By Brad Carroll
Week 1 of the college football season was a nice warm-up act to get fans everywhere acclimated back into the greatest sports time of the year. Week 2, however, is where the action really picks up, with three games featuring ranked programs playing each other, highlighted by No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State, along with Jim Harbaugh's return to the Big House as head coach at Michigan, and five other games featuring a team ranked in the top 20. It makes for one heck of a Saturday.
Of course, we have you covered with previews and our college football experts picking the top games of the week against the spread. Check out our Friday Utah-Utah State column here, and our Saturday late games column here. As always, follow us on Twitter, and we'll return the favor. For now, here's our early-games Saturday picks column featuring South Florida at Florida State, Oregon State at Michigan, Notre Dame at Virginia, Georgia at Vanderbilt and Fresno State at Ole Miss.
South Florida at No. 11 Florida State, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
The Spread: South Florida +28; Florida State -28
Brad's Analysis: Both teams had impressive opening victories last week, with Florida State routing Texas State, 59-16, and South Florida rolling over Florida A&M, 51-3. Of course, neither team had much competition in their openers, but both accomplished exactly what they needed to. Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had a huge debut with the Seminoles, completing 19-of-25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Dalvin Cook had 156 rushing yards on 19 carries, scoring twice, and Mario Pender added 92 yards on the ground and a score to lead Florida State on the ground. South Florida ended up winning easily, but led just 16-0 at the half. Quarterback Quinton Flowers had an easy time dissecting the Division I-AA opponent, throwing for two touchdowns and running in another in his second career start. The Bulls rushed for 275 yards on 46 carries and four touchdowns. Florida State, however, won't get pushed around on the defensive front, and will have more than enough offense to punish South Florida with a big victory.
Brad's Score: Florida State 49, South Florida 14
Craig's Score: Florida State 49, South Florida 24
Glenn's Score: Florida State 38, South Florida 13
Matt's Score: Florida State 56, South Florida 13
Oregon State at Michigan, 12 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Oregon State +15.5; Michigan -15.5
Brad's Analysis: The mood in Michigan Stadium Saturday afternoon should be a little more subdued after the Wolverines opened the season with a loss to a very beatable Utah squad last week, but with coach Jim Harbaugh returning home after playing quarterback for the school, it should still be a raucous atmosphere. Michigan could and probably should have beaten Utah last week, but was did in by quarterback's Jake Rudock, who threw three interceptions, including a pick-six that sealed the Wolverines fate in the fourth quarter. Michigan had no running game, with De'Veon Smith picking up just 47 yards on 17 carries. Amara Darboh (8-101-1) and Jake Butt (8-93-1) had big days catching the ball and could be the focus of the offense going forward. Seth Collins won the starting quarterback job last week for Oregon State after the Beavers beat Weber state 26-7 in their opener. Oregon State led just 13-7 in the fourth quarter before adding 13 points to pull away in coach Gary Andersen's debut. Collins threw two touchdown passes and had 152 rushing yards for the Beavers. Slowing Collins down could be an issue for Michigan, and should lend to a closer-than-expected score. Michigan wins, but Oregon State will never be too far out of the game.
Brad's Score: Michigan 31, Oregon State 20
Craig's Score: Michigan 31, Oregon State 17
Glenn's Score: Michigan 21, Oregon State 20
Matt's Score: Michigan 42, Oregon State 21
No. 9 Notre Dame at Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Notre Dame -13; Virginia +13
Brad's Analysis: There might not have been a more impressive team in Week 1 than Notre Dame, which routed visiting Texas 38-3 last Saturday night. The Irish allowed just 163 yards on defense and forced eight three-and-outs out of 11 Texas offensive possessions, completely dominating the Longhorns. On offense, quarterback Malik Zaire starred, completing 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Will Fuller caught seven passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Texas is nowhere near the powerhouse it once was, and the offense is obviously a joke, but there's no denying the Irish made a statement to the rest of the nation with the win. Virginia lost its opener to UCLA, dropping a 34-16 decision on the road, covering the spread in the process after a late touchdown. That would be the only touchdown the Cavaliers scored in the game. Quarterback Matt Johns threw for 238 yards with a touchdown and interception against the Bruins. Taquan Mizzell was the long bright spot, catching eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Virginia typically plays well as big underdogs, but the Irish should have no problem winning by at least two touchdowns.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 35, Virginia 21
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 38, Virginia 20
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 42, Virginia 20
Matt's Score: Notre Dame 35, Virginia 14
No. 10 Georgia at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Georgia -21; Vanderbilt +21
Brad's Analysis: Vanderbilt had just about the most embarrassing loss of the season so far, scoring just 12 points in a loss to Western Kentucky at home. Vanderbilt might not be an SEC power, but to lose at home to a less-than-mid-major is simply terrible. The Commodores didn't score a touchdown until a fourth and goal play with 33 seconds left to pull within two. They didn't convert the two-point conversion and Western Kentucky had the upset. The Hilltoppers allowed 39.9 points per game last season, so Vanderbilt is very, very bad. Georgia dropped one spot in the rankings despite rolling over Louisiana Monroe, 51-14. Heisman candidate Nick Chubb got off to a strong start, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. The Bulldogs rushed for 243 yards overall on the over-matched Warhawks. On defense, Georgia allowed just 45 rushing yards on 26 carries, a 1.7-yard per carry average. Vanderbilt should give the Bulldogs a better fight here at home than Louisiana Monroe, although after the Commodores season opener, that is debatable. Georgia should roll to a big victory, with Chubb having a huge day on the ground.
Brad's Score: Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 17
Craig's Score: Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 13
Glenn's Score: Georgia 42, Vanderbilt 17
Matt's Score: Georgia 63, Vanderbilt 17
Fresno State at No. 17 Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: Fresno State +29; Ole Miss -29
Brad's Analysis: Ole Miss let everyone know it was ready for the college football season, scoring 76 points in a huge victory over Tennessee-Martin last week. Yes, the opponent was a cupcake, but 76 points is 76 points. The Rebels finished with 662 yards of total offense and scored the most points since 1935. Quarterback Chad Kelly solidified his hold on the starting job by passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns in limited action. Fresno State beat its own cupcake, Abilene Christian, 34-13 in its season opener. Marteze Waller rushed for 154 yards, his ninth career 100-yard game, to lead the Bulldogs offense. Quarterback Zack Greenlee had three touchdown passes. In this matchup Saturday, Ole Miss should have no problem putting up a ton of points on Fresno State, but a strong Bulldogs running game will keep the score from getting too out of hand, which means losing by no more than four touchdowns.
Brad's Score: Ole Miss 49, Fresno State 21
Craig's Score: Ole Miss 38, Fresno State 6
Glenn's Score: Ole Miss 68, Fresno State 20
Matt's Score: Ole Miss 38, Fresno State 10