Illinois @ Kansas
Friday, September 8th 6:30 PM CT, ESPN2
Kansas (1-0) picked up a nice opening win over Missouri State, pulling away late for a 48-17 final. While the Jayhawks struggled some early in this game, they were able to ultimately take care of business and win by a good enough margin. Illinois (1-0) struggled heavily with Toledo in their opening game, requiring a field goal in the last few seconds to secure a 30-28 win. I think these two programs are trending in opposite directions and I like Kansas to secure a quality non-conference victory.
#12 Utah @ Baylor
Saturday, September 9th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN
...sigh. There’s plenty I could say about Baylor (0-1) and their opening loss to Texas State. The optimist in me thinks Texas State is going to surprise a lot of people and be one of the better non-Power 5 teams this year. But even if that is true, that was an inexcusable loss. Baylor now hosts #12 Utah (1-0), who is one of the best teams in this final iteration of the Pac-12. The Utes took care of Florida with relative ease in their opening win. Unless Baylor’s offensive line and entire defense magically improve by leaps and bounds in one week, I have very little confidence about this game. That’s especially true with quarterback Blake Shapen being out for the next few weeks.
Troy @ #15 Kansas State
Saturday, September 9th 11:00 AM CT, FS1
#15 Kansas State (1-0) had a pretty spotless opening win against Southeast Missouri State, winning 45-0. They now turn their attention to Troy (1-0), who secured a 48-30 win over Stephen F. Austin for their opening win. Troy was definitely one of the best non-Power 5 teams last year, putting together a 12-2 record. So this could actually be a fairly stiff challenge for Kansas State. Nevertheless, I expect the Wildcats to take care of business.
38-28 Kansas State
Southern Utah @ BYU
Saturday, September 9th 2:00 PM CT, ESPN+
BYU (1-0) picked up an ugly, ugly win over Sam Houston in their opening game. Defensively, the Cougars were great, shutting out Sam Houston. Offensively, BYU only put together two scoring drives, leading to a 14-0 victory. Southern Utah (0-1) actually put up a pretty firm fight against Arizona State in their opener, losing 24-21. With how badly BYU struggled against Sam Houston, this game is anything but a given. But, the Cougars should have more overall talent at their disposal. Plus, given how bad the offense looked, I expect there will be extra motivation to improve from week one.
Iowa @ Iowa State
Saturday, September 9th 2:30 PM CT, FOX
This year’s CyHawk will certainly be an interesting match up, with a statewide gambling probe taking its toll for both teams. Even with such heavy distractions, both teams actually looked pretty decent in their opening games. Iowa State (1-0) took care of in-state FCS foe Northern Iowa, 30-9. Given how much Iowa State has struggled with UNI in recent years, securing a relative blowout like that with all the offseason turmoil is nothing to scoff at. Iowa (1-0) looked like they might have had new offensive blood, jumping up to a 14 point lead over Utah State early in the first quarter. However, the Iowa offense of old reared its head after that, with the Hawkeyes only scoring one more touchdown in the fourth quarter on the way to a 24-14 victory. I think this game is going to be another all-time defensive slugfest, as Iowa fields an always stout defense and Iowa State has one of the best defensive secondaries in the Big 12. The irony of thinking about betting lines for this game is not lost on me, but the 36.5 under in points total for this game feels like free money, even at a relatively low mark. I liked a lot more of what I saw from Iowa State in week one, so I’ll take the Cyclones to win this one at home.
17-13 Iowa State
SMU @ #18 Oklahoma
Saturday, September 9th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN+
#18 Oklahoma (1-0) must have been frustrated with all the offseason questions and doubts, as they unloaded a 73-0 beatdown on Arkansas State in their first game. They now turn their attention to SMU (1-0), who took care of business against a pretty good Louisiana Tech, winning 38-14. While SMU is trying to prove that they are power conference ready, having bought their way into the ACC, I think Oklahoma is on a war path and is going to smoke the Mustangs.
Duquesne @ West Virginia
Saturday, September 9th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN+
West Virginia (0-1) ended up losing to Penn State, 38-15. But as far as moral victories go, I actually thought WVU looked much better against the Nittany Lions than I expected. And with that probably being the best defense the Mountaineers will face this season, there is some room for some potential optimism. That spark of hope should only build as West Virginia hosts Duquesne (1-0). The Dukes beat Edinboro 49-7, but the talent step up to facing West Virginia is a massive leap. The Mountaineers should win this one with ease.
53-6 West Virginia
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Saturday, September 9th 5:30 PM CT, CW Network
Cincinnati (1-0) took care of business and then some in their opening week game, cleaning up Eastern Kentucky 66-13. They now face a stiff test in ACC foe Pittsburgh (1-0). Pitt similarly did what they needed to against Wofford, winning 45-7. In my view, this game is fairly evenly matched which should make for a great watch. That being said, with this game being in Pittsburgh and with Scott Satterfield still settling in with his new team and roster, I like Pitt to edge out a win here.
#11 Texas @ #3 Alabama
Saturday, September 9th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN
This game is going to get a lot of hype this week, as #11 Texas (1-0) came really close to beating #3 Alabama (1-0) in Austin last year. Now, the Longhorns travel to Tuscaloosa for a rematch. Texas did not have the strongest performance imaginable against Rice in week one, stalling out offensively in the first half before picking up the pace in the second half. While they still won 37-10, it remains to be seen if the pace of that game was just indicative of first game jitters/tune ups, or if there are some deeper issues. We’ll get a lot more clarity on that question with this game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide annihilated Middle Tennessee State in their opener, scoring exactly two touchdowns in every quarter and winning 56-7. As things stand, Alabama is the much stronger team and program, especially at home. So I suspect the Crimson Tide will win this one by a bit of a wider margin than last year.
#13 Oregon @ Texas Tech
Saturday, September 9th 6:00 PM CT, FOX
Another marquee non-conference matchup sees Texas Tech (0-1) facing off against #13 Oregon (1-0). Texas Tech suffered a brutal, overtime road loss against Wyoming for their season opener. While Tech ultimately let Wyoming climb back to a 35-33 win, the Red Raiders had started off with a 17-0 lead before letting Wyoming rattle off 20 straight points to take a lead and eventually send it to overtime. For Oregon, the Ducks blasted Portland State, winning 81-7. It’s hard to take too much away from a game against an opponent like that, but Bo Nix and the Oregon offense definitely looked like the truth. I think they’re going to be far too much for the Red Raiders to handle.
UCF @ Boise State
Saturday, September 9th 6:00 PM CT, FS1
Speaking of blowouts, UCF (1-0) certainly took care of business against Kent State, winning 56-6 in their opener. The Knights now travel to Boise State (0-1), who is reeling after getting boat raced by Washington in a 56-19 loss. While it’s hard to ever put too much stock into week one games, these teams looked to be on very different trajectories. With that in mind, even on the road, I’ve got UCF winning by a few scores behind a strong performance from quarterback John Rhys Plumlee.
Houston @ Rice
Saturday, September 9th 6:00 PM CT, NFL Network
Houston (1-0) secured a close, 17-14 win over UTSA in their opening game. Most people had that game pegged as a neck-and-neck battle, so Houston coming away with that win, regardless of final score, is good for the Cougars. They now “travel” to another Houston-based university to take on Rice (0-1). The Owls played Texas tough through the first half, but lost going away in the second half. With Houston seemingly being quite a bit worse than Texas this year, this could be a decently competitive game. Still, I’ve got Houston winning with some separation late in the game.
Nicholls @ TCU
Saturday, September 9th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+
TCU (0-1) suffered a demoralizing, season-opening loss to Colorado, 45-42. The significance of that game still remains to be seen, as it is unclear how good Colorado is and where TCU stands based off of that. Nevertheless, the Horned Frogs should now have an easy bounce back opportunity as they host Nicholls (0-1). Nicholls lost their season opener to Sacramento State, 38-24. If this game is even remotely close, that’s severely concerning for TCU’s mental state moving forward. But I don’t expect that to be the case.
Oklahoma State @ Arizona State
Saturday, September 9th 9:30 PM CT, FS1
Oklahoma State (1-0) rounds out the second week of Big 12 action with a late game at future Big 12 foe Arizona State (1-0). The Cowboys secured a fairly ugly win against Central Arkansas, which saw the Cowboys only leading 13-7 going into the fourth quarter. However, two touchdowns in the fourth quarter later and OSU won 27-13. They’ll certainly need to improve for their week two battle with Arizona State (1-0). The Sun Devils are probably coming in with a very similar mindset, as they only beat Southern Utah by three points, 24-21. So both of these teams need a “bounce back” of sorts after ugly opening wins. Ultimately, I think Oklahoma State is in a healthier spot as a program and should be able to win this one in potentially close fashion.
20-17 Oklahoma State