While Alabama rests and prepares for its rematch with Johnny Football and the most anticipated game of the season, most of the other highly ranked teams will be winding their way through early season tuneups against less-than-daunting opposition on Saturday.
The exceptions are the Crimson Tide’s Southeastern Conference rivals, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Georgia, along with No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 17 Michigan.
The Gamecocks visit Athens, Ga., for their annual early season SEC East showdown with the Bulldogs, who are coming off a loss to Clemson in the biggest game of Week 1. You might have heard Notre Dame is making its last scheduled trip to the Big House on Ann Arbor, Mich., and there are a few people who are not happy about that.
Five things to know heading into Week 2 of the college football season:
FLORIDA DOESN’T LIKE MIAMI. The No. 12 Gators head south to face Miami in a game the folks in Gainesville have made pretty clear they find to be a nuisance. Athletic director Jeremy Foley has said giving up the home game the Gators would usually play, likely against a lesser foe, is costing the program millions of dollars. The Gators and Hurricanes once played a lot, but since 1987 they have met only three times in the regular season. This one represents a chance for a huge statement victory for the rebuilding Hurricanes.
STARTING, BUT PROBABLY NOT FINISHING. Johnny Manziel is expected to be in the starting lineup for Texas A&M on Saturday when the Aggies host Sam Houston State. The Heisman Trophy winner didn’t get into the game until the third quarter last week against Rice because of a 30-minute suspension for breaking NCAA rules. Then Johnny Football got into some trash talking with the Owls that led coach Kevin Sumlin to sit him down in the fourth. In between he threw three TD passes in the victory. Manziel probably won’t be needed for a full 60 minutes against the Bearkats, whom the Aggies led 47-0 at one point in last year’s game. Then again, FCS teams had a solid showing in the opening weekend of the season and SHSU is one of the better ones in Division I’s second-tier.
UNDER THE LIGHTS. The first night game at Michigan’s Big House was two seasons ago against Notre Dame and it was bedlam. A record-breaking crowd of 114,804 watched the Fighting Irish and Wolverines play a classic won in the final seconds by Denard Robinson and Michigan. Since it might be a while before the Irish come back, they might as well do it again under the lights. Expect another record-breaking crowd, but probably a little more defense than in that 35-31 thriller in 2011.
NOT OUT OF IT. South Carolina-Georgia is a really big game, no doubt. The winner gets a head start in the SEC East race. And for the Bulldogs, another loss would essentially take them out of the national championship race — in September. But remember that while South Carolina has won the past three meetings with the Bulldogs, Georgia has won the last two division titles. It’ll be tougher for the Bulldogs to go that route this season. The schedule broke in Georgia’s favor the past two seasons, when it didn’t have to play any of the SEC West’s best teams while South Carolina did. This season the Gamecocks get the easier cross-division games. And Florida will still have something to say about who wins the East, too.
INDIANA-NAVY SHOULD BE FUN. It doesn’t exactly leap off the schedule, but the Hoosiers and Midshipmen have potential to play a very entertaining game again. Last season Navy rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat IU 31-30. Both teams can score. Neither plays much defense. Enjoy.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP