Ward’s Winners: Week 2

By James Ward

Week in Review:

Big Wins: Notre Dame, UCLA, Ohio State and Alabama, all rolled against Power Five opponents and looked the part of preseason contenders. USC, Ole Miss, Georgia, Clemson and Oklahoma won big in week 1, but against less formidable squads.

Game Changing Injuries: BYU QB Taysom Hill, Pitt RB James Conner, Clemson WR Mike Williams and Notre Dame RB Tarean Folston are all reportedly out for the season. Wisconsin LB Mike Caputo, Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer and Arizona LB Scooby Wright all should return this season.

Pac-12 Struggles: Arizona State lost to Texas A&M in Houston, and became one of the first potential national championship contenders to suffer a loss. Stanford looked awful against Northwestern, as their offense looked completely inept, despite having two players from the Pre-Season Maxwell Watch List. Washington State lost to FCS Portland State and for the record, PSU went 3-9 in the FCS last year, so not exactly a powerhouse program. Washington lost to Boise State, in Chris Petersen’s return to the blue field. BSU was favored in the game, so not exactly an upset. Colorado lost to Hawaii in one of the worst losses you will ever see. Instead of wasting a few sentences to describe the play, check it out on YouTube. Overall, the Pac-12 was 7-5 in week 1.

Freshman Sensation: UCLA QB Josh Rosen’s debut brought back memories of Jameis Winston’s debut against Pitt, en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Rosen finished 28-35 for 351 yards and 3 TDs against a decent Virginia defense that gave UCLA issues a year ago. The true freshman has been hyped up since his high school days and for one start, he lived up to it.

Temple Upsets Penn State: For the first time since 1941, the Temple Owls defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Owls sacked the Nittany Lions’ highly touted QB Christian Hackenberg ten times, including three sacks by stud senior LB Tyler Matakevich. After the game, Temple LB Jarred Alwan told OwlScoop.com that Hackenberg, “was out of it after the third quarter. He looked like he didn’t want to play anymore.” Losing to Temple is one thing, but Hackenberg did not look like a quarterback worthy of a high draft pick.

Top Performers:

Josh Rosen (28 of 35 for 351 yds & 3 TDs): Best freshman debut ever? Maybe. Only Cal’s Jared Goff and Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield threw for more yards in their college debuts as true freshman. While Rosen was a hyped five-star recruit, Mayfield was a walk-on true freshman starter. Mayfield threw for 780 yards through his first two games, but he lost his starting job during the season and left the program. USA Today’s Paul Myerberg told Nick Wright on CBS Sports Radio on Sunday that Rosen is the best young quarterback he has ever seen. For one game, I would agree.

Braxton Miller (2 rec for 78 yds & 1 TD and 6 rushes for 62 yds & 1 TD): The spin move seen around the world. En route to a 53-yd touchdown run in the third quarter, Miller unleashed a devastating spin move on the Virginia Tech defense that evoked visions of Barry Sanders. Not hyperbole. Seriously. College football fans and experts wondered what kind of impact the former quarterback would have on the Buckeyes offense, but after one game, it looks like the Buckeyes have another legit playmaker. In 2012, Miller finished fifth in the Heisman voting as a quarterback. Can he beat that as an H-back?

Derrick Henry (13 rushes for 147 yds and 3 TDs): Where does Alabama find these guys? From Mark Ingram to Trent Richardson to Eddie Lacy to T.J. Yeldon, Nick Saban always has a bruising running back that is capable of dominating a football game. Ingram was the last running back to win the Heisman Trophy in 2009 and recently, the award has been given to the top quarterback in college football, but Henry is off to a good start to bucking the trend.

Games to Watch:

LSU at Mississippi State: The LSU Tigers come into this game favored on the road as they look to start another streak against Mississippi State. Before last year’s loss to Mississippi State at home, the Tigers had won 14 straight games against the Bulldogs. Leonard Fournette figures to touch the ball a lot against a rebuilt Mississippi State defense – the Bulldogs only return four starters on defense.   This game matches up the most experienced quarterback in the SEC against the least experienced, as Brandon Harris starts just his second game at quaterback for the Tigers, while Dak Prescott is the most experienced quarterback in the SEC and making his 22nd career start. Prescott will have to keep the Bulldogs in the game against an LSU defense that returns eight starters from last year’s defense that allowed the second least points per game in the SEC.

Boise State at BYU: At the beginning of the season, this game appeared to be a matchup of the two best non Power Five teams. But things have changed in just one week. BYU lost their outstanding quarterback Taysom Hill to a season ending injury and true freshman Tanner Mangum is the new starting quarterback for the Cougars. Mangum threw a fourth down Hail Mary to knock off Nebraska and at age 22, he doesn’t appear to be overmatched. Mangum actually shared MVP honors with Jameis Winston at the Elite-11 Quarterback Competition before BYU, so he’s no slouch.

Last week, Boise State jumped out to an early lead on Washington, but the Huskies came back in the second half and made a game of it. The win bumped Boise State up two spots in the AP poll, and the Broncos remain the lone non Power Five school in the rankings. A win against BYU would help Boise State towards their goal of playing in a New Year’s Day bowl, but they need play better on special teams if they want to beat the Broncos.

Ward’s Winners:

Notre Dame (-11.5) at Virginia: The Irish probably aren’t as good as they looked last week against a putrid Texas Longhorns team, but they are a legitimate top-10 team. Virginia Cavaliers were unable to pressure Josh Rosen last week, so Malik Zaire should have all day to throw the ball again, after only be sacked once last week against UT. As mentioned earlier, last year’s leading rusher Tarean Folston is out for the year with a torn ACL, which is a big loss for the Irish. The Irish have two potential top-10 picks in next year’s NFL Draft in offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and linebacker Jaylon Smith, and the talent disparity is too strong between these two teams. Look for the Irish to roll.

Oklahoma (-1) at Tennessee: I am going to pick against Tennessee again, since it worked so well last time – #sarcasm. But seriously, Tennessee is not that good. They have a lot of holes, and maybe Bowling Green couldn’t expose the Vols last week, but Oklahoma is a much better team. The Vols defense allowed 433 yards passing to BGSU, and Oklahoma has a quarterback who has put up prolific passing numbers in the past (Baker Mayfield, remember him from earlier?). The Sooners defense is strong against the run and should be able to limit the Vols rushing attack that was so successful against BGSU. Also, Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs hasn’t shown the ability to win games. These teams matched up last year and the Sooners won by 24 points. Sooners should win this by at least a touchdown.

Oregon at Michigan State (-3.5): Last week, Oregon gave up 42 points to a FCS team, albeit a good FCS team. Michigan State is a team traditionally known for their defense, actually has an offense this year that can put up points with any school in the country. MSU had three running backs run for over 50 yards last week against Western Michigan, as they attempt to replace the always-steady Jeremy Langford. Oregon’s Royce Freeman had a massive game last week, running for 180 yards and three touchdowns, but the Spartans front seven has a few potential NFL Draft picks, including Shilique Calhoun, who might be the best all-around defensive end in the country. Vernon Adams already said he would play Saturday after suffering a concussion against EWU, but considering he’s only been in Oregon camp for a few weeks, the early season matchup against the Spartans might be too much for Adams and the Ducks.

Season Record: 1-2-0

James Ward is the Associate Producer of the DA Show, as well as the Executive Producer of CBS Sports Radio Weekends. On Saturdays, you can find him in studio producing Eye on College Football and catching as many games as possible. Check him out on Twitter (@JamesWardCBS).

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