Oklahoma State at South Alabama
KICKOFF: Friday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Oklahoma State No. 11
KEYS TO THE GAME
The last time Oklahoma State played in the state of Alabama as a decided favorite, in 2007, the Cowboys stumbled, putting in motion Mike Gundy's famous, "I'm a man, I'm 40" rant.
The last time South Alabama faced a ranked opponent at home, the Jaguars upset San Diego State, one of their many highlights of 2016.
Friday, the Cowboys (1-0) play in Mobile as about a four-touchdown favorite against a South Alabama squad that could use a jolt to this season after losing its opener to Ole Miss.
No. 11 Oklahoma State will lean on its veteran leadership.
"I think any game, no matter the ranking or who you're playing or where you're playing, if you've got veteran leaders, experienced guys who have been through all types of game situations, it's great," said Cowboys senior quarterback Mason Rudolph.
"You know how to kind of approach each and every game, each and every environment you're going to play in, whether it's in front of 100,000 in Austin or 30,000 or 40,000 down in Mobile. It's definitely a plus."
The Jaguars won't be awed by facing a Power 5 foe.
Last year, South Alabama went on the road to stun Mississippi State and knocked off No. 19 San Diego State at home, 42-24, on its way to a bowl game.
Already this season, the Jaguars have played at Ole Miss, losing 47-27, so taking on heavyweights has become the norm.
"There's still a long season in front of us and we can still be a great team," said South Alabama safety Malcolm Buggs.
Oklahoma State routed Tulsa in its opener, 59-24, behind a balanced offense that feasted on big plays. The Cowboys averaged a first down per snap (10.2 yards) against the Golden Hurricane and produced seven plays of 32 yards or longer, including touchdown passes from Rudolph covering 77 and 40 yards to James Washington and 44 to Tyron Johnson.
The Jaguars surrendered too many big plays to Ole Miss wideouts, including two of 70-yards-plus for scores. Overall, Rebels quarterback Shea Patterson completed 28 of 35 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns.
"We saw some really good receivers, and I know that (Oklahoma State) has some really good ones as well," South Alabama coach Joey Jones said. "They also have the No. 1 quarterback in the country. They are going to throw it and run a hurry-up offense every snap.
"I know they are very good."
Jaguars quarterback Cole Garvin made his career debut a year ago against San Diego State, orchestrating that win. Against Ole Miss, he passed for a touchdown and ran for two scores.
South Alabama entered the season committed to improving its running game. The Jaguars ran for 170 yards against the Rebels, with junior college transfer Tra Minter going for 83, averaging 6.9 per carry.
"I think we've got two really good running backs and our offensive line is better," Jones said.
Oklahoma State is 15-1 all-time against teams from the Sun Belt. The loss, at Troy, remains attached to Gundy and the program still, especially with the 10-year anniversary of "The Rant" coming up on Sept. 22.
The Cowboys lost that night with Zac Robinson replacing Bobby Reid, the school's biggest-name recruit, at quarterback. When an Oklahoma columnist explained the benching of Reid, and the difficult reasons behind the move, Gundy went off the following week in a postgame tirade that remains relevant through repeated references to this day.
This Oklahoma State team, projected as a College Football Playoff contender, is far removed from that 2007 squad. Gundy carried a losing record through that Troy game, but now stands as the school's winningest coach, with three 10-win seasons over the last four years.
"I think we're a better team now," Gundy said, pointing to growth in the program since 2007, when Oklahoma State lost at Troy, 41-23. "I think our organization and our program is more mature now than it was in years past.
"We're still vulnerable at all times, and it's never as comforting to play on the road as it is to play at home. Our players understand that and we've had those discussions. We're holding them responsible for preparation and playing like we're playing at home."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Justice Hill, as expected, asserted himself as Oklahoma State's primary rusher by gaining 132 yards on 15 carries for an 8.8-yard average in the season-opening win over Tulsa. Hill was part of a ground attack that generated 332 yards as the Cowboys achieved the balance coach Mike Gundy desires from his offense. Hill emerged as the lead back, something OSU lacked in previous seasons, as a freshman last year.
--LB Kenneth Edison-McGruder provided some playmaking ability on defense. The junior recorded the Cowboys' only sack in the opener. He also returned a fumble 82 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. Edison-McGruder began his career as a safety, but at 6-0, 220, provides the bulk and range needed to defend spread tendencies as a linebacker. He was in on five stops, four unassisted.
--PK Matt Ammendola made his debut as a sophomore and provided 11 points with a 24-yard field goal and eight PATs. Tulsa's average starting field position after kickoffs by Ammendola was its 21.8-yard line. Six kickoffs sailed for touchbacks, but the three kicks that Tulsa fielded resulted in drive starts at its 7-, 17- and 22-yard lines. Ammendola replaced long-time starter Ben Grogan, a senior last season.
--WR Marcell Ateman, who missed last season with a foot injury, caught four passes for 75 yards against Tulsa.
--FS Jeremy Reaves tied for game-high honors in the season-opening game at Ole Miss, posting eight total stops while also breaking up a pass. The senior was credited with a personal-best two tackles for loss, including the first sack of his collegiate career. With the effort, Reaves became the fifth player in school history to surpass 200 career tackles. He was chosen a first-team preseason All-Sun Belt player by many publications.
--QB Cole Garvin accounted for 222 yards of total offense and a career-high-tying three scores against Ole Miss, guiding an offense that recorded 25 first downs and did not turn the ball over. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 204 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
--LB Riley Cole, a redshirt freshman, made his starting debut last week. He shared game-high honors with eight tackles. Cole actually made three appearances last season -- with four tackles -- before suffering a season-ending injury and regaining the year of eligibility.
Fresno State at Alabama
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Alabama No. 1
KEYS TO THE GAME
Top-ranked Alabama lost two outside linebackers -- Christian Miller (biceps) and Terrell Lewis (elbow) -- for the season -- in its season-opening victory against then-No. 3 Florida State.
Two other linebackers -- Rashaan Evans (groin) and Anfernee Jennings (ankle) -- are dealing with serious injuries.
Lewis started and Miller was his backup. Jennings and Evans are starters in Alabama's 3-4 scheme.
Junior Jamey Mosley led the outside linebackers through drills as the Crimson Tide (1-0) began preparations for Saturday's home opener against Fresno State. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa with ESPN2 handling the telecast.
Sophomore Mekhi Brown and freshmen VanDarius Cowan and Chris Allen spent time in practice backing up Mosley. That's a lot of youth and inexperience.
"We hate it that we lost these players," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "They're both good players. They both made significant improvement. They both played well in the game.
"But this is an opportunity for somebody else to step up and be able to play at a high level as well. And we're going to work very hard as a coaching staff to help those guys get in position to do that."
On paper and in Las Vegas, this is a lopsided matchup. Alabama is favored by about 44 points over Fresno State, which finished 1-11 last season. But Saban sees a different Bulldogs team under first-year coach Jeff Tedford.
The Bulldogs opened last week with a 66-0 rout of Incarnate Word with sophomore quarterback Chason Virgil passing for 246 yards and receivers KeeSean Johnson and Jamire Jordan combing for 184 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions.
"This is a much, much improved team," Saban said. "They played really, really well in their opening game, where they scored 66 points and shut the other team out. Got a good quarterback. They've got a couple of good receivers. They've got some good players on defense.
"This is going to be a different kind of challenge for us, something that our players have to respond to because this is a much, much improved team."
Despite its big victory over the Seminoles, Alabama does have some questions.
Offensively, running back Damien Harris rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown while averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Calvin Ridley was Alabama's other top offensive weapon, catching seven passes for 82 yards and one touchdown.
The Tide continues to look for progress from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the downfield passing attack. Hurts (10-of-18) passed for only 96 yards, with 53 coming on one play.
But Fresno State's Tedford touted the Bama sophomore's ability to extend plays with his feet and make big plays.
"He can pull it down and really hurt you," Tedford said. "He's a strong runner. He's very fast. He's not going down -- he's not that guy to run and slide. He's like another running back."
Saban said he has a lot of respect for Tedford, a Fresno State alum who has been a noted quarterback guru in his coaching career. Tedford went 82-57 in 11 seasons at Cal, his last season there coming in 2012.
"Jeff Tedford is one of the best coaches, I think, offensively in the country," Saban said.
After holding Incarnate Word scoreless, Fresno State's defense has Alabama's attention. Alabama tight end Hale Hentges went as far as to compare Fresno State's defense to Florida State's.
"They fly around to the ball. They're fast, physical, They're long," Hentges said.
"Obviously, they shut out the team they played this last weekend. Anytime you can do that, you're a great defense. We're looking forward to the challenges we're going to have with them because they're definitely no slouch."
Alabama has been dealing with tragedy this week. The son of co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Locksley was killed over the weekend. Locksley missed practice on Monday, but was back with the team on Tuesday.
"I just want everybody to understand that our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike, Kia and the entire Locksley family over this tragedy," Saban said. "We'll do everything we can to support Mike and his family in this time of tragedy."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Damien Harris was Alabama's top rusher against Florida State with 73 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Bo Scarbrough rushed 15 times.
--WR Calvin Ridley is an electric receiver with game-changing ability. He caught seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in the opener.
--LB Jamey Mosley should see an increased role on Saturday with three players going down at his outside linebacker position. He contributed in Alabama's opener against Florida State once the injuries started to pile up.
--LB Keith Holcombe should get his first career start on Saturday with Rashaan Evans suffering from a groin injury. The junior made 24 tackles last season, including 12 on special teams.
--RB Ronnie Rivers, a true freshman, rushed for a game-high 60 yards on just nine carries in his collegiate debut. Half his total came on a 30-yard scoring run.
--WR KeeSean Johnson led all receivers with seven receptions for 120 yards. He led the team in receptions with 66 last year.
--DL Emeka Ndoh was credited with three tackles for loss, including two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He is a transfer from De Anza College.
--CB Sherman Coleman Jr. came up with the Bulldogs' lone interception of the night. He also blocked a field goal, Fresno's first since 2013.
Oklahoma at Ohio State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
SERIES: Ohio State leads 2-1, winning last season 45-24 in Norman, Okla.
RANKINGS: Ohio State No. 2, Oklahoma No. 5
KEYS TO THE GAME
The tendency ahead of the big nonconference matchup Saturday night between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Oklahoma is to look at last year's outcome to draw conclusions.
A relatively young and inexperienced Ohio State team went into Norman, Okla., and manhandled the Sooners in a 45-24 victory.
So, it stands to reason that with this year's hyped rematch at Ohio Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC) the Buckeyes are favored to win.
Neither side is buying into the narrative, though, that just because the Buckeyes rolled last year at Oklahoma they are a shoo-in to win this one in the Horseshoe.
The Sooners haven't forgotten that game and the feeling of being humbled at home.
And they haven't lost since then.
Oklahoma carries the nation's longest winning streak of 11 games into the game between storied programs in one of college football's biggest venues.
"Everybody who was here for last year's huge loss definitely remembers that," Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said. "And that's something we talked about during camp. We've never been here for a team to sing their fight song on our field. Quite frankly, it's just embarrassing."
Mayfield threw two interceptions in that game, including one returned for a touchdown by linebacker Jerome Baker that gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
"Regardless of who would have won that game last year, I think both teams will be very motivated and excited to play this game," said 34-year-old Lincoln Riley, in his first year as Oklahoma's head coach after Bob Stoops stepped down in the summer. "I don't honestly believe that will be a huge factor in this one. We have to go out and try to play a lot better than last year and play more up to our capabilities. That will be our main focus."
The Buckeyes scored 35 points in the first half and put the Sooners in too deep of a hole to escape. Ohio State rolled up 443 yards of offense in that game, with 291 of those yards on the ground.
"No one is thinking about last year," Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell said. "It's all about right now."
But Campbell, whose six catches in Ohio State's opening win at Indiana included a 74-yard touchdown, also acknowledges that players know when the stage is bigger. This game is likely to have College Football Playoff implications.
"Our approach to this game is it's the biggest game of the year," he said. "It's a big-time opponent, a top-10 matchup. We have to prepare that way. These guys are probably going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder from last year's game."
Oklahoma comes in after pounding UTEP 56-7 in its opener at home last Saturday. Mayfield completed his first 16 passes and finished 19 of 20 for 329 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in one half. Tight end Mark Andrews caught seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, and the Sooners rushed for 196 yards.
Abdul Adams started at running back for the Sooners and had the best performance, with 87 yards of total offense. But how Oklahoma will divide carries in closer games remains to be seen. Either way, though, the Sooners have one of the best offensive lines in college football. They get their toughest challenge of the season in this one, though, as the Buckeyes' defensive line is one of the best around, loaded up front and at linebacker with potential first-round NFL draft picks.
The Buckeyes' area of vulnerability could be the secondary. Indiana threw for 420 yards in Ohio State's 49-21 victory last Thursday, but most of the yards came in the first 2 1/2 quarters before the secondary began to play better.
"We started slow. I was pleased how we rebounded in the second half," Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. "Thirty-eight plays of no gain or lost yardage. The defensive line played outstanding."
Ohio State's offense also started slowly at Indiana but picked up steam behind the running of true freshman J.K. Dobbins, who gained 181 yards in his college debut, and J.T. Barrett's 304 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Add Mike Weber, last year's starter, into the mix at running back this week and the offense could be that much more lethal. Weber sat out the opener with a hamstring issue.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer plans to use both backs but hasn't decided on a rotation. Running the ball against Oklahoma's defense most likely will be more difficult that at Indiana.
"They're big, very athletic and they're talented up front," Ohio State center Billy Price said. "I think with those guys you have to give them a lot of respect. They're big dudes. Looking forward to a great matchup with them."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--WR Marquise Brown might be the fastest player on Oklahoma's roster and his ability to get behind defenses could be important against a team like the Buckeyes.
--LB/DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had the Sooners' only sack a week ago and led the Sooners with four tackles. He's key to not only slowing down the running game but also to pressuring the quarterback.
--LB Caleb Kelly, a sophomore, figures to play a bigger role in this game due to his ability to move from the inside to the outside depending on what Ohio State is doing offensively.
--TE Grant Calcaterra, a true freshman, showed that he could be a viable second option at tight end to complement Mark Andrews, coming up with a strong performance in the opener.
--DBs Tre Brown and Tre Norwood, both freshmen, are expected to see bigger roles on defense and special teams as the Sooners try to develop depth in the secondary with CB Jordan Parker suffering a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
--QB J.T. Barrett began the season with a solid performance in the win at Indiana. The senior completed 20 of 35 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries. He accounted for 365 total yards in the game, bringing his career total to 9,211 yards, a school record. Last year in Ohio State's win at Oklahoma, Barrett threw four touchdown passes and passed for 152 yards and ran for 74 as the Buckeyes dominated the Sooners.
--RB J.K. Dobbins became just the sixth true freshman to start the first game of the season for Ohio State. With returning starter Mike Weber sidelined because of a hamstring issue, Dobbins made a head-turning debut with 181 rushing yards on 29 carries, a record rushing total for an Ohio State back in his debut. Even when Weber returns at 100 percent this week, expect to see plenty of Dobbins throughout the season.
--DE Tyquan Lewis opened the season with two sacks at Indiana. The fifth-year senior moved into the top 10 in school history in sacks with 18.5 for his career. The 2016 Big Ten defensive lineman of the year played in his 42nd career game and started for the 27th time.
--WR Parris Campbell had career highs in receptions (six) and yards (136) in Ohio State's win at Indiana to open the season. His 74-yard touchdown catch and run in the third quarter put Ohio State ahead for good. Campbell also returned two kickoffs for a 25-yard average.
Auburn at Clemson
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
SERIES: Auburn leads 34-14-2. Clemson has won the last three meetings, including in 2016 season opener 19-13.
RANKINGS: Clemson No. 3, Auburn No. 13
KEYS TO THE GAME
The recent history of the Clemson-Auburn series -- as well as the program's high national ranking this season -- suggests that clash at Clemson will be another close one.
The two teams of Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. ET at Clemson's Memorial Stadium with an ESPN audience looking on.
"It was a very competitive game last year," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, reflecting on his team's 19-13 win at Auburn, "and we expect the same thing this time."
Though his team would go on to a 14-1 record and national title while Auburn finished an 8-5 year with a 35-19 loss in the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma, Swinney had high praise for the SEC team.
"They were a complete football team," Swinney said, "and one of the toughest teams we played all year."
That game was typical of the recent series. In five meetings over the last 10 years, two went to overtime and all but one was decided by touchdown or less. Each of the games has been filled with drama and intensity, and with No. 3 Clemson meeting No. 13 Auburn, this one should prove no different.
"This shapes up as a really good battle and matchup for us early in the year," Swinney said. "We like playing these type games, we like seeing where we are. Win or lose, you're going to find out a little more about your team."
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has come under some fire the last couple of years, sees the game much the same way.
"It will really be a good measuring stick of where we are at from a team standpoint, and that's my message to the team," Malzahn said.
The game promises to stand in stark contrast to both teams' openers. Clemson enjoyed what Swinney termed a "clean" performance in a 56-3 romp against Kent State. Auburn thrashed Georgia Southern 41-7.
Both teams showed an intent to run, run and run some more, and both did so effectively. Clemson amassed 353 yards on the ground -- its highest total in 23 games -- against Kent State. Auburn rushed for 351.
Although Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson is questionable after suffering a hamstring injury after rushing for 136 yards last week, starter Kamryn Pettway will return after serving a one-game suspension.
Malzahn suspended Pettway, who led the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards per game last season (122.4), along with wide receiver Kyle Davis and backup quarterback Sean White.
Both teams started new quarterbacks in their respective openers and had impressive debuts.
Clemson's Kelly Bryant accounted for 313 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the first start of his career after replacing two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson.
Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, making his first start after transferring from Baylor, connected on 14 of 24 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns while running for a third.
"We need to build around his strengths and what he feels comfortable with," Malzahn said. "That's a big part of the game plan. There is nothing like going out there. You've just got to do it. He's been on the road, I believe, a couple of games he played in, and this will be one of the best environments there is, so it will be good for the future."
The key may be how each team's defense fares. Clemson held Kent State to 120 yards last week. Auburn gave up only 78 to Georgia Southern and thwarted the Eagles on all 15 third-down attempts.
"They played extremely hard, which is what stood out to me -- outstanding effort," Malzahn said. "That's what we will have to do this week. We are playing one of the best offenses in college football right now. We are going to have to be very physical, and we are going to have to play our guts out."
Clemson boasts one of the top defensive fronts in the nation, anchored by a couple of All-America candidates at defensive tackle in Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence.
"Their defensive front, I believe it's one of the top in the country, and when you turn on the film, it doesn't take long to figure that out," Malzahn said. "It'll be a big test for our guys up front. We're not only going to have to run the football, but we'll have to protect the quarterback, so that'll be a big key to the game."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Jarrett Stidham and an up-and-down performance in his first game for the Tigers. The Baylor transfer threw an interception and lost a fumble while being sacked in the first quarter but finished the night 14-of-24 passing for 185 yards and three scores.
--RB Kam Martin saw more playing time than he probably expected. With starter Kamryn Pettway suspended and Kerryon Johnson hurt in the second quarter, the sophomore tied Johnson for game honors in rushing with 136 yards on 14 carries, two fewer than Johnson's 16. He had a 61-yard run and scored on a 36-yard dash.
--DE Marlon Davidson put his knee problems behind him and had a dominating performance in the opener. The sophomore had two sacks among his career-high four tackles in the win over Georgia Southern.
--FS Tray Matthews had a quiet night with only one tackle, mostly because Auburn's front seven was in complete control and Georgia Southern hardly threw the ball. That will change at Clemson.
--QB Kelly Bryant gets the second start of his career after shining in his debut -- a 56-3 romp against Kent State. Bryant put up big numbers, passing for 326 yards and a touchdown and running for 77 more and a second touchdown.
--RB C.J. Fuller was workmanlike in his first start last week with 51 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, but his backups produced even bigger numbers, with Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne averaging 11.5 and 10.1 yards per carry, respectively. It will be interesting to see how Fuller, a junior, fares against Auburn's stout defense.
--WR Deon Cain, a junior, showed why he was a preseason first-team All-ACC pick in Clemson's opener, hauling in a 61-yard touchdown pass to jump-start the Tigers' offense. Cain now has 15 touchdown receptions on only 74 career catches -- that's one score for every 4.93 receptions.
--DT Christian Wilkins is an All-America candidate at defensive tackle after playing all of last season at defensive end. He'll get plenty of chances to make an early statement against an Auburn rushing attack that posted 351 yards in the opener against Georgia Southern.
Pittsburgh at Penn State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
SERIES: Penn State leads 50-43-4. Pitt won the last meeting 42-39 in 2016.
RANKINGS: Penn State No. 4
KEYS TO THE GAME
Pittsburgh's Darrin Hall has what may be a slightly different view of the Panthers' first trip to Penn State since 1999.
"I think it's going to be fun," the junior running back said.
Hall may want to take heed of the old adage "be careful what you wish for" because the No. 4 Nittany Lions look to be quite a handful for the unranked Panthers on Saturday. The teams kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
"It's going to be a fun atmosphere," Hall continued. "I've been there before as a recruit. I'm looking forward to it. I'm really excited."
The two coaches are taking slightly opposite approaches to the second meeting between the two instate teams since the long-time rivalry was halted after the 2000 season. Pitt's Pat Narduzzi puts added emphasis on the game.
"I think I said that last year, it's just not another weekend," Narduzzi said. "It's a big game, it really is, and I want our guys locked in. It's an in-state rivalry, at least for us, and we're going to prepare for it that way."
But Penn State's James Franklin looks at it like just another weekend on the schedule. Or so he says.
"I understand the significance of this game," Franklin said. "And I understand the importance of this game, but I'm also a huge believer that this is the most important game on our schedule because it's the one this week.
"Last week the Akron game was the most important game in the universe for us. This week, the Pitt game is the most important game in the universe. It's the only thing that exists for us."
Pitt will go into the game somewhat hamstrung on defense with standout safety Jerome Whitehead and senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis, a key reserve, both out. Both were serving a three-game suspension before last week's opener, and it was revealed this week that Wirginis will miss the season due to a non-football injury.
Without them last week, the Panthers gave up 418 yards in a 28-21 victory over Youngstown State. Meanwhile, Penn State was rushing for 247 yards in its 52-0 thrashing of Akron with running back Saquon Barkley going for 174. He rushed for 130 yards in Penn State's 42-39 loss to Pitt last year.
"You'd better be sound," Narduzzi said of defending Barkley."You'd better be in the right gaps. He'll jump out of a gap. You'll think he's going there, he'll go there. Everybody has got to be gap sound.
"You've got to get penetration in the backfield, and you load the box and then they've got the other things. They've got players outside, too."
The Nittany Lions have more than just Barkley on offense.
Quarterback Trace McSorley is another Heisman candidate. He spread the ball around last week, passing for 248 yards and rushing for another 48 in the opener.
Barkley didn't touch the ball on Penn State's first series but a few designed quarterback draws with McSorley steered the offense into early scoring position. From that point, the quarterback spread the ball around to eight receivers and completed 72 percent of his passes with two touchdowns to tight end Mike Gesicki.
"I think (it was) really just taking what the defense gave us early and not trying to force things early on," McSorley said.
With Nate Peterman gone, Pitt is breaking in a new starter at quarterback. USC graduate transfer Max Browne completed 17 of 24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in overtime for the win. Wide receiver Jester Weah made the leaping grab over a Youngstown State defender in the end zone.
"I'd like to see him make a few more plays," Narduzzi said of Browne. "He had a great run, and we encouraged him to run. There was another third down where he could have run just to make sure he didn't make a negative. ... There's a lot of little things, just fundamentals. Again, first time he's been under fire for over a year really."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Max Browne got the job done when he needed to in his Pitt debut. His 11-yard touchdown pass to WR Jester Weah in overtime was perfectly placed. He made some other nice throws, as well.
--WR/KR Quadree Henderson -- Henderson had a slow day against Youngstown State. He wasn't a factor in the return game and caught just one pass. He did have nine carries for 77 yards, mostly on jet sweeps.
--FS Bricen Garner was playing in his first career game against Youngstown State, but that didn't stop him from hauling down a game-winning interception in overtime. Pitt won against Penn State in similar fashion last year, when it was a Ryan Lewis pick that sealed the deal.
--PK Alex Kessman went 0-for-2 on field goal attempts, including one that could have won the game for Pitt against Youngstown State as time expired in regulation. Coach Pat Narduzzi took the blame for not getting the ball onto Kessman's preferred left hash when he had the time to do so.
--RB Saquon Barkley has one game under his belt and it was a Heisman-level performance with 226 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His ability to shake tackles and shed defenders in the open field is nearly unmatched right now. Barkley scored four times against the Panthers last season.
--WR DaeSean Hamilton had a rough start to the season with three drops in the first half against Akron. He recovered to post three catches for 74 yards. Penn State's most experienced receiver won't soon forget a costly drop of what would've been the go-ahead touchdown late against the Panthers last season.
--DE Torrence Brown won nearly every individual battle against Akron, often overwhelming the Zips' young left tackle Trevor Brown. He might be Penn State's most explosive pass-rusher and will be counted on more if fellow end Shareef Miller can't play on Saturday.
--CB Amani Oruwariye quickly ascended to a top cornerback spot alongside Grant Haley. Oruwariye, who came off the bench, turned in a memorable game with a handful of tackles and an athletic interception deep down the field. He's flown under the radar in a talented secondary but is beginning to emerge as a ball hawk.
Stanford at Southern California
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles
SERIES: USC leads 60-32-3 (the Trojans' 2005 victory was vacated due to NCAA penalty)
RANKINGS: USC No. 6, Stanford No. 14
KEYS TO THE GAME
A possible early preview of the 2017 Pac-12 title game will unfold Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where No. 6 USC hosts No. 14 Stanford.
Stanford (1-0) returns to action from a one-week layoff after opening the season Aug. 26 in Sydney, Australia, with a rout of Rice. The Cardinal seeks to win a fourth straight against the Trojans (1-0) and to reassert its place in the conference championship race.
The run games, as they have in the past, figure to take center stage.
USC junior Ronald Jones II went for 159 yards and three touchdowns on just 18 carries in a 49-31 victory against Western Michigan.
"He reminds you of (former NFL All-Pro) Jamaal Charles," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "More physical than people will give him credit for, he'll run through tackles. He's gotten bigger since last year. He's explosive, catches the ball out of the backfield; just a dangerous football player."
USC adds another element of danger to its ground attack with freshman Stephen Carr. Carr made a splash in his collegiate debut, rushing for a pair of touchdowns.
The Cardinal counters with its own two-man look.
Stanford's Bryce Love, taking over for All-American Christian McCaffrey, rushed for 180 yards. Cameron Scarlett rushed just eight times against Rice, but scored three touchdowns.
Further underscoring the importance of the run game: In nine of 10 meetings since 2008 -- and each of the last four -- the team with the rushing advantage won. USC seeks a dramatic improvement from its Week 1 performance, when it surrendered 263 yards to Western Michigan -- the most the Trojans allowed since Stanford went for 302 last September.
Run-stoppers will play central roles in Saturday's affair, and both Stanford and USC feature some of the Pac-12's best. The Trojans will have preseason All-American inside linebacker Cameron Smith available for a full 60 minutes for the first time on the season.
Smith missed the first half of last week's game while serving a one-half suspension due to a targeting penalty in the Rose Bowl. USC's performance against the run improved upon his return.
Few teams in the Pac-12 can match USC's experience in the front seven, between Smith and Uchenna Nwosu at linebacker, with Porter Gustin and Rasheem Green on the line, but Stanford's such an exception. Defensive lineman Harrison Phillips sets the tone up front, with upperclassmen Peter Kalambayi, Sean Barton, Joey Alferi and Bobby Okereke at linebacker.
This marquee matchup falls in September for a fourth straight season and for the fifth time in six years. Such a high-profile date this early provides an interesting measuring stick for the remainder of the season.
"I enjoy it," Stanford's Phillips said of drawing the Trojans early into the campaign. "It's very important to have a test that early in the season that proves every suspicion and proves our ambitions of what can come true."
Phillips noted winning or losing this one doesn't mean everything, though. He cited USC rallying from a 27-10 loss to Stanford last September to reach the Rose Bowl, while the Cardinal finished 6-3 in Pac-12 play.
Nevertheless, this matchup has taken on a rivalry feel.
"It's one of those dates you mark on your calendar, because you know it's going to impact your season," USC head coach Clay Helton said.
"David (Shaw) has done a tremendous job there ... building that program to what it is today. The consistency that he brings to the table with his program, year in and year out, is very impressive."
That consistency is evident in three conference championships from 2012 to 2015. Last year marked Stanford's sixth season with 10-plus victories since 2010.
USC-Stanford began to become competitive a decade ago. Shaw credits a Cardinal win in 2007 -- until this year, the largest upset in college football history -- for providing the launching point to Stanford becoming a nationally relevant program.
"I mark (2007) as the beginning of the program, where we started to be taken more seriously here at Stanford," Shaw said. "We hadn't arrived yet ... but the makings were there of a tough, physical football team that could go on the road and win a tough game."
Winning on the road has remained a theme for Stanford football in the past decade.
Dating to 2007, the Cardinal has won four of five games at the Coliseum. In contrast, USC's victory over Western Michigan marked the Trojans' 11th consecutive win at home.
USC is undefeated at the Coliseum since Helton took over as head coach midway through the 2015 season -- but also winless against Stanford at 0-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--LB Cameron Smith, whom coach Clay Helton called "the rock of our defense," missed the first half of Week 1, serving a half-game suspension as the result of a targeting penalty in January's Rose Bowl Game. When he returned, the Trojans defense allowed only one touchdown to Western Michigan, and that came on a trick play fullback pass to quarterback Jon Wassink.
--QB Sam Darnold makes his first career start against the Cardinal, having debuted atop the depth chart one week after the Trojans faced Stanford a season ago. Darnold had a low-key debut against Western Michigan with 289 yards passing. His statistical output was hindered in part due to dropped balls.
--WR Deontay Burnett's starring performance in the Rose Bowl set the stage for Burnett to take over as USC's No. 1 receiving option, and he didn't disappoint against Western Michigan. Burnett finished with seven receptions for 142 yards. Darnold having that reliable option while new faces get established is a must for the Trojans offense.
--TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe was used sparingly in Week 1 as he recovers from a hip flexor. Tyler Petite started in his place. Imatorbhebhe should be back atop the depth chart against Stanford.
--CB Quenton Meeks has a chance to continue in the vein of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a former All-Pro selection and Super Bowl champion who played at Stanford. This will be one of Meeks' best times to show what he can, having to defend tough receivers and an NFL caliber quarterback on a national stage against USC.
--QB Keller Chryst looked sharp in the opener, but the USC game will be a better gauge to see if he has lingering effects from his ACL injury, suffered in the Sun Bowl. When Chryst is accurate, confident, and can use his feet to turn a couple of broken plays into first downs, the Cardinal is one of the toughest outs in the nation.
--TE Kaden Smith is one of four tight ends for Stanford who can make an impact. Smith, while he's not the featured tight end -- senior Dalton Schultz is -- had a strong outing against Rice with four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. It was true freshman Colby Parkinson who stole the show, though, against Rice with two touchdown catches, including one of his first collegiate snap. He was the nation's top TE recruit in the 2017 class.
Montana at Washington
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
TV: Pac-12 Network
SERIES: Washington leads Montana 16-1-1. This will be the first meeting between the programs since 1951.
RANKINGS: Washington No. 7
KEYS TO THE GAME
Washington coach Chris Petersen knows his team's season-opening victory over Rutgers wasn't aesthetically pleasing.
While it is clear improvement is needed when the No. 7 Huskies host Montana on Saturday, Petersen is proud of one important thing.
"We won. That is what we are here for," Petersen said Monday. "We got that done, but I do think that it was a little bit of a wake-up call."
Junior quarterback Jake Browning can hear the alarm ringing. The player that finished sixth in last season's Heisman Trophy balloting wasn't the least bit impressed with the offensive performance despite passing for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
"We've got a standard we try to play to, and that's not the standard at all," Browning said.
Washington possessed the ball less than 22 minutes during the 30-14 victory over Rutgers. The Huskies didn't take the lead until the game was more than 26 minutes old -- on senior Dante Pettis' sixth career punt-return touchdown to tie the Pac-12 record set by California's DeSean Jackson (2005-07).
That leaves Petersen looking for a faster start from his team against the Grizzlies, an FCS team receiving a reported $625,000 to visit Seattle. Montana posted a 45-23 win over Valparaiso in its opener.
"I think they're a really well-coached team," Petersen said of the Grizzlies. "They've got their style. Who knows how they will play against us. They're more of an up-tempo (attack) trying to run a lot of plays."
Grizzlies senior quarterback Reese Phillips passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns against Valparaiso. The fifth-year senior, who began his career at Kentucky, thrived in his first career start.
Montana coach Bob Stitt said Phillips -- who is in his second year in the program -- received high grades in every area.
"He had a great day," Stitt said at a press conference. "He can really throw the ball and everybody saw that. We've been saying this since he got here that he can throw the ball as well as anybody. ... He probably had three or four throws that he'd like to have back but the rest of them were pretty darn good."
The Grizzlies feature a playmaker in sophomore receiver Jerry Louie-McGee, who caught nine passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns against Valparaiso. In one game last season, Louie-McGee set a school record with 21 receptions.
Junior Jeremy Calhoun, who rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns in the opener, is the top running back.
Meanwhile, the Washington defense gets senior All-American inside linebacker Azeem Victor back after he missed the opener due to a suspension for a violation of team rules. Having Victor back should help Washington get off the field quicker.
Washington has much larger defenders than Montana typically sees, and the Grizzlies will certainly find it challenging to block 6-foot-5, 340-pound standout defensive tackle Vita Vea.
The Huskies have a revamped secondary, and one of the highlights of the win over Rutgers was the play of redshirt freshman cornerback Byron Murphy.
Murphy made covering receivers look easy by intercepting two passes in his first college game.
"If the ball is around him, the guy can catch," Petersen said. "He's an instinctual player."
Offensively, while Browning is aiming to improve on his shaky 17-of-30 accuracy, the Huskies also see the need to get the ball into the hands of junior running back Myles Gaskins.
The speedster topped 1,300 rushing yards in each of his first two college seasons but had just seven carries against Rutgers. He had 59 yards for a gaudy 8.4 average and played a pivotal role in the passing game by catching five passes for 79 yards and one touchdown.
"Myles Gaskin was up to his old tricks," said Petersen, "and we've got to get him the ball as much as we can."
Dealing with Washington's offense will be a stern task for the Grizzlies, who allowed 450 yards in their opener.
Senior linebacker James Banks (12 tackles) had a solid opener for Montana, while safeties Evan Epperly (a junior) and Josh Sandry (a sophomore) each nabbed interceptions.
Montana is playing an FBS program for the first time since losing 17-12 at Wyoming in 2014. The Grizzlies were routed at Tennessee 42-16 in 2011 in their most-recent contest against a Power 5 conference school.
The Huskies hold a 16-1-1 edge in the series but Saturday's meeting is the first since 1951.
"This is going to be a great challenge for our football team mentally to be able to go in, focus on their job and when adversity does strike, that they just keep coming, keep your head down," Stitt said. "The scoreboard's going to take care of itself. Just keep working and doing your job and we'll look at it at the end."
Washington sophomore cornerback Austin Joyner will miss the contest to complete his two-game suspension for violation of team rules.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Jake Browning will be seeking a swift rebound from an opener in which he underwhelmed for more than half the game. Browning finished with 284 yards and two touchdowns but his accuracy (17-of-30) wasn't up to last year's form. Browning's 61 career touchdown passes are 14 behind school record-holder Keith Price (2010-13).
--WR Dante Pettis returned his sixth career punt for touchdown against Rutgers to match the Pac-12 record held by California's DeSean Jackson. The pivotal touchdown came after Washington was unable to score a touchdown in the game's first 26 minutes as he continues to show a knack for providing the team with a much-needed spark. It was the third straight year in which Pettis returned a punt for a score in the season opener and he figures to make a big impact as either a returner or a receiver against Montana.
--CB Byron Murphy, a redshirt freshman, made it look easy by intercepting two passes in his first college games. The Huskies are looking for more performances like his debut after losing both starting corners off last year's squad and coach Chris Petersen is mighty impressed with Murphy. "If the ball is around him, the guy can catch," Petersen said. "He's an instinctual player."
--DT Vita Vea had a relatively quiet season opener with just three stops against Rutgers. He figures to get untracked against the FCS Grizzlies, who don't often see players the size of the 6-foot-5, 340-pound junior. Vea posted five sacks last season and his athleticism allows him to be more than just an interior pass rusher.
--S Justin Strong, a senior who has returned to the top of this week's depth chart, is one four Grizzlies with experience in Pac-12 games. Strong played against Washington in Seattle for Oregon State in 2014, logging six tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He finished last season at Montana as the team's third-leading tackler with 68 and led the team in interceptions with three, one of which he returned for an 86-yard touchdown.
--RB Jeremy Calhoun rushed for two touchdowns against Valparaiso last week, giving him 20 career TDs in his 21-game career. Somewhat surprisingly, last week's game was the junior's first career start.
--LB James Banks, a senior who began his career at UAB, posted a game-high 12 tackles against Valparaiso last week to set a career high.
Florida Atlantic at Wisconsin
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
TV: Big Ten Network
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Wisconsin No. 9
KEYS TO THE GAME
Florida Atlantic had difficulty stopping Navy's option attack in its opener. Now, the Owls face Wisconsin's power running game.
The No. 9 Badgers (1-0) will be looking to build on their big second half against Utah State, when they ran for 234 yards en route to a 59-10 victory.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst was pleased with efforts from a handful of his young playmakers, particularly at running back and receiver. True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor had nine carries for a team-high 87 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore RB Bradrick Shaw added 18 carries for 86 yards as the Badgers roared to a 49-0 advantage after halftime.
"I thought (Taylor) had a pretty good tempo to him," Chryst said. "I was impressed with that. 'Brad,' one of the things we certainly like about him is when he takes it north and south, he can hit a hole. Each guy had his moments."
Shaw, who has been hampered by a right leg injury, was listed as questionable on the team's injury report released Monday.
Sophomore wide receivers A.J. Taylor and Quitez Cephus combined for six receptions for 71 yards and one touchdown against the Aggies. Chryst said their biggest area of improvement is confidence.
"I think part of that comes from knowledge of what they're doing," he said. "I think they know better what to expect. ... I think they both have kind of earned that confidence by working. So I think they're more relaxed."
First-year FAU coach Lane Kiffin dropped his debut, 41-19 to Navy on Friday night, when the Owls gave up 426 rushing yards. The game was delayed twice by lightning and lasted 4 hours and 50 minutes.
"I know you are going to look at the score and think that we didn't play very well defensively, but we did some really good things defensively and then fell apart at times," Kiffin said. "That is one of the best scoring offenses in all of football."
Chryst said he was impressed with FAU's effort.
"I think there's certainly energy," Chryst said.
"I think in watching their game, I know the score probably wasn't what they wanted, but they flew around and you saw a lot of good football players and things that he's brought in there. But that's from the outside looking in and watching tape."
Kiffin, trying to improve a program that finished with a 3-9 record in each of the past three seasons, hasn't settled on a starting quarterback.
Sophomore quarterback Daniel Parr got his first career start against Navy, completing 19 of 30 passes for 281 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Sophomore DeAndre Johnson, a junior college transfer with more mobility, is also in the mix.
Kiffin said he'd like to play both Parr and Johnson. Johnson had four rushes for 31 yards against the Midshipmen.
"(Parr) did do some good things," Kiffin said. "His numbers weren't bad. We were not playing against the greatest defense in football, so we would have liked to have been more productive."
One disappointing development for Florida Atlantic was the right knee injury suffered by junior defensive tackle Ray Ellis late in the second quarter against Navy. Kiffin said Ellis, who was sidelined last year with a knee injury that required surgery, likely will undergo surgery again on the same knee.
"He really battled his way back," Kiffin said. "(The knee) really started to look really good as he got healthier and healthier. Tough deal on him and the loss of a really good player."
Wisconsin sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook recovered from a dismal first quarter last week, and then receivers dropped three passes in the second quarter. Hornibrook completed 7 of 13 passes for 63 yards and one interception in the first half. He was sacked three times.
He finished 15 of 23 for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
"There are some plays he can be better on, so overall, I liked the way that he saw the game, he made plays and gave guys a chance to make play," Chryst said. "I think there's still enough to work on that he's got to focus on and get a lot better."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Alex Hornibrook overcame a rough first quarter to throw a career-high three touchdowns for 244 yards in his 10th career start. Wisconsin's success on offense will depend largely on consistent play at quarterback, thus making Hornibrook's bounce-back effort in the final three quarters a good sign heading into Week 2.
--TE Troy Fumagalli is considered one of the best at his position in the country. It's a good sign for the Wisconsin offense that Hornibrook and Fumagalli established a good connection in the opener, with Fumagalli finishing with a career-high 105 receiving yards.
--CB Nick Nelson, a junior who replaces four-year starter Sojourn Shelton at cornerback, made his Badgers debut vs. Utah State after sitting out 2016 following his transfer from Hawaii. Nelson started 21 games for the Rainbow Warriors, recording 21 pass breakups. He made two tackles in the opener and is also returning punts.
--LB Azeez Al-Shaair led the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons, including 113 stops, with 12 for loss, in 2016. He opened this season with 14 tackles, once again leading the Owls. He'll be busy against Wisconsin's ground attack.
--RB Devin Singletary rushed for 1,021 yards as a true freshman last season, averaging 6.7 yards per game. He had only six carries in the opener against Navy, rushing for 26 yards.
Cincinnati at Michigan
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Michigan No. 8
KEYS TO THE GAME
Michigan's core of predominantly new starters showed last week it could handle the pressure of facing a ranked opponent in front of more than 100,000 fans at a neutral site.
This week, the task for the Wolverines will be demonstrating if they can handle prosperity against what appears to be an overmatched opponent at home.
Following an impressive 33-17 win over Florida last Saturday in Arlington, Texas, No. 8 Michigan opens the home portion of its schedule at noon ET on Saturday as a 33-point favorite over Cincinnati.
The Bearcats opened their season with a 26-14 win over Austin Peay on Aug. 31.
Despite having to replace 10 starters on defense from last year's unit that was one of the best in the nation, Michigan's defense has been getting accolades from around the country ever since beating Florida.
The Wolverines' defense gave up only three points, held the Gators to 11 yards rushing and 192 total yards, and recorded six sacks. Sophomore middle linebacker Devin Bush has two sacks in his first career start.
An article in the Detroit Free Press already suggested that this year's defense could be just as good as the defense Michigan had in 1997 when it won its last national championship, one that was led by Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson.
Always one to promote his players, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh certainly couldn't hold back about how good his defense looked against Florida.
"It was the best since I have been here coaching that I've seen our defense run to the football," Harbaugh said. "Holes opened up and they closed. Pursuit, nobody on the ground and everybody getting up off of the ground and running."
Harbaugh was equally pleased with his team's offensive line, which allowed senior running back Ty Isaac to rush for 114 yards on 11 carries and sophomore Chris Evans to run for 78 yards on 22 carries.
But there was a noticeable negative for Michigan against Florida, one that will no doubt be monitored throughout the season.
Junior quarterback Wilton Speight threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, and he might find himself on a short leash if he continues to turn the ball over. Speight passed for 2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. But he was pushed in fall camp by John O'Korn and it only became clear he was retaining the job during the week of the season opener.
For now, Speight is the man for Harbaugh.
"If you can't handle that type of position when something goes bad, it's the wrong position to be playing," Harbaugh said.
"I thought he did very well. Sometimes that breaks a guy. Sometimes they can bounce back it from the next game, sometimes they can bounce back in the same game and sometimes they can't. If you can't, and it affects you to the point where you can't go execute and you are unwilling to take any chances or risk, that's the sign you can't handle it really well. He kept firing."
First-year Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell is very familiar with Michigan Stadium and the Michigan program, given that he was on Ohio State's coaching staff for 14 years before being hired as the Bearcats' head coach last December.
However, Fickell has done his best to downplay any familiarity.
"This is about our team and our program," Fickell said.
"It's not about me or the history I've had with the University of Michigan, but really truly try to focus on our team and our opportunities and the things we are doing. Just like me, just like every coach and every one of our players, we are extremely excited for this opportunity this week."
In the win over an Austin Peay team that now has lost 28 straight games, the Bearcats actually were outgained in total yardage, 313-248, and had only 22 minutes of possession.
But behind two forced turnovers and 100 yards on 19 carries from senior running back Mike Boone, the Bearcats managed to survive and give Fickell a victory in his first game with the program.
Now, the Bearcats will prepare for an ultimate measuring stick game against the Wolverines.
"We take incredible pride in the way we work, the way we train and the way we prepare," Fickell said. "There's no better way to do that than to have an opportunity on national television to go play against a top-5 team in the country. Everyone is excited."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Wilton Speight is under pressure to step up his performance after completing just 44 percent of his passes and being intercepted twice in the opener. Coach Jim Harbaugh indicated he won't be shy about pulling Speight from games even though senior backup John O'Korn was ineffective in relief. Speight was efficient and avoided mistakes most of last season so the mediocre debut was disappointing.
--RB Ty Isaac showed that he can be counted on with his strong performance in which he gained 114 yards on 11 carries. It was his best showing for the senior since rolling up 115 yards on eight carries against UNLV in 2015 and a sign he might be primed to have a big season. Isaac, who began his career at USC before transferring, has never lived up to his billing amid issues with consistency.
--DE Rashan Gary had just two tackles in his first college start amid heavy expectations. This is the season the sophomore is expected to dominate up front and live up to the hype that saw him named a second-team preseason All-American. He will look to make some impact plays against Cincinnati and get his season rolling.
--MLB Devin Bush displayed he is ready to make an impact with two sacks and an additional tackle for loss among his seven stops. The sophomore seldom saw action on defense last season but he made it clear he is ready to play with the performance against the Gators. He nearly got ejected for targeting on Florida's first play but kept his composure and put together a solid game.
--RB Mike Boone rushed for 100 yards in the season opener against Austin Peay, his sixth career 100-yard game and the first for UC since Boone tallied 137 yards on the ground against Tulsa on Nov. 14, 2015. Boone had gains of 26 and 25 yards in the opener.
--QB Hayden Moore threw for three touchdowns against Austin Peay to three different targets. He found Thomas Geddins on 16-yard scored in the first quarter, hit a 6-yard out to Kahlil Lewis who fought his way to the pylon, and delivered a 6-yard strike to Tyler Cogswell through a tight window.
--LB Tyrell Gilbert forced his third career fumble late in the first quarter against Austin Peay. Gilbert had four tackles, including one for loss, in the opener.
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
TV: ACC Network
SERIES: Florida State leads 1-0. FSU won the only meeting 34-0 in 2011.
RANKINGS: Florida State No. 10
KEYS TO THE GAME
With sophomore and potential Heisman candidate Deondre Francois out for the season with a knee injury sustained in the opener against Alabama, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher will be looking at breaking in a true freshman at quarterback when the 10th-ranked Seminoles host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee was moved up to noon because of the impending threat of Hurricane Irma over the weekend.
James Blackmon from Belle Glade, Fla., will move into the spot Francois vacated.
"He is very easy, very strong-willed, very independent and confident -- not arrogant, but confident," Fisher said. "Has a great presence to him."
Blackman was the No. 7-rated pro-style quarterback in the nation in last year's high school class and apparently has the confidence of his teammates.
"He's going up against the best defense in the country in practice," star defensive back Derwin James said. "So I feel like he'll be ready for the game."
Fisher said Blackman showed him early in spring practice that -- if ever called on -- he would be ready for this moment. His knowledge of the game has been his biggest improvement in practice, Fisher said.
"And his ability to want to learn," Fisher added. "He studies the game and works at it."
Louisiana-Monroe coach Matt Viator doesn't anticipate much of a change in the Florida State offense even with a new quarterback.
"We think they're going to do what they do," he said. "They'll come into the game with their offense and run the stuff that they've been running. That's kind of how we're going to approach it.
"We've watched the kids, and obviously they're pretty talented football players. And they've got talented players around him. We think that they'll do pretty much what they've been doing."
Like the Seminoles, who lost to Alabama 24-7, Viator's Warhawks are coming off a loss in the opener. A late comeback effort fell short in a 37-29 setback at Memphis.
"We can't turn it over like we did," Viator said. "Some key critical moments we turned the ball over. First-and-goal at the 3, we turned it over. We have to clean that up."
Even a turnover-free game, however, likely will not be enough for the Warhawks to pull off what would be a stunning upset. Even with the loss of Francois, the Seminoles look to be able to run the ball behind junior running back Jacques Patrick and company. The Warhawks gave up 319 yards rushing in their loss to Memphis. Backup running backs Cam Akers, Amir Rasul and Ryan Green all likely will see significant time for the Seminoles.
If they struggled against the run, the Warhawks did have some success defending the pass in their opener. Their secondary limited Tigers starting quarterback Riley Ferguson to 97 yards passing on 10 completions in 25 attempts.
Offensively the Warhawks played two quarterbacks at Memphis, with starter Caleb Evans completing 11 of 20 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown; veteran Garrett Smith was 10 of 17 for 171 yards. Smith also led the team in rushing with 48 yards.
"We were just going to keep playing them," Viator said after the game. Caleb had a great drive there at the end of the game. He took us down and scored as well.
"We'll evaluate the film and if we have to make a change we will. To be honest, I can't remember who did what to tell you the truth. They were both playing, and they both had some moments, so we will have to see how it goes from there."
He could, he said, play both for considerable stretches again.
Fisher, meanwhile, will be prepping Blackmon for his first collegiate start. Asked what advice Fisher has given Blackman ahead of Saturday's start, Fisher said it was similar advice he's given all his quarterbacks over the years.
"Prepare. Put your time in. Play one play at a time. Trust your eyes. Process the information. Make great decisions," Fisher said. "You get a chance to be accurate with the ball, make it.
"If you make a check (down), make a check and believe in what you're doing. Do it with conviction."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Cam Akers, a freshman, left Seminoles fans feeling excited, despite the loss. The speedy Akers, a former five-star recruit, got the bulk of the action against Alabama, rushing for 30 yards on 10 carries -- several of those featuring ankle-breaking moves against Alabama defenders.
--TE Ryan Izzo finished second in receiving against Alabama with three catches for 46 yards, and he was tough to bring down every time he ran with the ball. With Florida State's receiving corps still feeling their way into their roles, look for Fisher to lean heavily on the experienced Izzo.
--DB Tavarus McFadden led the nation for part of the season last year in interceptions and finished tied for the FBS lead with eight. Last week against Alabama's big corps of receivers, McFadden was thrown at very little. He recorded five tackles.
--P Logan Tyler needs to step up his game after averaging just 31.5 yards per attempt against Alabama. One of his kicks also was blocked.
--QB Garrett Smith came off the bench and ended up leading the Warhawks in rushing in their loss to Memphis. He had a net 48 yards on 12 carries and also passed for 171 yards.
--WR Markis McCray had a 46-yard reception for ULM's biggest pass play of the night. He ended up with three catches for 69 yards.
--DT Tyler Johnson had five tackles, including a sack that resulted in a 6-yard loss.
--S Luke Hedrick was ULM's leading tackler with six stops.
Chattanooga at LSU
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
TV: SEC Network (Alternate)
SERIES: LSU leads 1-0. The only meeting came in 1954, a 26-19 Tigers' win.
RANKINGS: LSU No. 12
KEYS TO THE GAME
Little changed for LSU in its season opener under coach Ed Orgeron and with Matt Canada in his first game as offensive coordinator.
The defense outshone the offense -- so no change there -- and the offense was no less dependent on the run game than it was before Orgeron replaced Les Miles four games into last season. The Tigers' 27-0 victory against BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome showed they can still play smash-mouth football like they did under Miles.
Saturday's home game against Chattanooga doesn't look to present much more of a learning opportunity for the 12th-ranked Tigers. The two teams will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Television coverage will be on the SEC Alternate Network.
LSU ran the ball 57 times and passed it only 18 against BYU, with Orgeron estimating that Canada used only about 10 percent of his offense.
"We took what they gave us," Orgeron said.
Running back Derrius Guice ran 27 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns against BYU, but Orgeron said he'd like to limit the workload of the reigning SEC rushing champ.
"I think any time you get over 25, it's too much because we have three or four backs that can run the football," Orgeron said. "I don't think that you're going to see Derrius carrying the ball over 25 times or 30 times in a game every game.
"We don't want to wear him out. We want to rotate our backs. We don't want him to carry the whole load."
LSU started five true freshmen against BYU, and then the lopsided nature of the game enabled the Tigers to go deeper into the depth chart to play 17 freshmen in all.
There is the potential for the Tigers to get another long look at young players this week. But Orgeron said he's taking nothing for granted.
"The challenge of this week is focusing on the task at hand, get our team ready for a battle," Orgeron said. "We've all been in these games where you can overlook the opponent and it turns out to be a battle. So we are not planning anything but a battle."
Orgeron said quarterback Danny Etling, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 171 yards, "played fantastic" in terms of managing the game.
"His passes were on the money," Orgeron said. "He had great decisions."
Chattanooga is playing its first true road game after losing to Jacksonville State in Montgomery, Alabama, on August 26. The Mocs had a bye last week.
"It's a great opportunity to play against the best in college football," Mocs linebacker Tae Davis said of the trip to LSU. "I'm a competitor and so is the team, so it brings out the best in us.
"We're looking forward to competing and doing our job. As a defense and a team, we're pretty good. We're looking to go out there and show that we belong. You definitely get an extra juice playing in an environment like that."
The Mocs' defense had two major breakdowns in their 27-13 to Jacksonville State, allowing a 76-yard touchdown run and a 59-yard touchdown pass. The offense turned the ball over three times, including two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Nick Tiano, thrust into the lineup when starting quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was hit with an NCAA-imposed four-game academics-related suspension on the eve of the opener, completed 23 of 43 passes for 218 yards with one touchdown.
He will be facing an LSU defense that allowed only 97 yards to BYU, helping the offense to possess the ball for nearly 42 minutes. But the Tigers also committed 10 penalties and failed to score touchdowns on four of their seven red-zone opportunities, kicking two field goals, missing a field goal attempt and turning the ball over on downs.
Chattanooga coach Tom Arth hopes the extra time to prepare will make a difference.
"I thought the bye week was great timing for us," Arth said. "At the same time, when you go so long and play just one game, you get a taste before you have to wait again. We had a lot we needed to work on over this past week that I think we did.
"All of the mistakes that happened were self-inflicted. You can tell them, tell them, tell them, but until they live through an experience like that, you hope that's all they need."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Darrel Williams is a key runner when starter Derrius Guice needs a break. LSU would prefer to hold Guice below the 27 carries he had last week and he'll likely go to the sidelines once the Tigers get a comfortable lead, and that will give Williams opportunities.
--WR Derrick Dillon saw his first game action against BYU and had two catches for 22 yards and one rush for eight yards. The Tigers are determined to spread the ball around, and Dillon looks like an early candidate to be a primary complement to No. 1 receiver D.J. Chark.
--LB Devin White made his first start against BYU and led the team with five tackles. Look for him to continue to be one of the top playmakers on defense.
--CB Andraez Williams stepped up last week. BYU didn't want to test the Tigers' top corner -- Donte Jackson -- and the other starter (Kevin Toliver II) -- didn't make the trip for the opener, so Williams seemed like an inviting target. That is until the redshirt freshman made a leaping interception. Even if Toliver returns, Williams figures to receive more opportunities to make plays.
--QB Nick Tiano was 23-of-43 passing for 218 yards and a touchdown against one interception in the opener. He also rushed for 68 yards on eight carries.
--WR Joseph Parker had six catches for 56 yards a touchdown in his first game since transferring from Wyoming.
--LB Tavon Lawson, a former defensive back, made his first start at linebacker and recorded a career-high 14 tackles. It was the first career game in double figures in tackles for the junior.
--DB Lucas Webb came up with his 11th career interception in the first half. He is tied for sixth all-time at Chattanooga in the category.
Georgia at Notre Dame
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
SERIES: Georgia leads 1-0. The Bulldogs won the 1981 Sugar Bowl 17-10.
RANKINGS: Georgia No. 15, Notre Dame No. 24
KEYS TO THE GAME
No title will be at stake as was the last -- and only -- time Georgia and Notre Dame met in football, but for both the No. 15 Bulldogs and No. 24 Irish a victory Saturday could be the springboard to bigger and better things down the line.
The teams clash at 7:30 p.m. ET at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
It will be the first meeting in 37 years, when Georgia beat Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl for the 1980 national championship.
"I think these kinds of games in college football are really cool because you get to go play somebody that you don't normally play," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "I know our fan base is really excited. Our team is excited.
"I mean it will be the first team ever from Georgia to get to go to South Bend and play, and we are excited for that opportunity."
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly feels the same way.
"You know, this is the great part of being an independent football team in that you get these kinds of games, getting a chance to play against a team that's regarded as one of the very best in the SEC," Kelly said. "So our guys are excited about the challenge and looking forward to Saturday night."
Per usual, both teams' quarterbacks will be a focal point in this one, albeit for different reasons.
For Notre Dame, can Brandon Wimbush equal his performance from last week? He not only completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns, but rushed for an 106 yards and a score in his team's 49-16 win over Temple.
Couple that with the fact that running backs Dexter Williams and Josh Adams rushed for 124 and 161 yards, respectively, and Georgia's front seven figures to have quite the challenge slowing down an Irish offense that ran for 422 yards in its season-opening win.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has a different kind of challenge.
With last week's injury to starter Jacob Eason, who sprained his left knee with midway through the first quarter against Appalachian State, the Bulldogs will turn to the true freshman who will make his first career start in one of the most hallowed stadiums in all of college football.
In Georgia's 31-10 victory over Appalachian State, Fromm -- a former five-star performer -- completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, leading Georgia on three straight touchdown drives.
Teammates are confident he will perform just fine.
"I don't think it is going to affect him so much because he is so mature," Bulldog fullback Christian Payne said. "To me, it's like he's been out there for a long time because he knows the huddle so well."
Kelly said his team has tremendous respect for the challenge that Fromm presents to the Irish.
"I'm not an expert, but you know, I've been in this game a while, and he's got a presence about him, and he's very comfortable running the Georgia offense," Kelly said. "So, we go into this game expecting a guy very capable in Jake and running their offense and doing the things necessary to be successful.
"So again, the narrative might be that Eason is out, and he's a fine quarterback certainly, but I think they're in very capable hands. He'll do a great job for them. And they're going to feature two elite backs from an offensive perspective."
If Georgia is indeed to go to South Bend and come away with the win, running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will need to be at their respective best. Chubb rushed for 96 yards and Michel added 87 against the Mountaineers.
"Well, they're difficult to tackle one on one at the second level," Kelly said.
"So, listen, if you let these guys go through to the second level and you're relying on your safeties one on one from 12 yards off to make tackles, they need to be of NFL pedigree to make those tackles consistently, and I don't know that they will because these two kids are extraordinary talents."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Jake Fromm, a freshman, will make his first career start after taking over for Jacob Eason, who strained his left knee in the opener against Appalachian State and is out for an undetermined amount of time. In his place, Fromm completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown, leading Georgia to three consecutive scoring drives.
--RB Nick Chubb, one of the top running backs in the country, rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns last week. He's second on Georgia's all-time rushing list with 3,518 yards.
--DE Trenton Thompson will have to play at key role for the Bulldog defensive line, which is matched up against the veteran offensive line of Notre Dame, which averages 315 pounds across the front. The Fighting Irish are led by 6-foot-8, 315-pound left tackle Mike McGlinchey.
--STAR J.R. Reed, the son of former NFL standout Jake Reed, made his debut for the Bulldogs against Appalachian State and made a quick impression, coming up with a sack. With Georgia expected to be in nickel for much of the game, Reed's ability to play the run and the pass is going to be a key part of Georgia's defensive success.
--QB Brandon Wimbush scored his first touchdown of the year on an 8-yard run in the first quarter against Temple. It was the second of his career after scoring on a 58-yard run against UMass in 2015. He later threw his first career touchdown pass.
--RB Josh Adams hit the 100-yard rushing mark on his sixth carry of the day. He finished the game with 161 yards on 19 carries.
--LB Nyles Morgan led the Irish in tackles with nine. Among them was one tackle for a loss. The senior led the Irish in tackles last year with 94.
--LB Te'Von Coney didn't start but had 1.5 tackles for loss, including one of three sacks for Notre Dame. It was the first sack of the junior's career.
Louisville at North Carolina
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
SERIES: Louisville leads 4-3. Louisville won the last meeting 39-34 in 2012.
RANKINGS: Louisville No. 17
KEYS TO THE GAME
Louisville and unranked North Carolina are in very different places when it comes to the most visible position on the field.
The No. 17 Cardinals go into the game with the returning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, at quarterback. At least early in the week, coach Larry Fedora was unsure who would start at quarterback for the Tar Heels.
The teams meet in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener at noon Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on ESPN.
Jackson came out firing in Louisville's opener. He accounted for 485 total yards in a tough 35-28 win over Purdue in a game played in Indianapolis. Known for his running, Jackson threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns.
"He put some balls in small windows," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "His accuracy allowed us to get yards after the catch. He's doing a really nice job with his sets, and when he sets, he gets on line and he's really accurate."
As for North Carolina, LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris passed for only 60 yards and threw two interceptions in last week's season-opening 35-30 home loss to California. He seemingly was outplayed by redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt, who passed for 161 yards with one touchdown and no picks.
But Tar Heels Fedora isn't so fast to make a change on the depth chart.
"We'll go through this week and decide what we're going to do," he said. "Based on Saturday what we saw whether that was enough to make a change, I don't know yet.
"We'll see how they handle this week in practice."
Harris and Surratt came out ahead in a four-way competition in the preseason, separating from last year's backup Nathan Elliott and redshirt freshman Logan Byrd, but not from each other.
Fedora's comments, however, perhaps do indicate a way he is leaning.
"Really, I'm looking for the guy that's going to put us in a position to win," the coach said. "Taking care of the football is still No. 1 with us. You've got to take care of the football."
Harris had the two picks and also missed a wide-open receiver in the end zone for a potential touchdown. He completed 7 of 16 passes, rushing for 5 yards. Surratt started the second half. He completed 18 of 28 passes and ended up with 66 yards rushing.
"I thought both of them did a nice job with their poise," Fedora said. "Their poise and their communication on the field with their teammates, plus with the coaches on the sideline, was good.
"Brandon threw the two picks, which we can't afford to do, and we've got to get better in that area. I thought Chazz made some good decisions with the ball and when he was running."
Freshman running back Michael Carter was a bright spot, with 11 rushes for a game-high 94 yards and two touchdowns. He showed his speed on a long run of 47 yards. On the downside, he also lost a fumble.
It was not known as of Tuesday if Louisville All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander would play after suffering a knee injury last week. He was considered day-to-day.
Petrino said he liked the chemistry between his star quarterback and freshman wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, who caught four passes for 95 yards in the second half. His 20-yard touchdown reception with 9:01 left gave Louisville a 32-28 lead.
"I thought he did a really nice job," Petrino said. "The thing that was good to see was the first catch down the middle. They both saw the coverage; they knew what was going to happen. It was perfectly thrown and caught. On the touchdown pass, they were both exactly on the same page."
The Tar Heels simply made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball to beat Cal, throwing two interceptions, losing a fumble and giving up big plays on defense.
Louisville intercepted three Purdue passes last week.
Petrino praised his defense this week, but left room to compliment the Tar Heels.
"They look good on video, they run the ball well and we got two quarterbacks again to prepare for," he said.
"Defensively, they've got a lot of experience -- you turn the video on from last year and this year and it's a lot of the same players playing, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary. We just have to have a great week of preparation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Lamar Jackson completed passes to nine different receivers in kicking off his campaign to repeat as the Heisman winner. With 2,638 yards, Jackson is 169 yards short of setting an ACC career rushing records for quarterback.
--TE Jordan Davis was playing in his first game last week since his transfer from Texas A&M. He had a three-yard touchdown reception for Louisville's first points.
--LB Trevon Young returned after missing 2016 to injury and totaled three tackles. He was credited with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback pressures.
--S Chucky Williams started off his final season in a nice way. His late interception -- the seventh of his career -- basically ended the win over Purdue.
--QB Chazz Surratt came into the game on the third series and gave some life to the passing game and also was an effective runner. He passed for 161 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown, gaining 66 yards on 16 rushes.
--RB Michael Carter had a big game in his collegiate debut. The freshman rushed 11 times for a game-high 94 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to California, an 8.5 yards-per-carry average. He showed his speed on a long run of 47 yards. On the downside, he also lost a fumble.
--LB Andre Smith led the Tar Heels defense in tackles with 10 stops and also had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the second score of the junior's career. He also broke up another pass.
--CB M.J. Stewart is a veteran in the secondary and a leader of the defense. Stewart broke up a pass and had three tackles against California.
Delaware at Virginia Tech
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.
TV: ACC Network EXTRA
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Virginia Tech No. 18
KEYS TO THE GAME
After passing his first test as a new starting quarterback, Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Josh Jackson faces a short week as he gets ready for his second start when the Hokies host FCS foe Delaware.
Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday in Blacksburg's Lane Stadium with the telecast on the ACC EXTRA Network.
The 18th-ranked Hokies are coming off a 31-24 win over West Virginia in a Sunday night affair in which Jackson accounted for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers in the neutral site win in FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
"I'm sure he feels good about it," Hokies coach Justin Fuente said of Jackson's debut. "The challenge for him is we've had several weeks to prepare for the West Virginia defense and those looks and the checks and all of those things.
"Now he's going to have to be able to do it in six days, so that'll be another step for him in terms of digesting the game plan, getting as comfortable as he was with the game plan this week for next week in a much shorter amount of time."
Jackson said he was studying West Virginia game tape as early as January in preparation for the opener. He will have a decidedly shorter time to prepare for Delaware.
"I think I'll be ready. ... I think I'll be just as prepared as I was for this game," Jackson said.
Delaware is coming off a 22-3 home victory over Delaware State last week in the debut for first-year head coach Danny Rocco.
The Fighting Blue Hens racked up a considerable yardage advantage against the Hornets (432-224) but struggled to reach the end zone, scoring their only two touchdowns in the final 18 minutes.
They head to Blacksburg for their first-ever meeting with Virginia Tech. Delaware has dropped its last six games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, a streak that includes losses to ACC opponents in each of the previous three seasons.
"We'll have our hands full, but we're certainly excited about the opportunity," Rocco said.
Rocco is familiar with the Hokies from his days as an assistant at Virginia from 2001-05. After his time in Charlottesville, Rocco had head coaching jobs at Liberty (2006-11) and Richmond (2012-16) before making his way to Delaware.
While the personnel has changed, Rocco knows what is in store for his team when it faces off against Virginia Tech.
"They've got some new names and some new faces out there playing, but the product looks so much the same," Rocco said. "They're an athletic defense, they're fast, and on offense they're physical. Their running backs run hard and (wide receiver Cam Phillips) is an exceptional football player."
Phillips caught seven passes for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Mountaineers. The senior, who is on pace to become Virginia Tech's career leader in receptions and receiving yards, was a go-to target for Jackson, who passed for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 101 yards and a score.
Jackson became the first Tech player since Logan Thomas in 2013 to pass for more than 200 yards and rush for more than 100 in a game.
"Obviously we're happy with the first win," Jackson said. "It's only one win at the end of the day, so we've got to continue to work and continue to get better and just get ready for the next game."
Virginia Tech's defense struggled at times against West Virginia's Air Raid offense. The Hokies allowed 592 total yards, their highest output allowed since yielding 598 in a 2007 loss at eventual national champion LSU.
"I wish everything had been a little more consistent," Fuente said.
Delaware had a similar feeling about its performance in its opener.
"I felt like we were executing things, but when it came down to crunch time, converting third downs, getting into the end zone, we just didn't do that very well," said Blue Hens wide receiver Diante Cherry, who caught a 31-yard touchdown pass and ran 19 yards for another score. "We just have to watch the film and see what we can do better as a team."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Josh Jackson had quite a debut on a national stage against West Virginia, passing for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a team-high 101 yards and a score. It was the highest rushing output by a Virginia Tech quarterback in his debut since at least 1987.
--WR Cam Phillips played a big part in Jackson's dazzling debut, catching seven passes for a career-high 138 yards and a score. Phillips moved into fifth place on the Hokies' career receiving list with 2,201 yards, passing Antonio Freeman, who had 2,200 from 1991-94.
--LB Andrew Motuapuaka, who led the team with 114 tackles in 2016, is on his way to duplicating that feat after posting 12 tackles against the Mountaineers. Motuapuaka, the ACC's linebacker of the week, had one of Tech's two sacks on the day.
--FS Terrell Edmunds had seven tackles and two pass breakups but missed considerable time in the fourth quarter with cramps. Edmunds appeared to be OK afterward. He was on the field to celebrate the victory with his teammates.
--RB Thomas Jefferson led the rushing attack. He had 19 carries for 102 yards in the 22-3 win over Delaware State.
--WR Diante Cherry scored touchdowns both rushing and receiving for the Blue Hens in their opener. Among his four receptions for 83 yards was a 31-yard touchdown catch. He also scored on a 19-yard run.
--LB Charles Bell led the Blue Hens on defense with seven tackles.
--NT Bilal Nichols was in on only four tackles, but teamed with DE Cam Kitchen for the team's only sack.
Charlotte at Kansas State
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports Net
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Kansas State No. 19
KEYS TO THE GAME
The old expression might be, "you can't go home again," but for Charlotte head football coach Brad Lambert and his defensive coordinator, Matt Wallerstedt, maybe it should be, "you can go home again, but it probably won't be a lot of fun."
Lambert played at Kansas State from 1983-86. He was an academic All-Big 8 selection from 1984-86 and was a second-team All-Big 8 defensive back in 1986. Wallerstedt played linebacker for the Wildcats during that same era.
Now the two men will lead the Charlotte 49ers into Manhattan for a match-up with No. 19 Kansas State on Saturday. Kansas State is loaded on offense, and the defense is stout too. It won't be easy for Charlotte in just its third season in FBS.
"It's been a long time since I've been back there for a game," Lambert said. "The place is completely different. They've added a lot to the stadium and built a new building in the end zone. Coach Wallerstedt coached there (in the mid-2000s), so he's got a real good feel for the environment that's there on game day.
"It's going to be emotional; my dad is going to be there, and I'm looking forward to that. It's really about these guys and the play on the field. It's a good opportunity for our guys to go out there and knock somebody off."
It won't be a reunion for Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, as he took over the moribund program after the 1988 season. But he still has tremendous respect for the job Lambert and his staff have done in building the program at Charlotte.
"From a defensive standpoint, they are a physical team up front," Snyder said. "They have athletic players in the back end that can get up and press on your wide receivers. They have a physical secondary in that respect. Schematically, they are sound. They are a bigger blitz team than what we have seen.
"From an offensive standpoint, I like the progress that they have made with their offensive line. They have a mobile offensive line that runs well. They have a good running back that can run downhill well, but the key to their offense is the quarterback. He is very talented. He is probably a 4.6 (second 40-yard dash) or better. He has good range and runs well. They have option football, which was a nemesis for us last week."
Charlotte lost its opener, 24-7 at Eastern Michigan. While the defense gave up big yards on the ground and through the air, the offense was hampered by three turnovers and 11 penalties.
Redshirt junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-high 101 yards, passing for 114. Trent Bostick caught his 10th career touchdown for Charlotte's only score, and senior linebacker Karrington King recorded 10 tackles to close in on Charlotte's all-time record. Jeff Gemmell led the 49ers with 14 tackles.
Kansas State is coming off a 55-19 season-opening victory over Central Arkansas. The game was close midway through the second quarter before K-State ran off 21 straight points to close the first half. KSU outscored Central Arkansas 38-3 from that point.
Kansas State was led by quarterback Jesse Ertz, who had the best passer rating for a single game (319.8) in the school's history. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Bears. Three of Ertz's touchdowns went for more than 50 yards, and not just because receivers gained a lot of yards after the catch. He frequently found receivers behind the Bears' secondary.
KSU gave up 201 yards on the ground against Central Arkansas, but Snyder is confident that will be corrected by Saturday.
"Some of the bootleg-type plays and misdirected passes were something we had difficulty with," he said. "The fact that the young guy completed 77 percent of his passes was a substantial number against us. I do not want us to have that kind of difficulty.
"It is more difficult for young people (to improve throughout the season). If they have that passion for the game and being the best they can be and buy into the process of daily improvement, then it manages itself pretty well. Normally, there are some dips in the road as you go, but if you start here and end up here, that is a very positive direction."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--CB/KR D.J. Reed returned the opening kickoff 96 yards before he was dragged down at the 4-yard line in the season-opening win over Central Arkansas. Reed also broke a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. Defensively, the All-Big 12 cornerback was in on seven tackles and also grabbed an interception. Reed began returning kicks late last season after also establishing himself as a lockdown defender.
--WR Byron Pringle enjoyed his third consecutive 100-yard performance, despite catching just three passes against Central Arkansas. He finished with 121 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown. A year ago in the Wildcats' Texas Bowl victory against Texas A&M, Pringle sailed for a 79-yard TD catch early in the game. He will continue to be a deep threat, though opponents may adjust soon for Pringle's speed.
--DE Tanner Wood had a rough game moving into the lineup for last year's Big 12 defensive player of the year, Jordan Willis, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Wood and other Kansas State defenders were consistently fooled on misdirection plays Central Arkansas ran off option looks. Wood was in on four tackles, but the Wildcats allowed far too much on the ground after leading the Big 12 last year in rush defense.
--LB Karrington King, a senior who began his career as a walk-on, is within two tackles of the 49ers all-time record, held by the 49ers' first NFL player, Larry Ogunjobi. King has 215 career tackles after making 10 in the opener.
--QB Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-best 101 yards at EMU. He joins Matt Johnson (150 vs. NC Central; 105 at Morehead State) as the only other quarterback in school history to rush for at least 100 yards -- and Klugh is the first to have that achievement against an FBS foe.
Boise State at Washington State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.
SERIES: Washington State leads 4-1; Boise State won 31-28 last year in Boise, Idaho.
RANKINGS: Washington State No. 20
KEYS TO THE GAME
No. 20 Washington State will be trying to elevate itself from "JC softball team" status on Saturday when it attempts to avenge last season's loss at Boise State.
The Cougars lost 31-28 to the Broncos early in the 2016 season, prompting coach Mike Leach to question his team's toughness.
"That's what we are, a JC softball team -- it's not whether you win or lose, it's, 'The team that wins is the one that has the most fun,'" he said.
"Crap like that. ... All this stuff that has contaminated America where they give every little kid a trophy and don't keep score in Little League anymore."
The teams meet at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., after each won its season opener last week.
Washington State defeated visiting Montana State 31-0 last week at Martin Stadium. Boise State beat Troy 24-13 at home.
Last season's matchup ended up being a thriller, as the Cougars rallied from 17 points down in the third quarter. Luke Falk, who threw for 480 yards on 55-of-71 passing, attempted a last-second heave that was batted down. Boise State escaped, its 34th consecutive home win against a non-conference opponent at the time.
"We should have won that game," Leach said Monday in his weekly press conference. "I didn't think we executed well. I thought we were slow and tentative. Of course, none of that counts for this year."
At the outset of practice this week, Boise State was mostly concerned about its personnel, with a big topic -- outside of the program, at least -- being who should start at quarterback.
One of the quarterbacks in question, starter Brett Rypien, is quite familiar with Washington State's program. From nearby Spokane, Rypien considered attending Washington State before committing to Boise State.
His uncle is former Cougars standout quarterback Mark Rypien, who was a Super Bowl MVP with the Washington Redskins.
Brett Rypien completed 13 of 23 passes for 160 yards last week against Troy. He was sacked four times and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Backup quarterback Montell Cozart, a graduate transfer from Kansas, led the Broncos to both of their offensive touchdowns.
Putting an end to the quarterback controversy -- for now -- Boise State coach Bryan Harsin reiterated Monday that Rypien's status as the starter has not changed.
"I watch the quarterbacks and the only people that matter are the ones in this building that actually watch the film, and I thought Brett played well," Harsin said. "The one thing is, unless you want to go back and study the film, quarterbacks get way too much credit and way too much blame.
"If you truly understand football and you study it and watch the position and see all the other things that go into it, Brett did some good things. Certainly there's areas to improve. It's no different with Montell. He did some good things, but has areas to improve."
In last year's win over Washington State, Rypien threw for 299 yards, completing 19 of 35 passes, but he had three interceptions to go with his one touchdown pass.
Falk is the undeniable leader of Washington State's offense, coming off a game in which he set a school career record for touchdown passes with 92. Falk enters the Boise State game needing 101 passing yards to break Connor Halliday's school career passing yards record of 11,304.
One element of the Cougars' loss last year to Boise State was a lack of a running game. Boise State's defense controlled the line of scrimmage and limited Washington State to only 40 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
"We're just looking forward to running the ball," Washington State offensive tackle Cole Madison said. "We didn't run the ball for crap that game. We've just gotta pound it down and make something happen."
Washington State's James Williams, who had 13 receptions for 163 yards (both school records for a running back) against Montana State last week, perhaps provided some bulletin-board material by saying, "Last year, we played on their level."
"We just gotta keep up with our speed and stay on our level," he added.
Washington State is looking to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Luke Falk, a senior Heisman Trophy candidate, threw three touchdown passes against Montana State, breaking Connor Halliday's school career passing touchdown record of 90. Falk now has 92 career touchdown passes. Falk threw for 311 yards, his school-best 25th career 300-yard game. He passed Alex Brink for second in school history in career passing yards with 11,204, trailing Halliday's record of 11,304. Falk recorded his 19th career win, trailing only Jason Gesser's school record of 24. Falk started the game with 20 consecutive completions.
--RB James Williams, a sophomore, caught 13 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns against Montana State, setting school single-game records for receptions and receiving yards by a running back.
--DE Hercules Mata'afa, a junior who was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick last season, tallied 2.5 tackles for loss last week, including 1.5 sacks. He now has 27 tackles for loss in his career. He finished fifth in the conference last year with 13.5 tackles for loss with a team-high five sacks.
--CB Avery Williams, a redshirt freshman, ran back a punt 81 yards for a score on the first touch of his college career. It was the fifth-longest punt return in school history, and the first punt-return score since Donte Deayon's 75-yarder at Wyoming on Nov. 22, 2014. Williams also returned a kick 48 yards. He was selected the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week.
--RB Alexander Mattison carried 13 times for 82 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run, in the season opener. He rushed for 328 yards and four touchdowns last season while serving as the backup to Jeremy McNichols. He shared the backfield in the opener with redshirt senior Ryan Wolpin, who ran 17 times for 47 yards.
--QB Brett Rypien is 18-7 as the starter at Boise State, including a 3-1 mark against teams from Power 5 conferences.
South Florida at Connecticut
KICKOFF: Saturday, 10:30 a.m. ET
SITE: Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn.
TV: ESPN News
SERIES: South Florida leads 8-6. The Bulls won the last meeting 42-27 in 2016.
RANKINGS: South Florida No. 21
KEYS TO THE GAME
South Florida is looking to get out of the gate much faster after trailing early in its first two game against what figured to be overmatched foes.
The Bulls open American Athletic Conference play with a trip to Connecticut on Saturday with kickoff a noon at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
The 21st-ranked Bulls have managed to win their first two games against San Jose State and Stony Brook despite falling behind early against both. Looking forward to improving after trailing San Jose State 16-0 in their opener before winning 42-22, the Bulls had just as many issues against Stony Brook in their second game.
The Seawolves, who were playing their opener, led 10-7 at the half and were down only a touchdown going into the fourth quarter before the Bulls pulled away for the 31-17 win.
The second unimpressive performance cost the Bulls two spots in the polls after they opened the year at No. 19 with hopes of rising high enough to earn a spot in a New Year's Six bowl and perhaps even rate some consideration to becoming the first Group of Five team to earn one of the four coveted playoff spots.
They need a big performance to regain that sort of respect.
"We have to run the football," South Florida coach Charlie Strong said. "So we're going to have to move people off the line of scrimmage. We have to protect the quarterback when it's time to pass, too, to give him enough time to find the receivers.
"We know we have to get better. It's not only the offensive line. There's a lot of positions where we know we have to improve and get better."
In the opener, running backs D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice combined to rush for 193 yards, and they seemed to give an indication they were ready to make up for the premature departure of Marlon Mack to the NFL. But the two combined for only 72 yards on 29 rushes against Stony Brook, an FCS foe.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers has been under heavy pressure and has completed only 55.6 percent of his passes for 398 yards. He has rushed for another 137 in the two games. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, with 10 receptions, has more than any other two receivers combined.
If the offense has been spotty, the defense is another story.
The Bulls have allowed only 201 total yards rushing in the two games and have gotten to the quarterback for six sacks and picked off five passes while allowing an average of just more than 207 yards a game through the air.
That's a big difference from a year ago when they allowed opponents to rush for nearly 197 yards a game and pass for more than 285.
This defense is playing with a renewed commitment, is setting the tempo, and playing more aggressively, Strong said.
"I think that because of what happened last season they felt like the offense carried them and they want to carry their load," Strong said. "They're playing pretty good right now."
UConn is coming off a less-than-inspiring performance itself in a 27-20 win over Holy Cross, also an FCS foe, in a game that marked the return of Randy Edsall as coach. After spending 12 years with the Huskies, Edsall was at Maryland from 2011 through 2015. He spent 2016 in the Detroit Lions organization before rejoining the Huskies for 2017.
Asked about the feeling upon his return, Edsall said it was the same as before.
"It wasn't anything different," he said. "I just appreciate we were able to get away with a win."
The Huskies did come out of the game with one key issue facing them.
After junior David Pindall struggled in the opener after earning the job in the preseason, senior Bryant Shirreffs will start at quarterback against the Bulls. Pindall was 19 of 28 passing but for only 154 yards in the opener.
Shirreffs, who started much of the last two seasons but missed the last four games last year to injury, was 9 of 13 for 124 yards and led the Huskies to three touchdowns after taking over late in the third quarter.
"I made a decision," Edsall said, "that I think is best for the team."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Darius Tice is making up for lost time after seeing his 2016 season limited to just four games before being sidelined by an ankle injury. He ran for 57 yards on 16 carries against Stony Brook to give him 151 yards in two games to QB Quinton Flowers' 137.
--WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling made his first touchdown catch of the season with a six-yard reception against Stony Brook. His team-leading 10 receptions (106 yards) are twice as many than anybody else in USF's receiving corps.
--LB Nico Sawtelle is off to a good start in his first season as a starter. He matched his career high in tackles with six stops in the first half against Stony Brook. The sophomore finished the game with 10 tackles had has 16 for the season to match Auggie Sanchez for the team lead in the category.
--NB Deatrick Nichols -- After starting at corner the last two years, Nichols is handling the responsibilities at nickel-back in 2017.
--RB Nate Hopkins, a redshirt freshman, rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in his collegiate debut. He became the first player since Lyle McCombs in 2011 to rush for over 100 yards with three scores in his first game for UConn.
--WR Hergy Mayala set a career high with 106 yards receiving in the opener. The junior's first career touchdown reception gave UConn a 21-20 lead.
--DB Jamar Summers had a busy night in the opener. He led the Huskies in tackles with 11 and also was credited with breaking up three passes.
--LB Chris Britton was in on five tackles, among them two for loses with one sack. He also was credited with a quarterback hurry.
Northern Colorado at Florida
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Florida No. 22
KEYS TO THE GAME
Quarterback continues to be an issue for No. 22 Florida as the Gators get look to their home opener Saturday against Northern Colorado.
Kickoff was moved up to noon ET at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., with an SEC Network television audience looking on.
Gators coach Jim McElwain is sticking with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks as his starter, but there are no guarantees beyond that.
Franks completed 5 of 9 passes for 75 yards against Michigan last week before being pulled in the third quarter after losing a fumble while trying to scramble for a first down.
Notre Dame grad transfer Malik Zaire replaced Franks and completed 9 of 17 passes for 106 yards in the 33-17 loss in the AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, Texas.
"Both guys did some good things and both guys did some things they obviously want back," McElwain said.
Franks connected on a 34-yard pass play on the game's second snap but the rest of his performance was uneven. McElwain noted that Zaire sometimes bailed out of the pocket too quickly.
"It's something he's got to get better at," McElwain said.
Junior Luke Del Rio, who started six games last season, is a third option. McElwain said he had planned to use Del Rio last week if the Gators were in a two-minute drill.
Visiting Northern Colorado beat visiting College of Idaho 41-14 in its season opener.
Junior quarterback Jacob Knipp helped the Bears score 28 first-quarter points en route to their easy victory.
Running back Trae Riek ran 18 times for a team-high 71 yards and three touchdowns -- all the scores coming in the first quarter.
Two of the first-period touchdowns were set up by interceptions.
"We knew we had to be a little more aggressive," said Northern Colorado coach Earnest Collins, whose FCS team went 6-5 last season. "Until our offense gets it going and our O-line gets a few more games under its belt, we have to be aggressive on defense. So we have to hold them on the back end and put a little more pressure on the quarterback up front."
Knipp completed 17 of 27 passes for 238 yards in his first game action since suffering a shoulder injury in the second game of last season.
"He commanded the offense," Collins said. "He had some overthrows. He had some underthrows, but that's the rust. He'll get the film. He's a studier of the film, and he'll get in there and look at it and see what his footwork was like, why he was over on the overthrows, why he was under on the underthrows. He'll get it fixed."
Florida has won the past two Southeastern Conference East titles but had been hoping the offense would take a positive turn in McElwain's third season. But the Gators managed only 192 yards of total offense -- including 11 on the ground -- in the loss to the Wolverines.
Florida failed to score an offensive touchdown, with both touchdowns coming on interception returns by cornerbacks Duke Dawson and C.J. Henderson.
"One thing I want you to know is I believe in these guys," McElwain said. "They believe in themselves. We've made corrections."
One of those "corrections" will not be who calls plays. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was a big target on social media after the game, but McElwain said he didn't see play-calling as an issue. Nussmeier will continue to call the plays against Northern Colorado.
"I've seen what he can do. I've seen what he's done," McElwain said. "Getting the people the ball with the ability to make plays, that's the biggest piece of it. We'll continue to work at it."
Ultimately, McElwain blamed the loss on the inability to physically handle Michigan. Florida's offensive line was unable to protect the quarterback, allowing six sacks. The Gators were out-rushed 215-11.
The status of leading running back Jordan Scarlett (889 yards last season) and leading receiver Antonio Callaway (721 yards receiving last season) remain in question. Both were among 10 players suspended for the Michigan game due to their role in a debit card fraud scheme that's still under investigation.
Neither Scarlett nor Callaway were on the depth chart released Tuesday by Florida.
Gators starting safety Chauncey Gardner II underwent an MRI after suffering a leg injury last week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Feleipe Franks had an up-and-down game in his starting debut against Michigan. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound redshirt freshman completed 5 of 9 passes for 75 yards and showed some scrambling ability before being pulled after losing a fumble while going for a first down in the third quarter. He'll start again this week.
--WR Josh Hammond finished with a team-high 91 yards receiving on four catches against Michigan, including a 36-yard catch on UF's opening drive that led to an Eddy Pineiro field goal. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound sophomore is coming off a strong preseason camp and is considered one of the surest-handed receivers on UF's roster.
--LB David Reese finished with a team-high 11 tackles, including one for loss, against Michigan. Reese will be counted on as a run-stuffer at the MLB spot on defense throughout the season.
--CB C.J. Henderson was impressive in his college debut, returning an interception 41 yards for a TD. Henderson, a true freshman from Miami, also had two tackles against Michigan.
--QB Jason Knipp passed for 238 yards in the opener, completing 17 of 27 attempts. His long gainer was a 46-yarder to WR Alex Wesley.
--RB Trae Riek scored three rushing touchdowns in the 41-14 win over College of Idaho. He finished the game with 71 yards rushing on 18 carries.
--LB James Riddle led the Bears in tackles with six stops. Riddle has been the go-to guy on the defense after starting the last six games of the 2014 season.
--DB Isaiah Swopes led the pass rush with a sack for a 4-yard loss among his five tackles. He also had one of the team's two interceptions in his Northern Colorado debut. He played last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi.
Texas Christian at Arkansas
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
SERIES: Arkansas holds a 43-24-2 series edge over TCU. Arkansas won last year's meeting 31-28 in two overtimes.
RANKINGS: TCU No. 23
KEYS TO THE GAME
After opening with easy victories over lower-tier opponents, both TCU and Arkansas are looking for sterner challenges when they face off Saturday in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville.
Kickoff time is 3:30 p.m. ET with CBS doing the national telecast.
TCU (1-0) moved into the AP Top 25 after a 63-0 season-opening victory over Jackson State as the Horned Frogs were dominant in every phase.
Senior quarterback Kenny Hill threw four touchdown passes, the defense returned both an interception and a fumble for touchdowns, and the Frogs outgained the Tigers 542-65 in total offense.
All that came without senior running back Kyle Hicks, who sat out the game with an undisclosed injury. Hicks, who is expected to play against Arkansas, was TCU's leading rusher last season with 1,042 yards and also had a team-high 47 receptions out of the backfield. He scored 14 touchdowns, including two in a 41-38, double-overtime loss to the Razorbacks.
Arkansas will counter with a potent running attack. The Razorbacks ran for 236 yards in a season-opening 49-7 victory over Florida A&M led by 120 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries from true freshman Chase Hayden.
Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema expressed respect for the Frogs and their play on both sides of the ball, noting that TCU coach Gary Patterson "has playmakers on offense.
"Defensively, they play his scheme very well. They're very smart. They're very well-coached. My guess is they're going to win a lot of football games."
Patterson, who has 150 victories in 16-plus seasons at TCU, said the Horned Frogs view this game as an important one for national recognition.
"We understand that if you want to be a Top 25, Top 10 team, you've got to win big games in non-conference, and we consider Arkansas a big game," Patterson said.
While TCU brings in a dangerous passing attack with Hill at quarterback and a stable of talented receivers -- 14 TCU players caught passes in the victory over Jackson State -- Bielema's blueprint at Arkansas, and before that at Wisconsin, has been to control the ball with a powerful running game anchored by a big offensive line. He made it clear that he would like to force TCU into that type of game again.
"I want to make this our type of game, an SEC-type game and an Arkansas game here at home and see what happens," he said.
Hill had a huge game against Arkansas last season, passing for 377 yards and a touchdown and running for 93 yards and two more scores as the Horned Frogs rallied from a 20-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to take a lead before a late Arkansas touchdown forced the game into overtime. The Razorbacks then pulled out the 31-28 win.
Last week, Hill completed 18 of 23 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns in about 2 1/2 quarters.
"I think you'll get more of a feeling this week playing a better defense and going on the road," Patterson said of Hill. "I have a lot of confidence in the things he can do."
Bielema said Hill is most dangerous when he moves outside the pocket. The Arkansas coach said the video from TCU's opener showed Hill's improvement from last year.
"It looks like he has tremendous presence," Bielema said, "a better understanding of what the coaches are asking him to do."
Arkansas senior quarterback Austin Allen was the hero of last season's victory over TCU. Allen passed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start, and he scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run in the second overtime.
Arkansas kept its passing game mostly under wraps against Florida A&M, as Allen completed 14 of 19 attempts for 135 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception and was occasionally under pressure.
Keeping Allen upright will be a priority against a TCU defense that had five sacks last week.
"He didn't take any huge hits, but we definitely don't want him to be on the ground at all," Bielema said of Allen. "Any hit that he takes, we don't want."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Kenny Hill got off to a great start to the season against outmanned Jackson State, completing his first eight pass attempts and going 18-of-23 for 206 yards and four touchdowns in just two and a half quarters of action. Hill's four touchdown passes were the second-most of his TCU career, trailing only his five versus Oklahoma last season.
--RB Kyle Hicks sat out the Jackson State game with an undisclosed injury but will be ready for Arkansas. Hicks amassed nearly 1,500 total yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a junior last season. He led TCU in rushing with 1,042 yards and was the team's top receiver with 47 catches, a first for a TCU running back since Basil Mitchell in 1996.
--DE Ty Summers picked up right where he left off last season, racking up four tackles, one of those for a loss, and forcing a fumble against Jackson State. Summers moved from linebacker before spring drills after racking up 121 tackles last year.
--LB Travin Howard is not flashy but he gets the job done, leading the conference with 130 tackles last season, the third highest season total in the Gary Patterson era. A first-team all-Big 12 selection and two-year starter, the senior posted double-digit tackles in eight of 13 games in 2016.
--RB Chase Hayden a true freshman, was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after his performance in Arkansas' season opener. He rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, averaging 8.6 per carry.
--RB David Williams, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, made an impact in his first game for the Razorbacks. Williams ran for two touchdowns and also had a 37-yard reception against Florida A&M.
--WR Jared Cornelius, who has been bothered by a nagging back injury, saw limited playing time against Florida A&M, catching one pass for six yards. Coach Bret Bielema said he expects Cornelius to play more this week.
--LB Grant Morgan, a redshirt freshman, had five tackles against Florida A&M. Morgan, the brother of former Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan, is listed as the Hogs' No. 2 middle linebacker going into the TCU game.
Indiana State at Tennessee
KICKOFF: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
SITE: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Tennessee No. 25
KEYS TO THE GAME
With the exception of UCLA, which overcame a late 34-point deficit to beat Texas A&M 45-44, no team worked any harder for its opening win than No. 25 Tennessee. The Vols pulled out a 42-41 double-overtime victory over Georgia Tech on Labor Day night.
"I think this football team showed our grit, but we're continuing to evolve," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said after the Volunteers scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to send the game to overtime and didn't lead until scoring first in the second extra period.
"We talked about three games in 13 days. We have to turn around now with a short work week and get into Neyland Saturday afternoon. We have to get a lot better and make tremendous progress, but just really proud of our players."
The win over the Yellow Jackets came at a big cost, though.
Big-play receiver Jauan Jennings suffered a dislocated wrist and will miss up to 12 weeks. Jennings had only three receptions for 17 yards against Tech, but seemingly made all the big catches for the Vols last season. He was the clear-cut leader of a young receiving corps.
They likely won't need him Saturday, when Indiana State visits Neyland Stadium for the Vols' home opener. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville with the SEC Network doing the television honors.
But with a trip to The Swamp to take on the Gators coming in two weeks, Jennings will be missed.
Indiana State is coming off a 22-20 loss to Eastern Illinois. The Sycamores went 4-7 last season and will be overmatched talent-wise against the Vols.
It is, however, a short week, after an emotional, physically taxing, win over the Jackets. And to be clear, the Vols have plenty to work on, after getting off to a sluggish start offensively and surrendering 535 yards rushing to Georgia Tech. The Jackets had 655 yards of total offense.
"The good thing is we don't have to play a triple option football team," Jones said.
"We need to spend a lot of time on this video, but tackling, being able to -- we had way too many missed tackles. A lot of it is they do some different things where the defensive ends have to spill the football to similar things, and some of the lead option stuff, we didn't particularly do a very good job."
Tennessee junior quarterback Quinten Dormady started and played the entire game. He threw two second-half touchdown passes to emerging receiver Marquez Callaway, including a 50-yard connection early in the fourth quarter that kept the Vols in the game.
Dormady, in his first start, finished 20 of 37 for 221 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He led five scoring drives in the second half and overtime. Callaway caught four passes for 115 yards, and junior running back John Kelly rushed for 128 yards and four touchdowns, including both of the Vols' scores in overtime.
While the offense showed promise, especially in the second half, the defense has holes.
"We need to spend a lot of time on this video, but tackling, being able to -- we had way too many missed tackles," Jones said.
Luckily for the Vols' defense, Indiana State doesn't possess Georgia Tech's patented option attack, but the Sycamores do have a dangerous running threat in senior LeMonte Booker.
Booker rushed for 165 yards on 31 carries and gave Indiana State a 20-16 lead with a 6-yard touchdown run with five minutes to play. But the Sycamores couldn't hold the lead and suffered a disappointing loss in their first game under new coach Curt Mallory.
"I thought Booker ran the ball extremely well with 165 yards with some good blocking up front," Mallory said. "I thought defensively, we flew around. Did some good things."
Mallory said he saw some things to build on for the future.
"There's a lot of positives," he said. "We're more encouraged than discouraged. We feel we have the opportunity to be a real good football team."
Mallory is well aware of the task facing his team.
"You hear the old cliche that a team makes its biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2," Mallory said. "That's our main focus right now, that we make that big improvement from the Eastern Illinois game to Tennessee.
"It's about us."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--LB Daniel Bituli, making his first career start, led all defensive players with 23 tackles. That was five more than the next closest player in the SEC, fellow Vols linebacker Colton Jumper. Bituli, playing out of the SAM linebacker position, also forced the first fumble of his career.
--RB John Kelly's 128 yards against Georgia Tech were a career high. The junior's previous best came last year after rushing for 104 yards against Tennessee Tech. Kelly's 4 touchdowns versus the Yellow Jackets were one shy of equaling the five scores he posted for the entire 2016 season.
--LB Rashaan Gaulden came up with a big forced fumble to keep Tennessee in the game. The junior cornerback stripped J.J. Green at the Georgia Tech 7-yard line to set up the Vols to tie the game late. Gaulden finished with 6 tackles and has the potential to be a much-needed playmaker for the Vols defense.
--SS Nigel Warrior drew praise from Butch Jones for his play. The sophomore strong safety netted 13 tackles, but was caught out of position at times and failed to wrap up a tackle that led to a 27-yard Yellow Jacket gain.
--RB LeMonte Booker missed all of the 2016 season because of injury and celebrated his return by rushing for 154 yards against Eastern Illinois. That was a career high for the senior and the most for and Indiana State player since Shakir Bell ran for 201 at Tennessee Tech in 2013.
--WR Bob Pugh is Indiana State's leading returning receiver after recording 17 receptions for 276 yards last year. He had two catches for 47 yards in the opener to match teammates Lee Curtis and Jacq McClendon for team highs in receptions and Curtis for receiving yardage.
--DT Rex Mosley batted down two passes against Eastern Illinois in his first career start for the Sycamores. He is a transfer from Northern Illinois.
--LB Katrell Moss tied Jonas Griffith for the team high in tackles with 13 in the opener. Moss is the Sycamores' leading returning tackler with 46 stops in 2016