That was fast! Two weeks of college football have flown by, and all the things we expected from Cal football have unfolded before our eyes: The offense is putting up points, the onside kick coverage and success rate is flawless (which is a pleasant surprise), and the defense is … working on a few things. As exciting as the Bears are to watch this year, a number of other teams have taken the college football world by storm, lighting up social media with excitement to talk about for days to come. From top-ranked programs to freshman quarterbacks to rising Heisman trophy candidates, here is an early list of the most watchable teams across college football.
- Texas Longhorns
“TEXAS IS BACK FOLKS!”
The Bears will welcome the Longhorns to Memorial Stadium for a showdown Saturday night, but not before Texas regained much of the swagger that it’s lost since winning the 2005 national championship against USC. Despite beginning the season unranked and starting with a true freshman quarterback in Shane Buechele, it appears as if a new chapter in the Charlie Strong era is underway. Texas shocked Notre Dame in double overtime during Week 1, an early candidate for best game of the year as the combination of Buechele and senior Tyrone Swoopes burned the Irish defense for multiple highlights. As Buechele passed for nearly 300 yards in his college debut, Swoopes produced three rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner, from his quarterback position. Cal fans: Think the Jared Goff and Luke Rubenzer combination from 2014 but better. The duo of Buechele and Swoopes, plus sophomore receiver John Burt and converted wideout Jerrod Heard, have led the No. 11 Longhorns to more than 40 points per game through the first couple weeks of the season, utilizing creative run tactics and big plays through the air. After a 41-7 tuneup against UTEP, Texas is riding into Strawberry Canyon as high as it’s been in a long time.
2. Michigan Wolverines
The only memory that a lot of football fans remember from Michigan’s season last year is fumbling away a punt at the end of a heartbreaking loss at the Big House to Michigan State. This year will likely be a different story. Like the Longhorns, the Wolverines have found a solid quarterback foundation in junior Wilton Speight after coming into the season with question marks at the position. Unlike Texas, however, Michigan began the year as a top contender for this year’s College Football Playoff, led by renown head coach Jim Harbaugh. Over the first two weeks of the season, the offense has generated 13 touchdowns in blowout wins over Hawaii and UCF, putting the team in prime position to challenge rival Ohio State for the top spot in the Big Ten. With tough matchups on the road against a number of conference powerhouses including the Buckeyes, Iowa and in-state rival Michigan State, it will be interesting to see just how good this Michigan squad can be. They’re fast, exciting and have a team that’s full of potential.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
These guys always seems to be at the top of everyone’s list. The SEC has had a shaky start to the season, but the Crimson Tide have picked up right where they left off. Even with the departure of Jake Coker and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who led the Tide to their fourth national championship in the past seven years, freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts didn’t appear to show any nerves during Week 1’s 52-6 routing over USC. Alabama outgained the Trojans 465 to 194, even though it possessed the ball on offense for only 43 more seconds. Not only does it score, but it scores quickly. In addition, the Tide’s defense has forced a total of 18 punts by their opponents in the first two weeks of play. And while watching the Alabama offense break down the defensive schemes of opposing teams over and over again can get repetitive, it only solidifies the dominance of the team’s depth and execution. Head Coach Nick Saban is seeking his sixth national title as the Crimson Tide look to repeat last year’s postseason success. Could we be witnessing the formation of a potential dynasty?
- Louisville Cardinals: Sophomore Lamar Jackson made 13 (!) touchdowns in two starts — need I say more?
- Florida State Seminoles: Heisman-hopeful Dalvin Cook is capable of producing more than 2000 rushing yards in a single season. Is this the year that the junior tailback not only takes the Heisman crown, but also leads FSU to the playoff?
- Houston Cougars: Who even are they? They are an overlooked, severely underrated group of players from the American Athletic Conference who know how to compete. After upsetting third-ranked Oklahoma on opening weekend, Greg Ward Jr. and the Cougars are poised and determined to potentially crash the playoff party. Keep an eye out for them.
- Pac-12 shoutout to the Washington Huskies: Sorry Stanford, but we can’t pick you this time. The Huskies are my pick to win not only the Pac-12 North, but the entire conference as a whole. Quarterback Jake Browning has remained cool and confident with eight touchdown passes through two weeks of play, and even more impressively, a 74.5-percent completion percentage. It’s still early, but the Huskies appear hungry and ready for their first Pac-12 title since 2000.
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