Week 0 and Week 1 have come and gone, and as always, college football delivered! First, we got a few laughs at the expense of Florida and Miami. Then Florida State joined in the fun and gave us more Floridian failure to laugh at when they blew a big lead at home to a Boise State team quarterbacked by a true freshman. South Carolina followed suit and blew a late lead of their own as true freshman Sam Howell, a former FSU commit, led UNC to a comeback in over the Cocks. Tennessee lost in Neyland to Georgia State. Missouri lost at Wyoming and Ole Miss lost at Memphis.
The best game though was Auburn coming back – also led by a true freshman – to beat Oregon. Oregon will assuredly win the PAC-12 now. Being almost as good as the SEC’s 4th best team likely means they’re the best team out West.
Clemson, for their part, took care of business against GT with relative ease. Travis Etienne ran for 205 yards and punched in three TDs. Now the competition steps up as one of the Tigers toughest opponents comes to town. Let’s look at what this upcoming football Saturday (Sep. 7) will bring us.
Syracuse at Maryland (12:00, ESPN)
Clemson fans attending the Texas A&M game will likely miss this one. Fortunately, it’s the only good noon game. For those who will be watching at tailgates or at home, here’s what you should know. Both of these teams are coming off convincing wins. Maryland has Josh Jackson, the former VT starter, at QB, and Mike Locksley, former Alabama offensive playcaller, as Head Coach. Maryland also has Shaq Smith, the former Clemson linebacker. (Side note: Chad Smith looked very good for Clemson on Thursday, which could help explain that transfer.)
Syracuse won 10 games last year and with Maryland replacing Notre Dame on the non-conference schedule, they have a chance to do it again. Normally, we’d want Syracuse to look vulnerable, but given the state of the rest of the ACC (looking namely at FSU), I’m hoping Syracuse plays well and sets up next week to be a huge showdown. Syracuse is only a one-point favorite.
Texas A&M at Clemson (3:30, ABC)
The Tigers are favored by more than two touchdowns, but there may only be three or four teams that wouldn’t be two plus touchdown underdogs coming into Death Valley right now. Make no mistake, Texas A&M is a legitimate test. Kellen Mond is the best QB the Tigers will face in the regular season and it probably isn’t close. He roasted Clemson’s secondary last season. Sure, there was a lot of luck in that, but it happened nonetheless. Clemson’s secondary should be improved since that matchup, but the front seven is rather green behind the ears. That front seven looked great against Georgia Tech, but the Aggies will provide a dramatically tougher test. If the Tigers dominate against a team this good (not unfathomable considering they dominated Notre Dame and Alabama last season), then a collision course with Alabama will start feeling inevitable (if it doesn’t already).
LSU at Texas (7:30, ABC)
LSU at Texas is the third non-conference game you should try to catch this Saturday. The presence of awesome games like this why I continue to support the ACC and SEC sticking to smaller eight-game conference schedules even while the other three Power Conferences have nine game conference schedules. This is awesome!
Texas upset Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to conclude last season and the hype has been blaring ever since. I’ve been critical of it. Most of their wins last season were close and as a result the advanced stats are fading them pretty hard. I’m skeptical they can win the Big 12 and question if they’ll even reach the conference title game (though Iowa St. didn’t inspire any confidence that they can provide a real threat). I’ll be cheering for LSU, because I want to be proven right. I also low-key think Joe Burrow is a decent QB. It’s certainly understandable to root for Texas just to see the SEC burn though. There would be some joy in seeing Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU all suffer non-conference upset losses in the season’s first two weeks.