Week 2 of the college football season is known to be one of the weakest of the seasons. With each passing year, more teams compete in lucrative neutral site games against top tier opponents to open the season. This results in a week two slate which sees many of those teams take on weak opponents. Luckily for us college football faithful, there are a trio of intriguing matchups with playoff considerable conference and playoff implications this weekend. Let’s take a look at what is at stake here in week 2.
#3 Georgia at #24 South Carolina. 2:30 CST in Columbia, SC.
The first SEC matchup of the season is a big one. These two teams were projected to finish at the top of the SEC East. Whoever wins will gain a huge advantage for the rest of the season.
Why Georgia needs to win.
Fresh off a national championship loss, expectations are high in Athens. Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm looks to capitalize on his fantastic freshman campaign. Georgia took care of business against Austin Peay in their opener, winning 45-0. Now they are looking to prove that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC for years to come. Georgia still has many opportunities to impress the committee later in the season but a loss means they will be playing catch-up in the SEC East. Alabama proved last year that you do not need to win your division to make the playoff but the East is considered a much weaker division. Georgia would have to hope that South Carolina would lose twice in SEC play so that the Bulldogs would have a chance at an SEC Championship. It is rare to play a game with such high stakes so early in the season but this almost feels like a must win for Georgia.
Why South Carolina needs to win.
The Gamecocks have flown under the radar so far. Not even ranked in the preseason, South Carolina dominated Coastal Carolina 49-15 on Saturday. Now we will see how good USC truly is. The game is at South Carolina so if the Gamecocks can gain so momentum early and get the crowd behind them, they have a legitimate shot to take down Georgia. If South Carolina pulls off the upset, they will jump straight into the playoff race. They got lucky with their SEC schedule, pulling Texas A&M and Ole Miss as their cross-division opponents. With the SEC East being so weak, the Gamecocks have a chance to run the table in conference play. Of course, a game at #2 Clemson looms at the end of the season, but that wouldn’t affect their chance at an SEC title. The first step is taking down Georgia on Saturday.
#2 Clemson at Texas A&M. 6:00 CST in College Station, TX.
New Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has a lot of experience against Clemson. Fisher previously coached at Clemson’s ACC rival Florida State for eight years. Fisher will try to use his wisdom to give Texas A&M their first big win in almost three years.
Why Clemson needs to win.
Clemson is a very dangerous team. Stars like DE Christian Wilkins decided to return and finish the business that they started. On top of the defense that returned eight starters, Clemson bolstered its offense with the arrival of freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Returner Kelly Bryant started week one but Lawrence looked phenomenal in his extended playing time. If Bryant struggles Saturday, don’t be surprised to see Dabo Swinney make a change. This is a trap game for the Tigers. They are expected to walk into Kyle Field and easily handle Texas A&M. If they get upset on Saturday, the playoff is still a good possibility, but it gives Clemson no room for error in the rest of the season.
Why Texas A&M needs to win.
Texas A&M certainly does not need to win this game but an upset would be huge to start the Jimbo Fisher era. The Aggies have struggled in conference play, winning four games or less every year since Johnny Manziel led the team. That mark will be hard to reach this year with road games at Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State remaining on their schedule. TAMU looked solid against Northwestern State on Saturday but there’s no telling how good this team really is. We will see if Jimbo has a few tricks up his sleeve and help the Aggies pull off the upset of the season.
#17 USC at #10 Stanford. 7:30 CST in Stanford, California.
With Washington falling in its season opener, the pressure is on these two teams to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. This interdivision Pac-12 matchup will give one team an early advantage in the conference and may be the Pac-12’s only hope at a playoff berth.
Why USC needs to win.
USC has been unable to turn the corner in recent years. After the years of dominance in the early 2000s, USC surrendered its thrown in the Pac-12 to schools like Oregon and Washington. This season, the Trojans are looking to take back the crown. They won a Pac-12 championship last season but early season losses prevented them from getting into the playoff. The game at Stanford is a huge opportunity for USC to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in the college football landscape once again. With the departure of Sam Darnold, a top three pick in the NFL draft, the Trojans will turn to freshman JT Daniels for a spark on offense. Daniels played well in the season opener against UNLV but will get first first road test against a hostile crowd in Stanford.
Why Stanford needs to win.
Preseason Heisman favorite Bryce Love looked subpar week one but the Cardinal still took care of business against San Diego State. Stanford is going to need Love to have a much bigger showing this week against USC.
While Love struggled, junior quarterback K.J. Costello thrived in the Stanford offense, throwing for 332 yards and four touchdowns. The Cardinal will need him to step up make up big throws on Saturday, especially if Love struggles again. If the Cardinal manage to take care of business on Saturday, they will be thrust into the playoff race. However, games at Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington will prove to be tough tests later in the season. Before they look ahead, Stanford needs to have strong showing against USC on Saturday.