Top 5 college football games to watch in Week 2 of the 2013 season (5 items)
It may be just the second week of the 2013 college football season, but there are already key contests for plenty of teams around the country.
While some teams are trying to bounce back from a disheartening week one defeat, others will be trying to continue to make a case for national recognition.
Here's a look at this week's top five games and what is at stake for both teams:
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1 of 5. No. 5: No. 15 Texas at BYU
The stakes: This game partially makes the list because so many top teams are still playing cupcakes. But of the three ranked teams going on the road against non-ranked foes — No. 2 Oregon heads to Virginia and No. 12 Florida plays at Miami in the other two — this is the second-best matchup.
For the Cougars, this game poses a challenging opportunity to shake off the rust from their week one loss to Virginia. For BYU to have any chance of winning, an offense that produced just 3.9 yards per play must find a way to be more effective and manufacture points.
The Longhorns came into the season with 21 returning starters and beat New Mexico State 56-7 in their opener after a slow start. Texas hasn't had double-digit wins since 2009, and with the returning talent, the pressure is there for coach Mack Brown to make this a special season. A win in the Longhorns' first road test would go a long ways toward making that happen.
2 of 5. No. 4: West Virginia at No. 16 Oklahoma
The stakes: West Virginia no longer has Geno Smith, Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey on offense, and it showed in the Mountaineers' season opener. West Virginia rallied from a halftime deficit and scored late to avoid losing to FCS opponent William & Mary. Saturday's matchup with the Sooners is the Big 12 opener for both schools.
Unlike the Mountaineers, Oklahoma cruised to a season-opening win over Louisiana-Monroe. Like their conference rival, the Sooners were breaking in a new quarterback: redshirt freshman Trevor Knight. He passed the first test, rolling up 189 total yards and three passing touchdowns. But Knight will be further challenged this week as he tries to get Oklahoma off to a strong conference start.
3 of 5. No. 3: No. 12 Florida at Miami
The stakes: This could be the last game between these two in-state rivals, due to budgetary reasons and conference scheduling issues.
The Gators are coming off an easy 24-6 win over Toledo as junior running back Mack Brown had 112 rushing yards on 25 carries — the same number he had all of last season. Florida dropped a pair of spots in the AP poll, however, and would be able to add a quality win before SEC play begins with a victory over the Hurricanes.
The stakes are even greater for Miami, coming off a 34-6 victory over Florida Atlantic. A victory over the Gators would vault the Hurricanes into the Top 25 — the team sits just one spot out of 25th in the AP poll — and would build some confidence and momentum for Miami before it kicks ACC play at the end of the month. ESPN has tabbed this contest the ACC game of the week.
4 of 5. No. 2: No. 6 South Carolina at No. 11 Georgia
The stakes: This game will be a crucial one in the SEC East race, magnifying this week two contest.
South Carolina burst out to a 17-0 lead in its opener against North Carolina before winning 27-10. A victory here would bolster the Gamecocks' national championship resume and would likely vault them into the Top 5. More importantly, it would give them an early leg up in the SEC East race.
The Bulldogs are coming off a close loss at Clemson, one of the top games from the season's opening week. That loss makes this contest even more important for Georgia, if it wants to stay in the national title hunt. The Bulldogs have lost two straight against South Carolina.
5 of 5. No. 1: No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan
Game info: Saturday, 6 p.m. MDT, TV: ESPN
The stakes: This will be just the second night game in Michigan Stadium history, and the victor will march one step closer to earning national championship contention status. During the offseason, trash talk upped the ante in this rivalry.
Notre Dame started off its season with a solid effort in beating Temple 28-6. Tommy Rees, taking over after Everett Golson was deemed academically ineligible this summer, threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. If the Irish want to return to the national championship game, a victory at the Big House would go a long way toward making that happen.
Michigan had an even better opening to the 2013 season, beating Central Michigan 59-9. It's the most points the Wolverines have scored in a season opener since 1905, when they beat Ohio Wesleyan 65-0. As the home team and with more than 100,000 supporters behind them, this is a prime opportunity for Michigan to make a national splash.
"It's Michigan-Notre Dame. I don't think much more has to be said," Michigan quarterback Devin Gardiner told ESPN of this rivalry. "Over these last few years, we've had so many great games, close finishes. I've always wanted to be a part of those."