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Oklahoma & Ohio State Square Off in a Top 5 Duel in Columbus — College Football Week 2 Preview

Ohio State v Oklahoma
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From Heisman contenders meeting in Ohio to rivalry games happening across the country, the second week of the 2017 college football season offers plenty of interesting contests:

Who Ya Got: J.T. Barrett or Baker Mayfield?

Ohio State Oklahoma

(5) Oklahoma at (2) Ohio State | Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio; 7:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC

For the second consecutive week, Saturday’s most anticipated college football game will feature two teams ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Poll, as Big 12 favorite (5) Oklahoma (1-0) faces Big Ten favorite (2) Ohio State (1-0) in Columbus. The game features a showdown of Heisman Trophy–contending quarterbacks: the Buckeyes’ versatile J.T. Barrett and Sooners pocket passer Baker Mayfield.

Barrett outplayed Mayfield in last season’s meeting between these schools, throwing four touchdown passes in Ohio State’s 45-24 win in Norman. He won’t have to be that good if OSU freshman running back J.K. Dobbins can reel off another 180-yard game like he did against Indiana last week.

Unlike last week’s easy win over UTEP, when he was 19-for-20 with three scoring passes, Mayfield threw two interceptions against the Buckeyes dangerous secondary in 2016. If the Oklahoma quarterback pulls a repeat performance, it could derail his Heisman campaign and affect his potential NFL Draft position. It won’t help his team’s national title hopes either.

Will Clemson Win This Tiger Fight?

Capital One Orange Bowl - Clemson v Oklahoma
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(13) Auburn at (3) Clemson | Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC; 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

While the Ohio State–Oklahoma game will get more hype, the Auburn-Clemson matchup could be an even better contest. For the 12th-ranked SEC Tigers (1-0) to win, they need to stop the 3rd-ranked ACC Tigers’ (1-0) potent offense. Quarterback Kelly Bryant looked like a capable replacement for the departed Deshaun Watson while leading the Clemson throttling of Kent State last week. He’ll face a bigger pass rush on Saturday.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is solid, having earned the starting job after transferring from Baylor. How he reacts to playing in front of a very hostile Death Valley crowd could determine his team’s fate this week. Teammate Kamryn Pettway, a first-team All-SEC running back, figures to get a lot of work, too.

Is USC Still Overrated?

Western Michigan v USC
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(14) Stanford at (6) USC | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX

Fourteenth-ranked Stanford (1-0) faces fourth 6th-ranked USC (1-0) in L.A. on Saturday night. The Trojans slid out of the AP’s top 5 after struggling to beat Western Michigan at home last weekend. Preseason Heisman contender Sam Darnold of USC threw two interceptions last week and figures to face an even stiffer test against the defensive front of Stanford. Darnold and the Trojans must sustain drives and wear out the Cardinal secondary.

Stanford boiled Rice, 62-7, in Australia two weeks ago. David Shaw’s team needs to have recovered from any lingering jet lag so they can attack the USC defense with running back Bryce Love and quarterback Keller Chryst. The Trojans certainly could find themselves getting smothered if they haven’t adjusted from last week’s lethargic performance. Anything short of a convincing win is likely to drive them further down in the polls.

Is It Too Early for Rivalry Week? NOPE

Penn State v Pittsburgh
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Iowa at Iowa State | Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa; Noon (ET) on ESPN2
Pittsburgh at (4) Penn State | Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
New Mexico State at New Mexico | Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque; 8 p.m. (ET) on Facebook Live
Utah at BYU | LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah; 10:15 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2

The best college football rivalries usually occur closer to Thanksgiving than Labor Day, but modern conferences have made it so that teams with geographic rivals outside their own leagues often play them early in the schedule. This is that week.

Iowa residents get fired up for the battle of the Cy-Hawk Trophy between Iowa (1-0) and Iowa State (1-0). The Big Ten Hawkeyes have won the last two meetings between the schools, but the teams have split the last six games. Iowa State running back David Montgomery is a potential star in the making.

Unranked Pittsburgh (1-0) travels east to face fourth-ranked Penn State (1-0). The Panthers shocked the Nittany Lions, 42-39, last season, and they always seem to be primed for their in-state rivals. The biggest question: can they stop PSU Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley from running all over them?

Unless you live in New Mexico, you probably don’t remember last season’s amazing New Mexico–New Mexico State game, won by the Aggies (NMSU), 32-31. It doesn’t matter; New Mexico (1-0) and New Mexico State (0-1) fans do. The shocking upset made the Aggies year. Led by former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, the Lobos hope to get revenge this Saturday by showcasing a more dynamic offense guided by quarterback Lamar Jordan. Interested? You can see the game on Facebook Live. Really.

While college basketball fans will tell you that the Holy War is between Villanova and St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia, college football fans cede that mantle to the BYU-Utah contest. The Pac-12 Utes (1-0) have won six consecutive games in the long series. The Cougars (1-1) need to account for Oregon transfer wideout Darren Carrington if they are going to stop the losing streak.

How High Does the Rose Bowl Scoreboard Go?

Texas A&M v UCLA
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Hawaii at UCLA | Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.; 5 p.m. (ET) on Pac-12 Network

Fresh off a miraculous 45-44 comeback victory over Texas A&M on Sunday night that saw quarterback Josh Rosen rally the team from a 34-point second-half deficit, unranked UCLA (1-0) faces unranked — and equally potent — Hawaii (2-0) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. As great as the NFL-ready Rosen is, the Bruins defense is obviously far from elite. They’ll need to figure out a way to stop Rainbow Warriors running back Diocemy Saint Juste, who ran over Western Carolina for 202 yards last week.

Of course, Hawaii must devise a way to slow down the Rosen-led UCLA offense. If the Rainbow Warriors can’t control the clock with long drives, they risk turning this game into a track meet — one that might require a scoreboard with three digits per team.

Full College Football Schedule
AP Top 25 College Football Rankings

NEXT: READ OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 1 WRAP-UP

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