HomeSportsCollege Football Week 2 Winners and Losers: SEC, Notre Dame Stutter
College Football Week 2 Winners and Losers: SEC, Notre Dame Stutter
September 11, 2022
There have been better days for the SEC.
The nation’s strongest conference—uh, we think—had a pretty miserable Saturday, starting with No. 1 Alabama’s sweat-inducing shave as a firm favorite against No. 22 Texas.
While the Crimson survived Tide, 20-19, the narrow win raises some questions about the team’s place at the top of the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.
At least Alabama has escaped what would have been a terrible loss.
No. Texas A&M lost 17-14 to Appalachian State, sending the Aggies tumbling into the Bowl Subdivision’s early pecking order and bolstering something every Power Five program should tattoo on their foreheads: Don’t plan the Mountaineers — not home, not away , never.
Missouri was crushed by former border state rival Kansas State in a 40-12 loss. The Tigers were knocked over by the Wildcats’ great running game, re-paced by star-running Deuce Vaughn, and were eventually doomed by a run of four interceptions in as many drives in the second half.
In another Power Five crossover matchup, Vanderbilt lost 45-25 to No. 21 Wake Forest and quarterback Sam Hartman, who threw 300 yards and four touchdowns after missing the season opener.
It’s not all bad though. It speaks to the depth of the SEC that another member, No. 2 Georgia, could displace the Tide atop this week’s Top 25 after an easy win against Samford. Tennessee is destined for a national ranking after beating No. 14 Pittsburgh 34-27 in overtime, albeit with the Panthers sidelining starting quarterback Kedon Slovis for the second half.
This weekend’s list of winners and losers includes teams from the SEC, Big 12, and more:
Sometimes a loss isn’t just a loss, even if the Longhorns had multiple chances in the second half to knock Alabama out and secure a solid win for sophomore coach Steve Sarkisian. Though Texas fell just short, the performance bodes well for the team’s chances in an unpredictable Big 12 and should kick off the program after a terrible season in 2021. One thing the Longhorns need is a healthy quarterback after losing starter Quinn Ewers early and seeing backup Hudson Card work his way through a brave outing.
COMBAT SHOW:Texas tells Alabama, rest of SEC is ready for new competition
After narrowly losing to North Carolina amid an epic fourth-quarter points barrage, Appalachian State deserves to be chosen as the favorite in the Sun Belt and as one of the top teams in the Group of Five after winning at A&M. Moving on, there’s a chance this team will look back on the UNC loss and wonder what could have been; as proven last year, an undefeated Group of Five team with solid non-conference wins against the Power Five could be a contender for the College Football Playoff.
Caleb Williams had 341 passing yards and four touchdowns as USC moved to 2-0 with a 41-28 win over Stanford. It’s been pretty clear for two weeks that this offense will be as good as expected, largely because of Williams’ previous connection to Lincoln Riley and his plan. But with Oregon and Utah already losing, the Trojans are already the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12 and may be a contender for the New Year’s Six even earlier than expected.
The Cougars will take a big jump in playoff talk after rebounding from a missed field goal in regulation and one in overtime to beat future Big 12 cohort Baylor 26-20 in double overtime. Tested by quarterback Jaren Hall’s 261 passing yards, the win will lift BYU in the Coaches Poll and create significant momentum en route to next weekend’s matchup with Oregon. The Cougars will also face Notre Dame and Arkansas in October, providing even more of a chance to play a big part in the make-up of this year’s New Years’ Six.
Kansas is 2-0 for the first time since 2011 after a 55-42 overtime win against West Virginia that was capped by a walk-off pick-six in the first extra frame. The program has made huge gains in a very short space of time under sophomore coach Lance Leipold, who took over the team last spring and transformed the Jayhawks into a not-so-easy out in the Big 12. Leipold’s job is going to give him a very intriguing option for a number of high-profile jobs set to open this winter and the next in the Midwest.
History tells us that Alabama will bounce back and remain one of the teams to beat in the race for the national championship. However, in the immediate aftermath, look for several teams on this year’s schedule to share this rare thought: Alabama looks to beat. A future opponent who may be dreaming of an SEC West crown is No. 17 Arkansas, which moved to 2-0 with a 44-30 win against South Carolina. Quarterback KJ Jefferson had 229 yards in total offense and two touchdowns, while the defense gave up just 44 yards on the ground, the least the Razorbacks have allowed in four years. This feat comes after a season opener win against Cincinnati, one of the top fixtures in the Group of Five. For two weeks, Arkansas has arguably the best resume of any team in the Bowl Subdivision.
Will beating Florida give Kentucky some national respect? (Probably not.) A week after they upset Utah, the Gators were pushed around by quite a vintage Kentucky effort. The Wildcats held UF to 279 yards from offense and intercepted quarterback Anthony Richardson twice in a 26-16 win that should settle a few things in the SEC East. While Georgia is the overwhelming favorite, second place looks likely to fall to the Wildcats and Tennessee, with that meeting in Knoxville on October 29.
The Wildcats got very little through the air from transfer quarterback Adrian Martinez, who threw just 101 yards but intimidated Missouri on defense and with a physical run that yielded 235 yards and four scores. By going for 145 yards and two touchdowns, Vaughn’s overlooked Heisman campaign gets some juice with a huge matchup with No. 7 Oklahoma on September 24. Clearly, Kansas State is a legitimate threat to win the Big 12 and achieve great scale.
the sun belt
It was an excellent Saturday for a hugely underrated conference – although the secret of the Sun Belt may be out. In addition to Appalachian State’s win at A&M, Marshall shocked No. 9 Notre Dame, Georgia Southern defeated Nebraska, FBS neophyte James Madison remained undefeated, South Alabama defeated MAC leader Central Michigan 38-24 and Georgia State pushed UNC to the brink with an 18-point third quarter before losing 35-28. With the American set to lose three key members to the Big 12, the Sun Belt is poised to take over the Group of Five summit.
The heat is on freshman coach Marcus Freeman, who is the first coach in program history to lose his first three games. Ohio’s 21-10 setback last week is one thing; Falling 26-21 on Marshall is another. What’s wrong with the Fighting Irish? Most of all, this offense will scramble for answers after another underrated showing. Notre Dame averaged 3.5 yards per carry and finished with just 351 yards total, with quarterback Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne teaming for 5.8 yards per attempt and three interceptions. We may be looking at a long season for the Irish.
Each ranking of the worst losses in the program’s history has a new entry. The Aggies were overtaken by 128 yards, making only eight first downs to the Mountaineers’ 22. It’s not like Appalachian State is a cinch as we know the Mountaineers are among the top teams in the Group of Five. But this year would be different: A&M was chosen as the near-close to the New Year’s Six and even the top team in the SEC West. Instead, Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team has bottomed out en route to a brutal run of games: No. 16 Miami (Fla.), Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina and No. 23 Mississippi.
The Scott Frost era is unofficially over after Nebraska lost 45-42 to Georgia Southern behind one of the worst defensive performances in school history. The Eagles delivered 642 yards of offense, 409 coming through the air, and scored the game-winning touchdown with 36 seconds left to drive what was once one of the most promising coaching terms in the Power Five . While Nebraska is unlikely to make any coaching move before October — and given Frost’s connections to the school, perhaps not until after the regular season — he’s coaching the string as his alma mater.
A week after coming back from a 21-7 hole and passing Texas-San Antonio in overtime, Houston saw the script flipped into a 33-30 loss to Texas Tech. Three points ahead thanks to a field goal with 37 seconds left, the Cougars drove the Red Raiders 49 yards to tie the game with three seconds left. After a miraculous fourth-down conversion by the Red Raiders forced a second overtime, Tech quarterback Donovan Smith rushed in from 9 yards for the win. This one hurts: Houston was close to the 2-0 start against some good non-conference opponents before embarking on what is a very friendly rest of the schedule.
Several question marks emerge from the narrow win, none bigger than the state of an offensive line that was expected to improve after a poor season in 2021, but which was mostly unimpressive against Texas. Is this offensive front capable of winning along the line of scrimmage against Arkansas, Georgia and the best the SEC has to offer? One thing we do know: Bryce Young is an incredible talent with a flair for the dramatic. He took a step toward retaking the Heisman Trophy with his stunning fourth quarter.
Any thought that No. 18 Wisconsin could rise out of the Big Ten West and make a conference championship run and playoff berth completely evaporated with a 17-14 loss to Washington State. This is becoming such a predictable part of the Badgers’ existence that it begs the question of why they are consistently ranked so high in the preseason. Will the program break through under Paul Chryst?
The Hawkeyes scored at least seven points the easy way: with a touchdown. Unfortunately, after scoring seven with a field goal and two safeties last week, the touchdown was all Iowa would muster in a 10-7 loss to rival Iowa State. Where does this leave the Big Ten West? Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois have already lost. The only team that remains undefeated is Minnesota.