College Football Top 25 Scores, Overreaction in Week 2: Florida State Still a Mess, Sun Belt Creates Chaos

The first (type) full Saturday of the 2020 season has come and gone. The days of thinking of playing football extensively are over. Six conferences are advancing football this fall. While the COVID-19 epidemic still hangs in the background, we are talking about plans, matches, and outcomes.

It is a good feeling, but it has caused a lot of quarrels over the last several months. But if there is one thing we have been taught this year about football, it is that nothing is guaranteed. If you’re going to play the game, play it like it won’t happen next week. The same attitude applies with every takeaway. As such, college football overreactions are back for another season.

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What did we learn from Week 2? Let’s parse through the biggest story from Saturday.

Mike Norwell inherits

Norwell is a big aggressive mind who did amazing things in Memphis. He seemed like the perfect hire for the Florida State after the Willie Taggart fiasco. One game – a 16–13 loss to Georgia Tech – is too hasty to make any conclusions about Norwell, but it is clear that he has cut his job for him for this offense. The O-line, which has been a problem in Tallahassee for years, is no better, and depth issues against the Yellow Jackets have only exposed those weaknesses. Quarterback James Blackman has been through all kinds of turnovers, which could be detrimental to his growth. Nevertheless, their decision-making work is needed and they do not have the ability to address all security issues.

There are a lot of problems with this Florida State offense. After scoring 10 points on their first two drives, the Seminoles scored 137 yards and three scores on their next nine possessions. It is not missing for a couple of series, that the game is disappearing for more than three quarters. Norwell inherited a bad situation and will have to work some magic this year, as these long-lasting issues are not easily cured. The defense may be enough to win a few games, but Florida State is unlikely to win any shootout this year.

Leave me the qualifier. I know that No. 5 Oklahoma played Missouri State – an ultra-outstanding FCS team, coached by Bobby Petrino, looking for his second rebound. But these are college football overreactions, after all, and Rattler looked like the real deal in his debut. The state line was very good, of course – 17-of-14 for 290 yards and 4 TDs in one-half work – but that’s expected to be against a warm-up opponent. What is impressive is the talent at hand. Take a look at this touchdown pass from Marvin Mims. It is a stroke of the wrist and that ball goes to his receiver a good 50 yards into the air.

Anti-defense does not matter. It is a perfect throw and it looks completely comfortable. This is a physical gift that few quarterbacks of this level possess and Rattler looks like a perfect fit for Lincoln Riley’s offense. We will learn more about Rutler as the year goes on, but he is a special talent and Riley will get the maximum benefit from him. He would put on ridiculous numbers and make his way to New York at some point in the next three years.

Sun Belt’s big day makes the season more fun

With only three Power Five conferences playing this fall – so far – the door has never been wider for a group of five teams. Granted, that door is still mostly closed. But if ever it was going to be a year for an unbeaten team outside the power conferences to crash the party, it could happen. And after two big ups and downs on Big 12 teams – Arkansas State at No. 23 Iowa State and Kansas State at Louisiana – it may be time to take a closer look at the Sun Belt.

Arkansas State is already out of negotiations with a one-week loss to Memphis, but Louisiana now has a big win over a Power Five opponent. If you are going to make an outsider’s case then this is the type of win in your back pocket. (And, to be clear, Louisiana needs to be undefeated and Iowa State needs to be great while the rest of the college football landscape needs to be very awkward. There are a lot of prerequisites.)

Regardless, the Sun Belt looks like a strong group of five conference picks at the top. Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Louisiana look legitimate, and one or two of them should, at the very least, battle for a spot in the New Year’s Six bowls … should we get that far.

Clemson’s young defenders are terrible

It’s true, Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are great, but the story of No. 1 Clemson’s 37–13 win over Wake Forest was the Tigers’ youth movement along the defensive line. The true freshmen Brian Bresse and Miles Murphy were the two highest ranked players in Clemson’s 2020 class and lived up to their debut at the start. Murphy led the team with seven tackles and two sacks, while Brese had an assistant sack of his own. Redshirt attendant KJ Henry also made an impact with four tackles and a sack.

Not starting out, these players were heavily rotating and disruptive with trenches. The Tigers were the national championship favorites for a reason, but the depth they have created so far to team up with younger players ready to contribute should be opposed by the teams for a long time.

UNC is not a favorite of ACC – still

Perhaps no team enjoyed their bowl bump from 2019 to 2020, like No. 18 North Carolina. The Tar Heels went 7-6 last year, almost beating Clemson and having a tempered drink in the Military Bowl. But to hear it from others, you would have thought Mack Brown’s team won 10 games, defeated the Tigers and saved the puppies from a burning building.

A 31-6 win over Syracuse on Saturday was decent, but it also showed that this team is not quite the conference it was supposed to be. Quarterback Sam Howell was under considerable pressure and the plan was to try to force him to make a bunch of throws, especially early. Result: 295 yards and a touchdown (good) but two interceptions (not good).

And the victory was as much about Syracuse’s problems as anything else. The Orange had four trips inside the UNC 25-yard line … and left with six points. While North Carolina’s defense deserves credit, it was a poor execution by Syracuse. Coming into the season, North Carolina was known more for coming back for offense. In one game, it seems that some tampering is still needed in favor of the ball.

Special teams are going to become an adventure

They are already in college, but the lack of general preparation is going to make them more chaotic in 2020. On Saturdays alone, more specialized teams seem blunders than usual – fitting, given that nothing about the season seems normal. From multiple blocked kicks to hard punishment and prolonged touchdown returns, special teams took it across the country on the chin.

It was just a snapshot, by the way, and did not include everything that happened. In fact, Georgia Tech got a third kick blocked (an extra point), while Sitald’s penalty suffered through his worst nightmare against South Florida.

Like everything in this season, wrinkles should be removed over time. This is likely a result of lack of preparation and continuity. But in the meantime expect to see a lot of strange incidents.