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4 College Football Matchups You Must Watch In Week 2

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan State 

Eugene, Oregon, 6:30 PM EST on FOX

The game between Oregon and Michigan State isn’t just the biggest and best game of the week, it’s one of the most intriguing and potentially influential games of the entire college football season. Both teams are expected to compete for a national championship, and a loss on Saturday could be a major stumbling block.

Although there are not necessarily conference implications on the line, this is one of those games that can make or break a season. Whichever team wins has knocked off the second-toughest challenge on its respective schedule—each have late season conference games that will be much bigger tests.

Oregon has a lot to prove, having stumbled down the stretch last season after being completely dominated by Stanford. With the Heisman trophy being Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota’s to lose, a decisive defeat here would call into doubt his decision to return to Eugene for another year.

MSU has less on the line. After stunning Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game last season, Sparty went on to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where they manhandled Stanford on their own turf. (Well, it’s much closer to their own turf than East Lansing) The only thing Michigan State has to do here is compete—anything else is gravy.

The Ducks, on the other hand, playing at home have a bit more riding on the outcome. Oregon was written off as soft last year after being dominated by Stanford, defeating the team that defeated their conference rival would put all those concerns to bed. At least until they face-off again in November.

No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 14 USC

Stanford, California, 3:30 PM EST on ABC

Stanford versus Southern Cal has all the hallmarks of a great college football game. They’re conference rivals, ranked just one spot apart in the Top 25, with a recent history of competitive games that have not been short on drama.

That being said, and speaking as an SEC/ACC football fan on the East Coast, I’m not quite as excited about this great on paper game as I probably should be—particularly given its implications within the Pac-12.

Maybe it’s just too early in the season for such an important Pac-12 showdown, but there’s no denying the Cardinal-Trojans matchup is the most significant game in week two for the two teams involved. The loser will be instantly eliminated from playoff contention.

The Steve Sarkisian era at USC has gotten off to a rocky start—a win against Stanford could put the fears stemming from the Josh Shaw incident and the departure of Anthony Brown to rest. A win by the Cardinal would put them on the fast track to the playoffs and they’d likely be undefeated going into Eugene to face Oregon on Nov. 1.

No. 16 Notre Dame vs. Michigan 

South Bend, Indiana, 7:30 PM EST on NBC

Notre Dame is involved, so it’s safe to say their game against Michigan is overrated on a football level. But it doesn’t matter how good or bad the game is on Saturday, this one is a must see because the rivalry between the Wolverines and Irish, who have played every season since 1987, is coming to a close.

As required by their contract, three years ago ND informed UM that it would be ending their relationship, insisting there was simply no more room in the schedule for the Wolverines. The Irish seem to be nudging themselves into the ACC, having agreed to five games per year with conference teams from 2014-25.

Michigan isn’t expected to even compete with the Big Ten this season, but they always come to play against Notre Dame, having won the last six of eight games. And when it comes to ND, people either love them or hate them—making it easy to rally behind the Wolverines after the Irish tossed them out like a masticated pile of chicken wings.

No. 8 Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech

Columbus, Ohio, 8:00 PM EST on ESPN

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of quality match ups on the schedule for week two, which is how Ohio State-Virginia Tech ended up here. It will probably be a good enough game, but with the Hokies unranked and playing a non-conference opponent in the Buckeyes, there’s not much on the line.

Perhaps the best reason to tune in is to see if OSU freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is starting in place of former Heisman contender Braxton Miller who is out for the season with a shoulder injury, can perform as well against VT as he did against Navy last week.

Against the Midshipmen Barrett completed 12-of-15 for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns, with one interception and was sacked just once. According to The Roanoke Times, the Hokies don’t see much of a drop off between the freshman and his successor. We’ll see if VT can give OSU a game.

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