The first week of the college football season is in the books and the six games from this past Saturday just acted as a small appetizer. It was capped off with an epic beatdown of Navy by BYU on Monday night and now we move onto Week 2 where 18 Power Five programs will be starting their 2020 campaigns. It’s not quite a full slate, but it will do with football scheduled to be played for 13 consecutive hours on Saturday.
The Luckett man cave is ready to roll with three screens and a fridge full of Bud Light. Now we just need the queso.
For those listeners of 11 Personnel, you cashed with BYU on Monday and have heard some of our picks for this week. To get you ready for another weekend in college football, we are going to tell you everything you need to know going into the weekend in what will be one of the most fun sports Saturdays in quite some time.
Miami in the Spread?
Manny Diaz is entering year two as the head coach at The U and it is safe to say that last year ended in disaster. The Hurricanes dropped two games to Conference USA opponents on their way to a 6-7 finish and an embarrassing performance in the Independence Bowl. Despite that lackluster effort, recruiting is going very well in South Florida. Part that is due to some staff changes.
Former Gus Malzahn disciple Rhett Lashlee is taking over the play-calling duties in Coral Gables after running the show at both UConn and SMU the last three seasons. What they are calling a “Power Spread” is about to be unleashed in Miami with Houston grad transfer D’Eriq King at quarterback. For the first time in the modern era, Miami will not be running a pro-style offense and that alone should have your attention.
Who is ready for D'Eriq King's Miami debut tomorrow?! ?
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 9, 2020
By all accounts, King has been lighting up Miami’s defense in practice and they’ll get the party started on Thursday night facing a UAB squad who SP+ projects to have a top-30 defense. What Miami will we see at an empty Hard Rock Stadium?
The coaching carousel is expected to be very tame this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the financial issues that come with it, but this is still college football where decisions are often made on a whim. Southern Miss has already given us our first opening of the season and it’s very likely a handful of more programs will follow. Some of the coaches involved on Saturday will be obvious candidates for Power Five programs.
Billy Napier worked for Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban before becoming the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. In just two years in Lafayette, Napier has won two division titles and has run laps around the Sun Belt in recruiting. The Cajuns are projected to have a top-25 offense this season and will once again be contenders for a conference title. They travel to Ames to take on Iowa State for an 11am local time kickoff. Keep an eye on this one as Napier seems like the ideal candidate for both NC State and South Carolina if those jobs become open.
Will Healy is the new P.J. Fleck and after rebirthing doormat Austin Peay in the FCS, the 35 year-old took Charlotte to their first bowl game in year one. The 49ers are a double-digit dog at App State, but Healy has a lot of buzz and could be a very likely candidate for Vanderbilt if they move on from Derek Mason. Blake Anderson has been at Arkansas State for seven seasons now with two Sun Belt titles and a .603 winning percentage. He is still looking for his first Power Five win and will have a great shot against a retooling Kansas State squad in the Little Apple.
The wonky schedules in 2020 have opened up windows for G5 programs to make an impact and more people will be watching than normal. In the nooners on Saturday, they will all be involved and someone could get a lot of eyeballs if they can pull off an upset.
Notre Dame will play their first game ever as a member of a conference this weekend when they host Duke on NBC at 2:30pm on Saturday and that obviously has a lot of people’s attention. The Irish certainly seem like the biggest competition to Clemson in the league and the fact they are in a conference will be one of the biggest storylines of the season. However, the ACC has plenty more to offer this season.
Year two under Mack Brown begins at noon on Saturday when North Carolina hosts a Syracuse squad that is dealing with a handful of opt-outs. Sam Howell figures to be one of the biggest stars in the sport and the Heels are laying 22.5 points as they try to live up to the preseason hype. After a strange offseason, Mike Norvell coaches his first game at Florida State when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to town in year two for Geoff Collins. Can either of those two programs make a jump?
The ACC is wide open behind Clemson and the middle tier needs to make a very, very big jump so the conference isn’t the worst power league by a good amount against this season.
Oh, and Clemson travels to Wake Forest in ESPN’s primetime game in what will surely be a long night for the Demon Deacons as they host College Gameday for the first time ever in Winston-Salem.
Tops are a Live Dog
While both Kentucky and Louisville had very surprising seasons capped with bowl wins as underdogs, WKU was quietly putting together their own solid season under first year head coach Tyson Helton. The Tops won 7 of their last 9 with a blowout win at Arkansas and a thrilling victory over Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Cory Munson drills a 52-yard field goal to win the First Responder Bowl for Western Kentucky! pic.twitter.com/meKLZu3A0Z
— Sports Daily (@SportsDGI) December 30, 2019
This season, WKU returns 16 starters and are considered one of the favorites in C-USA. WKU has a Power Five grad transfer at quarterback, a couple of all-conference players at the skill positions, four starters back on the offensive line and many pieces on a defense that finished 22nd in scoring defense last season. Oh, DeAngelo Malone also might turn into a first round pick from his EDGE position.
.@seniorbowl has no doubt Western Kentucky EDGE DeAngelo Malone will be one of the first Group-of-5 prospects drafted next April. The reigning C-USA DPOY has a hard to find combo of length & acceleration. Scary thing is there’s still rawness to his game. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/TWQL26ozaf
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) May 28, 2020
On paper this is setting up to be a special season for WKU and they have a very favorable trend in their back pocket entering the Saturday tilt against Louisville under the lights at Cardinal Stadium. The Tops are 8-1 against the spread in their last 9 road games and this weekend they’ll be getting 11.5 points in the in-state matchup.
Scott Satterfield and Louisville have been a hype machine all offseason, but they face a legitimate opponent in week one who’s strengths could matchup well with some of UofL’s weaknesses. Take the points.
Les After Dark
We all love to make fun of the Pac-12, but not having the guys playing football on the left coast means we will be without #Pac12AfterDark and that makes me sad.
There’s still 12 minutes left in this game.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 22, 2019
However, this weekend Kansas with second year head coach Les Miles will take their place in the time slot. Rock Chalk Jayhawk will tee it up for a 10pm EST kickoff from Lawrence on FS1 facing an opponent that beat the Jayhawks at home last season.
Coastal Carolina and KU will meet again with things quite likely to become wacky between two teams expected to finish towards the bottom of their respective leagues. I cannot wait to watch it unfold.