Texas is not back. Neither the state of Florida nor USC.
After impressive openers, the teams received a generous dose of reality in Week 2. The Longhorns were handled by Arkansas, the Seminoles lost to an FCS program for the first time in the worst way imaginable, and the Trojans seemed uninspired by an ugly loss to Stanford at the Coliseum that led to the dismissal of coach Clay Helton on Monday. So in retrospect, perhaps we would have let ourselves be carried away by our excessive Week 1 reactions.
That’s why we love college football, a sport in which the state of Iowa is a threat from college football playoffs one week and which remains the second best team in their home state the next.
Here are some more overreactions from the second week:
Michigan will win the state of Ohio
Ohio State has long not looked so vulnerable, following Oregon’s stunning 35-28 victory in the horseshoe on Saturday. Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud and offense are not the issue; threw 484 yards with three touchdowns and a selection by passing 35 to 54. But the defense is a mess under the direction of first defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, who was hired after Jeff Hafley left to become coach. Boston College principal in 2020. Coombs has had a reputation for being a great recruiter and a coach capable of defensive defense. he had never convened plays above the high school level. The Ohio State defense wasn’t very good last season and looks worse this year.
“I’m responsible,” Coombs told reporters Saturday. “That’s my job, so we have to play better. When we say we have to play better, I don’t blame the players. The level of our defense is excellence and I have to do a better job.”
All the blame does not fall on Coombs ’feet. In the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes, Ohio State signed 11 defensive players ranked in the top 100 of the ESPN 300. They included Chase Young, Shaun Wade and Jeff Okudah. After Urban Meyer overtook Coombs to hire Alex Grinch as co-defensive coordinator in 2018, Coombs left the program to join the Tennessee Titans squad and, in turn, hired Buckeyes on defense. fall dramatically. They only signed one defensive player ranked in the top 100 of the ESPN 300 in the 2019 and 2020 classes (defensive end Zach Harrison, who has yet to become a true star). This is the enigma facing current head coach Ryan Day: Defensive fights could be as much about the Xs and the Os as the Jimmys and Joes.
Still, let’s not get carried away as Michigan finally defeats Ohio State, something that hasn’t happened since November 26, 2011. Yes, the Wolverines looked good in Saturday’s 31-10 win over Washington, but will need more quarterback Cade McNamara and the passing game to beat a team of the caliber of the OSU. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have more than two months to improve on defense.
Texas will not survive the SEC
As we warned you last week, curb the proclamations of “Texas is back.” After looking so good in a 20-point win over Louisiana in the first, the Longhorns lost 40-21 to Arkansas on Saturday. The Hogs amassed 471 yards of offense, including 333 yards, while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Five Arkansas players had at least 40 running yards. The Longhorns stayed sackless and only had two quarterback pressures.
“Over time, they wore us down so our defense went out on the field … it wore us down,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Forty-seven attempts in a hurry. We never press them to throw the ball. I think it’s part of it. [was] we just didn’t do it offensively to put pressure on the defense. “
On the other side of the ball, the Texas offensive line could not face what was considered a defensive line below the SEC average (but it could be much better than that). Texas star Bijan Robinson stayed just 69 yards on 19 attempts with a score, and the Longhorns even struggled to run against three-man fronts.
After just two games, it’s too early to tell that Sarkisian won’t succeed. It’s too early to say that the Longhorns won’t be able to compete as long as they move from the Big 12 to the SEC, either in 2025 or earlier. From then on, Sarkisian and his staff will have to upgrade their talent on both lines of fight, in a spectacular way. Since 2008, Texas has had three offensive liners selected in the NFL draft, toward the first round. During this period, Alabama had 19 offensive line players, including eight first-team players. Even worse, Vanderbilt has had six such players since 2008, including one in the first round. And Texas fans wondered why the twins of former American Longhorns Blake Brockermeyer, James and Tommy, signed with Tide.
Iowa will do the CFP
After throwing Indiana at the opening, the Hawkeyes again overtook Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk game, winning 27-17 on the road. Defensively, Iowa is good enough to challenge itself to get a Big Ten title and potentially a place in the CFP. The Hawkeyes have forced seven rotations in two games and turned them into 37 points (20 against Iowa State). They haven’t allowed 25 points in 24 straight games, the longest streak between Power 5 teams. Iowa had six interceptions in the first two games and a better FBS 70 since 2017. Tory Taylor’s pointer is a field position weapon .
“There’s no secret formula, we play defense like we do,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
And there’s no secret to Iowa’s offense. As is often the case with Ferentz, there is nothing striking on this side of the ball. He ran 39 times for 67 yards and averaged 5 yards per pass in his sixth straight win over his state rival. The Hawkeyes will need much, much more of their offense to get through the Big Ten. The good news: they don’t play Ohio State or Michigan in the regular season and get Penn State at home. An Oct. 30 trip to Wisconsin could be the biggest hurdle left.
Arkansas is the second best team in the SEC West
Alabama is clearly the best team in the SEC West, and no one else is around. LSU is still a disaster and coach Ed Orgeron could have problems if things don’t improve in a hurry. The Tigers announced Monday that runner John Emery Jr. will not play this season, according to reports, due to academics. LSU averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in a 34-7 win over FCS McNeese State on Saturday (West Florida Division II argonauts averaged 4.8 yards in a 42-36 win over the Cowboys a week earlier).
Texas A&M No. 7 train slowed down a bit with the news Monday that starting quarterback Haynes King will miss an indefinite period of time with a low leg injury. Second-year Zach Calzada was a little shaky as he won 10-7 in Colorado. After a less-than-impressive opening against Louisiana Tech, the Mississippi State defense was strong in a 24-10 victory over NC State.
Still, Arkansas ’win over Texas was the SEC West’s most impressive statement last weekend. Are the Hogs good enough to finish right behind the tide in coach Sam Pittman’s second season? Probably not. But what the 59-year-old former offensive line coach has done in such a short time is pretty impressive. He waited three decades to become head coach and already has the Hogs buying what he sells. Remember, he took over a program that had gone from 1 to 23 in the SEC games. After going 3-7 last season, bringing the Hogs to a bowling game in Year 2 would be a monumental step, and they are more than capable of doing so.
Georgia has a quarterback controversy
Georgia starting quarterback JT Daniels did not play last week’s 56-7 defeat against UAB due to an oblique injury. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Daniels was treating the injury before the opening against Clemson, but then aggravated it during that game and woke up in pain the next day. On Monday, Smart said Daniels felt better after an additional couple of days of treatment, but his status for Saturday night’s game against South Carolina (19:00 ET, ESPN and the ESPN app ) is uncertain.
“The focus is rest, recovery and treatment, and with that we’ve done the best we can,” Smart said. “The most important thing they’ve told us is that you don’t want to aggravate it.”
In Daniels ’absence, former Stetson Bennett had a record day against the Blazers, throwing five touchdowns in the first half. He’s clearly Georgia’s No. 2 quarterback, but Daniels ’injury would probably have to last, or he’d have to fight hard on his return, for Bennett to get back to the starting job. Bennett played well at times last season, but fell in defeats against Alabama and Florida. To defend himself, he encountered injuries in both games, but the reaction on social media was so bad that Bennett abandoned his iPhone. He may be the only student on the UGA campus to use a flip phone.