Its #GameDay…

Could a team’s #CFBPlayoff dream be snuffed out after only two weeks?

What an opening weekend of college football action!  After months of waiting, college football fans across North America were treated to some exciting opening season games.  We had stunning upsets, big blowouts and too close for comfort wins.  If Week 1 is a prelude to what to expect for the entire season, hold on to your helmets sports fan…we are in for a whirlwind of a season.  Let’s have a 4 down play calling of the highlights (and lowlights) from last weekend’s action:

    • 1st Down:  Pac-12 Struggles – Entering the season there was talk about how strong the Pac-12 would be this season and how difficult it would be for any team from the conference to go undefeated with a legit shot at making the playoff.  Well, after the opening weekend, many teams do not have to worry about undefeated seasons and the Pac-12 lost some of its luster.  Two of the biggest upsets of opening weekend came at the expense of Pac-12 teams.  Stanford’s shocking loss to Northwestern wasn’t just surprising in the loss but in the way it happened.  The Cardinal managing only 6 points on the road is abysmal.  This is a team some predicted to challenge for a playoff spot.  Those aspirations are gone unless they run the table.  And what about Washington State.  Oh the Cougars!  It already feels like the season is over in Pullman.  How does Wazzu lose to Portland State?  This was supposed to be the year we saw a stronger, more competitive team in Pullman.  Starting the season with a loss, at home, to an FCS team does not exude much confidence in this team.  Of course we should also mention then #15 Arizona State being outplayed against Texas A&M.  The Aggies played like the ranked team in this game not vice versa.  The Sun Devils are also supposed to be a challenger for the Pac-12 title.  If so, they better turn things around quick!  Add in the loses by Washington (at #23 Boise State) and  Colorado (at Hawaii), the Pac-12 opened the season with a combined record of 7-5.  Good thing Utah upset Michigan!

  • 2nd Down:  Top Teams Dominate – The best of the best in college football had little trouble last weekend.  Top ranked teams Ohio State, Alabama, Baylor, Oregon, USC, Georgia and Florida State had little trouble in their opening game wins.  TCU survived a close contest on the road in Minnesota, Michigan State used a strong 1st quarter to stave off the upset bid at Western Michigan and Auburn shut out Louisville in the first half only to hold of for dear life in the second half to escape with a home win.  The point is the top 10 teams won when expected.  We didn’t see an upset of these teams.  Some played better than others.  Some struggled in games they probably shouldn’t have.  And some completely dominated weaker opponents.  We learned a few things about each of these teams but the next few weeks will be telling.  Something tells me these current top 10 teams are not going to all remain undefeated for very long.
  • 3rd Down:  S-E-C = W-I-N – Once again the SEC dominated the week.  The conference went a combined 12-1, with the only loss being Vanderbilt’s 14-12 home loss to Western Kentucky.  And no real surprise there, the ‘Dores aren’t that good to begin with.  Now sure SEC teams didn’t exactly play the toughest schedule opening weekend but they did still rack up impressive wins.  South Carolina  beat North Carolina, Auburn survived Louisville, Alabama beat ranked Wisconsin and Texas A&M upset ranked Arizona State.  If you compare conferences right now, the SEC would be the clear #1….again!  Entering this week’s action, the SEC has 10 teams ranked in the Top 25, a new conference record.
  • 4th Down:  FCS Shockers – Every year we see many of the “big boy” schools schedule games vs FCS teams to pick up some “easy” victories.  The FCS schools end up with a big pay day and the FCS players get to step onto the field and play some of the best college players in the country.  But sometimes the script doesn’t go according to plan.  As usually happens, a few FCS teams surprise some of the “big boys” and this weekend was no exception.  Congratulations to Portland State (d. Washington State), Fordham (d. Army) and North Dakota (d. Wyoming).  I want to bring special attention to South Dakota State.  The Jackrabbits dispatched Kansas on the road…an upset predicted by #TwineTime!!  Thanks SDSU for proving me right.

Now every week college football releases their weekly rankings, based on the results of the previous weekend.  #TwineTime is no exception.  Each week in this column you can expect to see my rankings as well.  I will put the #TwineTime rankings next to the AP rankings for comparison.  Let’s see if there were any shake-ups from last weekend:

AP Top 6                                                             #TwineTime

1. Ohio State (LW: 1)                                         1. Ohio State (LW: 1)

2. Alabama (3)                                                   2. Baylor (3)

3. TCU (2)                                                          3. Alabama (5)

4. Baylor (4)                                                       4. Oregon (4)

5. Michigan State (5)                                          5. TCU (2)

6. Auburn (6)                                                      6. Notre Dame (NR)

Appears we have some huge differences between the  AP and #TwineTime.  Here is the quick 2-minute drill on the #TwineTime rankings:

  1. Ohio State – Struggled in the opening half at Virginia Tech but then the Buckeye experience took over in the second half and completely shut down the Hokies.  VTech is a good team so this is an impressive win.  OSU deserves the #1 ranking.
  2. Baylor/Alabama – The Baylor vs. ‘Bama debate for me is a close one.  The Tide beat a good Badgers team on “neutral” turf while Baylor’s offense dominated an overwhelmed SMU team.  Which was more impressive?  I think if you put these two teams on the field against one another right now, Baylor wins.  Alabama wouldn’t be able to stop the Bears offense.  The Tide are still a very strong team but I just can’t see them being the #2 ranked team in the nation.
  3. Oregon – The Ducks gave up a lot of points at home to Eastern Washington last weekend.  This is a concern.  Sure their offense still clicked under new QB Vernon Adams but the defense, more importantly the secondary, looked horrible at times.  They will need to be better this week in the big #CollegeGameday tilt in East Lansing.  The AP still gives the Ducks no love but the coaches poll does have them #5.  Is the AP once again showing east coast bias?
  4. TCU – The Frogs are lucky to be undefeated as they struggled at Minnesota.  The Gophers were able to go play for play with their heavily favored opponents and almost pulled the ultimate shocker of opening weekend…on a Thursday night!  TCU did escape but for a team still feeling slighted by last year’s omission from the playoff and saying this is their year….they better figure things out quick.
  5. Notre Dame – Irish eyes are smiling once again.  Notre Dame completely dominated and destroyed Texas last weekend.  Given Michigan State and Auburn struggling to win last weekend, I think Notre Dame deserves the coveted sixth spot in the #TwineTime rankings.  One word of caution for Notre Dame fans though, the schedule is not the most daunting in comparison to other top teams so holding their ranking could be a challenge.  But then again, go on the field week in and week out and continue winning, the playoff spot is yours!

Let’s get on to the Week 2 #TwineTime picks.  As is now tradition, I will offer my predictions for all games beginning with the Saturday contests.  Last week was a pretty good opening weekend for the predictions.  Anytime you can pull an 88% winning percentage, given the massive amount of games each week, I would give myself an A grade.  I accurately called a few upsets (South Dakota State, BYU) and had a few bad calls (Penn State, Arizona State).  Time for roll call:

Last Week: 52 – 7 (88%)

Overall:  52 – 7 (88%)

Game of the Week:  (7) Oregon def. (5) Michigan State – The Ducks enter as underdogs on the road against the higher ranked Spartans.  This is the return game from the home and home series started last season, which the Ducks won en route to the national championship game.  The Ducks starting QB Vernon Adams will be under the mircoscope this weekend.  Adams transferred to Oregon wanting a shot at the big games…here is his chance.  Michigan State will want revenge for last year.  Both teams can actually afford a loss in this game and still find a playoff spot at the end of the season but the road will be more difficult.  Oregon plays at USC and Michigan State travels to Ohio State.  Whichever team suffers the loss this weekend cannot afford another one down the road.  And given Michigan State’s weaker schedule, they need this more.  Sparty held Western Kentucky to 18yrds rushing last weekend….18 YARDS TOTAL!  That is incredible.  However, across the field, Oregon ran all over Eastern Washington for 485yrds.  485 YARDS!  Something has to give here right?  I think the Ducks offense is too explosive still for Sparty but expect a close, and loud, game.

Upset of the Week: BYU def. (20) Boise State – The Broncos are eyeing an undefeated season and making another push towards breaking the glass ceiling of the “big boy” conferences making the playoffs.  This is the big game on their schedule.  Survive the Cougars on the road and the undefeated season is a strong possibility.  BYU proved #TwineTime correct last weekend, going on the road and upsetting Nebraska.  Riding the momentum of the opening upset coupled with the home opener and BYU could be on their way towards a dream season of their own. Boise State struggled with Washington last weekend…and I think BYU could beat the Huskies.  Boise State playoff dreams could all blow up in smoke in the state of Utah this weekend.  And when it happens, remember #TwineTime called it!

(11) Florida State def. South Florida

(6) Auburn def. Jacksonville State

Penn State def. Buffalo

Michigan def. Oregon State – The OTHER state of Oregon vs. state of Michigan battle going on this weekend.  I expect a split of the state vs state series….but Oregon could just pull off the double road victory.  This one could be closer than many expect.

Connecticut def. Army

Kansas State def. Texas-San Antonio

Illinois def. Western Illinois

Maryland def. Bowling Green – Oh Bowling Green, you played well for awhile vs. Tennessee but fell apart.  My heart wants to pick you to win this weekend on the road but my head just says the Terps are too strong for you.  Another case of, if the road team was the home team….

Louisville def. Houston

Purdue def. Indiana State – Purdue lost to Marshall last weekend, they may suffer a similar setback this weekend.  They need this win though or else their season will be a complete loss already.  Expect the Boilermakers to come out strong and survive a tight contest.

Wisconsin def. Miami (OH)

Charlotte def. Presbyterian College

Wake Forest def. Syracuse – The ACC bottom dweller match up.  Many will take the Orange at home, especially after last weekend’s blowout win.  But I will take the Deacons on the road because…well…why not?

(12) Clemson def. Appalachian State

Boston College def. Howard

Colorado def. UMASS – This is almost a cupcake battle of the week where this game may be the only win either of these teams gets this season.

Washington def. Sacramento State

Texas Tech def. UTEP

Central Michigan def. Monmouth

Northern Illinois def. Murray State

(1) Ohio State def. Hawaii – Nice opening weekend win for Hawaii but traveling across the country…to play the top ranked team in the nation….yeah this doesn’t bode well for the Warriors.  But watch just to see those UH uniforms.

Southern Mississippi def. Austin Peay

Colorado State def. Minnesota – Tough call on this one.  The Gophers played so well last weekend vs TCU, you want to see them win.  But did the high of almost winning, coupled with the low of it being a tough loss, mean the Gophers are due for a mental lapse?  The Rams are a tough team, especially at home.

(3) TCU def. Stephen F. Austin – Expect the TCU team we know from last year to make their first real appearance of the season this weekend against a weaker FCS team.

Rutgers over Washington State

(15) Georgia Tech def. Tulane

(9) Notre Dame def. Virginia

Virginia Tech def. Furman

(10) Georgia def. Vanderbilt – The Road to the SEC Championship begins this weekend for the Dawgs.  Many people predicting Georgia to be the team who comes out of the SEC this season.  They cannot afford a slip up loss here.

(17) Ole Miss def. Fresno State – Had this game been played at Fresno State, I might actually pick the upset.  Of course, the SEC continues the trend of refusing to play on the West coast…as a result chalk up another SEC win.

(2) Alabama def. Middle Tennessee

(18) Arkansas def. Toledo

Northwestern def. Eastern Illinois

Wyoming def. Eastern Michigan – Ok Wyoming, can’t we be friends?  Last season, almost every week whatever I picked to be the result of a Cowboys game, the reverse result happened.  I pick them to win, they lost.  I pick them to lose, they win.  Last weekend, I picked them to win…they lost.  Come on Wyoming…I’m trying to be on your side here!

Iowa def. Iowa State – The big in-state rivalry game.  Iowa State wasn’t upset last weekend…as I had predicted.  I don’t think they get lucky twice though.

California def. San Diego State – The Bears rolled to a huge win last weekend but expect them to be challenged more this weekend.  I was tempted to pull the trigger as a possible upset game here.

UPSET 2.0:  (23) Tennessee def. (19) Oklahoma – The Sooners are trying to keep up with the big boys of the Big 12, Baylor and TCU.  To do so, they cannot afford a loss here.  Tennessee is trying to find their way back to SEC relevance and this is the perfect statement game to do so heading into SEC play.  Oklahoma may be the higher ranked team…but the Vols are the better team.

Duke def.  North Carolina Central

North Carolina def. North Carolina A&T

NC State def. Eastern Kentucky

Pittsburgh def. Akron

Kent State def. Delaware State

Western Michigan def. Georgia State

Louisiana Lafayette def. Northwestern State

Louisiana Monroe def. Nichols State

Prairie View A&M def. Texas State

Troy def. Charleston Southern – Troy and I have a similar relationship as Wyoming and I.  Similar results last season.  As I said to the Cowboys above, can’t we just get along Troy?  One of my best friends, since kindergarten, is named Troy….I have mad love for you guys!  Prove me right this week ok?

Old Dominion def. Norfolk State

North Texas def. SMU

(22) Arizona def. Nevada – The Cats cannot get caught looking passed the Wolfpack here.  Nevada is playing at home and can be a tricky team.  Don’t let this be a trap game already in the season Arizona.

(16) Texas A&M def. Ball State

(21) Missouri def. Arkansas State

UPSET 3.0:  East Carolina def. Florida – I bought into East Carolina last season only to be heart broken as the season went on.  I still have not bought into Florida finding the success they once had.  Florida rolled over Bottom 10 regular New Mexico State last weekend while the Pirates sturggled with Towson.  Everything says this should be a Gators blow out…but I think the Pirates might catch Florida looking ahead to the SEC schedule.

Memphis def. Kansas

Oklahoma State def. Central Arkansas

(4) Baylor def. Lamar – YIKES!  Blowout of the Week

Kentucky def. South Carolina – The Cats upset the ‘Cocks last season…can they do it again on the road?  Kentucky has not won in South Carolina since 1999 though.  This could be the year!

(8) USC def. Idaho

Nebraska def. South Alabama

UPSET 4.0:  Rice def. Texas – Why not?  A nice in-state rivalry match.  Texas looked like a high school football team last weekend losing to Notre Dame.  Rice is coming off a blowout win vs. FCS Wagner.  Why not go with the Owls upset here.

Indiana def. Florida International

Georgia State def. New Mexico State

Cincinnati def. Temple

New Mexico def. Tulsa

(14) LSU def. (25) Mississippi State – Another HUGE SEC match up in Week 2.  LSU has eyes on making the SEC championship..and many predict they have a shot.  Mississippi State wore the glass slipper last season towards a short lived #1 ranking and would love to get back to the top.  This is a critical game for both teams early in the season.  The winning team can use this momentum towards a conference title while the loser may never fully recover.

San Jose State def. Air Force

(13) UCLA def. UNLV

Stanford def. UCF

Arizona State def. Cal Poly

Join #TwineTime next week to see just how my predictions fare.  Could I be way off on my picks?  Or can I run the table?  How do your picks compare to mine?  I am always open to hearing feedback from all college football fans.  Connect with me here or on twitter.  Get the chips and salsa and cold beverages ready folks….we are in for another wacky and wild weekend of college football action.

James Runge

Spark Sports Analyst