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College Football ’18: Week 2 Top 25 previews

Top 25

Each week, The Game Haus will preview every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

Here we go with Week 2 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 3 Georgia (1-0) at No. 24 South Carolina (1-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Bulldogs: Georgia had little trouble taking care of Austin Peay as six different players scored touchdowns. The Bulldogs also have won three straight against South Carolina, but only one of those has come on the road.

Scouting the Gamecocks: South Carolina cracked the Top 25 after beating Coastal Carolina, and it will be amped up for this challenge at home. Expect the Gamecocks to get the ball in the hands of versatile receiver Deebo Samuel as much as possible.

Winner: Georgia

No. 2 Clemson (1-0) at Texas A&M (1-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Tigers: Dabo Swinney just can’t shake Jimbo Fisher, whom he will face this weekend, but with the former Florida State coach guiding Texas A&M. Clemson is the better team and Fisher doesn’t seem to have the personnel to hang for four quarters.

Top 25
Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney (Photo by sbnation.com)

Scouting the Aggies: This game will be about emotion for Fisher and his team, but A&M will need to play a perfect game to have a chance at pulling off the upset. It should be fun, but in the end, Clemson will prevail.

Winner: Clemson

 

 

 

No. 17 USC (1-0) at No. 10 Stanford (1-0), 8:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Trojans: Last season, USC won both meetings with the Cardinal, including the Pac-12 title game. However, Stanford has averaged 216.0 rushing yards in the last five meetings between these West Coast powers.

Scouting the Cardinal: Bryce Love was held to 29 yards on 18 carries against San Diego State last week. That’s the bad news. The good: He totaled 285 yards on the ground in the two games versus Southern Cal in 2017.

Winner: Stanford

The Rest

No. 16 TCU (1-0) at SMU (0-1), 8 p.m., Friday

The Skinny: The Horned Frogs might not have it as easy as they did in a 55-7 blasting of Southern in their opener, but SMU lost by 23 to North Texas last weekend and is a ways away from pulling off the upset.

Winner: TCU

No. 18 Mississippi State(1-0) at Kansas State (1-0), Noon, Saturday
Top 25
Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by footballmaven.io)

The Skinny: Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back from his one-game suspension and slated to start. The challenge for the Bulldogs might be tough going into Manhattan, where the mind of the campus is on the severe flooding that occurred this week. However, the Wildcats barely got by FCS South Dakota last weekend.

Winner: Mississippi State

 

New Mexico (1-0) at No. 5 Wisconsin (1-0), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: A dominant effort against Western Kentucky last week has some believing the Badgers may not only be the best team in the Big Ten, but also in the nation. We knew the defense would be good, but the 491 yards of offense came way too easy.

Winner: Wisconsin

Western Michigan (0-1) at No. 21 Michigan (0-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: How much time does Jim Harbaugh have left in Ann Arbor? Who knows, really, even if the school remains behind him. If this game was played two years ago, Michigan would be in trouble, but it should avoid an upset.

Winner: Michigan

UCLA (0-1) at No. 6 Oklahoma (1-0), 1 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Sooners had no trouble rolling over Florida Atlantic in a game that had some preseason intrigue. Don’t be surprised if this one gets out of hand early in Oklahoma’s favor after Chip Kelly’s debut with UCLA was soured by Cincinnati at home.

Winner: Oklahoma

Portland State (0-1) at No. 23 Oregon (1-0), 2 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Justin Herbert (Photo by goducks.com)

The Skinny: Quarterback Justin Herbert is a name to remember. He likely won’t play a full game here, but he and the Ducks first-team offense should cruise when they are in against this FCS opponent.

Winner: Oregon

 

 

 

William & Mary (1-0) at No. 12 Virginia Tech (1-0), 2 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Josh Jackson had a strong game under center and the Hokies defense held Florida State to 327 total yards and recorded five sacks Monday. That No. 1 defense probably won’t see more than a half of action this time, but will be ready.

Winner: Virginia Tech

Arkansas State (1-0) at No. 1 Alabama (1-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Tua Tagovailoa is the official starter for the Crimson Tide and Jalen Hurts will be used in other ways to help the team – as long as he’s still on it. That could happen as early as this weekend when the Tide will continue to roll.

Winner: Alabama

Ball State (1-0) at No. 8 Notre Dame (1-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Photo by indystar.com

The Skinny: How much of last weekend’s win over Michigan was because the Irish were so much better or that the Wolverines are so overrated? That question probably won’t be answered this week because Notre Dame should not be in any immediate trouble.

Winner: Notre Dame

 

 

Rutgers (1-0) at No. 4 Ohio State (1-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Urban Meyer-less Buckeyes tied a record for points in an opener in their 77-31 victory over Oregon State. They very well could go off again against Rutgers, maybe not scoring into the 70s, but perhaps close in this Big Ten opener.

Winner: Ohio State

North Dakota (1-0) at No. 9 Washington (0-1), 5 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Huskies should consistently produce more than just field goals in this game, as their offense expects to be more potent than against Auburn. But in the big picture, Washington, at the moment, doesn’t have the look of a College Football Playoff contender.

Winner: Washington

Savannah State (0-1) at No. 22 Miami, Fla. (0-1), 6 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: This should be a perfect bounce-back game for the Hurricanes after falling to LSU, but questions still remain. Most notably, whether quarterback Malik Rosier (15 of 25, one touchdown, two interceptions vs. LSU) is capable of leading the offense to better days.

Winner: Miami

South Carolina State (0-1) at No. 19 UCF (1-0), 6 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
McKenzie Milton (Photo by gettyimages.com)

The Skinny: McKenzie Milton is a serious Heisman candidate, but probably won’t need to show much in this contest. The Knights are headed for a 15th straight victory and the confidence should keep growing.

Winner: UCF

 

 

 

Youngstown State (0-1) at No. 14 West Virginia (1-0), 6 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Will Grier to David Sills proved to be the game plan in last week’s win over Tennessee. It may be again for a little bit in this one, but don’t expect either of the Mountaineer stars to play a full game.

Winner: West Virginia

Southeastern Louisiana (0-1) at No. 11 LSU (1-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Tigers made a bold statement by handling then-No. 8 Miami, Fla., to open the season. The verdict may still be out regarding how successful LSU will be this season, but it won’t be questioned this week.

Winner: LSU

Alabama State (1-0) at No. 7 Auburn (1-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Beating a top 10 team in Washington was a strong way for Auburn to start the season. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham was efficient and the defense stout. Things will be much easier and more dominant in the Tigers’ home opener.

Winner: Auburn

Kentucky (1-0) at No. 25 Florida (1-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Dan Mullen (Photo by gatorcountry.com)

The Skinny: The Dan Mullen debut in Gainesville was a success, and enough to move the Gators into the Top 25. Feleipe Franks (five first-half touchdown passes) shined in last weekend’s rout of Charleston Southern, but things should be much tougher when SEC play kicks off Saturday.

Winner: Florida

 

No. 13 Penn State (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0), 8 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: After needing overtime to put away Appalachian State at home, the Nittany Lions face another stiff challenge against rival Pitt. The Panthers dropped last season’s matchup at Happy Valley, but won at home two years ago when the rivalry was renewed.

Winner: Pittsburgh

Connecticut (0-1) at No. 20 Boise State (1-0), 10:15 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Boise had an easy time dispatching of Troy in its opener on the road as quarterback Brett Rypien (four touchdown passes), receiver Sean Modster (167 yards, two touchdowns) and cornerback Tyler Horton (two fumble returns for touchdown) all had big days. Things should be even easier for the Broncos this weekend.

Winner: Boise State

No. 15 Michigan State (1-0) at Arizona State (1-0), 10:45 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Spartans hardly looked the role of a Top 25 team last week in rallying to beat Utah State at home. This should be an even tougher test against Herm Edwards’ bunch – one they might not pass.

Winner: Arizona State

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