There was one big shock in the top five. There was almost another one. A top 10 team lost at home. Another needed a comeback in the last two minutes to stave off a team from the Mid-America Conference.
So it was just another Saturday in college football.
Even with the unpredictability, there are some conclusions that can be drawn two weeks into the season. Candidates emerge and some are exposed.
Three observations from Week 2 that are worth paying attention to:
Iowa Looks Ready To Fight, Iowa State Not So Much
There are two constants about the Hawkeyes. They will defend opportunistically and they will not defeat themselves. That formula has propelled them to the best start of any team in the country as they followed last week’s No. 17 blowout in Indiana with a road win at No. 10 Iowa State.
Iowa made sure that two of the best quarterbacks in the country – Michael Penix Jr. and Brock Purdy – looked more like freshmen than veterans, they both intercepted three times and forced both to be pulled out early in the fourth quarter.
Even if they don’t impress you with athleticism or explosive attacks on offense, it’s time to get serious about the Hawkeyes as a contender for the playoffs. They have won eight in a row since losing their first two games last year by a total of five points. All but one of those wins were by at least 10 points. The schedule is off to a good start with a home game against Penn State and a trip to Wisconsin as the only ranked teams left on the schedule.
The outlook for the state of Iowa is different. After several NFL draft prospects returned, there was hope that the Cyclones would threaten Oklahoma in the Big 12 and provide a push for the playoff. Perhaps weighed down by those expectations, they flopped again to their local rival, losing for the sixth straight run in the series. Yes, the ability to run the table in the Big 12 remains, but there’s nothing in two games to indicate Iowa State has the ability to do it.
Tough times for Texas A&M, Texas
The danger is that the season will be all about the playoffs if your team has never been there. The Aggies really want to be in that tenuous atmosphere of elite college football programs and there was finally hope after finishing 9-1 last season and having impressive recruiting lessons under Jimbo Fisher. However, there were two big questions this season: quarterback and offensive line. Both were exposed in the narrow win against Colorado.
Haynes King defeated Zach Calzada for the starting quarterback job in the camp. He was shaky in the opening win against Kent State before going down in the first quarter with a leg injury. Enter Calzada, who struggled for most of three quarters with passes late or high or in traffic. Part of the reason he felt uncomfortable was A&M’s inability to pull off the run. With a gifted group of backs, the Aggies had 97 yards on 29 carries against a defense that allowed 181 yards in Pac-12 last season. Calzada showed some moxie in the fourth quarter in take the team to victory, but it’s going to get a lot rougher in the SEC and it’s hard to see the Aggies threatening Alabama and avoiding another loss or two.
The offensive line has also been the main concern for Texas this season. That didn’t turn out to be an impressive win against Louisiana-Lafayette last week, as the Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t have the athletes to expose the Longhorns. Arkansas does. And the Razorbacks completely shut down the Texas offense in the first half, holding it scoreless to just 58 yards. There was a lot of hope that Steve Sarkisian would make the attack in Texas more explosive after his success in Alabama. That seems unlikely without the ability to run the ball. The other side of the ball was also surprising, as the Longhorns gave up 333 yards and were pounded all night. So no, Texas is not back. And it may take a while for the Longhorns to get there.
Maybe we’ll have a Heisman race
After an opening weekend in which Spencer Rattler, DJ Uiagalelei and Sam Howell struggled, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young became the early favorite for college football’s highest individual honor.
However, Heisman races are long and unpredictable and candidates come forward with great performances. One did on Saturday, when Oregon CJ Verdell ran back, rushing 161 yards and scoring three touchdowns in an upset at No. 3 Ohio State. Given the way the Ducks dominated in Columbus, you would expect many more big days from Verdell and more wins that could boost his profile.
It’s also easy to forget that Young is still in his first year as a starter. He will have some bad times and it won’t be as smooth as last week against Miami (Fla.).
Follow college reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith
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