Check out a culmination of previews for this weeks action as we dive into the best games in the second week of the College Football docket. We also Included in-depth predictions for the Trojans home opener against the Cougars.
Notre Dame at Michigan
LUKE HOLTHOUSE- Maybe I'm putting a little too much into Week 1, but the Irish looked less than dominant in a 28-6 win at home over Temple while the Wolverines destroyed Central Michigan in their home opener 59-9. For two very evenly matched team, I'll give Michigan the edge after both a stronger first game and home field advantage in the Week 2 matchup. I hope the Irish don't have anything left in the tank by Week 8.
Michigan 28, Notre Dame 21
ITALIAN TROJAN- Despite Tommy Rees' statistical explosion in the season-opening 28-6 squeaker against Temple (16-of-23, 346 yards and 3 touchdowns), the close-call mystique of the Fighting Irish carrying over into 2013 is a hoax. This annual classic will feature a superior ground attack for the Wolverines and another bloodbath, only this time just favoring Ann Arbor and the spread...and Alabama just scored again.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 23
CALUM HAYES- With home field advantage traditionally worth three points in college football Vegas seems to think these two teams are fairly evenly matched. With Tommy Rees looking like the quarterback everyone expected him to be coming out of high school and a defensive line anchored by the massive Louis Nix and first round prospect Stephon Tuitt expect this game to look a lot like last season's affair. That game ended 13-6 Notre Dame, with the defense forcing six turnovers; expect more scoring this year but the result will be the same.
Notre Dame 21, Michigan 17
WILL LAWS- Devin Gardner could run wild on the Irish now that Te'o is gone. Plus, the Big House will be extra loud after Brian Kelly shoulder-dusted the ND-Mich rivalry last week.
Michigan 31, Notre Dame 16
TREVOR WONG- The Fighting Irish handled Temple with ease in Week 1 behind Tommy Rees' big game (346 passing yards, three touchdowns), while Michigan rolled over Central MIchigan (59-9). If the latest history between these two teams is any indication, this game will likely be decided in the fourth quarter again. What happened last time in Ann Arbor in 2011? Denard Robinson single-handedly won the game for the Wolverines after Michigan trailed 24-7 entering the final frame. This year, Michigan squeaks by Notre Dame and avenges last year's stinker in South Bend.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 24
SHOTGUN SPRATLING- Notre Dame shut down Denard Robinson and the Wolverines last season, forcing six turnovers in a 13-6 win. It was one of six games the Fighting Irish won by single digits -- only one of which was on the road (the 22-13 win over USC). The Irish have experience winning close games, but when this one is tight at the end with the Big House rocking, Notre Dame will slip up. That's why I'm taking Michigan to cover with a 4-6 point victory..
Michigan 24, Notre Dame 20
South Carolina at Georgia
(LH) The good news for the Bulldogs is that they are not out of the national championship race following a Week 1 non-conference loss to Clemson as the winner of the SEC should still make the title game. The bad news is that they're still in the SEC. I'm again going to go with momentum and say a hyped up South Carolina from a solid win over UNC Week 1 can beat a disappointed Bulldogs team at home.
South Carolina 24, Georgia 14
(IT) The Bulldogs come home to Athens licking their Clemson wounds, prime to make Clowneys of the equally clutch-challenged Gamecocks pound for pound. However, because that makes sense, it most likely will not happen, so let's pretend the other USC is us for a little while longer.
South Carolina 35, Georgia 25
(CH) The last time Georgia started a season 0-2 was 2011, a year in which they opened the season with a loss to #5 Boise State and followed it with a loss to #12 South Carolina. Georgia will be looking to avoid a third straight loss to the Gamecocks. Unfortunately the injury to primary receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the struggles of starting left tackle Kenarious Gates (the man expected to slow down Jadeveon Sharknado Clowney) and a defense struggling to integrate new starters at every level will prove too much for Aaron Murray and company to overcome.
South Carolina 28, Georgia 24
(NS) Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks' offense is overshadowed by Jadeveon Clowney, but they showed their prowess against UNC and will again against a Dawgs defense that is still dizzy from Tajh Boyd running circles around them.
South Carolina 31, Georgia 21
(TW) What's at stake? An early edge in the SEC East. Jadeveon Clowney will be more of a factor than he was in Week 1, but Georgia rebounds from a narrow loss on the road at Clemson, and Aaron Murray beats the Gamecocks for the first time in his career.
Georgia 31, South Carolina 27
(SS) Having grown up watching Georgia games, I would venture to say the Bulldogs lose 75+ percent of the games in which they botch or miss a field goal -- as they did last week. Starting kicker Marshall Morgan is going to be suspended for the second week in a row, so don't be surprised when there's a miss. Georgia is more talented at the skill positions, but has injury concerns and South Carolina should win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
South Carolina 38, Georgia 36
Washington State at USC
(LH) With a pass-happy offense that airs it out as many as 70 times a game, I'm expecting another big game for the USC pass rushers and defensive backs. Secondary will be tested, especially at corners, but look for trio of Su'a Cravens, Josh Shaw and Dion Bailey to be all over the place in the nickel package. Offense still needs a quarterback and Silas Redd before both sides start dominating, but Cody Kessler will have first game jitters gone if he starts as expected. Conference play really doesn't start until Week 5 at Arizona State, so no stress if team is still working out kinks.
USC 27, Washington State 7
(IT) If Cody Kessler is for certain our starting quarterback moving forward, then that overdue news should release some tension from the offense considerably. A flow could be established and settled into, Marqise Lee will be more susceptible to being himself, and everyone can finally dwell on the fact that our running game is the strength and appropriate focal point of Kiffin's "strategy". Passing yardage shall be aplenty in the Pac-12 game of the week, but with Tre Madden and Justin Davis (and perhaps even Silas Redd) barreling like the Troys of old, Mike Leach should suck up the blood en route to our play-action...bubble screens.
USC 42, Washington State 21
(CH) Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday threw the ball 65 times last week. Against a Trojans defensive line that was fifth in the nation is sacks last season and recorded seven against Hawaii he may not make it half that before he's injured if Washington State coach Mike Leach isn't careful. Expect Cody Kessler to play better in front of his home crowd and with the first start jitters out of the way. With the way the Trojan defense played last week this one wont cover the over but feel confident about the offense doing enough to cover this spread.
USC 38, Washington State 10
(NS) The Cougars' run game was simply awful last year, averaging just 1.4 yards per carry, and USC's fearsome front seven will cause Mike Leach to abandon that part of his offense even earlier than usual. The Trojans may get burned a couple times each week for big plays, which will eventually come back to bite them, but not this week. Even though the secondary is still a weakness, Su'a Cravens and Dion Bailey are ballhawks. I expect a pick-six from one of them against Wazzu QB Connor Halliday, who threw three interceptions last week against Auburn. On the other side of the ball, I expect Justin Davis and Tre Madden to each top 100 yards for the Trojans, giving Silas Redd some more time to recover. Marqise Lee should break out of his funk against Wazzu's weak pass defense, making whoever starts under center for the Trojans look like Tom Brady.
USC 38, Washington State 14
(TW) USC's new-look defense made a statement in Week 1, albeit against Hawaii. The offense? Not so much. The defense will likely be busy again, with Mike Leach's pass-happy offense coming to The Coliseum. But if the Trojans defense (seven sacks, four interceptions at Hawaii) can put pressure on Connor Halliday (three interceptions in Week 1) and force him into poor decisions, USC's offense won't be asked to put up 30 points by itself. Nobody knows for certain who will start at quarterback, and that's becoming more of an issue and distraction as time goes on. Marqise Lee will have a much better game (no dropped passes), and Justin Davis/Tre Madden in the backfield will move the chains enough on offense. The Cougars find a way to make it close, but USC does just enough to win the Pac-12 season opener at home.
USC 24, Washington State 20
(SS) After seeing USC's quarterbacks struggle throwing the ball consistently at Hawaii and Washington State's defense allow 297 yards to Auburn, expect USC's rushing attack to be the primary focus for both squads. Washington State will likely load up the box to shut down the Trojan backs and take its chances with the unproven QBs. That seems like a smart idea, but the Cougars cornerbacks Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter hadn't practiced all week as of yesterday, so freshman Daquawn Brown may be forced to make his first career start. Brown's teammates don't believe he'll back down from the opportunity, but do you really think Marqise Lee is going to have two "down" games in a row? Washington State's Air Raid offense outgained Auburn and will present a challenge for Clancy Pendergast's defense. Much like USC, Auburn was breaking in a new defensive scheme and planned to be aggressive with that scheme. But no need to fret, the Trojans have more talent on the defensive side of the ball than the Tigers provided last week. USC has owned the Cougars in the past...and no need to expect that to change this weekend.
USC 31, Washington State 20
NOTE: Make sure to check out our weekly predictions and resultant standings each and every week here on Conquest Chronicles as we shed some light on what lies ahead in the College Football season.