Breaking down Week 2 of the 2021 college football schedule

By Amy Daughters -

With the NFL kicking off on Thursday, Week 2 of the 2021 college football season doesn’t get underway until Friday evening.

In all, it’s a whopping 82 games, 78 of which are slated for a Super Saturday. As was the case in Week 1, quantity doesn’t necessarily denote quality – 35 of the total contests on offer (or 43%) feature an FBS team playing an FCS opponent. That said, don’t let the “gimmee” games fool you – of last weekend’s 37 FBS vs. FCS contests, a shocking six (or 16%) ended in an upset with the smaller school thwarting its bigger opponent.

For all those who’s team didn’t survive Week 1 – shake it off, there’s a lot of football left to be played. For those who did manage to win last weekend – feel fortunate, and hopeful, and stay hydrated.

WHAT TO WATCH

Friday, Sept. 10

7:30pm EST – ESPN 2Kansas at (17) Coastal Carolina

The Chanticleers have won both previous meetings (38-23 in 2020 and 12-7 in 2019 – both in Lawrence) and are 25-point favorites in this one.

9:30pm EST – FS1UTEP at Boise State

Saturday, Sept. 11

Noon EST – FOX – (12) Oregon at (3) Ohio State

Though the Buckeyes are two-touchdown favorites in this one they struggled epically vs. the pass last season, finishing No. 122 nationally and returning only five defensive starters. OSU coughed up 205 yards through the air in its win over Minnesota in Week 1 – the third best passing performance for the Gophers since the beginning of the 2020 season. The Ducks – who almost got shot down by Fresno State last week – may be more dangerous than advertised.

Noon EST – ESPN 2South Carolina at East Carolina

Even though South Carolina opened with a 46-0 shutout over FCS Eastern Illinois, the oddsmakers in Vegas have them as only two point favorites vs. East Carolina – a program which hasn’t posted a winning record since 2014. This one may come down to how well the Pirates’ D (which finished 2020 ranked No. 98 vs. the run and gave up 226 ground yards to App State in Week 1) handles the Gamecocks’ potent ground game.

Noon EST – ESPN – Pitt at Tennessee

3:30pm EST – FOX – (5) Texas A&M vs. Colorado (at Denver, Colo.)

3:30pm EST – Big Ten Network – Buffalo at Nebraska

Buffalo rushed for 257 yards and seven scores in its 69-7  beatdown of FCS Wagner last week. While Nebraska has only given up an average of 148 ground yards in its first two games, it’s been vs. Illinois and FCS Fordham – not necessarily all-world rushing attacks. The Huskers allowed 200-plus ground yards in four of their eight outings last season including giving up four rushing TDs twice. This one could get interesting.

3:30pm EST – ESPNU – Cal at TCU

3:30pm EST – CBS – Air Force at Navy

4:30pm EST – ABC – (10) Iowa at (9) Iowa State

A real strength vs. strength affair, tune in to this one to see Iowa State’s junior RB Breece Hall (#28) – who rushed for 100-plus in nine of his 12 appearances last season – take on an Iowa D that finished 2020 ranked No. 10 nationally vs. the run. This is the first-ever Top Ten matchup between the two schools.

7pm EST – ESPN – (15) Texas at Arkansas

7pm EST – ESPNU – Appalachian State at (22) Miami Fla.

While this pairing may look like a forgone conclusion the Hurricanes are only five-point favorites. The Mountaineers return seventeen starters to their 9-3 product from a year ago including all but one from a defense that finished 2020 ranked No. 16 nationally in scoring.

7pm EST – ESPN 2 – NC State at Mississippi State

7:30pm EST – SEC Network – Missouri at Kentucky

8pm EST – ABC – Washington at Michigan

10:15pm EST – ESPN – (21) Utah at BYU

10:30pm EST – FOX – Stanford at (14) USC

OFF THIS WEEK (3)

  • MWC: San Jose State
  • Pac-12: (16) UCLA
  • Sun Belt: ULM

FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (8)

  • Ball State at (11) Penn State
  • Buffalo at Nebraska
  • Georgia State at (24) North Carolina
  • Middle Tennessee at (19) Virginia Tech
  • Purdue at UConn
  • Texas State at Florida International
  • Toledo at (8) Notre Dame
  • Vanderbilt at Colorado State

REUNITED…And it feels so good   

  • Pittsburgh at Tennessee (last played in 1983)
  • Eastern Michigan at (18) Wisconsin (last played in 1996)
  • Illinois at Virginia (last played in 1999)
  • San Diego State at Arizona (last played in 2001)

STREAKERS

9: (21) Utah has won 9-straight over BYU (last loss in 2009)

10: Boston College has won 10-straight over UMass (last loss in 1978)

15: SMU has won 15-straight home games vs. North Texas (only loss there in 1933)

22: Oklahoma State has won 22-straight home games vs. Tulsa (last loss there in 1951)

NEVER-LAND

  • Army has NEVER beaten Western Kentucky (0-3)
  • Eastern Michigan has NEVER beaten (18) Wisconsin (0-3)
  • Kansas has NEVER beaten (17) Coastal Carolina (0-2)
  • Miami Ohio has NEVER beaten Minnesota (0-4)
  • (8) Notre Dame has NEVER lost to a current MAC member (8-0)
  • (12) Oregon has NEVER beaten (3) Ohio State (0-9)
  • UTEP has NEVER beaten Boise State (0-5)

PERFECT STORMS

Ball State at (11) Penn State (Saturday, 3:30pm EST, FS1)

One of the most impressive components of Penn State’s Week 1 victory over (18) Wisconsin was the 247 passing yards it hung up on a Badger D that returned eight starters to a unit that finished 2020 ranked No. 5 – in the nation – in total defense. It’s the most air yards that Wisconsin has allowed during a regular season game since giving up 296 in a win at then (10) Minnesota in the 2019 finale. This week the Nittany Lions will fire up their passing attack against Ball State, which finished 2020 ranked No. 118 in the nation against the pass and coughed up a whopping 367 air yards in last Saturday’s win over FCS Western Illinois. Keep an eye on Penn State senior WR Jahan Dotson (#5) who posted 100-plus receiving yards in five of his nine appearances last season and earned 102 in the opener vs. Wisconsin last week.

(15) Texas at Arkansas (Saturday, 7pm EST, ESPN)

Though Arkansas survived a scare vs. Rice in Week 1 it gave up 227 yards passing in the win – the most the Owls have posted against a Power 5 member since hanging up 254 on Wake Forest early in 2019. Cue up a young Texas offense (fresh off gaining 265 passing yards and three TDs in its Week 1 win vs. Louisiana) and this one has the potential to make freshman QB Hudson Card (#1) look like a rising star. Where the Longhorns finished last season ranked No. 27 nationally in passing offense, Arkansas landed at No. 102 vs. the pass.

UNLV at (23) Arizona State (Saturday, 10:30pm EST, ESPN2)

Arizona State scored six rushing TDs in its 41-14 beatdown of FCS Southern Utah last week, only two teams have scored more thus far. This week, the Sun Devils host UNLV which finished last season ranked No. 122 vs. the run, including coughing up 22 rushing TDs in only six appearances. The Rebels allowed a whopping 11 in their final two outings in 2020 – six to Wyoming and five to Hawaii. Keep an eye on Arizona State RBs senior Rachaad White (#3), sophomore DeaMonte Trayanum (#1) and freshman Daniyel Ngata (#4).

HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS

THE BAYOU BUCKET – Houston at RiceSaturday, 6:30pm EST, CBSSN – series started in 1971 – Houston leads 31-11 and has won five-straight.

Houston and Rice’s campuses are located a mere five miles apart in Houston, Texas – also known as the Bayou City. The first game between the two, in 1971, was also Houston’s first-ever league game as a member of the Southwest Conference. The 1995 contest was the final SWC game in history.

The trophy, a gold bucket attached to a large wooden base, was first awarded in 1974.  Houston has captured the Bucket 29 times vs. Rice’s 10. The two have plans to meet again in 2022 and 2023.

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF’S TROPHY Air Force at NavySaturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS – series started in 1960 – Air Force leads 31-22 but the two have split the last eight, the home team winning on each occasion.

The first leg of the three-way contest between Army, Navy and Air Force, the Commander in Chief was established in 1972 to ensure that the newer Air Force Academy (which kicked off football in 1957) would play Navy and Army (both fielding a team since 1891) annually. The Falcons lead the way with 20 trophies, followed by the Midshipmen with 16 and the Black Knights with nine. Air Force hasn’t captured the prize since 2016, the longest current drought among the three academies.

Army and Air Force are scheduled to meet at Globe Field in Arlington, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 6. Army vs. Navy is slated for Saturday, Dec. 11 in East Rutherford, N.J.

THE CY-HAWK TROPHY(10) Iowa at (9) Iowa StateSaturday, 4:30pm EST, ABC – series started in 1894 – Iowa leads 45-22 and has won five-straight.

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 debuted in its current form in 2012. Iowa has won the Cy-Hawk 28 times vs. Iowa State’s 14.

THE PAINT BUCKET – Memphis at Arkansas StateSaturday, 7pm EST, ESPN+ – series started in 1914 – Memphis leads 30-23-5 and has won two-straight.

The Paint Bucket Bowl (also referred to as the “Mid-South’s Oldest Rivalry”) has featured some memorable moments including a Hail Mary pass in 2006 (the “Bluff City” miracle), a bench-clearing brawl in 1992 and a controversial fifth down-play in 1987. The Paint Bucket trophy (an actual bucket decorated in both school’s colors) – along with the tradition of the winner of the game smearing paint on a designated area of the loser’s campus – were both established to “eliminate the defacing of each campus and the ‘kidnapping’ of opposing football players during game week.” The two campuses are located a mere 70 miles apart.

MIND-BLOWER

When Pitt meets Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday, it will mark only the third time the two have ever met on the gridiron and the first time in 38 years. Despite the lack of history, and even though their campuses are located almost 500 miles apart – their football teams have a deep connection.

The common fabric is Johnny Majors, who after playing halfback at Tennessee in the 1950s began his coaching career in Knoxville in 1957. His first head coaching job was at Iowa State where he went 24-30-1 in five seasons before taking over at Pitt (a team that went 1-10 the previous year) in 1973. In 1976, he led the Panthers to a 12-0 record which included the program’s most recent national championship.

The magical run was enough to get him the head job at his alma mater. Majors posted a 116-62-8 record during his 16 seasons at Tennessee, including winning the SEC and finishing in the Top Ten in 1985, 1989 and 1990. He also led the Vols in their only two previous meetings vs. Pitt – in 1980 and 1983 – both home games and both losses. Majors finished his career back at Pitt where he led the Panthers to a 45-45-1 mark from 1993-96.

To honor the link, the two-game series (they’ll meet again in 2022) has been named the “Johnny Majors Classic.”

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com. Returning starter data courtesy of Phil Steele.

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