College football: Battle at Bristol, other top Week 2 games to watch
Well that was a fun Week 1 of college football, wasn’t it?
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So how do you follow up what was suitably dubbed in the preseason as the best opening weekend in college football history?
Well, it’s a difficult task at hand, but Week 2 is sure to provide a nice encore that will hopefully draw similar exciting finishes and surprises.
Let’s look at some of the most noteworthy games on this weekend’s docket.
Pittsburgh vs. Penn State
This will be a fun western Pennsylvania faceoff between two teams that interestingly haven’t met in 16 years.
Both teams picked up a win in Week 1 behind outstanding performances from their respective running backs. Look for those backs to be the feature of each offense again this week.
James Conner made a triumphant return for the Panthers with two touchdowns and 53 yards on the ground in his first game since going down with a 2015 MCL injury and overcoming cancer.
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Meanwhile, Saquon Barkley led the way with 105 yards and a touchdown to carry the Nittany Lions past Kent State to complement first-time starting quarterback Trayce McSorley who added a pair of scores through the air.
This week’s matchup will be a step up for both teams in terms of competition and it wil be good to see the revival of this in-state clash.
No. 15 TCU vs. Arkansas – Saturday at 7 p.m.
Both the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks were on upset alert last week but each escaped with victories.
Arkansas narrowly maneuvered past Louisiana Tech 21-20 while TCU was locked in a shootout with FCS opponent South Dakota State before finally pulling ahead for good in a 59-41 win.
It’s safe to say neither was an impressive win and that both teams underperformed expectations. That means there’s a lot on the line as each team looks to rebound this weekend.
TCU watched No. 3 Oklahoma fall to Houston to leave the Big 12 title door open, especially if the Horned Frogs can stay consistent for the rest of the season and play at top form. Meanwhile, Arkansas has sights on its first 2-0 start in three years as it tries to prove it can return to competitive play in the SEC.
The main attraction in Saturday’s matchup will be focused on Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill. After transferring from Texas A&M, Hill finished his debut with TCU accounting for over 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns.
There’s work to be done on the defense, but Hill and the TCU offense will be a lot of fun to watch throughout the season.
Battle at Bristol: No. 17 Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech – Saturday at 8 p.m.
This Saturday primetime matchup will be the main draw of Week 2 not only for the on-the-field competition but for the environment it will be played in.
The Volunteers and Hokies will square off in front of a sold-out crowd of an expected 150,000 people on Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. That estimate would be more than enough to make it the largest college football game in the sport’s history.
The Volunteers come off a come-from-behind overtime victory over Appalachian State last week that led to an eight-spot drop in the latest top 25 poll. It wasn’t exactly the start that Tennessee coach Butch Jones hoped for, but look for quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd to lead an improved offense in coming weeks.
On the other side, Justin Fuente started his tenure as Virginia Tech head coach with the program’s first victory of the post-Frank Beamer era in the Hokies’ 36-16 win over Liberty.
This matchup gives Virginia Tech an opportunity for an early statement win and Tennessee the chance to show it did in fact belong in the preseason top 10.
It should be an exciting atmosphere to play football in, so keep a look out for those stadium shots.
California vs. San Diego State – Saturday at 10:30 p.m.
This in-state battle will be a treat for the late crowd as it features two fun offenses to watch.
Cal opened its season a week before everyone else with its blowout victory over Hawaii in Sydney, Australia. In that game, Davis Webb (441 yards, four touchdowns) proved he could be a more than sufficient replacement for former Golden Bears and current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
Meanwhile, San Diego State continues to live under the radar as one of the most successful teams since the middle of last season.
The Aztecs have now run off 11 consecutive wins, including capturing last year’s Mountain West title and a 42-7 thumping of Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl. SDSU started this season with a 31-0 shutout performance over FCS opponent New Hampshire.
The most exciting player on the field may very well be Aztecs senior running back Donnel Pumphrey, the active leader in career rushing yards with a whole ton of speed and the ability to break any run or catch for a touchdown. Pumphrey opened the season with 139 total yards against the Wildcats.
The west coast has plenty of exciting ranked teams to follow late at night, but this matchup will likely be the one must-watch from the group.