It's Mark Morrison week. Sing it loud. Get it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Return of the MAC!
The league that's eternally stuck in the Big Ten's shadow had a huge Saturday. Mid-American Conference favorites Toledo and Bowling Green registered eye-opening road upsets at Arkansas and Maryland. Although Jacksonville State taking Auburn to OT is definitely in the running as the week's most surprising result, the Falcons scoring 42 second-half points to throttle the Terps takes only a backseat to what the MAC East frontrunner accomplished in Little Rock.
SEC takes hit after rankings record
Toledo defeated Arkansas 16-12, surviving the absence of its top two running backs, including the MAC's top returning rusher, Kareem Hunt, who was suspended for the team's first two games.
Despite throwing for 412 yards, Hogs QB Brandon Allen was a disaster in the red zone. Arkansas went 1-for-5 on scoring opportunities inside the Rockets 20 and became the first FBS team since 2000 to amass over 500 yards with only one turnover or fewer and be limited to just 12 points. Allen had multiple chances to win the game on the final drive but missed reads and throws to help aid the day's biggest upset.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema lamented an inability to run the ball as well as they normally do and promised to take look at the red zone package, citing its ineptitude. The Razorbacks have now lost five of their last six in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, which is something to keep in mind next year since they're contractually obligated to play there at least once per season until 2018.
Auburn was headed to a home setback against 41-point underdog Jacksonville State out of the FCS, but took advantage of ultra conservative playcalling after fumbling inside three minutes down 20-13. QB Jeremy Johnson turned the ball over twice and continued to struggle, but made plays when he needed to and received a vote of confidence from head coach Gus Malzahn post-game. Just the fact he needed one tells you how well Johnson's season has gone in spite of a 2-0 start. Count on Auburn being an underdog at LSU in next Saturday's battle of Tigers.
Of the 10 SEC teams that were ranked in this past week's AP Top 25, seven were out of the West division. Besides Auburn and Arkansas, LSU held off Mississippi State while Alabama failed to cover against Mississippi State. Only Ole Miss and Texas A&M were impressive in covering sizeable spreads against inferior competition, while the Crimson Tide frustratingly failed to cover a spread of 34/35. Backup QB Cooper Bateman, who is likely to be the 'Bama starter at some point this season, threw a pick-six inside the Blue Raiders 10-yard-line with a 37-3 lead and 7:40 to go.
The SEC East contenders all failed to cover. Georgia was locked into a much tighter game with Vanderbilt than expected, while Missouri and Florida each struggled with teams from outside the power-5. The Gators angered new head coach Jim McElwain with their lack of attention to detail in a 31-24 win over ECU. Mizzou's Maty Mauk is struggling to develop a rapport with his new weapons, entering halftime down 17-10 at Arkansas State before rallying for a 27-20 win. Offensive continuity will remain an issue the Tigers can continue to work on at home against UConn next week.
Tennessee blew a 17-0 lead for the first time in Neyland Stadium history, allowing SEC-hating Bob Stoops to have the last laugh by departing Knoxville with a hard-fought OT victory. Even though he struggled for three quarters, the decision to hire offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, switch to the spread and hand the reins of the offense to Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield certainly paid off for Stoops' Sooners in an immense victory for the Big 12.
While the nation's top conference took a step back, the Big Ten rose to the challenge in Week 2. The Michigan schools swept the Oregon schools, Minnesota went into Colorado State and survived in OT and Iowa went scored 21 unanswered second-half points to beat in-state rival Cyclones in Ames. Only Maryland and Rutgers, the conference's most recent additions, faltered. In spite of those setbacks, return men William Likely and Janerion Grant got loose again. Likely smashed the Big Ten record for punt return yardage last week and took a TD back on Bowling Green. Grant accumulated 337 all-purpose yards in returning a kickoff and a punt back for scores in a fourth quarter that featured five lead changes in the final 12:44.
That wild contest cracked our top three below, but the week's best game doubled as the one that should have the most impact on the national race. New Oregon QB Vernon Adams Jr. introduced himself to the country with a strong performance against an imposing Spartans defense, making clutch throws and proving he can more than hang at this level. The Ducks also got an electric game from Bralon Addison, who has returned from a torn ACL and nearly helped pull the upset with his 138 receiving yards and 81-yard punt return to knot the score at 14 in the third quarter. Marcus Mariota may be playing on Sundays now, but that's a really strong Oregon team that Michigan State held serve against.
It's already starting to feel like we're on a collision course for Nov. 21 when the Buckeyes host the Spartans for the Big Ten's East Division title, but Urban Meyer has to guard against complacency until we get there. Cardale Jones came up with just 111 yds passing as the Buckeyes proved they're so good that they can beat another FBS squad 38-0 and still look undeniably flat. Ezekiel Elliott said they were unprepared and played sloppy. “We weren’t ready,” said the Heisman frontrunner, who did his part with three TDs. The Buckeyes went from 10.2 yards per play against Va Tech to 4.4 vs. Hawai’i. It was 17-0 in the 4th quarter. The game was never out of that control, but it certainly wasn't a championship effort.
Notre Dame losing QB Malik Zaire to a fractured ankle provided the day's worst moment, especially since he looked capable of crashing the Heisman race. The Fighting Irish did get a notable contribution from backup DeShone Kizer, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound redshirt freshman and former top recruit. Kizer went 8-for-12 on the road against Virginia, throwing for 92 yards and two scores despite coming in with one career pass attempt.
UCLA's Jim Mora won’t be called out below in our worst coaching jobs portion because his Bruins squashed UNLV, but he definitely made the stupidest decision of Week 2. For some strange reason, UCLA was not only running plays, but running the hurry-up offense in the closing stages of its 37-3 win in Vegas. Curious became unfortunate when offensive lineman Tevita Halalilo ended up needing to be carted off the field due to a serious-looking leg injury.
Other tidbits that stood out on Saturday include Temple ascending to the favorite's throne in the American Athletic by going into Cincinnati and coming up with an impressive win as a 7-point underdog. Memphis will have something to say in that league too. The Tigers passed the collection plate in piling up 651 yards in a 55-23 win at Kansas. Nine different players caught passes. Five rushed for touchdowns. Baylor’s Corey Coleman scored a school-record four touchdowns on just six receptions, totaling 182 yards in a 66-31 win over Lamar. Patrick Mahomes II, son of the former major league pitcher and current Texas Tech QB, threw for 361 yards and four scores, looking like the real deal in a 69-20 win over UTEP. We'll see just how ready for primetime the sophomore is as the Red Raiders visit Arkansas next week.
NCAA Football Week 2 recap snapshot
1. Michigan State 31 Oregon 28, 2. Oklahoma 31 Tennessee 24 (2OT), 3.Washington State 37 Rutgers 34
: 1. Dalvin Cook, FSU: 30-266 yds 3 TD, 2. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green: 36-55 491 yds 6 TDs, 3. Leonard Fournette, LSU: 28-159 yds 3 TD
1. Notre Dame's 39-yd GW TD pass: Kiser to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left to erase 27-26 Virginia lead, 2. BYU's GW TD pass on 4th & 7 from the 35 vs. Boise State: Tanner Mangum to Mitchell Jeurgens 3. Cook’s video game-like 74-yd TD run to open the scoring against South Florida .
Best coaching jobs:
1. Don't lose sight of what a great job Notre Dame's Brian Kelly did in keeping his team focused despite the loss of its leader. That Virginia game should've gotten away from the Irish, but they executed when they had to. Expect ND to grow from the experience. 2. The Sooners rally from 17-0 down was a testament to Stoops' ability to keep his team united as their resiliency ultimately made the difference at Tennessee. 3. Iowa displayed great fortitude in overcoming a costly fumble and surging ahead of rival Iowa State in the final minutes. Kirk Ferentz kept his Hawkeyes together in Ames, rallying from a deficit at the break by winning the second half 21-0.
Worst coaching jobs:
1. Malzahn's Auburn Tigers nearly lost to Jacksonville State at home. Dreadful. 2. Bielema abandoned his team's identity against Toledo and paid dearly for it. The Razorbacks ran just 31 times for 103 yards. 3. Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson is in his fourth season and should be above taking 65-10 spankings like the one the Green Wave took in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. His team has now been outscored 102-17 through two games.
It was a great week for sharps, who took points with the likes of Vanderbilt, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Southern and mighty Jacksonville State. They laid the big number with TCU, Louisiana-Monroe, Northwestern and Illinois too. They had a big day.
Close calls and bad beats:
Despite leading from start to finish, Les Miles' conservative nature shone through in letting down LSU backers in Starkville. A 21-6 lead evaporated for the Tigers, who closed as 3.5-point favorites, but they held on when Dak Prescott's pass for a game-tying two-point conversion fell harmlessly to the ground. Fournette and Darrel Williams put the game away on the ground but they never again got into scoring range. Totals players sweated out the end of Penn State-Buffalo, as the Bulls needed one more touchdown to deliver the over, marching to the Nittany Lions 33-yard-line before faltering. Penn State won 27-14.
Despite a scoreless second quarter leaving Florida up just 10-7 on East Carolina, the over of 53.5 came through thanks to 38 second-half points. Blake Kemp found Bryce Williams with 3:04 left to cut the Gators lead to 31-24.
Late pick-sixes changed the outcome of a couple of contests, with none more painful than what under bettors experienced in BYU-Boise State. Following the fourth down conversion that gave the Cougs the lead, Broncos QB Ryan Finley was picked off by Kai Nacua, who raced 50 yards to make it 35-24, eclipsing the total of 56.5 that looked safe with just 45 seconds to go.
Northern Illinois (-28.5) covered against Murray State in a game they actually trailed in the first quarter and led by only 21 in entering the final minutes.They got a field goal and a 42-yard interception return for touchdown from K.D. Humphries with :58 left to get to 57-26, netting the cover.
Boston College led Howard 62-0 at halftime, easily covering the 44-point spread, but the mismatch created a situation where the teams agreed to play just a 20-minute second half (two 10:00 quarters). Because of this, the team's didn't reach the mandatory 55:00 mark for action, voiding all full game bets. The Eagles won 76-0.
Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire (Fractured ankle, OFY), Tennessee LB Curt Maggitt (Hip, out indefinitely), Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis (Concussion, undetermined), Arkansas WR Keon Hatcher (Foot, Out 6 weeks), Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson (Ankle, questionable),UCF QB Justin Holman (Hand, Out indefinitely), South Carolina QB Connor Mitch (Shoulder, Out indefinitely), Missouri RB Russell Hansbrough (Ankle, doubtful), Arkansas WR Eric Hawkins (Head, undetermined), UTEP RB Aaron Jones (Ankle, undetermined), Air Force QB Nate Romine (Knee, undetermined), Wyoming QB Cameron Coffman (Knee, Undetermined), Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Shoulder, Out 6-8 weeks) Ohio U. QB Derrius Vick (Elbow, undetermined), Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten (Groin, undetermined), Minnesota TE/HB Brandon Lingen (Concussion, undetermined), Colorado St. WR Rashard Higgins (Ankle, questionable), Penn St. LT Andrew Nelson (Ankle, undetermined), WKU RB Leon Allen (Knee, OFY), Utah QB Travis Wilson (Shoulder, Likely out 1 week).
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA