Week 2 Picks
College football enters its second week of action and Saturday is chockfull of games. Our writers and handicappers hand out six college football picks for Week 2.
Ole Miss at Wake Forest, 3:30pm ET
Wake Forest was ranked to start a season for the first time in 2008, and the Demon Deacons looked determined to leave no doubt that they deserved that lofty status during their opener.
Coming off a lopsided victory that vaulted them up three spots in the Top 25, No. 20 Wake opens its home schedule Saturday against Mississippi, which is also coming off a big victory in Houston Nutt's debut as coach.
The Deacons went 9-4 last season and won the Meineke Bowl, earning them the No. 23 spot in the poll to start this season. They played like one of the nation's top teams last Saturday, knocking off Baylor 41-13 on the road for their fifth straight victory.
Wake will be taking on another team looking to build on a one-sided opening victory. With Nutt roaming the sidelines at a raucous Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in his Rebels debut, Mississippi defeated Memphis 41-24 last week.
It marked the first time Ole Miss scored 40 points against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since a 43-40 win over South Carolina on Nov. 1, 2003, and was just the kind of result Mississippi was looking for when it hired Nutt in November to restore fan enthusiasm after 10 wins in three seasons under Ed Orgeron.
Ole Miss hopes the momentum generated in its opener carries over this week to the road, where the Rebels have lost four straight games and 13 of 14.
Cincinnati at Oklahoma, 3:30pm ET
A blowout win in its season opener gave Oklahoma the chance to fine-tune its new no-huddle offense. The first real test of the new scheme comes Saturday.
After rolling to a 55-point win in a mismatch last week, the fourth-ranked Sooners will face a much tougher opponent in Cincinnati, which is also coming off a big victory.
Using the new hurry-up pace, the Sooners raced out to a 50-point halftime lead and overwhelmed Chattanooga 57-2 last week. Sam Bradford threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns before being replaced in the second quarter by Joey Hazle - who was 14-of-16 for 122 yards with one score. Chris Brown had three rushing touchdowns and DeMarco Murray ran for 124 yards and two TDs.
Like the Sooners, Cincinnati was hardly tested in its first game, a 40-7 rout of Eastern Kentucky. The Bearcats held the Colonels to 195 total yards while racking up 557.
The Bearcats' Dustin Grutza threw for 296 yards and set a career high with three touchdown passes hours after Ben Mauk appealed to the NCAA for another season of eligibility. Grutza was the Bearcats' starting quarterback in 2006, but Mauk, a transfer from Wake Forest, took over last season and helped lead Cincinnati to a 10-3 record and a win in PapaJohns.com Bowl.
West Virginia at East Carolina, 4:30pm ET
West Virginia had the nation's fourth-best rushing offense last season led by the duo of quarterback Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton.
With Slaton gone, there's no doubt White can still lead a solid rushing attack, but he spent the first game of his senior season reminding the country he can throw the ball as well.
After tossing a career-high five touchdown passes in the opener, White will lead the eighth-ranked Mountaineers on the road Saturday against East Carolina, which is coming off an impressive upset victory in its first game of the season.
West Virginia's defense gave up nearly 400 yards to the Wildcats, partially a product of Villanova controlling the ball for more than 37 minutes. The Mountaineers will get a much bigger test this week against East Carolina, which put up 369 yards in a 27-22 comeback win against then-No. 17 Virginia Tech last Saturday in Charlotte.
It was the second straight victory over a ranked team for the Pirates, who upset Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl last season. Fourth-year coach Skip Holtz has guided East Carolina to consecutive winning seasons after taking over a program in 2005 that had gone a combined 7-28 since 2002.
West Virginia has beaten East Carolina seven straight times since 2000, outscoring them 278-103.
Louisiana Tech at Kansas, 7:00pm ET
An explosive offense helped propel Kansas to its best season in school history a year ago, but that same unit came out a little rusty in its season-opening victory.
With a tough road test still a week away, the 14th-ranked Jayhawks look to cut down on their mistakes as they host Louisiana Tech, which is coming off a surprising victory.
Kansas was one of the biggest surprises in college football last season, as it went 12-1 and defeated Virginia Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl. The Jayhawks have high expectations for this season, as they're projected to finish second in the Big 12 North behind Missouri.
Kansas opened 2008 with 40-10 victory over Florida International for its eighth straight victory at Memorial Stadium, but it was far from flawless.
The Jayhawks, who did not commit a turnover until their third game last season, lost a fumble on their first possession. Todd Reesing, who did not have a pass intercepted until the fourth game of 2007, threw a pick.
Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, has lost 14 straight road games against ranked opponents since a 29-28 win at then-No. 18 Alabama on Sept. 18, 1999.
The Jayhawks and Bulldogs have not played since a 34-14 Kansas victory on Sept. 17, 2005. Louisiana Tech won the only other meeting in 1987.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 7:45pm ET
South Carolina was sluggish offensively and couldn't seem to do much right in its season opener - until Chris Smelley came in at quarterback in the fourth quarter.
After an outstanding performance in relief last week, Smelley will get the start Thursday night in the No. 24 Gamecocks' SEC opener at Vanderbilt, which defeated Smelley and South Carolina last year.
Coach Steve Spurrier had said since April that Tommy Beecher would have the chance to "go the distance" as the Gamecocks' starting quarterback, but that decision didn't last long.
In South Carolina's 34-0 win over North Carolina State last Thursday, Beecher threw four interceptions and was removed before the start of the fourth quarter because of injury.
The Gamecocks should receive a much tougher test from Vanderbilt, which amassed 360 yards of offense in last Thursday's 34-13 victory over Miami of Ohio.
Vanderbilt has not opened with consecutive victories since winning its first four games in 2005.
The Commodores have lost four straight home games to South Carolina since a 17-14 victory in 1998. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 14-3.
Miami (FL) at Florida, 8:00pm ET
No players for Miami or Florida have been part of a game in this once-heated rivalry. That doesn't mean they aren't aware of the significance.
"It's playing the 'U,'" Gators quarterback Tim Tebow said. "I've never done it before. I'm excited about it. I'm sure we'll have about 80 percent of the state of Florida here in Gainesville."
What was considered one of college football's biggest rivalries earlier this decade will be renewed on Saturday night when Tebow tries to lead fifth-ranked Florida to its first win over the Hurricanes in 23 years.
Florida is facing a Miami defense which impressed in its opener, limiting Charleston Southern to 126 total yards and seven first downs in a 52-7 win last Thursday night.
However, that Football Championship Subdivision opponent clearly doesn't compare to what Miami faces this week.
"No matter how good they played other teams last year or whoever they're going to play the rest of the year, they'll play their best game next Saturday versus us," Tebow said. "Hopefully, we'll do the same."
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