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Week 2 Rewind

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If Matt Barkley emerges as one of the premier quarterbacks in college football as most expect, he will always point to The Shoe as the place he won his first pressure-packed game. Barkley was flawless on an epic game-winning drive at crunch time that lifted USC to a thrilling 18-15 win at Ohio State in come-from-behind fashion.

For the Buckeyes, it was yet another painful defeat against a top-tier foe. They have now lost six in a row against top-five opponents. On the bright side for Ohio St. backers, it covered the spread as a seven-point underdog.

The thriller in Columbus came in prime-time just like Georgia’s hard-fought 41-37 home win over South Carolina. Even though the Gamecocks had a slew of chances to win outright as plus-240 ‘dogs for money-line wagers, they still took the cash as seven-point puppies.

South Carolina had more first downs (26) than Georgia (16) and more yards (427-308), but the Dawgs got a 100-yard kick return for a TD, limited the Gamecocks to a pair of short field goals on trips deep into the red zone, blocked an extra point and stopped Carolina on fourth-and-goal from the seven with 22 seconds left.

Steve Spurrier teams are now 4-0 ATS at Sanford Stadium. The ‘Cocks will look to bounce back when they host Florida Atlantic next week. The Dawgs face another huge challenge when they go to Arkansas.

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My oh my, how things have changed for second-year Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez in the span of eight days. The Wolverines rallied in the final minute behind the play of true freshman QB Tate Forcier to beat Notre Dame 38-34 as three-point home underdogs.

With home games looming against Eastern Michigan and Indiana, Michigan has a great shot to be 4-0 going into a Week 5 game at Michigan State.

Speaking of the Spartans… during the first set of games at noon or shortly thereafter, Central Michigan pulled one of the day’s biggest upsets in thrilling fashion. On the day senior QB Dan LeFevour became the MAC’s all-time leader in total offense by breaking Byron Leftwich’s record, the Chippewas went to East Lansing and rallied to within 27-26 with a touchdown in the waning moments.

On the road as an underdog, Butch Jones made a decision I agree with under these conditions – going for the win with a two-point conversion. In this instance, the attempt failed but CMU recovered the ensuing onside kick and picked up nice return yardage.

Moments later, CMU missed a potential game-winning field goal but Michigan St. was offsides on the play. With one more chance, the Chippewas converted and pulled a stirring upset win over the Spartans.

Wisconsin and Fresno St. played another nail-biter early Saturday afternoon. The Badgers stayed unbeaten by winning 34-31 in overtime. Another Big Ten team, Northwestern, had all sorts of problems before coming from behind to nip Eastern Michigan, 27-24. Penn St. failed to cash tickets for a second straight week in a 28-7 win over Syracuse as a 28 ½-point home ‘chalk.’

In the mid-afternoon games, Houston pulled a stunner by going into Stillwater and winning 45-35 as a 16 ½-point underdog. Oklahoma St. fell victim to a classic letdown spot after its 24-10 win over Georgia. The 80 combined points slipped ‘over’ the hefty 73-point total.

TCU played at Virginia in its opener and captured a 30-14 road win as a 13-point favorite. UCLA pulled an upset that surely hooked up the books after Tennessee soared from a 6 ½-point favorite – per LVSC’s opening line – to an 11-point ‘chalk.’ The Bruins produced a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter and escaped Neyland Stadium with a 19-15 win. (What was with that vanilla play-calling from lame Lane Chafin' deep in the red zone at winning time?)

The Vols will be in bounce-back mode when they go to The Swamp in what promises to be interesting to say the least in the SEC opener for both schools. The Gators warmed up for UT by blasting Troy 56-6 as 36-point favorites.

Jacksonville St. led Florida St. 9-7 late in the final minute of the fourth quarter, but the Seminoles scored a pair of touchdowns in the last 35 seconds to collect a sketchy outright win in a non-lined game. The ‘Noles go to Provo this week and I suspect the number – three during the summer in Sportsbook.com’s Games of the Year section, will be way north of Cougars minus three.

Give credit to BYU for not pulling a no-show in a sandwich situation at Tulane. The Cougars destroyed the Green Wave 54-3 to easily cash tickets as 18-point favorites.

The late-night games were outstanding with Oregon holding off Purdue by a 38-36 score. The Boilermakers, who I wasn’t high on coming into the season, have earned my respect by covering as healthy 13-point underdogs. Oregon St. got a last-minute field goal to escape Sam Boyd Stadium with a 23-21 non-covering win over UNLV. (Hat tip to Alf Musketa for being bullish on the Rebels plus seven on Thursday’s edition of the Power Hours on VI Radio.)

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Week 2 provided a plethora of thrilling games on a card that beforehand looked extremely unattractive outside of the USC-Ohio St. showdown at The Shoe. Let’s rank ‘em.

1-Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34
2-USC 18, Ohio St. 15
3-Georgia 41, South Carolina 37
4-Oregon 38, Purdue 36
5-Wisconsin 34, Fresno St. 31 (2 OTs)

--Vandy hasn’t won at LSU since 1951. The Bayou Bengals have won 31 consecutive Saturday night games at Tiger Stadium. They beat the Commodores 23-9 as 14-point favorites at most spots.

--Even in defeat, we finally saw South Carolina sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia demonstrate how good he can be. He was terrific with the exception of one interception and a poor decision on the fourth and goal at the end of the game. Garcia threw for a career-high 313 yards and also rushed for 42 yards (if only he had put his head down on that fourth-down play in the final minute).

--How horrible is Miami (OH.)? The RedHawks have been outscored 90-0 in losses vs. Kentucky (in Cincy) and at Boise State. The Broncos cashed yet another ticket on the smurf turf with a 48-0 win as 40-point home favorites.

--After barely beating UMass 21-17 at home, Kansas St. lost 17-15 at Louisiana (formerly UL-Lafayette). One word for Bill Snyder: Yikes.

--Missouri had to come from behind to put down Bowling Green's upset bid, 27-20. The Falcons comfortably covered the number as 20-point underdogs.

--Nebraska has now covered big numbers in dominant home wins over FAU and Arkansas St. The Cornhuskers won’t be facing a Sun Belt school next week, however. They go to Blacksburgh for a revenge game after Va. Tech came into Lincoln and won 35-30 last season.

--Seven Games to Watch in Week 3:
1-Georgia at Arkansas
2-West Virginia at Auburn
3-Ga. Tech at Miami (Thursday)
4-Nebraska at Va. Tech
5-Tennessee at Floriida
6-Cincinnati at Oregon St.
7-Texas Tech at Texas
8-Boise State at Fresno St. (Friday)

--Coaches on the Hot Seat:
1-Al Groh (Virginia)
2-Dan Hawkins (Colorado)
3-Steve Kragthorpe (Louisville)
4-Charlie Weis (Notre Dame)
5-George O’Leary (Central Florida)

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

If you wish, you can follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

  
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