After a hectic off-season full of uncertainty and changes, Power 5 football gets started this week as the ACC and Big 12 open their 2020 seasons.
The 2020 college football season officially got underway a week ago as a small handful of teams from the American, Sun Belt and C-USA took the field. This week, we get our first taste of Power 5 football as the ACC and Big 12 get their seasons started. This week we finally get to see teams like Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and many others. This week also marks the first week this season that we get a full slate of games all day on Saturday.
Miami was the first Power 5 team to take the field this season. After a slow start last night against UAB, the Hurricanes were able to pull away late and start 2020 with a 31-14 win. Transfer quarterback D’Eriq King made his debut for the ‘Canes in what ended up being a disappointing performance. Miami had to lean on their run game last night as they busted for 337 yards on the ground.
Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma all begin their march toward the College Football Playoff with games against lesser opponents. Clemson heads up to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest, while Oklahoma and Notre Dame get to start their season at home against Missouri State and Duke respectively. The Sooners will try breaking in a new quarterback for the third straight season with Spencer Rattler. Unlike the previous quarterbacks in Norman, Rattler is an actual Oklahoma recruit and not a transfer.
Clemson returns a number of big names on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne look to carry the Tigers to a National Championship in what is expected to be an explosive dual threat offensive attack. On defense, the secondary has some serious question marks to answer, while the front seven will definitely be a daunting task for opposing offenses.
Competing in a conference for the first time in program history, Notre Dame will be considered a full ACC member for the 2020 season. Many in and around college football consider the Fighting Irish to be the second best team in the ACC now. However, I’m not completely sold on that idea. Sure they may be the third best, but inconsistencies with Ian Book at quarterback are a cause for concern, especially in big games. The Irish will have to take on both Clemson and UNC this year and they will need to win at least one of those games in order to make the ACC Championship Game. I’m not entirely sure they can win either of those games.
Speaking of North Carolina, the return of Mack Brown has sparked a revival of this Tar Heel program. In 2018, the Heels won just two games. Last year, UNC was able to beat South Carolina in the opener, nearly knock off Clemson at home and finished with a 7-6 record in which they didn’t lose a single game by more than seven points. This year, UNC comes into the season ranked #18 in the country and are poised for a big year with Sam Howell under center and playmakers like Dazz Newsome and Michael Carter on offense. The Tar Heels also boast a ferocious defense that will look to make life difficult on opposing teams.
Week 2 Picks
I got a couple of things wrong with last week’s selections. None bigger than Navy getting smoked at home by BYU. I drastically underestimated the Cougars and might have still been living with the recent memory of Malcolm Perry. I honestly thought that Navy, especially their defense, were better than they showed on Monday.
This week John and I picked ten games on the podcast. Here are just a few of those games and some to watch for this Saturday.
UTSA @ Texas State (-9) – 3:30 PM – ESPN 2
UTSA gets their season started this week with an in-state rivalry game against the Bobcats. Last week, Texas State came so close to beating SMU there in San Marcos. Had it not been for some mental mistakes and poor offensive play late in the game, the Bobcats might have just pulled it out. If they can fix some of those issues, they’ll have a great shot to beat a Roadrunners team that finished last year with a 4-8 record and a fifth place spot in the C-USA West division. John and I talked about it last night. We came away from Texas State’s game last week against SMU impressed in the improved Bobcats team.
John – Texas State
Cameron – Texas State
Georgia Tech @ Florida State (-12.5) – 3:30 PM – ABC
The Mike Norvell era in Tallahassee begins this Saturday as the Noles get set to host the Yellow Jackets. It has been a couple of rough years for this once proud Florida State program. Willie Taggert was unable to get the Seminoles back to national prominence. Now, FSU put their hopes in Norvell, who is coming from a Memphis program that he led to three straight C-USA West division titles and a C-USA conference title a year ago. On the other sideline, Geoff Collins is in his second year at the helm of the Yellow Jackets program. Year one was tough, as we knew it would be. I expect that Georgia Tech will be much improved from a year ago in which they completed changed the offense. James Graham will be an excellent quarterback in time for GT, but the Jackets are probably still a couple of seasons away from being a really good team again. John and I both believe the Mike Norvell era will start with a win.
John – Florida State
Cameron – Florida State
Syracuse @ #18 North Carolina (-23) – Noon – ESPN
As I talked about, this North Carolina program has had a new breath of life since Mack Brown took back over. The Heels were abysmal back in 2018, the year before Mack. Last year, UNC finished 7-6, however those six loses came by a combined 26 points. The Heels never lost by more than seven points. QB Sam Howell has this offense firing on all cylinders and the defense return a number of starters including a future first round pick in Chazz Surratt. On the other side, Syracuse is coming in after taking a major step back in 2019. The Orange defense was absolutely terrible a season ago and QB Tommy DeVito was wildly inconsistent. The Junior QB will need to play a lot better if he wants to give his team a chance. Chapel Hill is an underestimated place to play and the Heels are tough at home. I think three scores is about right. UNC wins big.
John – UNC
Cameron – UNC
Duke @ #10 Notre Dame (-20) – 2:30 PM – NBC
Notre Dame comes into 2020 as a full member of the ACC, the first time in program in history that the Irish are playing as a member of a conference. Many think that the Irish may just be the second best team in the ACC. Notre Dame does return starting QB Ian Book, but lack a significant playmaker on offense. The defense will be good, but I have some doubts about the Irish offense. For Duke, Clemson transfer QB Chace Brice will get the start for the Blue Devils. I believe the addition of Brice gives Duke a huge spark on offense. I expect Duke to come out slinging it against an aggressive Irish defense. I don’t think that Notre Dame should take Duke lightly. I can see this game being close for a half, but ultimately I think Notre Dame will pull away. However, I don’t believe the Irish will cover the 20 point spread.
John – Notre Dame
Cameron – Notre Dame
#1 Clemson (-33) @ Wake Forest – 7:30 PM – ABC
The last time we saw the Tigers, they were getting pounded into the ground by LSU in the National Championship. Trevor Lawrence had just lost his first game as a college quarterback. Clemson has all off season to think about that loss. Lawrence, Etienne and Rogers are all back on offense and look to put up some video game type numbers. The issue with Clemson are the question marks in their secondary. They front seven on defense should be very good, but the Tigers lost a lot in the secondary. How will they look against the passing attack of Wake Forest come Saturday night? For the Deacons, they no longer have Jaime Newman at QB. Newman was pretty much the entire offense a year ago for Wake. Wake Forest will also need to shore up issues in a defense that gave up a lot of yards and points a season ago. I don’t expect the Tigers to lose, but they may need a half to shake the dust off.
John – Clemson
Cameron – Clemson
You can see all of our Week 2 predictions by going over to the podcast page and listening to last night’s episode. Be sure to like us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also listen to each episode live by downloading the Podbean app on your tablet or smartphone.