Preview: Week 2 Marquee Matchups Feature Texas A&M-Clemson, LSU-Texas, Stanford-USC

September 3, 2019 by Dave Congrove

Week 2 of the college football season begins with a 4-pack on Friday night, though only two of those pit FBS teams against each other. In all, 74 games involving FBS teams are on the docket.

Friday's best matchup sends CUSA title contender Marshall to Boise to battle the Broncos. BSU is a 12.5-point home favorite, but only gets a 2.66-point edge in the Congrove Computer Rankings at The Broncos have lost a total of 9 home games since 1999 (121-9), though they fell at home last year to Fresno State in the conference championship game.

Saturday's slate is packed with action, including a few solid marquee games as Texas A&M goes to Death Valley to face Clemson, LSU visits Texas, and Stanford heads south for the annual PAC-12 rivalry game against USC.

Clemson opened as a whopping 19-point favorite, though the line had largely dropped to 17 by Tuesday morning. The computer favors the Tigers by 11.41 in the return favor game of the home-and-home series. Kelly Bryant was still the QB for Dabo Swinney when Clemson held on for a 28-26 win in College Station last year in a game that was also played in the second week of the season. Kellen Mond returns at QB for the Aggies who, of course, are led by former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Swinney has taken 4 straight from Fisher and now leads the head-to-head coach battle 5-4.

LSU is a 4.5-point favorite in Austin while the computer puts the advantage much higher at 13.55. The SEC is 23-17 vs. the Big 12 this decade, but the Big 12 leads 9-7 over the last 3 years. The Longhorns are 6-2 vs. LSU since 1941. However, this will be just the third meeting between these schools in the last 56 seasons (the 1963 and 2002 Cotton Bowls were the others).

The Cardinal and Trojans both lost their starting QB's to injury in the second quarter of their respective openers. Stanford's K.J. Costello suffered a concussion and has been ruled put for this contest (announced Thursday). He will likely return for next week's game at UCF. Junior backup Davis Mills replaced Costello in the win over Northwestern, USC's J.T. Daniels is lost for the season with an ACL and meniscus injury. Kedon Slovis was 6-of-8 for 57 yards and a pick in relief of Daniels as USC held off Fresno State. The Trojans scored 1 offensive touchdown after Daniels left the game. After Costello's departure, Stanford's only score came on a strip sack fumble recovery in the end zone with 20 seconds left in the game. USC opened as a 3-point favorite while the computer gives Stanford a 7.36-point edge. These teams have split the last 8 meetings, but the Cardinal is 4-2 in the last 6.

Missouri plays its home opener on Saturday against West Virginia. The Mountaineers scored an unimpressive 20-13 victory over FCS member James Madison in Neal Brown's inaugural game as the head coach in Morgantown. Meanhwhile, the Tigers laid an egg in Laramie with a 37-31 loss at Wyoming. Missouri was a 14.5-point Vegas favorite and a 29.49-point computer choice, and had the aforementioned Clemson transfer QB Kelly Bryant under center. Byrant threw for 423 yards and 2 TD's, but also lost a fumble that was returned 30 yards for a Wyoming score, and threw a pick in the end zone which started a touchdown drive that put the Cowboys up 34-17 with 4:21 to play in the 3rd quarter. The loss wasn't all on Bryant as the defense did its part by allowing nearly 300 yards rushing as a pair of Cowboy runners eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Sean Chambers averaged 10 yards per carry (12-for-120) and Xazavian Valladay averaged 7.9 ypc.

Other games to watch

MICHIGAN (-23 Vegas, -43.98 computer) vs. Army - The Wolverines are the computer's preseason favorite to win the national title, but were inconsistent in their 40-21 opening win over MTSU. Still, Army should pose no danger as the Black Knights only managed a 14-7 escape of a lowly Rice program that has won 7 of its last 43 games.

UNLV (-2 Vegas, +2,22 computer) vs. Arkansas State - The Runnin' Rebels are the Vegas favorite while the computer takes the Red Wolves. These teams met in Jonesboro last year and ASU prevailed 27-20. Last week, UNLV was a 42-7 winner over FCS member Southern Utah and will be looking to start a season 2-0 for the first time since John Robinson's first season as head coach in 1999. Meanwhile, Arkansas State opened with a 37-30 loss at home to SMU in a mild upset.

AUBURN (-19.5 Vegas, -30.46 computer)  vs. Tulane - After a tremendous comeback win over Oregon, the home opener should be a walkover for the Tigers. Tulane scored an impressive 42-14 home win over FIU last week, but no reasonable person should think they have the ammo to hang with the SEC title contenders.

OHIO STATE (-16.5 Vegas, -24.13 computer) vs. Cincinnati - Luke Fickell goes home on Saturday to coach the Cincinnati Bearcats against Ohio State. Fickell was a standout linebacker for the Buckeyes and a 1997 graduate. The third-year head coach at Cincinnati was also an assistant for his alma mater from 2002-2016. Both teams won their opener with Fickell's squad beating UCLA for a second straight time while Ryan Day's head coaching debut was a 45-21 victory over FAU.

Looking for Redemption?

OREGON (-23.5 Vegas, -34.22 computer) vs. Nevada - The Ducks will try to recuperate from the crushing loss to the Tigers by hosting Nevada. The Wolf Pack scored a 34-31 home win over Purdue last week by outscoring the Boilermakers 17-0 in the final quarter. Nevada is 7-43-2 vs. the PAC-12 but has fared better in recent years with wins over Oregon State (last year), Washington State (2014) and Cal in 2012 and 2010. However, the Wolf Pack has dropped 6 straight to Oregon since capturing their only win in the series in the inaugural 1947 matchup. Oregon won the last meeting in 2011 in a 69-20 romp.

TENNESSEE (-3 Vegas, -10.5 computer) vs. BYU - The Volunteers look to recover from a historic 38-30 loss at home to Georgia State when Rocky Top hosts BYU. Tennessee was a 25-point favorite for the opening game of Jeremy Pruitt's second season as head coach. BYU was dominated 30-12 at home by Utah last week in the 100th Holy War rivalry game.

VIRGINIA TECH (-28.5 Vegas, -38.55 computer) vs. Old Dominion - The Hokies are looking for payback for last year's massively embarrassing 49-35 loss at Old Dominion. That game has started a slide in which the Hokies are just 4-8 over their last 12 games after falling 35-28 at Boston College in the 2019 opener. Is Justin Fuente starting to find the coaches' hot seat getting warm?

Miami (-6.5 Vegas, -7.58 computer) at NORTH CAROLINA - We haven't seen Miami since their 24-20 loss to Florida in Week Zero in Orlando. The Hurricanes got to observe North Carolina's upset win by that same score, 24-20, over South Carolina in Charlotte. The Vegas and the computer numbers seem a little askew, given the fact that this will be the "Welcome back, Mack Brown" home opener for UNC which already enters with some unexpected momentum while "The U" is looking to avoid an 0-2 start in Manny Diaz' first season as head coach.


114 games this year pit FBS teams against FCS schools. That's two more than a season ago when FBS teams won 105 of 112 games. There are 28 such games scheduled this week after FBS programs went 39-1 vs. FCS teams over the Labor Day holiday.

FBS teams are 1,363-125 (.916) vs. FCS schools since we began tracking this in 2003.

FCS victories over FBS teams in 2019:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28

FCS victories over FBS teams in 2018
August 29: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19


CLEMSON - Won 16 straight over-all (FBS longest).
Last: 52-14 home win vs. Georgia Tech on August 29
Next: Hosts Texas A&M on September 7.

UCF - Won 18 straight conference games including consecutive AAC titles (FBS longest). Won 23 straight regular season games (FBS longest).
Last: 62-0 home win vs. Florida A&M on August 29.
Next: Visits FAU on September 7.

ALABAMA - Won 26 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: 42-3 win vs. Duke at Atlanta on August 31.
Next: Hosts New Mexico State on September 7.

OKLAHOMA - Won 20 straight true road games (FBS longest).
Last:: 49-31 home win vs. Houston on September 1.
Next: Hosts FCS member South Dakota on September 7.

RUTGERS - Ended 11-game losing streak  (was FBS longest). Owns FBS longest conference losing streak at 12 games.
Last: 48-21 home win vs. UMass on August 30.
Next: Visits Iowa on September 7.

LOUISVILLE - 10-game losing streak (FBS longest).
Last: 35-17 home loss vs. Notre Dame on September 2.
Next: Hosts FCS member Eastern Kentucky on September 7.

CONNECTICUT - Ended 9-game losing streak. Owns 16-game losing streak vs. FBS teams (FBS longest).
Last: 24-21 home win vs. FCS member Wagner on August 29.
Next: Hosts Illinois on September 7.

SAN JOSE STATE, TULSA, RICE - Lost 13 straight road games (tied FBS longest).
Tulsa visits San Jose State on Saturday while Rice visits Wake Forest on Friday night as a huge underdog.