There are no games between two ranked teams this week, but as long-time readers of the Tip Sheet know, these are the weeks where crazy things happen.
How crazy? That’s up to the football gods.
As always, however, you will want to know who to root for and you will also want the best sports analysis in the business. I can’t promise either of those things, but I can promise that most of these game previews will have some words and punctuation at times.
Actually, I’m not comfortable promising that either.
It’s best to go in with this with zero expectations — like Michigan fans against ranked opponents.
Friday September 13
Teams: North Carolina (2-0, 1-0) at Wake Forest (2-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 6:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Wake Forest
This is actually a non-conference game because the ACC is too big to accommodate these two teams more than once every seven years. These two teams are separated by about 75 miles and yet today I just learned that they’re not in the same division. Will I remember this in a week? Probably not. I don’t actively try to forget ACC football stuff, it just comes naturally. Wake is favored by three points, but I feel like Vegas forgot that Mack Brown is back! Who would have thought Mack Brown would be back before Texas?
Wake Forest 28 – North Carolina 24
Teams: #20 Washington State (2-0) at Houston (1-1)
Time (TV): 9:15 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Houston
Washington State is throwing for 494 yards per game this season, which is second in the nation behind Temple’s 507 yards — which has only come in one game. Senior quarterback Anthony Gordon has thrown nine touchdown passes in two games and is completing 81.1% of his passes. That’s a lot of dinking and dunking, but that’s the Mike Leach way. That will continue this weekend because there is no such thing as defense in the state of Texas.
Washington State 38 – Houston 30
Saturday September 14
Teams: #6 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0) at Indiana (2-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Ohio State
If the college football season was a video game and each final boss was a level, this week’s final boss would be a little bit tougher than last week’s, and the board that you are facing him on is also a little more difficult. The quarterback is a touch better, as is the running game. The receivers are more talented. The defense is bigger, faster, and deeper. Yet, this is still just the third level of a video game and if you can’t get past the third level, you were never going to beat this thing anyway. Next week’s game against Miami is like a bonus level where you just collect a bunch of extra lives. I want to see what Justin Fields does this week. Does he remain patient and continue taking what is available? Does the running game continue their momentum from last week? But more than anything else, I want to see this Ohio State defense defend the Indiana offense. Do they continue running to the ball when they’re spread all over the place? There is more pressure on each player. How will they handle it? I assume just fine, but it won’t be perfect.
Ohio State 38 – Indiana 13
Teams: Pitt (1-1) at #13 Penn State (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Penn State
Pittsburgh isn’t as good as they need to be for this to be an interesting game, but at least it allows Penn State to have a second rivalry. I don’t know if it tops their rivalry with Big Ten refs, which dates all the way back to 1993. The Nittany Lions are favored by 17 points, which should be easy enough to manage the way this team is scoring right now. Quarterback Sean Clifford is leading the Big Ten in pass efficiency. Of his 30 completions this season, 12 have gone for more than 20 yards.
Penn State 34 – Pitt 17
Teams: Kansas State (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Kansas State
This is one of those games between two teams that are only interesting when they’re playing good teams. Now with both of them undefeated, does that make this game interesting? No. Could it be interesting? Sure. Will you be watching it? No. Nobody will. Not until the second overtime, anyway.
Mississippi State 38 – Kansas State 34
Teams: #21 Maryland (2-0) at Temple (1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (CBSSN)
Cheer For: Maryland
Temple put up 695 yards of total offense in the season opener against Bucknell. Now they’ve had a week off to prepare for a Maryland offense that leads the nation in scoring at 71 points per game, which is impressive after two games. Temple’s defense will be put to the test against a Terps’ offensive machine whose fourth-leading rusher is Anthony McFarland. Quarterback Josh Jackson is only completing 58.1% of his passes, but his receivers are making plays once they get the ball. Every cylinder is firing, but that’s easy to do when the road is clear and fairly downhill. After this game they’ll have a week off before hosting Penn State. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks in College Park.
Maryland 34 – Temple 27
Teams: UT-Chattanooga (1-1) at UT-Knoxville (0-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: Chattanooga
Tennessee-Knoxville and Tennessee-Chattanooga are separated by about two hours, but they are essentially mirror images of each other. You know what, that’s a low blow and I apologize to the Chattanooga fans. You didn’t deserve that. Your players don’t deserve that. That’s just me taking a cheap shot at a bystander in order to make myself feel better and to make Tennessee-Knoxville feel worse.
UT-Knoxville 34 – UT-Chattanooga 14
Teams: Eastern Michigan (1-1) at Illinois (2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
The only reason this isn’t a “1” in interest is because Illinois is 2-0 and they look like an actual football team again. I’m not saying they look like a good team yet, but they do look like a team that has at least gone to Wikipedia and typed in “Football.”
Illinois 38 – Eastern Michigan 17
Teams: #2 Alabama (2-0, 0-0) at South Carolina (1-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: South Carolina
You’re cheering for South Carolina because you come from a long line of chicken fighters. Your great grandfather came to this country from South Carolina and he brought the “beautiful poultry science” with him. Of course, as a child your family couldn’t afford sparring partners, so you took the brunt of those mean bastards until you were 17.
Alabama 37 – South Carolina 10
Teams: #24 USC (2-0) at BYU (1-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: BYU
USC’s offense is clicking right now under coordinator Graham Harrell and freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis. In his first start last week against Stanford, he completed 28-of-33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans aren’t running it all that well yet, but who needs the running game when you have a true freshman quarterback!? USC walks in as 4-point favorites, but they’ll be playing with success around them and at elevation, which are two things they probably won’t do well. That being said, BYU is not very good. They only won at Tennessee by three points last week. Woof.
USC 34 – BYU 24
Teams: Georgia Southern (1-1) at Minnesota (2-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
The Georgia Southern triple-option offense will be an interesting test for Minnesota. Expect a couple of sustained drives, but the Gophers should have more. Offense has not been easy for Minnesota yet, as they are averaging just 3.0 yards per carry. With their talent at running back, this is unacceptable. If they don’t start running the ball soon, the losses will begin to pile up. And that could start here.
Minnesota 27 – Georgia Southern 24
Teams: UNLV (1-1) at Northwestern (0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Northwestern
Northwestern has been stewing for two weeks after losing at Stanford to open the season, and you know what happens when a bunch of nerds lose to other nerds. They probably spent the last week putting Dungeons and Dragons curses on the Cardinal and doxing their inboxes with spam. They are going to kick this game into overdrive and blindly slap at UNLV for a good three to four minutes before tiring out and dropping to their knees and whimpering something about Harry Potter.
Northwestern 45 – UNLV 7
Teams: Arizona State (2-0) at #18 Michigan State (2-0)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Michigan State
Michigan State owes Arizona State a heartbreaking loss after last year’s 16-13 failure in Tempe. The Spartans played well in last week’s 51-17 blowout win over Western Michigan and they continued their dominating run defense. After two games, they have allowed -6 yards rushing. The Broncos did manage 67 yards on the ground last week. Speaking of the ground game, MSU redshirt freshman running back Elijah Collins came out of nowhere to rush for 192 yards on 17 carries last week. If they can get that ground game going and give quarterback Brian Lewerke time to not throw interceptions, this MSU offense could do enough to score 17 points every game and go undefeated.
Michigan State 24 – Arizona State 10
Teams: #19 Iowa (2-0) at Iowa State (1-0)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Iowa
This is the biggest thing to hit Iowa since the invention of the second set of rear wheels on pickup trucks. Iowa State opened as a 3-point favorite, but the line now has them +1.5 as money continues to come in on Iowa. The Cyclones have had a week off to prepare for this game, and based on their opening-week triple-overtime victory over FCS program Northern Iowa, they’ll need every last bit of an advantage they can get. Iowa is on a 4-game winning streak here, but this is not the game to start expecting good things from the Hawkeyes.
Iowa 26 – Iowa State 20
Teams: #9 Florida (2-0, 0-0) at Kentucky (2-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Kentucky
You’re cheering for Kentucky because they lost starting quarterback Terry Wilson for the season and you feel bad that his former backup Gunnar Hoak is now in Columbus. The Wildcats have lost 31 of the last 32 games in this series, but they are coming in on a 1-game winning streak against the Gators. But let’s not pretend like somebody needs their starting quarterback to beat Florida in football.
Florida 20 – Kentucky 16
Teams: #1 Clemson (2-0, 1-0) at Syracuse (1-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Syracuse
If Clemson doesn’t beat Syracuse by more than Maryland did last week (63-20), then Maryland better be ranked ahead of the Tigers when the new polls are released. Since there are no ranked teams left on Clemson’s schedule, all we can do is compare their results to other team’s results and adjust the rankings accordingly.
Clemson 62 – Syracuse 20 (Congrats to the No. 1-ranked Maryland Terrapins!)
Teams: Florida State (1-1, 0-0) at #25 Virginia (2-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ACCN)
Cheer For: Florida State
You won’t actually be rooting for Florida State because you’re not a monster. We have come a long way since the Seminoles lost their first ACC game back in 1995, which happened nearly four years after they joined the league. It was Virginia who did it back then, and now FSU limps into Charlottesville hoping to upset the Cavaliers in the same shocking manner. The biggest difference here, of course, is that Florida State is terrible and UVA was ranked back then. Virginia is only a 7.5-point favorite, which seems low considering they are playing the worst defense in the ACC. I’d say Willie Taggart was on the hot seat, but that would require some sort of electricity and Florida State doesn’t have any of that in their program right now.
Virginia 38 – Florida State 17
Teams: TCU (1-0) at Purdue (1-1)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Purdue
The Boilermakers were faced with a must-win situation last week against Vanderbilt and they came through with a 42-24 win. Now they face another must-win situation against TCU, who opened the season with a 39-7 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They were off last week, so they’ve been studying up on the Boilermakers, which feels pretty odd to have to type. Purdue opened as a two-point favorite, but they are now a two-point underdog because it was revealed this week that quarterback Elijah Sindelar suffered a concussion last week and if he can’t go this week, it will be freshman Jack Plummer who will get the start. As long as whoever is starting at quarterback remembers to get the ball to Rondale Moore, I’ll take Purdue here.
Purdue 37 – TCU 34
Teams: #5 Oklahoma (2-0) at UCLA (0-2)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: UCLA
You are cheering for UCLA because somebody has to. In order to boost last week’s paid attendance of 36,951 (of which maybe a third showed up), the Bruin athletic department is offering those in attendance at last week’s home loss to San Diego State four free tickets to this week’s game. Which is like offering the witnesses of JFK’s assassination an opportunity to watch RFK gunned down in front of your entire family. UCLA is only +23.5. This feels like easy money, he said foolishly.
Oklahoma 45 – UCLA 24
Teams: Northern Illinois (1-1) at Nebraska (1-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Nebraska
The Huskers are favored by two touchdowns in this one. Two interesting notes: 1) Nebraska has won 20 of their last 22 home night games, and 2) Northern Illinois has won four of their last six games against Big Ten opponents. Oddly, the Huskies are actually throwing the ball better than they’re running it. That doesn’t bode well on the road. Nebraska is forcing turnovers at a very high rate. If that continues Saturday night, this game won’t be all that close.
Nebraska 34 – Northern Illinois 20