College football observations from Week 2: Iowa plays itself into postseason consideration early
There was one big upset in the top five. There was almost another. A top 10 team lost at home. Another needed a comeback in the final two minutes to stave off a team from the Mid-American Conference.
So it was just another Saturday in college football.
Even with the unpredictability, there are some conclusions that can be drawn two weeks into the season. Contenders are emerging and some are being exposed.
Three observations from Week 2 that are worth paying attention to:
Iowa looks ready to contend, Iowa State not so much
There's two constants about the Hawkeyes. They will play opportunistic defense and they won't beat themselves. That formula has carried them to the best start of any team in the country as they followed last week's blowout of No. 17 Indiana with a road win at No. 10 Iowa State.
Iowa made two of the top quarterbacks in the country - Michael Penix Jr. and Brock Purdy - look more like freshmen than veterans, intercepting both three times and forcing both to be pulled early in the fourth quarter.
Even if they don't wow you with athleticism or explosive plays on offense, it's time to start getting serious about the Hawkeyes as a playoff contender. They've won eight in a row since losing their first two games last year by a combined five points. All those victories but one have been by at least 10 points. The schedule sets up well with a home game against Penn State and a trip to Wisconsin as the only ranked teams left on the schedule.
The outlook for Iowa State is different. After several NFL draft prospects returned, there was hope the Cyclones would threaten Oklahoma in the Big 12 and could make a push for the playoff. Perhaps burdened by those expectations, they again flopped to their in-state rival, losing for the sixth consecutive time in the series. Yes, the opportunity to run the table in the Big 12 remains, but there's nothing through two games that indicates Iowa State has the ability to do it.
Tough times for Texas A&M, Texas
There's a danger about making the season all about the playoff when your team has never been there. The Aggies want badly to be in that rarefied air of elite college football programs and there was finally hope after finishing 9-1 last season and having stacked impressive recruiting classes under Jimbo Fisher. However, there were two big questions entering this season: Quarterback and offensive line. Both of those were exposed in the narrow win against Colorado.
Haynes King beat out Zach Calzada for the starting quarterback job in camp. He was shaky in the opening win against Kent State before going down with a leg injury in the first quarter. Enter Calzada, who struggled for most of three quarters with passes late or high or into traffic. Part of the reason he couldn't get comfortable was the inability of A&M to establish the run. With a talented group of backs, the Aggies had 97 yards on 29 carries against a defense that allowed 181 yards in the Pac-12 last season. Calzada showed some moxie in the fourth quarter in rallying the team to a win, but the going is going to be much rougher in the SEC and it's hard to see the Aggies threatening Alabama and avoiding another loss or two.
The offensive line also was the glaring concern for Texas this season. It didn't show in an impressive win against Louisiana-Lafayette last week as the Ragin' Cajuns didn't have the athletes to expose the Longhorns. Arkansas does. And the Razorbacks completely shut down the Texas offense in the first half, holding it scoreless and to just 58 yards. There were a lot of hopes that Steve Sarkisian would make the Texas offense more explosive after his success at Alabama. That appears unlikely without the ability to run the ball. The opposite side of the ball also was startling as the Longhorns gave up 333 yards rushing and were pounded all night. So, no, Texas is not back. And it might take some time for the Longhorns to get there.
We might actually have a Heisman race
Following an opening weekend that saw Spencer Rattler, D.J. Uiagalelei and Sam Howell struggle, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young became the early favorite for college football's top individual honor.
However, Heisman races are long and unpredictable and candidates emerge with big-time performances. One did Saturday when Oregon running back CJ Verdell had 161 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns in an upset at No. 3 Ohio State. Given the way the Ducks dominated in Columbus, you'd expect many more big days from Verdell and more wins that could boost his profile.
It's also easy to forget that Young is still in his first year as a starter. He'll have some down times and it won't be as flawless as it was against Miami (Fla.) last week.
Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith