It can be really hard to get out of a food rut.
What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s my own term for the habit I’m pretty sure most humans get into of ordering the same thing at their local restaurants, eating the same five meals at home in rotation, and buying all the same groceries.
On one hand, why not just have what you know tastes good? It doesn’t take much effort or willpower. But over time it gets boring, and sometimes even unhealthy. Too much of anything dulls the tastebuds and strips the literal flavor out of mealtime. Still, it’s safe, and you’ll never need to challenge yourself again.
But allow me to urge you, dear reader and watcher, to become an adventurous college football consumer this week.
There’s a bunch of weird, wild, wooly stuff on the game menu this week. Lots to sink your teeth into, but much of it is odd and unexpected. Yet that’s the fun that gives college football fandom its spice — the comebacks and crazy plays you didn’t see coming.
I’ve gone through the game schedule and picked out the ones you should consider devouring. Check them out below!
The problem is that there are good-to-great games on in every timeslot this week. But this one has the fewest. So feel free to take your spouse out for a night on the town. Or go see Top Gun: Maverick again. Or read part of Infinite Jest. Whatever you want to do.
Alabama at Texas
Look, you might think this outcome is predetermined, Lord Saban can never be conquered, and all will kneel before the might of Big Al. And you’re right! But while Texas does not have Big Al, it does have Big Cow. He has a history of not liking SEC mascots. So while the Tide and the Horns tussle on the field, that’s the real dust-up I want to see: Big Al vs. Bevo. Sure, in addition this should be a great matchup, and I’m not sure I need to sell you on it. Quarterback Quinn Ewers hoping to keep up Texas’ momentum in a big home game? Bama hungry to prove it can still demolish top-flight teams? Yep, sign me up.
South Carolina at Arkansas
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler looked shaky in his first start for the Gamecocks last week, chucking two interceptions and only one touchdown. And that was against lowly Georgia State. Arkansas is way more formidable, and it just got done knocking off last year’s Playoff contender Cincinnati in fine fashion, passing and running all over a Bearcat D that’s no joke. This game is a test for the Gamecocks. They have to show up.
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Listen to our Week 2 Preview Podcast
Tennessee at Pitt
Both of these squads are looking for banner years. For the Vols, continuing to drag themselves out of the SEC’s basement won’t be easy. They looked surprisingly competent last year, especially on offense, for all the drama that haunted them before the season. Last week they thumped Ball State behind a devastating, diverse offensive attack led by quarterback Hendon Hooker. Now they face Pitt, fresh off a strong rivalry win over West Virginia. Quarterback Kedon Slovis looked more in command than he ever did at USC. Given both teams’ Week 1 trajectories, this reads like a toss-up to me.
Houston at Texas Tech
You may be wondering why Iowa-Iowa State isn’t here. Well, I’m not subjecting you to the disgusting nonsense that is the Hawkeye offense. Instead, check out this alternative programming! It’s bound to have all the wackiness of El Assico, but with more scoring. The Cougars squeaked past UTSA in Week 1. Quarterback Clayton “Looney” Tune can really spin it, but they need to shore up their pass defense. Especially when they’re headed to Lubbock. Tech didn’t need to do much last week against Murray State through the air, but expect that to change as Donovan Smith gets his first full game under center. This may come down to the last possession.
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Appalachian State at Texas A&M (3:30pm/2:30pm, ESPN2)
Virginia at Illinois (4:00pm/3:00pm, ESPNU)
Iowa State at Iowa (4:00pm/3:00pm, BTN)
Kentucky at Florida
I think everyone’s overhyping Florida after quarterback Anthony Richardson had a banner game against a discombobulated Utah to start the season. There’s no denying the Gators have talent, though. Head coach Billy Napier has the locker room believing in a turnaround, and they’ll be trying to continue their success against a gritty, tough Kentucky team. Quarterback Will Levis leads a resurgent Wildcat offense that can kill you through the air or on the ground (though the backfield needs to produce more).
USC at Stanford
This storied game has intrigue it’s lacked in previous years, thanks to the advent of LA’s savior, head coach Lincoln Riley, and his transfer portal-fueled roster. The Trojans handled Rice last week, but they need to defend the run more effectively. Stanford also had a breezy Week 1, defeating Patriot League stalwart Colgate. This is the Cardinal’s first major test, and they do return most of their offense. Can the defense round out of last year’s terrible performance, though? They’ll have their hands full with USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
Late Night Games
Baylor at BYU
Yeah, this is one of the biggest games of the day, and it’s going to run late. The Bears looked great against lowly Albany, firing on all cylinders. Last year’s singular weakness, the passing defense, even looked top-flight. Let’s hope Baylor’s ready to face a motivated BYU squad that’s endeavoring to get a leg up on their future Big 12 opponents. Quarterback Jaren Hall and the Cougar offense scored easily and early against South Florida in Week 1, and their defense held down former Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon. This one should be close, tough, and excellent.
Oregon State at Fresno State
If you’ve read my stuff this year, you know I’m high on the Beavs. Quarterback Chance Nolan looked solid commanding Oregon State against Boise State in Week 1, but the defense allowed a few scores in the second half, and third-down conversions were a problem. Meanwhile, Fresno State bulldozed Cal Poly and is looking forward to potentially knocking off a Power 5 opponent. Running back Jordan Mims grabbed two TDs despite only 15 rushing attempts, and quarterback Jake Haener was prolific, distributing the ball well. This is another matchup in which I’m unsure what happens, and that usually means a really entertaining tilt.
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Mississippi State at Arizona (11:00pm/10:00pm, FS1)