Two of the most anticipated matchups of 2020 were axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Ohio State at Oregon and Michigan at Washington. Those showdowns are now on for the 2021 season, albeit at the reverse locations.
For the past few years, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have both fought in their own respects for their place in the college football world, oftentimes coming face-to-face when it came to College Football Playoff seeding. Now, their top two programs (Oregon and Ohio State) duke it out for the first time since the 2014-15 National Championship Game. Both teams’ rivals also square off with major implications.
Let’s dive into the top games for Week 2 of the 2021 College Football season.
College Football Week 2 Odds
Here are college football betting lines for Week 2 of the season.
|Date||Away Team||Home Team||Odds|
|9/11||Ball State||Penn State||PSU|
Top games of Week 2
Oregon at Ohio State ()
There’s no doubt that this is the top game of the week for most of the country without a rooting interest in the other games on this list. It’s a showcase of the top teams in their respective conference, with Oregon putting their neck on the line for the Pac-12. The CFP committee has a proven track record of omitting the Pac-12 champion from their field of four, with the last team being Washington all the way back in 2015-16; that team was beaten 38-0 by Alabama, effectively closing the door on a Pac-12 rep in the Playoff for the next half decade.
Even with that kind of pride on the table and the respectable talent of the Oregon Ducks, they drew a short stick by facing Ohio State – which is regarded as being on a different level than the rest of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes sit in the upper crust of college football along with Clemson and Alabama annually. C.J. Stroud is expected to be the successor to the prolific Justin Fields and Stroud inherits the best receiver tandem in the nation, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. The biggest matchup in this game to watch will be between Ohio State’s Thayer Munford (senior left tackle) and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux (sophomore edge rusher). If Thibodeaux can get home to the quarterback, the Ducks may be able to hang in there.
This is a showcase of some of the most exciting and elite talent, with both teams packing plenty of future NFL players.
ALSO READ: What Bettors Should Watch For Regarding A 12-Team College Football Playoff
Washington at Michigan ()
While Ohio State-Oregon may get the buzz of the week, Washington at Michigan was awarded the primetime spot on ABC. The Huskies also have a chance to prove their might against one of the Big Ten’s most storied teams. A lot rides on this game in terms of pride; for Washington, stories about them not being able to compete with a mid-tier Big Ten team will dominate their 2021 season. For Michigan, it’d be an ongoing story about whether or not they can compete nationally.
A new quarterback (likely junior Cade McNamara) will be tested early in his starting career against one of the most electric secondaries year-in and year-out. Washington landed Oklahoma transfer Brendan Radley-Hiles (who started three years for the Sooners) and has a deep class of talented, though unproven, defensive backs. They also return five starters in their front seven, which could spell bad news against the Wolverines. Michigan’s offense is one of the most experienced in the Big Ten, with six seniors projected to start. Defensively, they return all but two starters, meaning this battle should be a defensive one.
Barring major shakeups or letdowns, this game will be a methodical battle between two teams that hang their hat on defense and the run game. With so much pride on the line, expect this to be a physical game.
Texas () at Arkansas
Aside from being an evenly matched game between two teams with something to prove, Texas and Arkansas is a revived Big 12 rivalry that’s long overdue to return. Both teams are facing a change at quarterback with the Longhorns losing star Sam Ehlinger to the NFL. It’s also Year 1 for new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who took the Texas job after a successful run as the Alabama offensive coordinator.
Arkansas is a popular pick to be a team on the rise after the Razorbacks came up just short several times in 2020. While plenty of questions remain about this team, they do return 17 starters, including their entire offensive line, from a season ago. Texas is Arkansas’ biggest out of conference test and their first big game of the year after they open with Rice. This will be Sarkisian’s first Power Five opponent of the season, but Texas does have a tough Week 1 against Louisiana.
What the game comes down to is which team is more ready? They each have minimal time to adjust to the speed of major college football, and this exciting revived rivalry will be a keep-up lesson for both squads. Finally, it will also serve as a tone-setter for the rest of 2021.
Iowa at Iowa State ()
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry gets its own week to shine in 2021, coming just two weeks into the season. Iowa has won five straight, but the last three matchups have come at an average win margin of +4.3. This year, the Cyclones are projected by many to have a breakout season, even being a favorite darkhorse pick to sneak into the CFP. They return two of the best offensive players in the Big 12 – Brock Purdy and Breece Hall (the latter finding himself near the top of Heisman odds tables).
Hall’s first test of the season comes against an Iowa defense that ranked first in the nation in explosive plays allowed in 2020 after leading the nation in rushing yards. The Hawkeyes also finished first in scoring drives allowed, stopping opponents 81.3% of the time a season ago. While Iowa has to find a new defensive front, they do return every starter in the defensive secondary, which should help limit Purdy’s effectiveness off play action; Iowa also allowed a 30-yard reception on just 1% of their defensive snaps last year.
Iowa State fielded one of the top rushing defenses a year ago, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. They take on Iowa’s Tyler Goodson, who rushed for 95.2 yards per game (29th). Expect a run-heavy game and low scoring totals – the last two iterations of this game resulted in 35 and 16 total points.