Valley. Willie isn’t a fan favorite these days and I can only imagine what the powers that be will have to say this time next month.
Let’s stick around in the Sunshine state for my next stop on today’s list and head south to Miami. It has not been the start first-year head coach Manny Diaz as the Hurricanes, their turnover chains and touchdown rings fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1978 with Saturday’s 28-25 ACC-Coastal loss to North Carolina. “We’ve got to learn how to win a football game,” Diaz said in his post game presser. “And the way that you learn how to win a football game is to figure out what loses in a football game, and there’s still too many things that we’re doing that are getting us beat.”
I’m a fair man though and think we also have to credit the other side here. (Alexa, play “Return of the Mack” by Mack Morrison) Coach Mack Brown is back on the sidelines at UNC and proving he’s still got the juice. In fact, after a thrilling opener over South Carolina the Tarheels are 2-0 and looking like a legitimate threat in the Coastal Division. I’m all for seeing more videos of Brown dancing in the locker room post game…except for on Sept. 28 when Clemson visits Chapel Hill.
Honorable Mention: The Pac-12
Alright, Ill give the ACC break. The Pac 12’s best shot at doing anything noteworthy this year all but went down the drain in Oregon’s heartbreaking 27-21 loss to Auburn in week one. Perhaps Washington was a slither of hope to carry the torch this season. After Greg Thomas’ 17-yard game winner with eight seconds left in a game that ended after 4 a.m. EST due to a severe weather delay Sunday, all hope is gone. The Golden Bear’s 20-19 thriller over then-No. 14 Washington nearly assures the conference will once again be on the outside looking in when it comes playoff time.
I’ll go ahead and get this one out of the way first. It looks like this Tennessee team—collectively—simply doesn’t know how to win. Sure they’re some guys out there doing their job and while there is always room for improvement I’m not sold on throwing this one FULLY on the coaches. With BYU facing a 3rd and 6 with less than 30 seconds left in regulation from its own 20, you’d think your SEC defenders would know they can allow literally everything in this position EXCEPT let a receiver get behind them. Who would have thought that in year two of the Jeremy Pruitt era Tennessee would be looking to beat the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in week three just to find its first win of the season. Ouch.
Dino Babers has become a household name among avid college football fans for the jobs he has done at Syracuse. His team knocked off Clemson in the Carrier Dome two seasons ago and gave the eventual National Champions all they could handle in Death Valley last year. Perhaps this won’t be the year they truly breakthrough the wall though as the Orange were pummeled at Maryland Saturday, 62-30, giving up 42 points alone in the first half. Saturday’s primetime visit from Clemson will tell us everything we need to know about Baber’s squad this year. And perhaps Maryland, too.
Honorable Mention: Kansas
Okay, okay, I know. It’s Kansas. But when I saw this score on Sunday morning I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. The Jayhawks managed just 280 yards of total offense and were just 4-of-10 on third down. But hey, you have to give credit to Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers went on the road and captured the program’s first-ever win over a Power 5 conference team. Oh, they also got paid $600,000 in the process. Tally up another big win on the field and at the bank for the Sun Belt Conference. (Sorry, again, Tennessee.)