5. Pitt @ Tennessee
I had a tough time picking the last few games this week with a lot of light matchups. I think this game is interesting in terms of the names of the program and an early test to see where Tennessee is at. I’m also writing this while sitting in a hotel in Knoxville so that helped with the pick. Pitt isn’t expected to be anything too special this year but they have a very good defense that can give the Vols some problems. Tennessee’s offense took care of Bowling Green last week but it wasn’t that impressive. There were two explosive plays but you thought you would see more from Joe Milton. The defensive front for Pitt lost a lot from 2020 but still showed they are gonna get after the quarterback and not allow much in the running game. Milton depended a little too much on his legs in week 1 and probably won’t be able to recreate that. This will be a back and forth game with the win going to whichever quarterback can make more big splash plays.
4. Kansas @ #17 Coastal Carolina
Kansas got a win…against South Dakota. They had to storm the field because things get a lot harder this week. Coastal beat Kansas each of the last two years in Kansas and now the Jayhawks have to travel to the east coast. Grayson Mccall is back and was dominant to open the season against the Citadel. Kansas isn’t quite at that level but there isn’t a huge step up in competition. 54 of the 82 rushing yards last week came from quarterback Jason Bean. Lance Leipold wants to run the football but he just doesn’t have his guys quite yet. Expect Coastal to win big but this is still interesting to see if Kansas has any fight early on in the Leipold era.
3. Washington @Michigan
This game lost a little bit of it’s luster after week 1, but still a huge matchup between power 5 programs that want to keep their name in the conversation. There are two huge question marks going into this game. Was Washington looking ahead to this game and that resulted in their loss to Montana last week? Michigan looked impressive last week but how big of a loss will Ronnie Bell be?
The defense for Washington did everything it could to keep them in the game last week. Montana only managed 9 first downs the entire game. The offense just completely laid an egg. Turnovers practically handed the game away. The good thing for them is the players now know that they have to come very prepared for every game. They are angry and want to show that they aren’t a laughing stock out west. I think they try to put Dylan Morris in very few situations to make a mistake early. They’ll be content playing a field position game with how good that defense is.
Michigan looked good against Western Michigan last week but we’re about to see if Cade Mcnamara really is the real deal. I was surprised by the decision to start him with Alan Bowman transferring there in the offseason. The linebackers for Washington are nasty and will create a lot of problems for him. Expect this to be a low scoring game that last one with the ball wins.
2. #12 Oregon @ #3 Ohio State
Both teams came out and underperformed to what was expected of them in Week 1. A lot of question marks surround whether Anthony Brown can be the guy for Oregon.
Ohio State just needed some time to get going with a freshman QB. They have big play receivers to take advantage of the Ducks secondary but it will all come down to the health of Kayvon Thibodeaux. If he is able to play, the pressure on C.J. Stroud could force turnovers and flip the game on it’s side.
On the other side of the ball, you have an Ohio State defense still trying to find it’s footing in a new system. That back end is extremely shaky, allowing a few big touchdowns. I don’t know if this Oregon offense has enough weapons to take advantage of it.
1. #10 Iowa @ #9 Iowa State
With two big out of conference matchups this week, I thought it might be though to choose. But with the rivalry between these two teams turning into a top 10 matchup, it ended up being an easy choice.
Iowa has dominated this game as of late but this is Iowa State’s best chance of winning the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Iowa easily handled Indiana last weekend but we’ll have to wait to see until later in the year to see which team that says more about. Iowa has the defense to match up with the offense of Iowa State. The receivers had a tough time getting separation in their 16-10 win against Northern Iowa. Brock Purdy had to rely on Xavier Hutchinson to keep drives alive. Iowa will look to the linebackers, especially Seth Benson Jr., to take him out of the game. Then it just comes down to the Iowa State line stepping up to help Breece Hall. I don’t think it happens and Iowa comes out with the win.