CFB uk tv gameS: week TWO
By Joshua Edwards
Just the 6 live CFB games this weekend for UK viewers, but plenty to look forward to with two compelling ranked matchups. Josh Edwards takes a look at the games in a quick-fire preview article for Week Two:
MARSHALL @ (24) BOISE STATE
Marshall opened up the 2019 season with a convincing 56-17 win against VMI in which QB Isaiah Green threw 4 touchdowns and the offense racked up 620 yards. It will be a much tougher ask on Thursday night when they travel to Idaho to face a buoyant Boise State, now ranked 24 and who are coming off an upset, comeback win against Florida State. The Broncos were losing 31-19 against FSU before a stellar second half performance in which they shutout Florida State, allowing only 68 yards and four first downs. The Thundering Herd played well enough against VMI but will likely have to step up a level defensively to stop Boise State on their famous blue turf.
These two have played just once in the past, a 28-24 Boise State victory back in 1994. I like the Broncos to repeat here behind True freshman Hank Bachmeieir, and roll to a 2-0 start for the second year in a row.
Prediction: Marshall 20-43 Boise State
CINCINNATI @ (5) OHIO STATE
Justin Fields was tremendous in his Ohio State debut in week one. The dual threat quarterback had 5 touchdowns including an electric 51 yard run in the 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic. The Buckeyes, who lost receivers Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin to the NFL, will be delighted with how effective the offense was early on in the opener. I liked UCLA to upset Cincinnati last week but the Bearcats proved me wrong and beat Chip Kelly’s Bruins for the second straight season, winning 24-14 at Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati have two extra days rest and preparation having played on Thursday night in week one but face a very different foe in Ohio State.
Head Coach Luke Fickell played for Ohio State and coached for over 15 years in Columbus and will be desperate to put up a good show, but the fact is the Buckeyes haven’t lost to an in-state opponent in nearly 100 years (1921 vs. Oberlin College). Despite a decent Bearcats pass rush, Ohio State are reliable favourites at home and the only question is whether they cover the spread, which I think they will with ease.
Prediction: Cincinnati 13-44 Ohio State
(11) TEXAS A&M @ (1) CLEMSON
Texas A&M go into Death Valley on Saturday as huge underdogs against the defending champion, number 1 ranked Clemson Tigers but Aggies offensive lineman Jared Hocker is confident of turning over them over. Speaking with reporters earlier this week, the junior flat out stated ‘there will be an upset’. Last season there almost was, Clemson only just beating A&M in a tight 28-26 tilt. The 11 ranked Aggies are 1-0 after a comfortable 41-7 in-state win over Texas State, and Clemson are 1-0 after beating Georgia Tech 52-14.
Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence was relatively quiet in the opener, the Clemson QB completing only 13 of his 23 attempts for just 168 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. All eyes will be on Lawrence against A&M. His best performances last season came against better teams; in the CFB Playoffs against Notre Dame and Alabama Lawrence was exceptional and Tigers fans will be expectant of a better week two performance against the Aggies. Returning Aggies junior Kelly Mond was impressive in week one, throwing 3 touchdowns, and one of his better freshman performances in 2018 was the game against Clemson, so A&M fans can point to that when convincing themselves of their chances. A&M DC Mike Elko will need to scheme a way to stop running back Travis Etienne as well as limiting Lawrence in the passing game.
The Aggies are 3-2 all time in the series but haven’t beaten Clemson since 2004. I can’t see an upset on Saturday and I like Clemson, the best team in college football, to do the business in a low scoring battle.
Prediction: Texas A&M 13-21 Clemson
BYU @ TENNESSEE
If second year Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt hasn’t half packed his bags then perhaps he should start doing so. The Volunteers, who went 5-7 last season, started 2019 with a remarkable 38-30 defeat at home to Georgia State, a College which didn’t even have a football team 10 years ago. To compound the misery of the defeat, it emerged that the Vols paid Georgia State almost $1m to travel to Tennessee to compete. The embarrassing loss included some questionable coaching decisions, including 4 consecutive runs to close out the first half despite having over 3 minutes on the clock.
BYU also lost in week one. In the Holy War rivalry game against Utah, which was delayed a number of times due to biblical weather (check out the pics, it’s something to behold), BYU scored just 12 points and looked positively lacklustre offensively. Quarterback Zach Wilson threw two pick sixes. Despite only being 6 point underdogs and having the incentive of 8 straight losses to Utah to overcome, BYU faltered badly. On Saturday Tennessee open up favourites and, in spite of all their flaws, they must surely bounce back against BYU. I like the Vols to squeeze past the Cougars but I won’t be watching. If you choose this on BT Sport 1 instead of LSU-Texas on BT Sport ESPN, I’m positively disturbed.
Prediction: BYU 28-34 Tennessee
(6) LSU @ (9) TEXAS
ESPN’s College GameDay visits Austin for the first time in 10 years for a hotly anticipated ranked matchup between the Longhorns and LSU Tigers. Both teams dispatched lowly opponents in week one, LSU defeating Georgia Southern 55-3 and Texas beating Louisiana Tech 45-14. Both QBs were excellent too, with LSU’s Joe Burrow throwing for 5 TDs in the first half and tying a school record. Austin native Sam Ehlinger was equally impressive, throwing 4 TDs and posting a 169.4 passer rating in the opener. These two haven’t faced each other since the Cotton Bowl in 2003, in which Texas beat LSE 35-20, WR Roy Williams starring with 142 yards and a TD. Texas is 9-7-1 against LSU historically.
This week’s game is a fascinating schematic matchup. LSU unveiled their new look offense last week, headed up by ‘passing game’ co-ordinator Joe Brady. Brady, just 29 years old, is an intriguing coaching prospect – he spent two years as an offensive assistant to Sean Payton in New Orleans between 2017-18 and has installed a varied, hurry-up aerial attack which showed no signs of rust in week one.
On defense Texas is led by a pair of exciting safeties in Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones, who potentially have the range and tackling ability to limit LSU’s explosiveness. The Longhorns held Louisiana Tech scoreless in week one through three quarters before sitting starting players. One thing to look out for is Texas’s ‘Cowboy’ formation, in which they field 8 defensive backs simultaneously – they might well need to commit to this again on Sunday to combat an LSU spread offense which saw 14 players catch passes against Georgia Southern. LSU are certainly a more balanced team this season and worthy favourites but don’t rule out a close encounter if Ehlinger finds a rhythm and the 100,000+ crowd gets into it.
Prediction: LSU 33-27 Texas
(23) STANFORD @ USC
Both teams won in week one but in Pyrrhic fashion, losing their respective starting quarterbacks to injury. During their 31-23 win over Fresno State USC signal caller JT Daniels suffered a season ending knee injury. Stanford’s KJ Costello took a wicked hit to the head whilst sliding in their victory over Northwestern and is questionable for the season’s opening Pac-12 contest. USC are favoured in the historical rivalry, which dates back to 1905, and the Trojans have won two of the past three at the Coliseum.
However, Kedon Slovis (whose high school QB coach was Kurt Warner) faces a tough test in his first outing as backup – Stanford’s defense is stout, restricting Northwestern to just 2.8 yards per carry, 5.4 yards per attempt, and 7 points last weekend. Though Northwestern’s offense is nothing to write home about, if this is to be a battle of the backups I’m siding with a defensively led Stanford upset.
Prediction: Stanford 27-20 USC