By Jordan Merritt

Jordan Merritt returns to give us his burning questions ahead of Week 2 in college football. With several intriguing matchups, there should be plenty of excitement across the weekend.

Will the Pac-12 be the number one conference in Week 2?

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I would love to have titled this ‘Keep the win streak’, but USC welcomes Stanford, so that’s at least one team not notching another win. Looking at the weekend games for the Pac-12 teams, there are some tasty match-ups:

Utah @ Baylor

Nebraska @ Colorado

Oregon @ Texas Tech

Wisconsin @ Washington State

Arizona @ Mississippi State

Auburn @ California

Oklahoma State @ Arizona State

The above games are the pick of the out-of-conference games, with Washington, UCLA and Oregon State having much easier games. If this week’s schedule would have happened in week two last season, you would be favouring more non-Pac-12 teams. This is 2023, and despite it being very early, we seem to be witnessing a different conference. 

In the final season of the Pac-12 as we know it, statements are being issued. The conference went 13-0 after the week one games, the only conference in the last 40 years to do so. It wasn’t just the wins; it was how they were achieved. Some offenses looked electric, with the list of QBs putting on a clinic being too long to type out. After it was all said and done, 6 Pac-12 teams were announced in the AP top 25 rankings, with others just sitting outside them. That comes at a price, as you now become a target for opponents moving forward.

The teams will need to perform to get those victories, as the opposing teams offer quality despite what’s gone before. I don’t expect every team to get wins from the above fixtures, but the potential is there for 5, maybe 6 or 7 at a push. If that happens, the ‘Conference of champions’ could be number one again.

Will Texas announce “they are back”?

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It’s a running joke about Texas, but this season feels different around the team. Outside looking in, there is a confidence you believe in, rather than shrugging it off like seasons previous. 

The team looked good against Rice, but there appears to be more meat left on the bone. Thirty-seven points they put on the board, with three field goals in the 2nd quarter that could have been converted to TDs with a bit more hunger. That said, it was satisfactory on offense, and the positive being that more is to come.

Quinn Ewers is the key to all this. With Bijan Robinson gone, Ewers needs to be that X-factor. He needs to lead, and he needs to perform consistently. If that happens, the 16-year wait for a Big 12 championship should be over.

Just like week two last season, Texas are up against Alabama, this time in Tuscaloosa (see our full preview here). What better way to announce that ‘they are back’? Bama looked to have a few things to iron out, including the offensive line. If the Longhorns can capitalise on the unfamiliarities and capture a win on Saturday, people will start to believe they are not the same old Texas.

Can Miami toss their hat into the ACC Championship ring?

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The ACC looks wide open after the first weekend of games. With FSU and UNC notching impressive weekend wins, Miami has the chance to do just that Saturday at home to Texas A&M.

Miami brushed aside Miami (OH) in their opening game of the season. With the defense looking much better than the one that we witnessed last season. The Redhawks are one of the better teams in the MAC and to limit them to just 3 points and 215 offensive yards is not bad going.

The question going into week 2 is can they stop a Texas A&M offense that looked good, while creating their own? The ground game was impressive, with Henry Parrish Jr. and true freshman Mark Fletcher Jr a very productive duo. Tyler Van Dyke struggled last season and although he had some good series in the game, there were still question marks.

If Miami wants to be a legitimate challenger in the ACC, the defense and running game will need to keep performing at that level. That still may not be enough, with Tyler Van Dyke also needing to play his part. A win against the Aggies on Saturday would be a statement one.

Is it the same old Iowa on offense?

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For the first quarter of the opening game, Iowa looked like they had an offense. New transfer QB Cade McNamara moved the ball positively, notching two passing touchdowns and looking like the offense was in sync. After that it began to stutter and then fizzled out, despite a second half rushing touchdown.

This was seen as a chance for Iowa to rack up the points against a team tipped to struggle in the Mountain West, Utah State. The Hawkeyes only managed 284 offensive yards, with the ground game moving the ball at an average of 2.4 yards per play. 24 points later, the same questions were being asked.

One person who needs things to change fast is OC Brian Ferentz. The former Hawkeye player had his contract amended early in the off-season, with a performance objective. If Iowa does not win 7 games and the offense does not average 25 points or above, the contract of Ferentz will be terminated. Not the best of starts, with the average points now a little more.

If it’s going to take time for them to click, they better do it quickly, as it’s Iowa State next up. Yes, they could win the Big Ten West with a limited offense. However, it won’t get them any further and could mean the end of Brian Ferentz. Maybe that is the real problem here.

Who’s on upset alert?

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Everybody loves an upset unless your team is on the receiving end. I know only too well, having to hide under a rock when FCS Montana dispatched Washington in 2021 at Husky Stadium. 

With the out-of-conference games coming early, lots of Power 5 and other FBS teams schedule games that should be notched in the win bracket. This is usually a way to blow the last of the cobwebs off before playing more competitive games. On the other hand, this is a chance for David to slay Goliath. 

Week 1 threw up some upsets, including Texas State going into Baylor and scoring 42 points on their way to victory. Another Big 12 team in Texas Tech were taken down in OT  by Wyoming, While Boston College also lost in OT to Northern Illinois. Week 2 has the potential to see more, but who is on upset alert?

Virginia, beaten by Tennessee in week 1, welcomes a plucky James Madison to Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers have been tipped to struggle this season in the ACC and will need to perform much better than we saw against the Volunteers. Northwestern have had their struggles off the field, which seemed to affect the team on it. UTEP are in town Saturday, hoping to cause more problems for David Braun. The final game of the week was Monday night when Duke outmuscled 9th-ranked Clemson, a result few saw coming.

Boston College, Ole Miss, UCLA and Auburn could be on the wrong side of upsets. When it’s all said and done, there will be upsets, and it will be glorious.


College Football Analyst

Ever since he entered Husky Stadium in 2017, Jordan has been a huge fan of College Football. Over the past 3 years he has covered the PAC-12 at 5 Yard College, While recently becoming a contributor at FanSided for The Husky Haul. Follow Jordan @jordm87!