Following a strong season debut, the second week of the FBS season saw some story lines taking shape, as teams settled into the 2013 campaign. While nothing is written in stone this early in the season, there were some defining moments this past weekend that could tell the tale for several programs going forward.
MARQUEE MATCHUP LIVED UP TO BILLING: The showdown between Georgia and South Carolina proved to be everything it was built up to be, as the two powerhouse SEC programs went toe-to-toe in Athens. In the end, it was the savvy play of Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray that proved to be the difference.
Coming off a tough loss to Clemson in the season opener, both head coach Mark Richt and Murray knew that a second straight loss would be devastating. Murray took over the game and ended up torching one of the nation's premier defenses to the tune of 309 yards and four touchdown passes. It marked the ninth time in his career that Murray has thrown four touchdowns in the game, but this one was timely, as it put the Bulldogs right back into national title contention, not to mention a leg up in the SEC East. South Carolina definitely made it interesting at times, but Murray's leadership was too much for USC to contend with.
NO RUST ON HIM: Lost in the whole Johnny Manziel sideshow this offseason was the absence of All-American tailback Ka'Deem Carey from Arizona's lineup in the season opener. An electrifying player on the field, Carey burst on the scene in coach Rich Rodriguez' uptempo offense a year ago, leading the nation in rushing with a whopping 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, Carey proved to be a lightning rod off the field as well, with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges (that have since been dropped) while also having a dust-up with security at an Arizona/UCLA basketball game in which the enigmatic player showed some questionable character.
As a result, Rodriguez suspended his star tailback for the season opener against Northern Arizona. Carey debuted this past weekend against UNLV and made light work of the Rebels' defense, picking up right where he left off last season, showing midseason form with 171 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard TD burst in the second quarter.
The Wildcats have the personnel to match up with almost every team in the Pac-12 this season and the conference crown could be had, providing Carey keeps himself on the field. The true test will come in late November with a home date against Oregon. It should be fun to watch two of the nation's top offenses squaring off in the desert.
PANIC TIME: Staying in the Pac-12, Lane Kiffin's warm seat may have jumped right past hot to smoldering following the Trojans' ugly loss to Washington State, 10-7, in the conference opener for both squads. Kiffin's squad was competitive in most games over the last few seasons thanks to the play of Matt Barkley under center and some terrific receivers on the outside.
Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee is still wearing crimson and gold, but the offense is a rudderless ship at this point behind the play of sophomore QBs Max Wittek and Cody Kessler. The shoddy play under center has relegated Lee to mere mortal status in the first two games, as the All-American has 15 catches for 131 yards.
Against what will probably wind up being a subpar Washington State team, Lee was held to just seven catches for 27 yards. The team as a whole managed an anemic 193 yards of total offense, including just 54 yards through the air and not a single pass was completed for more than eight yards. Making matters worse is the fact that Washington State won the football game without even scoring an offensive touchdown, earning its first win over USC since 2002.
Things certainly won't get any easier the rest of the way for USC in conference play, With a less-than-successful campaign, Kiffin's job will be in serious jeopardy, and rightfully so.
INJURY BUG FORCES CHANGE UNDER CENTER: A couple of powerhouse programs have suffered injuries already, including two high profile signal callers in Columbus, Ohio, an Fort Worth, Texas.
Ohio State is viewed as a real national title contender after Urban Meyer's squad went undefeated in 2012. With dual-threat Braxton Miller at the helm, the ceiling remains high for the Buckeye Nation. This past weekend, however, Miller suffered a knee injury against San Diego State and did not return after OSU's first offensive drive. Thankfully for the Buckeyes, backup Kenny Guiton was sensational, completing 19-of-28 passes, for 152 yards and two TDs, while scoring a third on the ground.
Meyer isn't too concerned over Miller's injury and has hinted that OSU's top playmaker may be back on the field as early as Saturday's game against California, although that remains to be seen.
TCU wasn't as fortunate with the loss of oft-troubled, but gifted quarterback Casey Pachall's injury against Southeastern Louisiana this past weekend. A wrist injury will keep Pachall sidelined for 4-6 weeks. Things aren't bleak on campus, though, as the Horned Frogs possess a capable backup in last year's starter, Trevone Boykin.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The aforementioned Murray put the beleaguered Bulldogs on his back this past weekend, with his clutch performance at home against South Carolina.
Other QBs of note included Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (426 yards, three TD passes, one TD run), California's Jared Goff (485 yards, two TDs), Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (397 yards, four TDs), Oregon State's Sean Mannion (372 yards, four TDs), Indiana's Nate Sudfeld (363 yards, four TDs), Texas Tech's Baker Mayfield (367 yards, three TDs), Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh (326 yards, four TDs), North Carolina's Bryn Renner (359 yards, three TDs), Baylor's Bryce Petty (338 yards, two TDs), Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase (312 yards, four TDs), Tulane's Nick Montana (327 yards, three TDs), Kentucky's Maxwell Smith (310 yards, three TDs), Ball State's Keith Wenning (325 yards, two TDs), Texas-San Antonio's Eric Souza (308 yards, three TDs), LSU's Zach Mettenberger (282 yards, five TDs), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (199 yards passing, two TDs, 122 yards rushing, one TD), Maryland's C.J. Brown (275 yards, two TD passes, two TD runs), Wyoming's Brett Smith (295 yards, four TDs) and Michigan's Devin Gardner (294 yards, four TDs),
The top rushing performance of the week came from the quarterback position, as BYU's Taysom Hill torched the Texas defense to the tune of 259 rushing yards and three TDs.
Other huge performances came from Boston College's Andre Williams (204 yards, one TD), Louisiana Tech's Tevin King (182 yards), Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (171 yards, two TDs), Iowa's Mark Weisman (180 yards, two TDs), Arkansas' Alex Collins (172 yards, one TD), Marshall's Steward Butler (151 yards, three TDs), Tulsa's Trey Watts (152 yards), USC's Tre Madden (151 yards), Baylor's Lache Seastrunk (150 yards, three TDs), Minnesota's Rodrick Williams Jr. (148 yards, one TD), Bowling Green's Travis Greene (145 yards, one TD), Wisconsin's Corey Clement (149 yards, two TDs), South Carolina's Mike Davis (149 yards, one TD), Maryland's Brandon Ross (149 yards, one TD), Navy's Keenan Reynolds (127 yards, three TDs), Georgia's Todd Gurley (132 yards, one TD), Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas (124 yards, three TDs) and Rutgers' Paul James (119 yards, three TDs),
Michigan's Jeremy Gallon completely abused the Notre Dame secondary to the tune of eight receptions for 184 yards and three TDs.
Other receivers with eye-popping stats included Tulane's Ryan Grant (14 catches, 187 yards, two TDs), Northwestern's Tony Jones (nine catches, 185 yards, one TD), Central Michigan's Titus Davis (six catches, 184 yards, two TDs), Maryland's Stefon Diggs (six catches, 179 yards, one TD), Texas Tech's Jace Amaro (eight catches, 142 yards, one TD), LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. (five catches, 136 yards, three TDs), Texas A&M's Mike Evans (seven catches, 155 yards), Louisville's DeVante Parker (five catches, 134 yards, two TDs), Houston's Deontay Greenberry (14 catches, 165 yards), Duke's Jamison Crowder (11 catches, 140 yards), Nevada's Richy Turner (six catches, 136 yards, one TD) and Penn State's Allen Robinson (seven catches, 129 yards, one TD).
SNEAK PEEK: The eyes of the college football world will be firmly affixed on College Station this week, as the much anticipated showdown between the two- time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide and Manziel and Texas A&M square off in a crucial early season Top 10 SEC showdown.
There is only one other Top-25 showdown on the docket in Week 3 and that is 16th-ranked UCLA at 23rd-ranked Nebraska. Other matchups that hold interest include Tennessee at No.2 Oregon, 24th-ranked TCU at Texas Tech, 19th-ranked Washington at Illinois, No.25 Ole Miss at Texas and 20th-ranked Wisconsin at Arizona State.