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10 college football picks for Week 2, and Ohio State might be a monster again

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A run through the 10 biggest games of the weekend and what we might learn (or think we've learned) from each.

Bowling Green v Ohio State Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Week 1 is about "mights." We desperately want to reach conclusions about teams and come up with answers for the questions we were asking during the long offseason, so we take the first hint as gospel.

Week 2 is about moving toward confirmation.

The weekend slate of college football games is drastically lacking, compared to the season-opening home run. After four Week 1 battles of ranked teams, we get zero this week.

But that’s fine. We can still try to learn a lot.

For each of the 10 games below, I've included a score projection by S&P+.

1. Lamar Jackson might be ready for a monster season.

Louisville at Syracuse (Friday, 8 pm ET, ESPN2)
S&P+ projection: Louisville 33.3, Syracuse 25.3

"On pace for" jokes after Week 1 have lost their charm through the years, but we’ll squeeze one more in: One game into 2016, Jackson is on pace for 3,700 passing yards, 1,500 rushing yards, and about 100 touchdowns. I’m going to guess that pace will shrink in the Carrier Dome, but how much?

And how much of a message can Louisville send, with Florida State on deck?

2. Penn State’s offense might still be a problem.

Penn State at Pitt (Saturday, 12 pm ET, ESPN)
S&P+ projection: Pitt 14.2, Penn State 13.4

New Penn State coordinator Brent Pry’s defense was fine against Kent State on Saturday. The Nittany Lions allowed two early field goal drives, then forced almost nothing but turnovers and three-and-outs thereafter.

The offense, though? Still an issue. It scored three touchdowns against the Golden Flashes but gave Kent State one, too, via fumble. The Lions averaged only 5.1 yards per play, and now they take on a Pitt defense that allowed just 172 yards to a decent Villanova team. The S&P+ projection is low for a reason.

3. Army might be ... pretty decent?

Rice at Army (Saturday, 12 pm ET, CBSSN)
S&P+ projection: Rice 31.5, Army 30.3

Steven Godfrey tried to convince us that Army was pretty close to a breakthrough, and then the Black Knights broke through against the reigning AAC East champ. They outscored Matt Rhule’s Temple, 21-3, in the second half in a 28-13 win.

And now they’re favored by 9.5 points against an FBS team! Can they solidify their gains against Rice, or was that Week 1 option oddity?

4. Wisconsin might be awesome

Akron at Wisconsin (Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, BTN)
S&P+ projection: UW 36.1, Akron 17.8

Lost among the hand-wringing about LSU’s loss to Wisconsin was the fact that, well, Wisconsin won. The Badgers limited Leonard Fournette to 35 yards on 11 carries in the first half, controlled the field position battle, created more scoring opportunities, and limited LSU’s red zone effectiveness. They beat LSU at its own game, in other words.

And while they still face a pretty rugged remaining slate, they can prove they are legitimately strong by handling a pretty athletic Akron.

5. Ohio State might be a killing machine again

Tulsa at Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ABC)
S&P+ projection: Ohio State 46.3, Tulsa 21.4

77-3. The Buckeyes went on a 77-3 run against the defending MAC champion. For all we know, Bowling Green might turn out to be a terrible, rebuilding team this year, but ... 77-3! That would be impressive against the worst team in the MAC.

So now the Buckeyes face a Tulsa team that probably won’t provide much defensive resistance but could at least keep up for a little while. Unless Ohio State is again a murderous wrecking crew.

6. South Carolina might have a defense.

South Carolina at Mississippi State (Saturday, 7 pm ET, ESPN2)
S&P+ projection: MSU 29.6, South Carolina 14.8

Vanderbilt scored on two of its first three possessions against South Carolina, taking a 10-0 lead that would hold up into the second half. But the Gamecocks forced five straight three-and-outs and allowed only a single scoring opportunity (a missed field goal) the rest of the way. Granted, VU’s offense might still be dreadful, but after a couple of years of defensive ineptitude, this was undeniable progress.

Will Muschamp’s Cocks face another SEC opponent with offensive question marks. Mississippi State oscillated between QBs, just as about half the country did in Week 1, and pulled a Vandy, blowing a 17-0 halftime lead against South Alabama.

7. TCU might not have a defense.

Arkansas at TCU (Saturday, 7 pm ET, ESPN)
S&P+ projection: TCU 36.0, Arkansas 35.9

South Dakota State is generally one of the more dangerous FCS teams. The Jackrabbits did score 41 on Kansas in 2015 and a combined 38 on Missouri (in 2014) and Nebraska (in 2013).

Still, they had TCU tied at 31-31 midway through the third quarter in Fort Worth last week and finished with 461 yards (7.1 per play) in a 59-41 TCU win.

Arkansas had its own issues in a narrow win over Louisiana Tech — Austin Allen was sacked four times, and Hog backs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry  — but a year after allowing a few too many big plays, TCU allowed way too many big plays.

8. Auburn might have a defense!

Arkansas State at Auburn (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, SEC Network)
S&P+ projection: Auburn 29.7, ASU 11.0

Gus Malzahn’s experiment with Winged-T variations and about 17 different quarterbacks distracted us from maybe the best Auburn defensive performance in years. Defending national runner-up Clemson had scored at least 20 points in 18 straight games, but AU held the Tigers to 19 points and just 5.1 yards per play.

Arkansas State tends to have speed and tricks up its sleeve; we’ll see if Kevin Steele’s defense is able to put the same effort together, or if last week was a mirage.

Clemson v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
9. Tennessee’s offense might again be stagnant.

Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Saturday, 8 pm ET, ABC)
S&P+ projection: Tennessee 22.1, VT 13.4

Tennessee might have actually learned some of the right lessons in its nearly disastrous overtime win over Appalachian State. The Vols closed out a tight game against a decent team, which was something in and of itself; they also proved they were willing to go deep. A year and a half of setting up the play-action bomb finally came in handy when Josh Dobbs connected with Josh Malone for a 67-yard strike that completed a 10-point comeback.

Of course, Dobbs wouldn’t have had time to go deep again even if he wanted to. ASU was able to generate far more pressure than anticipated, and Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara combined to average just 3.9 yards per carry. The SEC might have quarterback issues again in 2016, but it doesn’t have defensive line issues; Tennessee could be in trouble if the offensive line can’t hold up.

10. Boise State might not be ready to forfeit to Houston

Washington State at Boise State (Saturday, 10:15 pm ET, ESPN2)
S&P+ projection: BSU 44.9, Wazzu 37.9

Houston’s win over Oklahoma gave the Cougars an obvious jump in the race for the Group of 5’s major bowl slot; in fact, UH has its sights set on something even more. But if Tom Herman’s squad slips up at some point -- and here’s your regular reminder that the Cougars nearly slipped up quite a few times last year — Boise State could be waiting to pounce.

The Broncos were so effective in Week 1’s 45-10 win over UL-Lafayette that UL coach Mark Hudspeth fired his defensive coordinator. And if the Broncos outlast Wazzu, their odds of reaching the MWC title game undefeated become pretty high.