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Playoff Picture: Week 2

We take a weekly look at what happened in college football and how it will affect the race for the College Football Playoff.

NCAA Football: Appalachian State at Texas A&M
Appalachian State stunned Texas A&M in College Station for one of two Sun Belt upsets of top-10 teams.
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

With all the drama Week One brought to the college football season, it seemed a long shot that Week Two would provide the same sort of intrigue. On the contrary, the season’s second full slate delivered even more surprises than its predecessor with shocking upsets and nail-biters galore. Let’s take a look at the teams who made Playoff headway, and the ones who weren’t so fortunate...


Kentucky - Mark Stoops has been steadily building a solid program in Lexington, and the Wildcats’ win over Florida in The Swamp was one of their biggest in recent memory. Time will tell if Kentucky has staying power in the top 10 of the polls, but with an NFL talent at quarterback and impressive fronts on both sides of the ball, there is an opportunity for this team to stake its claim as Georgia’s top competitor in the SEC East.

BYU - The Cougars notched a signature win as they outlasted Baylor in overtime, shaking up the rankings in a similar way to Kentucky. They get another shot at picking off a name program when they travel to face Oregon this weekend. If BYU gets the win there, this team will establish itself firmly on the early-season Playoff radar. We have seen past Cougar teams afford themselves basically no outside shot at a berth because of weak schedules, but this year’s version faces enough quality opponents to make a true push for the four-team field if it continues to win. It’s a long way off, but a 12-0 — or even 11-1 — BYU would absolutely be knocking on the door to the Playoff.

Tennessee - We will withhold some degree of praise for the Vols — Pitt lost its starting quarterback and played with a hobbled backup for much of the game — but road wins over competitive teams haven’t exactly been a hallmark of Tennessee football in recent years. So props to Rocky Top for notching a nice non-conference overtime victory in a season their fans hope will signal the program’s first step back toward national relevance. The Vols’ game against Akron should serve as a nice tune-up before a big divisional matchup with Florida in two weeks.


Texas A&M - Death. Taxes. Texas A&M being overrated. The Aggies were held to just 14 points and 180 total yards and stunned at home by an Appalachian State team that surrendered 63 points and 567 yards to North Carolina the week prior. As if that weren’t enough, A&M’s shoo-in College Gameday hosting bid this week was instead awarded to... Appalachian State. Brutal times in College Station. They will look to turn their season around this week when Miami comes to town, lest they suffer two losses before SEC play has even begun.

Notre Dame - The Marcus Freeman era began with a valiant effort in a close road loss at Ohio State, but the Irish’s second outing under their new head coach suddenly has alarm bells ringing. The Irish turned the ball over three times and were simply outplayed by Marshall in one of the program’s more embarrassing losses in recent memory. In addition, they likely lost starting quarterback Tyler Buchner for the season — hardly good news for a struggling team with a fairly tough schedule. If Notre Dame had even a chance to hang on the periphery of the Playoff discussion, that chance has most certainly evaporated.

Florida - Just one week after its departure, the Anthony Richardson Heisman train suffered one of the quickest derailments we have ever seen. Kentucky traveled to Florida and held the national flavor of the week to an abysmal 14-of-35 passing with two interceptions in a 26-16 Wildcat win. What’s more, Richardson was held to just four rushing yards a week after he amassed more than 100 yards and three scores on the ground against Utah. The win over the Utes was impressive, but it may be time to dial those expectations back in for the Gators this season after their latest effort.

Baylor - Credit the Bears for scheduling a road game against a very legitimate BYU team, but they came out on the wrong end and now have their backs against the wall early on with regard to any Playoff hopes. Running the table in the Big XII is probably a requirement now, but on the bright side that would almost assuredly land Baylor in the final four.


The Sun Belt is a problem - We highlighted impressive top-10 wins by App State and Marshall earlier, but let’s not forget Georgia Southern’s win at Nebraska that led to Scott Frost being relieved of head coaching duties. Throw in Old Dominion’s win over Virginia Tech in Week One and Georgia State’s near-upset of North Carolina this past week, and the Sun Belt is quickly turning into a conference to be reckoned with on the national stage. Power five teams with Sun Belt programs on their schedules in upcoming seasons may be wise to reevaluate...

Alabama escapes - The Tide were a three-touchdown favorite heading into their road bout with Texas, and while most assumed the Longhorns couldn’t play with Alabama for 60 minutes, they nearly pulled the upset even with their backup quarterback playing the final three quarters. Bama managed to kick a game-winning field goal with 10 seconds to play, but its air of invincibility took a massive hit in the process. The Tide have two weeks to try to restore some confidence before a pivotal trip to Arkansas the first weekend of October.


No. 12 BYU @ No. 25 Oregon - 3:30 p.m.
No. 22 Penn State @ Auburn - 3:30 p.m.
Texas Tech @ No. 16 N.C. State - 7 p.m.
No. 11 Michigan State @ Washington - 7:30 p.m.
No. 13 Miami @ No. 24 Texas A&M - 9 p.m.