College Football Week 2: 10 matchups to watch
Just like that, Week 2 is upon us. It's crazy, the time it takes to get to college football seems to drag, but the time during the season flies. It almost seems unfair. But that's why we enjoy the time we have during the season, because the moments don't last long. Some of those moments come from elite matchups. Teams and players can face quality competition, and that can bring out the best in those groups or individuals. Coincidentally, Week 2 of college football features some elite matchups. Some that feature future NFL players, some with new faces, and a few that have underdogs competing against each other. So buckle up, folks, the moments come and go, but the potential memories will last forever.
UNC receivers vs. Syracuse DB's
If you haven't heard by now, North Carolina's going to score some points. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell leads an explosive unit, and the guys he's hitting downfield will play on Sundays. Dazz Newsome, Dyami Brown, and Beau Corrales give the Tar Heels one of the best wide receiver groups in the country, and they hit the field for the first time in 2020 this weekend. They'll go against an underrated Syracuse defensive secondary filled with NFL talent of their own. Andre Cisco, Trill Williams, and Ifeatu Melifonwu (who's brother Obi used to play for the Oakland, now Las Vegas, Raiders) will give the Tar Heels all they can handle, so pay attention when the ball's in the air.
Levi Lewis vs. Brock Purdy
Both Lewis and Purdy had breakout seasons in 2019, and now face each other to begin 2020. Lewis proved to efficient throwing the football, completing 64.3% of his passes while throwing 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Purdy nearly threw for 4,000 yards last year, and returns his two favorite targets in Tarique Milton and tight end Charlie Kolar. Louisiana is looking to overthrow Appalachian State in the Sun Belt, and Iowa State hopes to contend for the Big 12 title. They have the quarterbacks to achieve those goals, and strong performances this weekend could get the ball rolling.
Chris Reynolds vs. Zac Thomas
Charlotte became one of the surprises in Conference USA last year thank to a new coach and improved play from Reynolds. He threw 22 touchdowns last year after throwing just six the year before. The 49ers open 2020 with the defending Sun Belt champions in the Mountaineers and their leader in Thomas. Appalachian State's veteran quarterback already has 67 total touchdowns to his name, but will be working with his third head coach in as many years. Both players are dual threats that can impact the game with their arms and legs, so this has the makings of a potential shootout.
Liam Eichenberg/Robert Hainsey vs. Chris Rumph II/Victor Dimukeje
Elite against elite, it doesn't get much better than this matchup. Notre Dame's offensive line returns everyone, and that's huge for an Irish team not only joining the ACC for a year, but also has playoff aspirations. Eichenberg and Hainsey are the pillars of that line, and return 65 games of experience combined. Neither allow a sack last year, and they played a combined 1,268 snaps. Opposite of them will be two of the most dangerous pass rushers in the country. Rumph and Dimukeje combined for 23 tackles for loss and 15 sacks last year, and Rumph has already received NFL attention thanks to his frame. You can bet scouts will be watching this matchup closely for all parties involved.
Chase Brice vs. Notre Dame defense
Brice was officially named the starter for Duke this week, and his first test is a tough one. Notre Dame's defense was one of the best in the country last year, and it's on Brice to elevate the Blue Devils offense. It's a difficult test, but not anything he can't handle. After all, he did take over when Trevor Lawrence went down in 2018 against Syracuse and led the Tigers a win, but he'll have less talent to work with in this game.
Mike Norvell vs. Geoff Collins
Both Collins (Temple) and Norvell (Memphis) come from the AAC to the ACC, and face each other to begin 2020. Collins is trying to rebuild Georgia Tech, and some believe they'll go bowling this season. Norvell inherits a talented Florida State team in need of a new culture, and one that's struggled offensively as of late. The former Tigers head coach produced some of the most explosive offenses over the past few years, and the Seminoles following that trend makes them a contender in the ACC. We'll see what it looks like in the first game, but give Norvell time to work and everything will get ironed out eventually.
Carlos Basham vs. Jackson Carman
Easily the second best matchup of the weekend, and that's saying something about the first. Basham and Carman are All-ACC talents going against each other, and it's another game scouts will watch closely. Boogie Basham returns 31 career tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, and is being projected as a first round pick by some scouts and analysts. He'll go against the massive Carman (6'5", 345 pounds) who could play his way into a Top 10 pick. Like I said, if you're looking for elite matchups, Week 2 has you covered.
Forrest Merril vs. Josh Rivas
Highly underrated matchup to watch. Merril's return gave the Red Wolves a force up the middle defensively, and we saw that last Saturday against Memphis. He's a strong player who doesn't get pushed around easily, and he'll need every last bit of that strength this weekend. Rivas didn't make a single start for the Wildcats last season, but he saw action in every game. At 6'6", 335 pounds, he has plenty of weight to throw around, and plays with a strong base that produces plenty of power. It will be interesting to see how a Sun Belt team fares against the Big 12, but these are the two guys to watch if you're looking for something specific.
UAB Defense vs. D'Eriq King
If you watched King when he was at Houston, you know what he's capable of doing. Both the Canes and Blazers haven't experienced that, so they'll learn on the fly. King accounted for 50 touchdowns in 2018, and takes over a Canes offense that's been hurting at the quarterback position. UAB struggled at times to stop Central Arkansas, which isn't promising when they face Miami. If King goes off, watch out for the hype. Well, you should be on board already but this is your warning if you aren't on the bandwagon.
Kansas vs. Upset Alert
The joke might be getting old, but the losing continues. Kansas faces Coastal Carolina this weekend, a team that beat them 12-7 last year. Les Miles enters Year 2 as the Jayhawks head coach, and he's hoping that the jokes end. With a talent like Pooka Williams at running back, an upset shouldn't happen. But it is Kansas, and until we see improvement, you just never know.