IAKOW Staff picks: Week Two

Here are our picks for Week Two (NWB and I remain tied after week one):

SEC:

Oklahoma @ Tennessee

Neil Shulman: Tennessee says they’re back. I say they’re not and point to the 557 yards and 30 points they gave up to Bowling Green as my evidence, and I rest my case. The difference between the Sooners and Falcons is that Oklahoma has a defense to complement its offense. It may be rowdy on Rocky Top, but that won’t matter for very long. Oklahoma tailback Joe Mixon runs wild in a blowout. Oklahoma 41, Tennessee 17

NW Blackmon: You get the sense that this is one of those slippery slope games for both programs. Both looked mighty impressive in week one. Both have explosive offenses. And both could see early season confidence slide off the rails with a loss. I think the game is bigger for Tennessee, who have recruited well and shown visible improvement the last 7-8 games under Butch Jones. All that’s missing now is a big home victory. It will still be missing come Sunday. Oklahoma 27, Tennessee 24

East Carolina @ Florida

NS: I’m sticking with my prediction from the summer. Florida 34, East Carolina 14

NWB: The season truly begins Saturday night in the Swamp for the Gators,, who will press on with the two quarterback system until one quarterback doesn’t play well, presumably. The Pirates have athletes on both sides of the ball and are well-coached, and running back Chris Hairston will run behind a veteran, physical offensive line which should move a Gators DL that struggled for a half at the point of attack vs New Mexico State. That should keep the game reasonably close, but at some point, Blake Kemp, who was supposed to be the backup QB this year, will have to throw. That’s a turnover recipe, and it will be enough to help the Gators separate late. Florida 33, East Carolina 14

Louisiana State @ Mississippi State

NS: LSU was flat out humiliated last year at home against Mississippi State, and so they’re looking for vengeance against a much weaker MSU team than the one they lost to last year. LSU is also gnashing their teeth after having their opener rained out, so they have even more motivation. They’ll make Dak Prescott miserable throughout the game, and force a key turnover late to seal the deal. LSU 31, Mississippi State 20

NWB: Cowbells. Night game. Miss State has a big edge at the quarterback position. All of these things point towards a Bulldogs win. But I’ve got a feeling about this Tigers team that a rainout didn’t change. Too much Leonard Fournette late. LSU 28, Miss State 21

Kentucky @ South Carolina

NS: Revenge time for the HBC and ole’ Cocky. They were embarrassed a year ago in Lexington after blowing a late lead. The only thing they’ll blow here is Kentucky. Out of the water. Or some such transitional metaphor to accurately describe what will happen to a team that had to fight for their lives to beat Louisiana Lafayette. South Carolina 34, Kentucky 10

NWB: Gamecocks’ home opener should see a more comfortable Connor Mitch, and the Cats, who survived a scare against Louisiana-Lafeyette last year, won’t sneak up on Carolina this year after last year’s 4th quarter victory. Most think this game is close- I think the Gamecocks win comfortably behind an improved defense. Lots of Sandstorm on the loud speakers. South Carolina 28, Kentucky 14

Georgia @ Vanderbilt

NS: Am I really supposed to take a Vanderbilt team that just lost to Western Kentucky at home seriously? Georgia QB Greyson Lambert will probably struggle at some point this year. Some point will not be tomorrow. Georgia 52, Vanderbilt 13

NWB: The Greyson Lambert 2015 game manager tour hits the road with a rare CBS game in Nashville. The thing here is that Mark Richt keeps things really close to the vest (alla Hutson Mason) and the Mutts get enough Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to seal this thing late. Vanderbilt will be competitive behind a good defense, which stifled an explosive Western Kentucky attack last week. School Up North 24, Vanderbilt 10 

Jacksonville State @ Auburn

NS: Jeremy Johnson wasn’t exactly lights out in the season opening win over Louisville. Then again, Jacksonville State isn’t Louisville, so he’ll look like he’s hyped up to be in one of many joke games on the weekend. Auburn 51, Jacksonville State 20

NWB: As FCS teams go, Jacksonville State isn’t the worst. But Auburn will open its home slate with a big victory and more important, confidence for Jeremy Johnson. Auburn 59, Jacksonville State 14 

Fresno State @ Mississippi

NS: Ole Miss’s defense isn’t going to let Fresno State stay in the game for much longer than a quarter. LaQuon Treadwell goes off in a game that quickly turns lopsided. Ole Miss 45, Fresno State 7

NWB: Chad Kelly won’t look great against his first FBS competition, but this isn’t the same Fresno State club that won 20 games in 2 years with Derek Carr at the helm. They replace more starters than any club in the Mountain West and one of the new starters will be a QB in his first road game against what I think is the best defense in America. So another big Rebel win. Ole Miss 35, Fresno State 9

Middle Tennessee State @ Alabama

NS: Sorry, SEC haters. Not happening. Alabama 51, Middle Tennessee State 3

NWB: This is a pretty good Middle team that will challenge in Conference USA. That doesn’t mean they’ll challenge on opening day in Tuscaloosa. Alabama 42, Middle Tennessee State 10

Toledo vs. Arkansas (Game in Little Rock, AR)

NS: Arkansas QB Brandon Allen leads the nation in total QBR. He may not keep that statistic due to the myriad of cupcake teams quarterbacks right behind him face this week, but he’ll prove to us that he was there for a reason in a semi-blowout. Arkansas 42, Toledo 23

NWB: Gator fans will remember the Rockets coming into the Swamp and hanging around for four quarters in 2013. That Toledo team was only 7-5. This one has a chance to dethrone Marshall in the WAC. QB Phillip Ely (Tampa Plant) is an Alabama transfer and a kid who can make plays, and RB Kareem Hunt is a future pro who was a freshmen All-America. Those guys keep the Rockets close in a Little Rock game. Arkansas 31, Toledo 14

Ball State @ Texas A&M

NS: Fresh off an impressive win over 15th ranked Arizona State- a game NWB and I both missed on- the Aggie return home for a game which I analyze thusly: LOL. Next. Texas A&M 55, Ball State 14

NWB: Aggies cruise after an impressive win week one, and Kyle Field debuts a ridiculous JumboTron and some new luxury boxes. Texas A & M 48, Ball State 6

Missouri @ Arkansas State

NS: What’s Missouri doing playing a road game against a non Power five conference team? That’s the only real question I have for this game. Arkansas State isn’t a joke, though, and so this could be a trap game. I just don’t think it will be. Missouri 31, Arkansas State 7

NWB: Tigers have a tendency to let teams they should manhandle stick around. Despite the blowout loss to USC, Arkansas State is better than most of those teams, and they are also the home team. Mizzou won’t get much credit for the road game trip, but this isn’t a cupcake, and should be a good football game. I trust Maty Mauk and Russell Hansbrough to make enough plays. Mizzou 34, Arkansas State 20

National Games:

Notre Dame @ Virginia

NS: Notre Dame is contractually obligated to play five ACC opponents a year. Poor ACC. Just join the friggin’ conference already. Anyway, Virginia just got shredded by UCLA QB Josh Rosen, and now they’re about to see history repeat itself via Malik Zaire.  Notre Dame 41, Virginia 21

NWB: Can’t say UVA hasn’t challenged themselves out of the gate- UCLA a week ago and now an Irish team that took Texas to the woodshed. Brian Kelly has a good football team in South Bend and they’ll again look the part Saturday. Notre Dame 38, Virginia 14-

South Florida @ Florida State

NS: The last time USF traveled to the state capital, they came away with a stunning 17-7 victory over 18th ranked FSU- a defeat for the Seminoles that actually rivals Florida’s loss to Georgia Southern because that USF program was barely a decade old at the time. That’s all good and well, and still funny. But BJ Daniels and Evan Landi are no longer around to make plays for the Bulls, and FSU has enough playmakers to make this a laugher. Which they’ll do. FSU 35, USF 10

NWB: Softest September schedule from Florida State in years. The once-proud Bulls program could benefit from the bizarre early morning kickoff in Tallahassee, but I doubt it. Noles roll. FSU 48, USF 7 

Oregon State @ Michigan

NS: The Wolverines’ second Pac-12 opponent of the year will fare considerably worse than their first one (Utah) did. A) because it’s an Oregon State team that’s not very good, and B) because it’s in the Big House. Michigan 38, Oregon State 17

NWB: Home opener for Harbaugh. The Wolverines won’t put on a show, but they’ll win a decisive victory over a program with more rebuilding to do than them. Michigan 28, Oregon State 14

Oregon @ Michigan State

NS: As usual, Oregon boasts an explosive offense. Well, at least it looked like one against FCS foe Eastern Washington, who by the way made the Ducks’ defense look very, very shaky. Michigan State’s defense is a huge step up from EWU, plus they too boast a real offense. Connor Cook throws the game winning touchdown in the final seconds to exact revenge for their defeat to the Ducks in the Pacific Northwest a year ago. Michigan State 38, Oregon 34

NWB: Most the country spent the summer talking about Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. Hell, ESPN even called Mark Dantonio Mike D’Antoni, because who needs to remember the name of the coach of the best team in Michigan now that a Harbaugh is in Ann Arbor. I have Michigan State in the playoff and think they make the first resume statement on that journey Saturday night against an Oregon team that just gave up 42 points to Eastern Washington. Eastern. Washington. Michigan State 48, Oregon 31 

Boise State @ Brigham Young

NS: Brigham Young has a tough act to follow after walking into Corn Country and shattering Nebraska’s nation-leading streak of season opening wins (Gator fans say thank you very much, as that streak now belongs to Florida). And while that was a pyrrhic victory, as QB Taysom Hill was lost for the season, backup Tanner Mangum showed lots of promise filling in for Hill following his injury. He’ll prove it wasn’t a fluke by guiding the Cougars to an upset win over the Broncos. BYU 28, Boise State 24

NWB: Cougars should play inspired ball at home for QB Taysom Hill, who suffered his 3rd season-ending injury last week in the opening win at Nebraska. It’s the second brutal blow in less than a month for BYU, who also lost talented RB Jamaal Williams in August. Tanner Magnum was good in emergency duty against Nebraska, but it is different when you are the guy. Ask Tyler Murphy. Broncos win a good one. Boise State 17, BYU 16-