College football's Week 2 winners and losers
Pittsburgh last met Penn State on Sept. 16, 2000, in a 12-0 shutout victory against the hated Nittany Lions. Sixteen years later, the Panthers picked up where they left off.
Why isn’t this game played every year? Pittsburgh’s 42-39 win against PSU featured everything you’re looking for in a rivalry game: uncertainty, animosity, intrigue and suspense. The win moved the Panthers to 2-0 while dropping the Nittany Lions to 1-1 heading into next weekend’s game against Temple.
The win bolsters Pittsburgh’s case for being considered one of the favorites in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division, perhaps alongside North Carolina. The loss stings for the Nittany Lions, but it’s not a devastating blow: Penn State showed an offensive punch largely lacking during James Franklin’s first two seasons, as well as the mental toughness needed to pull back into a game that could’ve gotten out of hand in the first half.
Pittburgh holds off Penn State rally to win 42-39
But let’s be serious. In reality, a rivalry loss hurts more than the rest — even more so when it’s Pittsburgh, a program Penn State only barely acknowledges, if at all, as one of its rivals.
Here are the rest of Saturday’s winners and losers in college football:
Alabama. Yeah, Alabama wins a lot. But this is about more than just a 38-10 against a pretty good Western Kentucky team: Alabama seems to have found itself a quarterback in true freshman Jalen Hurts, who threw for 287 yards and two scores to seemingly solidify his spot as the Tide’s starter. The best part? That after a two years of one-year starters, Hurts would give the program a multiple-year answer under center.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were shaky in Week 1, escaping Louisiana Tech 21-20. On Saturday they showed much more, upsetting No. 12 TCU 41-38 in double overtime. One of the things they showed was a misdirection throwback to the QB on a two-point conversion to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Army. The Cadets moved to 2-0 by beating Rice, 31-14. Army nearly made the postseason last fall, finishing just one win shy, but spoke immediately after a season-ending loss to Navy about how 2016 would be a breakthrough year. After two weeks, the Cadets are clearly in position to win at least six games — and maybe even beat the Midshipmen for the first time in more than a decade.
East Carolina. Beating North Carolina State marked ECU’s sixth win in a row against ACC competition. Only Clemson has a longer active winning streak against the ACC.
Tennessee: After taking heat from national critics for escaping with a fortuitous overtime victory against Appalachian State in Week 1, the Vols shook off some rust on their way to a 45-24 victory against Virginia Tech in front of a record crowd of 156,990 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Wake Forest: The Deacons defeated Duke 24-14 and are 2-0 on the year and 1-0 in the ACC, matching their conference win total for each of the last two seasons. And it's only Week 2.
No. 9 Georgia survives scare against Nicholls
Georgia. The Bulldogs lost even in winning, showing little to resemble a legitimate SEC contender in barely sneaking past Nicholls State 26-24. This isn’t North Dakota State; Nicholls is an FCS also-ran, having won just nine games in total since 2011. So what does that say about Georgia? That it might be time to pump the brakes on the Bulldogs’ winning the East Division in Kirby Smart’s debut.
Oklahoma State. The Cowboys lost to Central Michigan 30-27 after the Chippewas were allowed — incorrectly — and scored on a final, untimed play with zeroes on the clock in the fourth quarter. Say what you will about the officiating, but that OSU put itself in that situation reflects poorly on the Cowboys’ place among the top quarter of the Big 12 Conference.
Central Michigan's Hail Mary win shouldn't have been
Northwestern: The Wildcats, 10-3 last year and getting votes in this year's preseason Amway Coaches Poll, are now 0-2, with losses to a Group of Five team (Western Michigan) in Week 1 and an FCS team (Illinois State) on Saturday. The Wildcats' offense was largely non-existent — rushing for only 86 yards — in the 9-7 loss to the Redbirds.
Clemson. It’s hard to find too much fault with Clemson; the Tigers have lost just once in the past 12 months, after all. But what’s missing so far for Deshaun Watson and the offense? It’s been a struggle to find yardage against Auburn and Troy, leaving a few doubts about whether Clemson can flip the switch come conference play. Maybe this team is like Ohio State from a year ago: more than capable of beating every team in the country but prone to playing down to its competition.
Kentucky. The Wildcats allowed 70 consecutive points since taking a 35-10 lead against Southern Mississippi in Week 1, finally scoring a TD in the fourth quarter after Florida jumped out to a 45-0 lead. What’s going on here? Kentucky was supposed to already have found its way into the postseason under Mark Stoops. Instead, this looks like the worst team in the SEC. Will Stoops lose his job if this continues? He’s got a $12 million buyout, so it’ll take a big check to make a change.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM WEEK 2