It’s only Week 2 and games are already giving us a look at how the College Football Playoff might unfold.
No. 6 LSU traveled to a hostile environment at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, Saturday night and defeated No. 9 Texas 45-38 in the first top-10 game of 2019. The clash was long anticipated because of its playoff implications, and questions were definitely answered.
The Tigers made a strong case to jump into the AP top-5 come Tuesday’s new poll. The problem? The four teams ahead of them won by an average of 52.5 points on Saturday. But strength of schedule matters, and, so far, LSU has proven its resilience and this high-profile win over Texas should count a lot in the long run.
The top-10 matchup featured a quarterback duel between LSU’s Joe Burrow, who completed 31-of-39 passes for 471 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, who was 31-of-47 for 401 yards and four touchdowns in addition to 60 rushing yards and another TD. What was thought to be a heavily defensive game turned into an air-raid with 39 combined points in the final quarter.
BURROW to JETS
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 8, 2019
Is Texas back? No, not yet in terms of the early-season playoff landscape, but the Longhorns are not far from the cusp. They found LSU’s holes on defense and took advantage. Both team’s stats practically mirrored each other with Texas out-rushing LSU 121-102, while the Tigers edged the Longhorns 471-409 in passing yards.
HISTORY: Are Texas and LSU legitimate rivals?
We knew LSU was legitimate, though its defense did show cracks Saturday. But LSU’s showing proved it’s an all-inclusive package — an offensive, defensive and special teams authority. SEC divisional rival No. 2 Alabama has a threat, and it bleeds purple and gold. Those two clash on Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa.
No. 1 Clemson dominates No. 12 Texas A&M behind Trevor Lawrence
No. 1 Clemson looked shaky in just two games last season — one at the hand of Texas A&M and the other Syracuse. Two points was the difference in Clemson’s 28-26 win over Texas A&M in College Station back in 2018. Like last year, the Tigers faced the Aggies in Week 2 again on Saturday, but this time the Tigers cruised to a 24-10 victory in Death Valley.
The major difference this year was the usage of Trevor Lawrence — former Tiger Kelly Bryant started last year’s game, before Lawrence stepped in as the starter. Lawrence went 24-of-35 for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the two-score victory. No. 12 Texas A&M’s lone touchdown of the night came with 10 seconds left in regulation and the game well in hand.
So what does this mean for the Aggies? Texas A&M continues to see growth under Jimbo Fisher, despite Saturday’s loss. In his first season last year, the Aggies went 9-4 with a Gator Bowl victory — one year removed from going 7-6. It’ll be a challenging road ahead, however, with this upcoming schedule: No. 10 Auburn on Sept. 21, No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 12, at No. 3 Georgia on Nov. 23 and at No. 6 LSU on Nov. 30 await. The Aggies, along with South Carolina, will be the first team to face the top three preseason teams since 1975 Missouri.
Maryland routs Syracuse: Breaking down the ACC race
Maryland routed No. 21 Syracuse in non-conference play, 63-20. A look over at Miami, and its contention for the Coastal championship looks more bleak after losing 28-25 to division rival UNC to fall to 0-2.
The ACC race behind Clemson looks hazier as a result, and we’ll look toward the coming weeks for more clarity on who the contenders will be for the ACC championship.
The Orange will get an immediate chance to rebound from Week 2’s disappointment, with a home game against No. 1 Clemson scheduled next Saturday night in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse could make a major statement with a second win in three years against the top-ranked Tigers.
No. 7 Michigan needs 2OT to get by pesky Army
Preseason whispers of No. 7 Michigan’s legitimate contention for the CFP have silenced a bit after its near fatal battle with Army. The Black Knights, who have not beat a top-10 team on the road since 1963, nearly made history in a thrilling 24-21 double-overtime finish. Army outplayed the Wolverines for much of the afternoon, and Michigan did not lead until the second overtime.
Ultimately, the Wolverines survived on a Jake Moody go-ahead 43-yard field goal and a fumble recovery in 2OT.
The Wolverines could drop out of the top-10 in Tuesday’s AP Poll, despite the victory.
Expectations stayed sound for all top-5 teams. Blowout wins by No. 2 Alabama (62-10) over New Mexico State, No. 3 Georgia (63-17) over Murray State, No. 4 Oklahoma (70-14) over South Dakota and No. 5 Ohio State (42-0) over Cincinnati keep their playoff hopes aligned.