What We Learned: Week 2
Updated: September 17, 2009, 5:21 PM ETESPN.com
Each Sunday our bloggers review what happened over the past weekend. What did they learn in Week 2?
ACCThe ACC is resilient. It wasn't always pretty (more like Ugly Betty), but the ACC did what it had to do to bounce back from last week's losses. Wake Forest responded from its loss to Baylor against a tough Stanford team, Duke rebounded from its loss to Richmond on the road against Army, Maryland was able to stave off James Madison after its loss to Cal, and both Virginia Tech and NC State took out their aggression from Week 1 losses to the SEC and beat up on Marshall and Murray State, respectively. Florida State also got a win after losing to Miami.
Big 12Big 12 overrated? The Big 12 could arguably be considered the nation's most overrated conference after the first two weeks of the season -- at least at the supposed strength at the top. Texas slumbered through the first half of its game against Wyoming, a team predicted to finish last in the Mountain West Conference. Oklahoma lost last week to MWC team BYU. Oklahoma State lost to Conference USA's Houston. You can argue all you want, but the Big 12's expected three power teams should have played better to live up to the conference's immense preseason hype.
Big EastWest Virginia can be as good as it wants to be. Despite a couple of muffed punts and a spate of penalties, the Mountaineers beat East Carolina 35-20. They had 509 yards of offense and got a superstar performance from quarterback Jarrett Brown (334 yards, four touchdowns). If they can clean up their problems on special teams and other areas, the Mountaineers will be a major factor in the Big East. "We've got a long way to go, folks," coach Bill Stewart said. "We're not even close to being a good football team."
Big TenMichigan is back. The Wolverines are young and not very deep at several spots, but they're extremely resilient and clearly on the right track under second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez. True freshman Tate Forcier delivered a performance to remember against a good Notre Dame team, completing 6 of 7 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown on the game's decisive drive. Rodriguez's offense has returned to form behind Forcier, running back Brandon Minor and a much-improved line. Michigan has closed the book on last season's 3-9 disaster and could make a serious push for the Big Ten title.
Pac-10USC and its freshman QB are good enough to compete for the national title. A massive frown creased across the face of the college football world Saturday evening. Everyone outside the Trojans faithful was ready to relegate -- gleefully -- USC to the rebuilding stage. But true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, with an assist from Joe McKnight, cobbled together a signature game-winning drive at Ohio State, and the Trojans triumphed. It wasn't a beautiful performance, but the nation should be even more concerned because USC showed it also has guts and poise to season its awe-inspiring talent.
SECAlabama has options on offense. Sophomore running back Mark Ingram was already coming back from the flu and a bruised knee. Then on the opening drive against Florida International, Julio Jones bruised his right kneecap, while senior running back Roy Upchurch injured his ankle. No problem, though. The Crimson Tide unveiled freshman running back Trent Richardson in full, and he responded with 118 yards rushing. Mike McCoy got most of Jones' snaps and finished with 100 yards in receptions, and junior quarterback Greg McElroy really looks comfortable standing in that pocket right now and throwing the ball. Everybody will keep an eye on Jones these next few days to see how his knee responds, but this appears to be a more diverse Alabama offense than a year ago.
Non-AQNon-AQs are not a Week 1 wonder. The teams of the non-automatic-qualifying conferences followed up a stellar opening weekend of college football with yet another weekend full of upsets, including Houston knocking off No. 5 Oklahoma State. What's interesting is of all the upsets in the first couple of weeks, only one has been by a ranked non-AQ team, and two teams ranked in the top five have fallen. It's nice to see teams such as Toledo, Central Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette getting in on the action.
Notre DameThe Irish aren't a championship-caliber team. There were some who insisted Notre Dame had an outside chance at the BCS title game this season, or at the very least could be a 10- or 11-win, top 10-type of outfit. The Irish are not there yet. Teams of that pedigree do not lose to rebuilding opponents with a freshman quarterback, and they certainly don't make as many mistakes as Notre Dame did in all facets of the game Saturday. The Irish's realistic goal this year was getting to nine wins and a BCS game. That's still possible, but now it's harder.
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