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College Football 2019: Week 2 Preview
Thursday, 2019 September 5 - 1:16 pm
To save myself some time, I'm not going make separate recap and preview posts this year.

Last week: Michigan, NC State, and Penn State all won handily. Next week: Michigan plays Army, NC State plays Other Directional Carolina, and Penn State plays the Wild Wings of Buffalo.

Michigan 40, Middle Tennessee State 21
It didn't look great at the start, as Shea Patterson fumbled on the opening drive and the MTSU converted that into its first touchdown. MTSU actually looked pretty competent on both offense and defense; part of that is good coaching on their part, but part of it was from mistakes made by Michigan.

First let's talk about the good: Michigan has found a legitimate star in freshman RB Zach Charbonnet, who was a star in both running and in blitz pickups. The Josh Gattis offensive game plan was effective and fun to watch. Ambry Thomas unexpectedly came back from his bout of colitis and was effective in coverage; he had an athletic interception to help seal the game. Michigan seems to have found a reliable third cornerback in Vincent Gray. Ryan Hayes had a stellar day at left tackle, which was a concern after we found out that Jon Runyan would be out of the game with an injury.

Now the bad: Shea Patterson seemed off; he missed a lot of reads in both the run and pass game. The Gattis attack relies heavily on reads, so that's a little troubling. Lavert Hill had a poor game; he was unexpectedly soft in coverage, he fumbled a punt return, and dropped a gift interception. Much hyped receiver Ronnie Bell had a number of dropped passes.

So yeah, it was kind of a typical week one for a team running a new offense. I think a lot of the issues will work themselves out, though. Patterson made a lot of mistakes but he also made some excellent throws. Lavert Hill can be excused for an off game: an NFL-bound cornerback doesn't just suddenly lose all of his skills. (Though maybe he shouldn't be returning punts.) And Bell might not see as much action down the road, especially if Donovan Peoples-Jones comes back from his high ankle sprain in a couple of weeks.

Next week: Michigan vs. Army, 12:00 PM Fox. Army brings its troublesome triple-option attack to town, along with all the shady cut blocking that goes with it, so I worry for the knees of the Michigan DL. Michigan will need to play something like a 5-2 defense and win some downs to get Army into long yardage situations; Army is not going to win by passing the ball.

It's going to be a slog. Army is going to eat up a lot of clock and reduce the number of possessions (and therefore scoring opportunities) for both teams. Michigan will need to be sound. I think Michigan's speed and athleticism on offense will make the difference in the end, though.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Army 13.

N.C. State 34, East Carolina 6
N.C. State seems to have found itself a bunch of capable skill position players to replace the talent that left after last year. Quarterback Matthew McKay was calm and efficient while passing for 308 yards, though he's got a wonky throwing motion and his passes lacked a bit of zip. We'll have to see how well that holds up over the year.

I liked the look of freshman tailback Zonovan Knight; he seems like he's got a bit of wiggle and some speed, which is a refreshing change of pace for N.C. State running backs. And receiver Tabari Hines might be a possible heir apparent at WR.

Now, all this came against a not-very-good ECU team, so many grains of salt need to be taken. But N.C. State looked prepared and well-coached, and it should mean we shouldn't have to worry about crazy upsets against the likes of teams like Western Carolina.

Speaking of: N.C. State vs. Western Carolina, 12:30 PM ACC Network. Western Carolina just got demolished by the Mercer Bears, and does that even qualify as Division 1 football? WCU did pick up 318 yards passing in that game, though, thanks to the guy who might be the One Good Player on the team, quarterback Tyrie Adams. But he can't make up for the dismal defense.

Prediction: N.C. State 56, Western Carolina 14.

Penn State 79, Idaho 7
Okay, yes, Penn State scored 79 points, and everyone looked like an NFL player compared to the opposition. But the opposition was Idaho, who was fielding not much more than a high school level squad. I don't think we can really learn much from this game. That defense did look scary good, though.

It doesn't get much harder next week: Penn State vs. Buffalo, 7:30 PM Fox. It's the Buffalo Bulls. Not the Bills. The Bulls. Penn State is a 30 point favorite here.

Buffalo is actually not a terrible team; they went 10-4 last year, including a blowout win over Rutgers. A lot of that team did not return due to graduation and transfers (and one early NFL departure, quarterback Tyree Jackson), but the elements of competency are there.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, their team strengths do not match up well against Penn State. Any talent they might have on offense will probably get murdered by the Penn State front seven. Meanwhile the defense will have a lot of youth, and they weren't all that good last year to begin with. They're not Idaho, but they probably don't have a prayer of winning this game.

Prediction: Penn State 49, Buffalo 3.

Last Week's Big Surprises
This year I'll forego the usual national roundup and just talk about things that caught my eye. This week, it was Tennessee's loss to Georgia State, 38-30, that was the wowzer. Tennessee is in a death spiral. I sympathize, guys; Michigan was in that place not too many years ago.

Also: Michigan State didn't look all that great against Tulsa, yeah? That MSU offense doesn't seem any better than last year, despite Mark Dantonio's shuffling of the coaching deck chairs.

Games to Watch on TV
Nothing really to see on the Friday night games, so your action starts Saturday at noon with #7 Michigan vs. Army on Fox. #5 Ohio State takes on a decent Cincinnati team, coached by former OSU Interim HC Luke Fickell; that's on ABC. We get a Big Ten conference game as Rutgers plays #20 Iowa on FS1. #21 Syracuse plays Maryland on ESPN.

At 12:30, N.C. State plays Western Carolina on the ACC Network.

At 3:30 PM, we get a good ranked matchup with #1 Clemson vs #12 Texas A&M on ABC. Clemson is a 17 point favorite but a lot of pundits are predicting it to be much closer. #25 Nebraska takes on Colorado on Fox.

At 7:00 PM, the Game of the Week is #6 LSU at #9 Texas on ABC. Should be a fun one.

At 7:30 PM, #15 Penn State plays Buffalo on Fox. #19 Michigan State plays Western Michigan on BTN.

At 8:00 PM, Miami plays UNC on the ACC Network.

There are some good late Pac-12 games at 10:30 PM. Cal plays #14 Washington on FS1, and #23 Stanford plays USC on ESPN.
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