Breaking down Week 2 of the 2018 college football schedule

By Amy Daughters -

After enjoying 86 games spread over five days in Week 1, Week 2 of the 2018 college football schedule features 78 games in just two days.

With the NFL kicking off this week, it’s the only Thursday night in the regular season devoid of college football. That leaves just one game on Friday night – (16) TCU at SMU at 8pm EST on ESPN2 – and a whopping 77 games on Saturday.

Though FBS vs. FCS contests drop from last week’s 42 to 29, they still represent 37% of what’s on offer. Only 14 (or 18%) of the total games feature a Power 5 school taking on a fellow Power club.

On Saturday, the best early viewing options are (18) Mississippi State at Kansas State at Noon EST on ESPN and UCLA at (6) Oklahoma at 1pm EST on FOX. In the afternoon, tune in to CBS for one of only two ranked vs. ranked games in Week 2 with (3) Georgia at (24) South Carolina at 3:30pm EST.

The evening kicks off early with (2) Clemson at Texas A&M at 7pm EST on ESPN and Kentucky at (25) Florida at 7:30pm EST on the SEC Network. Just after these games get underway, don’t forget to check out (13) Penn State at Pitt at 8pm EST on ABC and (17) USC at (10) Stanford at 8:30pm EST on FOX. In the later time slot is (15) Michigan State at Arizona State at 10:45pm EST on ESPN.

RANKED vs. RANKED (2)

  • (3) Georgia at (24) South Carolina – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
  • (15) USC at (10) Stanford – Saturday, 8:30pm EST, FOX

OFF THIS WEEK (3)

  • MAC: Ohio, Toledo
  • Sun Belt: Louisiana

FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (12)

  • Air Force at FAU
  • Appalachian State at Charlotte
  • Ball State at (8) Notre Dame
  • Fresno State at Minnesota
  • Georgia State at NC State
  • Georgia Tech at South Florida
  • Liberty at Army
  • Nevada at Vanderbilt
  • New Mexico at (5) Wisconsin
  • Tulsa at Texas
  • Utah at Northern Illinois
  • Wyoming at Missouri

REUNITED…And it feels so good.

  • (18) Mississippi State at Kansas State (last played in 1977)
  • (15) Michigan State at Arizona State (last played in 1986)
  • Arkansas at Colorado State (last played in 1990)
  • UTEP at UNLV (last played in 1993)
  • San Jose State at Washington State (last played in 1996)

STREAKERS

12: Cincinnati has won 12-straight over Miami Ohio (last loss in 2005)

31: (25) Florida has won 31-straight over Kentucky (last loss in 1986)

NEVER-LAND

  • (2) Clemson has NEVER won in College Station, Texas (0-2)
  • Rutgers has NEVER beaten (4) Ohio State (0-4)
  • UConn has NEVER beaten a current Mountain West member (0-2)
  • UTEP has NEVER won at UNLV (0-4)
  • Western Michigan has NEVER beaten (21) Michigan (0-6)

PERFECT STORMS

(18) Mississippi State at Kansas State (Saturday, Noon EST, ESPN)

Not only did Kansas State finish 2017 ranked No. 129 out of the 130 FBS teams in pass defense, it returns just five defensive starters this season. It makes the fact that FCS South Dakota hung up 257 yards through the air on the Wildcats in Week 1 even more believable. Kansas State needed a 15-point rally in the fourth quarter to come back and beat Coyotes 27-24. Usher in (18) Mississippi State, which returns starting senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (#7), his top two receiving targets and all but one starting member of the O-line. Fitzgerald was suspended for the opener, but Sophomore Keytaon Thompson (#10) stepped up in relief, racking up 364 passing yards and five touchdowns in the 63-6 rout of FCS Stephen F. Austin.

Air Force at Florida Atlantic (Saturday, 2pm EST)

After a slow start at (6) Oklahoma, Florida Atlantic’s rushing attack, ranked No. 6 in the nation at the end of last year, has an opportunity to rebound against an Air Force D that was No. 118 vs. the run last season. On one side, it’s Owl junior running back Devin Singletary (#5) who was No. 1 in the FBS in 2017 in touchdowns (32) and No. 5 in yards per game (137.14). On the other, it’s a Falcon defense that returns six starters to a unit that coughed up 235-plus rushing yards on five different occasions.

Arkansas State at (1) Alabama (Saturday, 3:30pm EST, ESPN2)

While this one looks like a mismatch from every conceivable angle, look for Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (#13) to stage a Heisman rally vs. an Arkansas State defense that finished 2017 ranked No. 91 in the FBS against the pass. What doesn’t help is that the Red Wolves return just five starters on D, a number that includes just two members of the secondary. Also keep an eye on Crimson Tide junior defensive end Raekwon Davis (#99), he recorded 8.5 sacks as a sophomore (tied for No. 21 in the FBS ranks) and will face an Arkansas State O-line that finished tied for No. 104 nationally in sacks allowed (33).

South Alabama at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 8pm EST)

Another potential coming out party, tune in to see Oklahoma State senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius (#14) take on a South Alabama secondary that finished last year ranked No. 114 vs. the pass. Cornelius went 24 of 34 for 295 yards, five scores and one interception in the 58-17 win over FCS Missouri State in the opener. Also check out senior wide receiver Jalen McCleskey (1), he was the No. 3 target as a junior and has waited his turn to be in the spotlight.

HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS

The Cy-Hawk TrophyIowa State at Iowa – series started in 1894 – Iowa leads 43-22-0 and has won four of the last five.

After meeting 24 times between 1894-1934, the Hawkeyes and Cyclones took a 43-year break, finally reuniting in 1977. The original version of the Cy-Hawk trophy was first awarded in 1978, was revamped to not-so glowing reviews in 2011 and then finally debuted in its current form in 2012. Iowa has won the trophy 26 times vs. Iowa State’s 14.

The Iron Skillet – (16) TCU at SMU – series started in 1915 – TCU leads 50-40-7 all-time and has won the last six and 16 of the last 18.

According to Louis Ojeda Jr. at Fox Sports Southwest, “The tradition of the ‘Battle for the Iron Skillet’ began in 1946 to prevent vandalism by fans a year after more than $1,000 in damage had been done to both TCU and SMU campuses. But why a piece of cookware? There’s a myth that it was sparked by an SMU fan who was frying frogs’ legs in a skillet at a tailgate. The tradition died over the years, but it was revived in 1993 with the introduction of a new Iron Skillet.” TCU has won 19 of the new frying pans vs. SMU’s five. The two are scheduled to meet again next season, but after that don’t have any future dates booked.

The Victory Bell – Cincinnati vs. Miami Ohio (at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio) – series started in 1888 – Miami leads 59-56-7 but Cincinnati has won the last 12.

One of seven bells played for at the FBS level, Cincinnati and Miami’s rivalry bell is tied with North Carolina and Duke’s for the oldest such prize. According to legend, the original bell was taken from Miami’s campus in Oxford, Ohio by Cincinnati fans in the 1890s (the two schools are located only 40 miles apart), establishing the tradition of the winning team retaining the bell. Today, the original bell is back on display at Miami with a replica awarded to the winner of the annual game. The two schools have plans to play through 2029.

MIND-BLOWER

According to U.S. News & World Report, there are six universities with FBS football programs ranked among the Top 20 academic schools in the nation. Stanford comes in at No. 5, Duke is at No. 9, Northwestern is tied for No. 11, Rice and Vanderbilt are tied at No. 14 and Notre Dame is at No. 18.

This Saturday’s clash – using academic rankings – between (5) Duke and (9) Northwestern (Noon EST on ESPNU), is one of only four times in 2018 that two of the best academic institutions in the country will face off at the highest level of college football. It’s also the only such matchup that doesn’t include (18) Notre Dame.

Here’s a look at the other “brain bowls” this season.

(14) Vanderbilt at (18) Notre Dame – Saturday, Sept. 15, 2:30pm EST, NBC

(5) Stanford at (18) Notre Dame – Saturday, Sept. 29, 7:30pm EST, NBC

(18) Notre Dame at (9) Northwestern – Saturday, Nov. 3

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com

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