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2021 Post-Week Two CFB Roundup

Anthony Brown, Oregon

Reactions & Thoughts

Oregon & Mario Cristobal Get Their Signature Win: Mario Cristobal has done a superb job in Eugene since taking over, with the Ducks entering 2021 coming off two straight Pac-12 Titles and two straight New Year's Six Bowl appearances. However, Cristobal and Oregon were still waiting on a huge, statement win that would announce their return to national relevance. That happened this past Saturday, with the Ducks walking into Columbus and outplaying Ohio State in a 35-28 victory. It wasn't that Ohio State played a bad game either, but that Oregon simply outplayed them. They dominated the line of scrimmage, ran the ball all day, and made the right decisions when they needed to. Quarterback Anthony Brown heard all off-season about the possibility of him losing his job to highly touted freshman Ty Thompson, but came out and played a terrific football game. On the other side of the ball, the Ducks played surprisingly well considering they were without two of their best defenders, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe. There was the occasional breakdown in coverage, but that tends to happen to anybody facing these dynamic Ohio State receivers. For the Ducks, they now become the overwhelming favorite in the Pac-12, and should be favored in every game the rest of the way. The Pac-12 North undoubtedly is theirs to lose at this point, but they'll have to demonstrate they can stay above the fray in a league known for beating each other up.

Iowa Remains The Best In The State: After a one-year hiatus in 2020 due to the Big Ten playing a conference-only schedule, the Cy-Hawk rivalry returned over the weekend. Iowa State entered as a slight favorite and had a real opportunity to get a huge win at home, but they ran into an absolute buzzsaw in the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes didn't blow the doors off the Cyclones, but were in control of the game pretty much the entire way. They played better at the line of scrimmage, controlled the ball, and forced four Cyclone turnovers. The Iowa defense is on a run not talked about enough in the national media; they have now played 24 straight games allowing less than 25 points. Considering how explosive offenses have become nowadays, that may be one of the most amazing streaks we have seen in recent college football memory. With Ohio State losing, the Hawkeyes now become the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten and logically, the early favorite to win the league. Can they keep this train rolling? Home games against Kent State and Colorado State over the next two seem to indicate they'll get out of September with a perfect 4-0 mark.

So, Maybe Texas Isn't Actually "Back"?: Last week I sung the praises of Texas after they pummeled a veteran Louisiana-Lafayette team to begin the year. It was an awfully impressive way to begin the Steve Sarkisian era, and looked like this could team could set up to be a Big 12 Title contender. So naturally, a week later, they go on the road and lose to Arkansas by nearly three touchdowns. The same offense that looked crisp and comfortable in Week One couldn't get anything going against Barry Odom's defense, and the Longhorn defense couldn't contain K.J. Jefferson and the Razorbacks. It was the type of early setback that will test this new staff and teach them quite a bit about how this particular team battles through adversity. However, Arkansas deserves a ton of credit for the way they played in this game. They were a little slow out of the gates in the opener against Rice, but looked like the better team the entire way. It's a great story for a team that went through rough times later in the Bret Bielema years and the entire Chad Morris tenure. The win gave us this awesome video featuring AD Hunter Yurachek, and showing how important the victory was to this athletic department and school.

The Longest Hot Seat In CFB Is Over: Clay Helton has perpetually been on the hot seat at USC for what feels like his entire tenure. After a 5-7 2018 campaign, Helton managed to survive 2019 and a pandemic-shortened 2020 but after just two games this fall, AD Mike Bohn made the decision to let him go. The decision comes after a bad loss to Stanford, who was coming off a terrible showing against Kansas State. The loss was bad enough that several notable former Trojans came out and talked about their frustrations with the state of the program, most notably Matt Leinart and Keyshawn Johnson. The writing was pretty clearly on the wall, but I am shocked that this decision was made now. It essentially punts on USC contending for a Pac-12 South Title this year, which is surprising considering that this is an extremely talented roster with a veteran QB. The advantage is that the Trojans now have the whole regular season to look for a new head coach and are going to likely be the top job available for someone trying to move up. There will be some unique names thrown out there, such as Bob Stoops, Chris Petersen, and Urban Meyer, as well as current coaches who would be in line for a promotion, including Penn State's James Franklin, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, and Iowa State's Matt Campbell. Franklin makes a lot of sense to me as a guy who would fit this job and area, but a young coordinator or head coach seems more USC's style.

BYU Turns The Tide In The "Holy War": Although it doesn't get a ton of national attention, the BYU-Utah rivalry is among the most heated anywhere in college football. The two schools and fanbases despise each other, and it's always an interesting non-conference test for Utah. As of late, the Utes have dominated the "Holy War" series, winning nine straight dating back to 2009. It looked like bad timing for a BYU team that was supposed to be rebuilding this season. Their best team in years, the 2020 one, didn't get to square off against the Utes due to the Pac-12 initially cancelling their season and going conference-only later on. The Cougars still got their revenge a year later, as they took down Utah at home, 26-17. It wasn't a flashy performance from the Cougars, but was simply hard-fought, good football. They earned an early lead and held it the entire way, beating the Utes in every major category and forcing a pair of turnovers. It was a massive win for Kalani Sitake and the entire BYU staff, showing that the program, which is soon to join the Big 12, has staying power.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Helmet Sticker: Brennan Armstrong, QB, Virginia

Virginia and quarterback Brennan Armstrong had an impressive Saturday, beating Illinois 42-14 in front of their home crowd. Armstrong was the catalyst, finishing with over 430 yards of total offense and throwing for five touchdowns, while completing 75% of his passes. Sure, the Illinois defense does not look like the same group that handled Adrian Martinez and Nebraska for most of the opener, but throwing for those numbers against any Power Five defense is worthy of recognition. The Cavaliers are now 2-0 on the young season, but get a real challenge as they go on the road to meet North Carolina.

Defensive Helmet Sticker: Hayden Henry, LB, Arkansas

Arkansas has one of the best linebacker corps anywhere in college football, and they proved it with a swarming defensive performance against Texas this past Saturday. The physical Razorbacks never let the Longhorns get comfortable and punished them the entire night, with Hayden Henry finishing as the team's leading tackler. Henry finished with 15 total tackles and also managed 2.5 tackles for loss, helping hold UT to an average of just 3.4 yards per carry. It must of been a special night for Hayden and the entire Henry family; Hayden is one of three Henry brothers who have played at Arkansas, and he had a tremendous game in a program-altering win in Fayetteville.

Team of the Week: Oregon Ducks

No matter how much talent you have on your roster, going into "The Shoe" and beating Ohio State is an incredibly tall order. Oregon, despite a Top 15 ranking, walked in as two touchdown underdogs and outplayed the Buckeyes the entire way, claiming a 35-28 victory. To do that without two of your best defensive players was extremely impressive and indicates how much Mario Cristobal and this staff have upgraded the depth on this roster. Saying that a "program has arrived" sounds cliche, but this really did feel like a turning point for the Ducks and the Pac-12 as a whole.

"Small School" Team of the Week: Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Coming off a game in which they went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame and nearly took down the Irish, Florida State was looking to breeze against Jacksonville State this weekend. The Gamecocks lost badly to UAB to open their season, and the Seminoles were a 28-point favorite in Doak Campbell. But, there's a reason college football games aren't played on paper. The Gamecocks held their own the entire way and then scored a miraculous long touchdown as time expired, shocking Florida State. It was particularly interesting that the two players that spearheaded the win, QB Zerrick Cooper and wide out Damond Philyaw-Johnson, were transfers from ACC schools. Cooper came from Clemson and Philyaw-Johnson from Duke, two guys who probably envisioned they'd be beating FSU on different teams than Jacksonville State when they began their careers.

Current Rank                Previous Rank 

1. Alabama Crimson Tide    (1)

2. Georgia Bulldogs    (2)

3. Oklahoma Sooners    (3)

4. Oregon Ducks    (6)

5. Cincinnati Bearcats    (5)

6. Iowa Hawkeyes    (11)

7. Texas A&M Aggies    (9)

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish    (8)

9. Clemson Tigers    (10)

10. Ohio State Buckeyes    (4)

11. Penn State Nittany Lions    (13)

12. Florida Gators    (15)

13. Iowa State Cyclones    (7)

14. Arizona State Sun Devils    (16)

15. UNC Tar Heels    (17)

16. UCLA Bruins    (20)

17. Liberty Flames    (18)

18. Miami Hurricanes    (19)

19. USC Trojans    (12)

20. TCU Horned Frogs    (21)

21. Ole Miss Rebels    (22)

22. Virginia Tech Hokies    (23)

23. Wisconsin Badgers    (24)

24. Arkansas Razorbacks    (NR)

25. Nevada Wolfpack    (25)

Just Missed: Texas Longhorns, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Boston College Eagles, Michigan Wolverines, Indiana Hoosiers, BYU Cougars

Dropped Out: Texas (14)

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