College Football Week 2 Picks: Predicting Biggest Nonconference Games

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) runs the ball against the Nicholls State Colonels at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Last week's nonconference games will be tough to top, but here are predictions for college football's biggest nonconference clashes in Week 2.

Clemson took down Georgia in a thriller of a battle of AP Top 10 teams, and LSU outlasted TCU in another game.

Georgia will now host South Carolina, and another loss would virtually eliminate any chance the Bulldogs have of going to Pasadena.

This week's schedule doesn't have any nonconference games of that magnitude, but there are important games for some top teams.

Here are predictions for how the top nonconference games of Week 2 will play out.

No. 2 Oregon at Virginia

This has the makings of a blowout, but Virginia will benefit from having home-field advantage. Making Oregon travel from the Eugene to Charlottesville could keep the Cavaliers in the game early on.

However, a long plane ride isn't going to keep this game close.

Virginia had to rally in the final minutes to escape with a 19-16 home victory over BYU. Oregon, on the other hand, put its game out of reach within minutes of the opening kickoff on its way to a 66-3 victory over Nicholls State.

The Ducks have two Heisman contenders, quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De'Anthony Thomas. Mariota threw for 234 yards and a touchdown, and he added 113 yards and two scores on five carries. Thomas rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

Oregon set a school record with 772 total yards and averaged nearly 11 yards per play. The Ducks ran for 500 yards and did not turn the ball over.

Virginia will need big performances out of key players. Running back Kevin Parks has three games in his career with at least 100 yards, and he's going to have to be dominant on the ground. He needs to be effective enough to keep Virginia's offense on the field and Oregon's offense on the sidelines.

Sophomore quarterback David Watford is going to need to take care of the ball. He didn't throw for many yards against BYU and threw an interception.

That's not going to get the job done in this game.

Oregon is too deep for Virginia to handle. The starters will put up points in a hurry, and the second team will add on to the lead. Coach Mark Helfrich is running the same offense that Chip Kelly ran, so expect another blowout.

Prediction: Oregon 56, Virginia 10

No. 12 Florida at Miami (FL)

At first glance, this doesn't look like a great matchup. However, Miami has the talent to hang with Florida.

The Gators slowly put away Toledo over the weekend, and their performance was underwhelming enough to have them drop two spots in the AP Poll. The Hurricanes had an easier time with Florida Atlantic and won 34-6.

Florida's offense didn't look ready to go in the opener, and it could cost the Gators in this game. Junior Jeff Driskel threw for 153 yards and a touchdown, but the Gators did their damage on the ground. Junior Mack Brown led the way with 112 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

Although the offense was less than impressive, the defense shut down a potent Toledo offense. The Rockets were only able to gain 205 yards and threw an interception, which led to a Florida touchdown.

Miami is led by running back Duke Johnson. The sophomore ran for 186 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the opener. He ran for 947 yards and 10 scores on 139 attempts last season, which was an average of 6.8 yards per carry.

Johnson is an explosive player who can lead his team to a victory. 

Florida had a mediocre performance in the opener, but it was only one game. The Gators had a close opener against Bowling Green last season and beat Johnny Manziel the next week.

Johnson will keep the Hurricanes in the game. There's just not enough around him in order to pull off the upset. 

Prediction: Florida 21, Miami (FL) 17

No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan

Notre Dame and Michigan won't be on each other's schedule after next season, so fans better enjoy this game.

The Fighting Irish won 13-6 last season, but this will be a much different game. Notre Dame lost key pieces from last year, and Michigan will also look different.

Senior Tommy Rees looked good against Temple as he threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-6 victory. Junior DaVaris Daniels had a big day, catching three passes for 69 yards and two scores.

Last season, the defense was dominant. Temple was able to gain 362 yards on Notre Dame. That will be the unit to watch against Michigan.

The Wolverines looked good against Central Michigan in a 59-9 blowout. They have to replace three offensive linemen, but it wasn't an issue against the Chippewas. 

Junior Devin Gardner has to replace Denard Robinson, but he didn't look great in the opener. He went 10-of-15 for 162 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He added 52 rushing yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

Michigan didn't have anyone have a spectacular game. Instead, the Wolverines shared the football. Three different players had at least 50 rushing yards and one touchdown, and four players had at least 40 receiving yards.

The Wolverines didn't punt until their final possession, but they threw three interceptions. They can't make that many mistakes against the Fighting Irish and expect to win.

Michigan is playing at home and has a more dynamic offense. Rees looked good against Temple, but Michigan is a better team and will pressure him.

Prediction: Michigan 28, Notre Dame 14

*All information is courtesy of


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