Oklahoma found out that life without Jason White would be much, much harder. The Notre Dame fans are very close to replacing “Touchdown Jesus” with a picture of Charlie Weis in a robe. And the Miami-Florida State game was once again decided by the field goal team — this time it was the Hurricanes that contrived a way to lose a game by messing up a field goal attempt (Note to punter Brian Monroe: LOOK the ball into your hands). Yes, it was another wild and wacky weekend of college football, and we’re only heading into week two. Here’s a look at some of this weekend’s action.
Southern Mississippi (0-0) at Alabama (1-0) — Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN 2
Last season, Alabama was poised to challenge for the SEC West title and return to the top of the conference food chain. But injuries to its starting quarterback and running back hurt its conference title hopes. This year, running back Ray Hudson doesn’t return, but junior Ken Darby does. And he will line up behind senior quarterback Brodie Croyle, who is also back. Darby and Croyle looked good in their first game against Middle Tennessee State. The Rainbow City, Ala.-native Croyle went 16-for-24 for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception and Darby ran for 90 yards on 17 carries. Alabama’s defense is just as strong as last year and refuses to be embarrassed in front of a home crowd. Hurricane Katrina forced Southern Mississippi to postpone its opening game and the lack of a first game will hurt the Eagles.
Alabama 20, Southern Mississippi 10
No. 16 California (1-0) at Washington (0-1) — Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC Gameplan
The hunt for Aaron Rodgers’ replacement couldn’t possibly go worse for the Golden Bears. First, redshirt freshman Nate Longshore broke his leg. Then backup Joe Ayoob threw 10 straight incompletions. Now, California might have to start junior Steve Levy, who switched to fullback last season because he wanted more playing time — only to sit on the bench. Sophomore Marshawn Lynch was a bright spot with his 147 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and should be the workhorse for the team in week two. Tyrone Willingham’s squad looked to break its six-game losing steak last week, but the defense allowed a 14-play, 83-yard game-winning touchdown drive with less than three minutes remaining in the game, showing the same intestinal fortitude as the Buffalo Bills circa early ‘90s’. Despite Levy, “the little fullback that could,” starting behind center, Lynch should have a big game, and California should run away with this easily.
California 31, Washington 13
South Carolina (1-0) at No. 9 Georgia (1-0) — Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
At Florida, Steve Spurrier’s offense was known as the “Fun ‘n Gun.” Now his offense is being dubbed the “Cock ‘n Fire.” Whether or not you understand the play on words or have the maturity level of a junior high student, it’s clear that the offense is pretty good. Quarterback Blake Mitchell went 18-for-23 for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the nationally televised season opener against doormat Central Florida. But the defense allowed a team with a 16-game losing streak to come back into the game with a 12-point fourth quarter and needed a goal line stand to prevent the upset. This week, the defense will have a tougher time against Bulldogs senior D.J. Shockley who threw for 289 yards and five touchdowns against Boise State while leading the team in rushing with 85 yards and a touchdown. Spurrier’s return to the SEC should be interesting. The Bulldogs will want to stick it to Spurrier for that embarrassing 1995 loss against Florida. (Was it necessary to score 52 at Georgia, Steve?)
Georgia 37, South Carolina 17
No. 5 LSU (0-0) at No. 15 Arizona State (1-0) — Saturday 8:45 p.m., ESPN
New LSU coach Les Miles is thought to have the easiest job in the county. The former Oklahoma State coach is joining a team that needs almost nothing more than a coach to push the auto pilot button. This LSU squad is supposed to be even better than the 2003 national championship team. Unfortunately, its first home game was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina, and its second one is now a road game. Arizona State may not be “The Swamp” but anytime you have to go on the road against a top-25 team, that’s tough. Plus, Miles must also make sure his team stays focused since many of them have families directly affected by the storm. Sophomore JaMarcus Russell is back and will be dangerous behind center. The defense will once again be dominant. The Sun Devils answer back with redshirt freshman phenom Keegan Herring — whose 134 yards broke the school record for a debut game — and junior quarterback Sam Keller who passed for 208 yards and four touchdowns last week.
Arizona State 16, LSU 10