There might be no more exciting team this season than Southern California. Blessed with a talented array of wide receivers and quarterback Caleb Williams, with coach Lincoln Riley at the controls, many defensive coordinators in the Pac-12 will be searching for ways to slow down the Trojans.
The Trojans ran circles around Stanford for the first 30 minutes before backing off in a 41-28 victory, one week after they scored 66 against Rice.
What’s been impressive for the Trojans has been their fast starts. They scored eight touchdowns and a field goal on their nine first-half possessions this season before running out of time on their last drive of the first half Saturday.
The defense hasn’t been great. USC allowed 319 yards in the first half to Stanford, but still led by 21 because it forced three turnovers – two inside its 10. This comes after the Trojans returned three interceptions for touchdowns against Rice.
Expect to see a lot of games this season resembling tennis matches, with the defense that gets a stop basically breaking a serve.
Here’s four other things you may have missed during a busy Week 2:
Michigan may have found its quarterback
Jim Harbaugh does a lot of unconventional things, so starting different quarterbacks in the first two games of the season didn’t seem as odd for the Wolverines as it might be for some other programs. Cade McNamara got the call against Colorado State and was solid. Saturday, it was J.J. McCarthy’s turn and the sophomore was brilliant, completing 11 of 12 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Harbaugh unsurprisingly named McCarthy the starter for next week’s matchup against Connecticut after the game.
The move makes sense given McCarthy’s pedigree as a five-star recruit from last year’s recruiting class. However, it’s still somewhat startling to see McNamara lose his job after leading Michigan to its first Big Ten title since 2004 last season. This move could pay big dividends if McCarthy can take the offense to the next level. But it surely has a chance to blow up if he struggles when the competition gets tougher.
HIGHS AND LOWs: Winners and losers from Week 2 in college football
Mark Stoops just keeps Kentucky winning
No coach in the country may be more unappreciated than Stoops, who has taken the Wildcats to six consecutive bowl games and posted two 10-win seasons in the last four years. Saturday’s defeat of Florida makes another double-digit win season seem likely as Kentucky announced itself as the No. 2 team in the SEC East.
The defense shut down Anthony Richardson, forcing two interceptions and limiting the mobile quarterback to just 143 yards passing and 4 yards rushing. It’s the kind of gritty performance that we’ve come to expect from Stoops and his team. The Wildcats have now won three of five in a series that they previously had lost 31 in a row before 2018.
Houston playoff hopes go poof
The first two games for the Cougars were always going to be crucial if they wanted to repeat what fellow American Athletic foe Cincinnati did last year in making the semifinals. They rallied on the road at Texas-San Antonio for an overtime win in Week 1. They came back from 14 down again at Texas Tech and looked to be one play away from securing another quality road win in overtime. But the Red Raiders converted a fourth-and-20 to extend the game and eventually tied things up and won the game in the ensuing period.
Houston remains one of the American favorites, but the big goal now is running the table to try and make the New Year’s Six unless chaos breaks out in the final 12 weeks.
Duke? Yes, Duke is looking very good
Mike Elko arrived with a pedigree as one of the country’s top defensive coordinators. However, the most impressive part of his team’s 2-0 start is the play from the offense. After averaging 22.8 points per game last season, the Blue Devils have put up 30 and 31 in respective wins against Temple and Northwestern.
While these aren’t monumental wins and it’s premature to say Duke is an ACC contender, it’s the first time the program has won its first two games since 2018, which was also the last season the team went to a bowl game before posting 10 combined wins in the last three campaigns.