Week one of the college football season included numerous surprises. Colorado looked phenomenal on offense, upending the Horned Frogs en route to being ranked 22 in the AP Poll. North Carolina’s once porous defense came to play, as they sacked quarterback Spencer Rattler nine times and only allowed South Carolina 17 points in a matchup where a shootout was expected. Florida State solidified itself as a College Football Playoff contender with a statement win against the LSU Tigers. And, Duke toppled ninth-ranked Clemson by three scores on Monday night. Now, we’ll take a look at what week two brings to the table. A huge matchup is brewing and another ranked contest comes with much intrigue.
#3 Alabama vs. #11 Texas (+7) 6:00 p.m. CT Saturday, September 9 on ESPN
Surprisingly, this Saturday marks only the eleventh time Texas has faced Alabama. Overall, the Longhorns hold the series advantage. Texas has won seven games, while Alabama has won two, additionally, a tie occurred in the matchup in 1960. However, this series will likely continue for years to come as the Longhorns will join the SEC in 2024.
The most recent matchup between the two schools took place last year. Top-ranked Alabama ended up defeating the unranked Longhorns by a score of 20-19. Texas looked great to begin the game, quarterback Quinn Ewers led two scoring drives before being knocked out with a clavicle injury. Backup Hudson Card entered the game and kept Texas even with Bama throughout the next two and a half quarters.
Heisman winner and number-one overall draft pick, Bryce Young, engineered two Crimson Tide scoring drives in the fourth quarter to catapult Alabama over Texas. The Longhorns kicked a field goal to take a 19-17 lead with a little more than a minute to go in the fourth. Leaning on Young’s heroics, the Crimson Tide marched 61 yards down the field in a minute and 19 seconds to kick a 33-yard field goal to put away the Longhorns. The 2023 iteration of the matchup may look similar, but expectations sure are different.
The Longhorns come into play ranked eleventh in the AP Poll. With an offseason full of hype and roster continuity, this could very well be the year Texas is “back.” Other than running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, the Longhorns will have retained a majority of their players. With a top-10 receiving core in the nation, Ewers will have plenty of playmakers to get the ball to. On the defensive side, the Longhorns don’t have the prominent names like the offense, but they field an above-average unit. A week ago, the Longhorns held Rice to only ten points and 176 total yards. Texas also turned Rice over three times in the game. Although the Owls don’t resemble the Crimson Tide in any way imaginable, only allowing a QBR of 15.3 to a former five-star recruit is somewhat noteworthy.
As for the Crimson Tide, they will enter the weekend as the third-ranked squad in the nation. Alabama dominated an unassuming Middle Tennessee State squad last weekend, 56-7. The Crimson Tide have numerous new faces on offense and defense. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe is taking over for star quarterback Young. He had a solid outing in week one, passing for 194 yards and tossing three touchdowns. Without the typical Alabama bell-cow running back, the Crimson Tide went with a committee approach. Six players registered four or more carries a week ago. As for the vaunted Crimson Tide defense, they held the Blue Raiders to seven points and 211 total yards.
The final Big 12 vs. SEC matchup will undoubtedly be a good one. The amount of talent on both sides is exceptional. This year, the Longhorns look better than they have in recent years. The team finally has continuity on both sides and head coach Steve Sarkisian enters his third season with the team after improving over the past two seasons. Alabama has likely taken a step back from a year ago, which may only mean two or three losses this season, at most. But, the Crimson Tide defense is always exceptional and this year should be no different. A top-tier offense will go up against a top-tier defense. Last week, if the Longhorns put up 50-plus points, the Texas choice would be easier. However, the offense didn’t look like a true powerhouse against an inferior opponent. The matchup against the Crimson Tide will be the ultimate test for the Longhorns. If the offense comes to play, like a year ago before Ewers went down, the Longhorns have a great chance to overcome the Crimson Tide’s fantastic defense. My prediction shows the Longhorns narrowly edging out the Crimson Tide, as the Texas defense plays well enough to slow down the Alabama offense to only a few scores.
My Pick: Texas wins 27-24
#24 Tulane vs. #20 Ole Miss (-7.5) 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday, September 9 on ESPN2
Both Tulane and Ole Miss came out victorious in week one. Tulane won by 20 points against South Alabama and remained ranked 24, while Ole Miss blew the doors off Mercer by 66, climbing two spots in the rankings.
A week ago, Tulane recorded 436 yards of total offense and dominated through the air behind star quarterback Michael Pratt. Pratt went 14-of-15 for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns. The fourth-year player will surely be one of the best Group-of-Five players in the nation. On defense, the Green Wave forced five turnovers and recorded five sacks. Tulane’s front provided relentless pressure and forced the Jaguars to make multiple mishaps.
Mercer was entirely outmatched in last week’s contest against Ole Miss. Quarterback Jaxon Dart held off transfers, Spencer Sanders and Walker Howard, to begin the season as the starter. He proved his place in the starting lineup was the right choice, as Dart tossed four touchdowns and aired it out to the tune of 334 passing yards. Retruning star running back Quinshon Judkins didn’t have to do much, but he did score two touchdowns on the day. With such a dominant offense, the Rebels will have to lock in on defense against a worthy opponent in week two. After forcing three turnovers in week one, Ole Miss must once again pressure Pratt and force Tulane out of their rhythm.
This matchup will showcase one of the two team’s strengths. Can Tulane hang with the Power-Five teams? Or is Ole Miss’ offense the real deal? Here, my prediction alludes to Ole Miss taking home the victory. Although the score will likely be close, the Rebels’ offense talent will be too much to overcome.