Saturday Storylines: Week 2
For second year in a row, Michigan and Notre Dame look to build on big openers
Hard not to get excited about Miami-Ohio State and Penn State-Alabama
Jimbo Fisher could get his first benchmark win as Florida State's head man
The 10 things we're buzzing about heading into a loaded Week 2 slate.
Michigan-Notre Dame Redux: Is anyone else suffering from déjà vu? At this time last year, 1-0 Michigan faced 1-0 Notre Dame in a battle seemingly destined to reveal which program was really, truly back. We all know what happened next: Michigan won, and Wolverines fans were ready to line the streets of Ann Arbor with bronze statues of young Tate Forcier. A few more wins came, then a whole lot of losses. Michigan finished 5-7. So here we are, one year later, with Michigan and Notre Dame each coming off encouraging wins that, despite the lessons of the past, we can't help but read into a bit too much. Michigan's offense and Notre Dame's defense were the stories in Week 1, but we could be looking at the opposite this week. A depleted Wolverines defense rose to the occasion against UConn, but it's hard to imagine a secondary that started the season on fumes standing up to the three-headed passing attack of Dayne Crist, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph.
Crashing a family affair: It's Stoops vs. Stoops when No. 20 Florida State heads to Norman to take on No. 7 Oklahoma. You might have heard. While the family affair is certainly a nice subplot to the first meeting between the Seminoles and Sooners since the 2000 national championship game, some people seem to be forgetting that Mark Stoops is not Florida State's head coach. That'd be Jimbo Fisher, and a win here would be a solid cornerstone on which to begin building his FSU legacy. The 'Noles looked great in their opener, and that whole "Yeah, but it was against Samford" line doesn't really hold up considering the Sooners barely escaped their date with Utah State. Oklahoma surrendered 341 passing yards in that close shave, and Christian Ponder and the 'Noles offense will pounce if the secondary hasn't tightened up.
Bolden faces 'Bama: Last week, Rob Bolden became the first true freshman to start a season opener at quarterback under Joe Paterno. This week, he finds out what it's like to play in the big leagues. Bolden completed 20 of 29 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one pick against Youngstown State, but replicating that success on the road against the nation's No. 1 team will be a mighty challenge indeed. If Penn State can't establish the run with Evan Royster, Bolden stands no chance. If the Lions are able to achieve some semblance of offensive balance against a still untested Alabama D, Bolden just might be able to continue his unlikely ascendance (he beat out two more experienced players for the job). But 'Bama has a standout true freshman of its own in linebacker C.J. Mosley, who led the Tide in tackles in the opener and could have just as much of an impact on this one as Bolden.
A Hurricane's headed to the Horseshoe: Really, what's not to love about the impending contest between Miami and Ohio State? There's talent, there's history, there's relevance. But even though each squad is loaded with top recruits and NFL draft prospects, this really is a battle between Jacory Harris and Terrelle Pryor. Which quarterback can deliver a signature win? Which can show he's over the hump? Which can pad his Heisman résumé -- and his team's BCS résumé? A loss here won't doom either team, but a win could be the building block for a special season.
Big East looks to bounce back: The Big East went .500 on opening weekend, but top contenders Cincinnati, Connecticut and Pittsburgh were responsible for three of those four losses. Unfortunately, a cupcake-heavy Week 2 slate offers few chances for redemption. (A win is a win -- but it's less of a win when it comes against Indiana State, Texas Southern or New Hampshire.) That means the pressure to generate some good p.r. for the league falls on ... South Florida and Syracuse, which face Florida and Washington, respectively. The Gators and Huskies are coming off subpar performances of their own, so they'll either be ripe for the pickin' or hell-bent on proving they've shaped up. Smart money's on the latter.
Justin Wilcox looks to work his magic: The Oregon Ducks averaged just over 37 points per game during the 2009 regular season. Remove a Week 1 loss to Boise State from the equation, and they averaged just over 40 per. Credit Justin Wilcox for the difference. Wilcox, now the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, was Boise's defensive boss when the Broncos beat the Ducks in 2008 and '09, stymieing Oregon's offense in last year's contest. He'll be going for a three-peat against a team that scored a whopping 72 points last week. The most formidable obstacles to his success: 1) Oregon scored those 72 points without star running back LaMichael James, who was serving a suspension but returns this week; 2) These Vols aren't as good as those Broncos. Tennessee notched a very one-sided win of its own in the opener (50-0 over UT-Martin), but the Skyhawks don't have tailbacks like James and Kenjon Barner.
Meet the next Trojan horse: Lane Kiffin makes his much-anticipated home debut this weekend, but those gathering at the Coliseum for USC's meeting with Virginia are just as eager to welcome another new Trojan: true freshman running back Dillon Baxter, who made fans salivate with a spring scrimmage that earned him YouTube fame, but was suspended for the opener against Hawaii. The coaches aren't going to hold any grudges against their highly touted recruit, though. Kiffin has said Baxter is "potentially the most talented player on the team," and guys who earn that type of praise don't spend too much time on the sidelines. In fact, USC plans to optimize Baxter's skills by giving him time at running back, receiver and quarterback. Good news for USC, not such good news for UVa.
Back to basics in the Big 12: Last week, Kansas State's Daniel Thomas, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter each rushed for 200 yards or more. For some perspective, consider that the league saw only three 200-yard rushing performances over the last two seasons. Folks, this isn't your big brother's Big 12. After the exodus of Heisman-contending quarterbacks like Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford (and Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell the year prior), this is a different-looking league. Young gunslingers abound (Texas' Garrett Gilbert, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert), but the conference's best current quarterback (Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson) does as much damage with his feet as his arm. The pass-happy days seem to be on hold -- but for how long?
NCAA Watch continues: We don't yet know if the taint of NCAA investigations will hang over this entire season. We do know suspensions and probes will cast a cloud over Week 2. North Carolina is still waiting to hear if the 13 players who missed the opener will be eligible for the Week 3 matchup with Georgia Tech. Alabama will again be without stud defensive end Marcell Dareus, who's serving the final game of a two-game suspension. But nowhere is the suspension spotlight brighter than in the Georgia-South Carolina game. The Gamecocks got some good news Friday when tackle Jarriel King and corner Chris Culliver were cleared to play (no such luck for tight end Weslye Saunders), but Georgia will be without star wideout A.J. Green for its next three games, all SEC contests. South Carolina was among the most impressive teams of Week 1, and while it's better to lose early than late, Georgia will have a hard time making good on its BCS-sleeper potential without Green.
Mike Leach joins the booth: Not interested in NC State-Central Florida? You should be. Don't get CBS College Sports? Make friends with someone who does. The 6:30 game marks the broadcasting debut for the former Texas Tech coach, and since we know Leach is not one to shy away from sharing his opinions, it's sure to be an enlightening and entertaining three hours. (It remains to be seen if Leach's foray into the world of mass communications will lead him to alter his stance on social media.)
NBA Playoffs: Which team can dig out of 0-2 hole on the road?
Phil Jackson wants Carmelo to do what?