After the first full weekend of college football with almost 90 games, it’s hard to keep track of the best and most important games that happened. Today, I’ll recap the best games of the previous week as well as preview the most interesting games this weekend.
Best Games of Week 1
#11 Michigan State 38, Utah State 31
One of the biggest surprises of opening weekend, Utah State pushed the Spartans to the brink.
The Aggies came ready to play, scoring a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. After Michigan State settled into the game, the game turned into a back and forth affair, with three lead changes on three consecutive drives in the second quarter.
After the Spartans went ahead by thirteen in the third quarter, Utah State fought back to take a one-point lead with five minutes to play in the fourth.
On Michigan State’s ensuing possession, an acrobatic catch by wide receiver Felton Davis III set up running back Connor Heyward’s go-ahead touchdown.
With one last chance to tie, the Aggies were able to move the ball into Spartan territory before linebacker Joe Bachie’s athletic interception effectively ended Utah State’s upset bid.
#9 Auburn 21, #6 Washington 16
One of four ranked matchups on opening weekend and the only one between top ten teams, Auburn scraped by Washington in a closely contested affair.
Early season nerves affected each sideline as both sides had at least ten penalties called against them. With both teams playing sloppily, the team that would make the least mistakes would win, and Washington committed two crucial errors in the second half.
Early in the third quarter, an offensive pass interference call negated a touchdown for the Huskies and led to a missed field goal two plays later. On Washington’s next drive, the Huskies got to the three-yard line but fumbled the ball back to the Tigers.
A touchdown run from running back JaTarvious Whitlow with just over six minutes on the clock proved to be the winning score as Auburn would stop the Huskies on 4th and 16 with under two minutes to play.
#10 Penn State 45, Appalachian State 38 (OT)
My pick for the game of the week, Penn State survived against Appalachian State.
On the 11th anniversary of Appalachian State’s famous upset over #5 Michigan, the Mountaineers almost pulled off another upset against another top ten Big Ten school.
After Penn State’s preseason all-American quarterback Trace McSorley scored the game’s first points on a touchdown run, the Mountaineers responded with a kickoff return for a touchdown to tie it up at 7 apiece.
The two teams went into halftime tied, but the Nittany Lions opened up a 14 point lead early in the fourth and appeared to have put the game away, but Appalachian State would not go away.
A touchdown pass, a successful onside kick, and a touchdown run in a span of just over ninety seconds would bring the Mountaineers level again.
Both sides would trade punts for the next three series before a touchdown run by running back Jalin Moore would give Appalachian State the lead with less than two minutes to play.
Facing an upset loss at home to start the season, McSorley marched the Nittany Lions down the field to fire a 15-yard touchdown pass to tie the game and force it into overtime.
Running back Miles Sanders gave Penn State a 7 point lead at the start of overtime with a run into the end zone and cornerback Amani Oruwariye would bring in the game-ending interception on Appalachian State’s next drive to end the game.
#12 Notre Dame 24, #14 Michigan 17
Facing their rival Michigan for the first time since 2014, Notre Dame won with a series of stops in the second half.
The Fighting Irish set the tone early in the first half, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four drives. A field goal and kickoff return for a touchdown would be the only points for a Wolverine team whose offense struggled to move the ball.
In the second half, Michigan’s offense continued to struggle, as five of Michigan’s seven second-half drives ended in either a 4th down stop or a turnover.
The Fighting Irish pressured Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson all game long and capped it off when defensive lineman Jerry Tillery strip-sacked Patterson to force a game-sealing fumble with under a minute to play.
Maryland 34, #23 Texas 29
Maryland entered the game coming off of a rough offseason. After offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed on the practice field and died of heatstroke two weeks later back in May, led to the university placing then coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave and the resignation of their strength and conditioning coach Rick Court after reports of bullying from the coaching staff.
After starting the game with an empty spot on the offensive line to honor McNair, it turned into the Jeshaun Jones show. The freshman wide receiver ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown, and threw a touchdown pass in the first half to open up a 17 point lead against the Longhorns.
Led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, Texas would fight back with 22 straight points of their own to take a five-point lead in the third quarter. On the very next drive, the Terrapins would drive 75 yards to score on running back Tayon Fleet-Davis’ run to go on top for good.
After tacking on a field goal to push their lead to five, Maryland would force a turnover on the next three Texas drives, including an interception in their red zone with a minute to play, to seal the win.
Games to Watch in Week 2
#24 South Carolina vs #3 Georgia (12:30 PM PT)
Since both teams blew out FCS opponents last week, it’s hard to say how either team will play in their first actual test of the season.
Last year’s national runner-ups, Georgia, have four preseason all-SEC players, including defensive backs Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed, and have won their last three games against South Carolina. If the Gamecocks want to break that streak, wide receiver Deebo Samuel will have to have a big game against that defense.
Going against a Georgia defense that only allowed 152 total yards last weekend, a big day for Samuel might mean a win for South Carolina.
Texas A&M vs #2 Clemson (4:00 PM PT)
Coach Jimbo Fisher faces a familiar foe when Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers come to town. Fisher, the new Texas A&M coach, was previously at Florida State, where he and Swinney faced each other seven times, with the Tigers owning a 4–3 edge.
On the field, the big match-up to watch in this game is preseason all-SEC running back Trayveon Williams versus Clemson’s defensive line, which had four preseason all-ACC players and is led by defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. If the Aggies can get their running game going like last week, when Williams ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns, the Tigers might be in for a long day.
Pittsburgh vs #13 Penn State (5:00 PM PT)
These rivals battle for state supremacy, and if it’s anything like their last game in Pittsburgh, we’re in for a classic. After a 16 year hiatus, the two teams played again in 2016, with Pittsburgh coming out on top 42–39. With Penn State on upset alert after last week’s scare against Appalachian State, anything can happen.
Quarterback Trace McSorley could be in for another great passing day, as the Panthers had the 105th ranked passing defense in the country last year.
#10 Stanford vs #17 USC (5:30 PM PT)
Palo Alto plays host to a potential conference championship preview this weekend, as the Cardinal host the defending Pac-12 champions, the Trojans. Wide receiver JJ Arceaga-Whiteside is a legitimate deep threat that could have space to work in if the Trojans plan on making someone other than Bryce Love, last year’s Heisman runner-up, beat them.
On the other sideline, freshman quarterback JT Daniels gets his second start and his first road game against a team looking for revenge after the Trojans beat the Cardinal twice last season.
Arizona State vs #15 Michigan State (7:45 PM PT)
New Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards gets his first real test when the Spartans come to Tempe for the first time since 1986, and Michigan State looks vulnerable after they escaped against Utah State. Either they’ll get exposed this weekend or they’ll use last week as a wake-up call.
With the Sun Devils at home in the desert, Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry has the potential to have a breakout game and lead an upset over the Spartans.