Week Two Lowe Down: UGA, Clemson get road Ws

Matt Lowe

September 07, 2018 at 5:17 pm.

Sep 1, 2018; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (4) runs past Austin Peay Governors defensive back Trent Taylor (9) for a touchdown during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 1, 2018; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (4) runs past Austin Peay Governors defensive back Trent Taylor (9) for a touchdown during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Two of The Lowe Down.

The opening weekend in college football told me a few things.

No. 1, Tua Tagovailoa is the real deal. No, he’s not LeBron James. Nor is he the greatest football player in Alabama history (let him play a full season first). But he has the potential to be the best quarterback of the Nick Saban era, and that’s darn right scary for Crimson Tide opponents.

No. 2, Jim Harbaugh has lost it. This dude is one of the highest-paid coaches in the college or pro ranks, yet he can’t beat a team of significance. Beating Rutgers and Indiana and Purdue is one thing. But beating Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State is another. Maybe Michigan should stay in Ann Arbor and get serious about football during the spring rather than tour the European continent every offseason.

No. 3. The SEC West is going to be a slugfest. Alabama, Auburn and LSU had the most impressive victories in Week One. But Ole Miss could be a team to keep an eye on as the weeks go by. No, they aren’t that good defensively. But the Rebels offense, which is led by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, the NWO (the receiving trio of A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge) and a veteran offensive line, will be a challenge for any defense.

Last week’s record was 20-4. To the games we go…

Friday, September 7

No. 16 TCU 43

SMU 17

Saturday. September 8

No. 18 Mississippi State (1-0) at Kansas State (1-0) 11:00 a.m. CT

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald returns from a one-game suspension to lead the Bulldogs into a tricky matchup with Kansas State. Fitzgerald, one of the top dual-threat’s in America, passed for 1,782 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He also added 984 yards and 14 TDs on the ground. New head coach Joe Moorhead likes to get the ball downfield in the passing game, so it will be interesting to see if Fitzgerald, who has a big arm, can take another step as a passer under his guidance. If he can, Mississippi State will be a factor in the SEC West race. But first things first, the Bulldogs must handle the Wildcats, who rallied from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to beat FCS foe South Dakota last week.

The Lowe Down: Mississippi State 33, Kansas State 20

UCLA (0-1) at No. 6 Oklahoma (1-0) 12:00 p.m. CT

Oklahoma ran roughshod over a hapless FAU team last week and will likely do the same this week against a UCLA squad that might struggle to win four or five games. Yeah, yeah, I know Chip Kelly will likely turn things around in Westwood. But this game is going to get ugly. And ugly quick. Look for Oklahoma tailback Rodney Anderson — the top runner in the country in my opinion — to have a huge afternoon on the ground squaring off against a Bruins team that hasn’t played a lick of defense in years.

The Lowe Down: Oklahoma 45, UCLA 17

No. 3 Georgia (1-0) at No. 24 South Carolina (1-0) 2:30 p.m. CT

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp can put a signature win in his back pocket with a victory over Georgia. But for that to happen, the Gamecocks will need to have a great game where it matters most: up front. Sure, South Carolina’s skill players (quarterback Jake Bentley, tailbacks Rico Dowdle and A.J. Tuner and wideouts Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards) get all the ink, but the Gamecocks will have to get outstanding play from their offensive/defensive lines if they expect to upset the Bulldogs. Georgia’s offensive line, led by center Lamont Gaillard and guard Kendall Baker, is one of the league’s best. And the Bulldogs defensive front, led by ends Jonathan Ledbetter and Tyler Clark, is tough to move. If South Carolina wants to pull the upset, it will need to win its share of battles against those two units. It will also have to limit an explosive UGA offense led by quarterback Jake Fromm, explosive tailback D’Andre Swift and underrated wideout Mecole Hardman. And should this game come down to a field goal, Georgia has a big edge due to the experience and leg strength Rodrigo Blankenship brings to the table.

The Lowe Down: Georgia 31, South Carolina 24

No. 2 Clemson (1-0) at Texas A&M (1-0) 6:00 p.m. CT

There’s a lot of upset talk surrounding this game, but I’m not on board just because the Aggies looked good against Northwestern State. First of all, how is Texas A&M going to block Clemson’s D-line? Secondly, how will Texas A&M’s front seven handle the Tigers’ rushing attack? Yes, the crowd will be rowdy. And yes, Texas A&M could make this a game. But Clemson has far more talent and, more importantly, experience in winning games like this than Texas A&M does.

The Lowe Down: Clemson 31, Texas A&M 16

No. 17 USC (1-0) at No. 10 Stanford (1-0) 7:30 p.m. CT

San Diego State did a great job of bottling up Stanford tailback Bryce Love last week, but look for the speedster to bounce back in a big way against a USC defense that gave up over 400 yards to UNLV in its season opener. Love, who was limited to 29 yards on the ground by the Aztecs, will be the focus of every defense the Cardinal plays this season. But the focus on Love will only open up the passing game for quarterback K.J. Costello and big-play wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who hooked up for 226 yards and three scores through the air last week. Also keep in mind that USC starting quarterback JT Daniels, a true freshman, will be making his first-ever road start.

The Lowe Down: Stanford 30, USC 19

In other Saturday games:

Western Michigan 17 at No. 21 Michigan 38

Georgia Tech 31 at South Florida 28

Arizona 24 at Houston 34

New Mexico 20 at No. 5 Wisconsin 48

Duke 23 at Northwestern 27

Rutgers 14 at No. 4 Ohio State 62

Ball State 13 at No. 8 Notre Dame 48

Arkansas State 17 at No. 1 Alabama 55

Colorado 27 at Nebraska 30

UAB 30 at Coastal Carolina 27

Kentucky 23 at No. 25 Florida 30

Arkansas 33 at Colorado State 27

No. 13 Penn State 27 at Pitt 23

UConn 17 at No. 20 Boise State 55

No. 15 Michigan State 28 at Arizona State 31 ***Upset Special