With week two of the college football season behind us, Matt and I wanted to take a look back and give our hot takes on some of the big stories of the weekend and a quick preview of the big week three games.
Paul’s Hot Takes
Injuries continued to be a big issue in college football as Notre Dame lost Malik Zaire for the season with a broken ankle, just one week after he looked dominant versus Texas. All is not lost for the Irish as DeShone Kizer came in and led the Irish to a week two victory and now will be asked to lead a talented Notre Dame team for the remainder of the season. If Kizer can produce for the Irish, they may be in contention for a playoff berth in December.
Jim Harbaugh got his first victory as Michigan head coach, as the Wolverines easily handled Oregon State. While it may take some time for Harbaugh to build the program back up to elite standards, he will have them ready to play hard each and every week. A name to keep a close eye on for dynasty and devy leagues is tight end Jake Butt, as Harbaugh has made him the focal point of the pass offense.
One week after looking dreadful, Christian Hackenberg looked a little better for Penn State this week, leading them to a victory over Buffalo. While he got the victory, his stat line still leaves a lot to be desired as he still only completed 14 of 27 passes for one touchdown versus an inferior opponent. As a guy that is being talked about as a top 10 pick, I just expected to see more improvement and better efficiency this season.
Another quarterback and team that has had an interesting start to the season is Auburn. Jeremy Johnson continued to be inconsistent this week as Auburn needed a late score to send the game into overtime, before they beat Jacksonville State, a team they were favored by 39 points over. Johnson, who I dubbed as a potential breakout star this season, has had a rough start to the season. Johnson and the Tigers will have to be much better if they hope to beat LSU this upcoming week.
When Clemson lost their top receiver Mike Williams last week due to injury, it meant more pressure was going to fall on quarterback Deshaun Watson. While Clemson has faced two inferior opponents so far, Watson has looked good in both games, and looks to be primed for a monster season. Artavis Scott and Charone Peake both looked good this week as they will be the top two targets for Watson with Williams no longer there.
Big name wide receivers from the SEC, Duke Williams of Auburn and Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss, have both started out the season slowly as two players being discussed as possible first round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. With division play starting up this week, both will be asked to rise up and become more impactful during the games. NFL scouts will be watching closely the two of these guys for the remainder of the season as they try to determine their place in next year’s draft.
Vernon Adams and the Oregon Ducks could not pull off the upset at Michigan State this past week as they lost 31-28. Adams struggled in his second start replacing Marcus Mariota, as the Spartans defense gave him fits all night. Conner Cook was efficient for most of the night for the Spartans as he led his team to victory. While Cook is a productive college quarterback, I do not believe his skill set translates as well to the NFL level and do not think he will be selected in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Matt’s Hot Takes
In a game that was tied at the half #11 Florida State pulled away in the second half, outscoring South Florida 27 to 7. The Seminoles offensive load was shouldered by Dalvin Cook who carried the ball 30 times for 266 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The 6'0 203lb sophomore has now recorded 422 rushing yards on 49 carries (8.6 yards/carry) and has found the end zone five times in the first two games.
In a game in which Penn State needed a win, the Nittany Lions got a major contribution from their true freshman running back Saquon Barkley. A favorite of the podcast, Barkley's 12 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown help propel the team to victory. Barkley has great size, a low center of gravity and good change of direction. The future is bright for the Whitehall (Pa.) native.
With the unfortunate loss of junior running back Tarean Folston for the season due to a torn ACL, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was forced to turn to senior running back C.J. Prosise. Over the last two games Prosise has delivered, recording 37 carries for 253 yards and one touchdown.
Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller continues to fill up the stat sheet, recording five receptions for 124 receiving yards and two touchdowns against at Virginia. A member of the Biletnikoff Award Watch list, Fuller now has 12 receptions for 266 yards and four touchdowns over the first two weeks of the college football season.
In a shocking loss to Toledo this past week, Arkansas will look to get itself better against Texas Tech this week before facing Texas A&M, Tennessee, Alabama and finally Auburn. The Razorbacks vaunted running attack has been stumbling as of late and the loss of top wide receiver Keon Hatcher for at least six weeks does not bode well for their passing attack either. Look for Hunter Henry, one of my favorite "combo" tight ends in the country to continue to assert himself as a passing threat. The 6'5” Henry is a match-up nightmare as a receiver with good hands and suddenness in and out of his breaks. This past week against Toledo he recorded eight receptions for 117 yards.
Christian Kirk was one of our favorite freshman wide receivers this preseason. The 5'11” 200lb receiver has great initial burst, good change of direction, and good hands. In his first two weeks at Texas A&M, Kirk has 10 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Jared Goff continues to impress going 17 for 24 for 321 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception against San Diego State. Goff has thrown for six touchdowns and two interceptions in the Golden Bears first wins of the season.
The USC offense is playing at a very high level thanks in no small part to quarterback, and Heisman hopeful, Cody Kessler. Kessler went 26 for 31 for 410 passing yards and three touchdowns against Idaho. Kessler has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two games. Kessler's go to player is sophomore wide receiver Ju Ju Smith-Schuster who recorded ten receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Smith-Schuster now has 14 receptions for 281 yards and three touchdowns through the first two games. Smith-Schuster has yet turn 19 years of age and this pair could lead USC back to prominence this season. On the podcast I compared Smith to Jarvis Landry, and still believe that comparison is apt.
One other note about USC, true freshman running back Ronald Jones II (a player we were really excited about this preseason) has been making the most of his opportunities. This past week Jones II carried the ball eight times for 83 rushing yards and a touchdown. On the season Jones II has 14 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Jones II is a player with a ton of promise.
Week 3 games to look forward to:
#18 Auburn vs # 13 LSU
#14 Georgia Tech vs #8 Notre Dame
#15 Ole Miss vs #2 Alabama
#19 BYU vs #10 UCLA