One of the most anticipated matchups of 2020 was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic– Ohio State at Oregon. The showdown is now on for the 2021 season, albeit at the reverse locations, within college football Week 2 odds.
For the past few years, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have both fought in their own respects for their place in the college football world, oftentimes coming face-to-face when it came to College Football Playoff seeding. Now, their top two programs (Oregon and Ohio State) duke it out for the first time since the 2014-15 National Championship Game. Both teams’ rivals also square off with major implications.
Let’s dive into the Week 2 odds for the 2021 College Football season.
College Football Week 2 Odds
Top games of Week 2
No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State ()
There’s no doubt that this is the top game of the week for most of the country without a rooting interest in the other games on this list. It’s a showcase of the top teams in their respective conference, with Oregon putting their neck on the line for the Pac-12. The CFP committee has a proven track record of omitting the Pac-12 champion from their field of four, with the last team being Washington all the way back in 2015-16; that team was beaten 38-0 by Alabama, effectively closing the door on a Pac-12 rep in the Playoff for the next half decade.
Even with that kind of pride on the table and the respectable talent of the Oregon Ducks, they drew a short stick by facing Ohio State — which is regarded as being on a different level than the rest of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes sit in the upper crust of college football along with Clemson and Alabama annually. C.J. Stroud succeeds the prolific Justin Fields and Stroud inherits the best receiver tandem in the nation, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.
Oregon’s stud pass rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux, will not suit up this game. The Ducks squeaked out a Week 1 win against Fresno State while the Buckeyes wrestled with their own tight win over Minnesota.
No. 21 Utah () at BYU
Concerns loomed this offseason over whether or not BYU would continue to win post-Zach Wilson. After a solid Week 1 showing against Arizona, the answer– at least at the time– appears to be, yes. Quarterback Jared Hall looked sharp despite not overwhelming the box score. The Cougars handle their toughest test of the early season, Utah, at home.
The Utes thumped Weber State in their opener behind 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Tavion Thomas. Of course, it takes more than a decisive victory over an FCS opponent to declare Utah a power or not, but expectations are high. Preseason win totals slated Utah at 8.5– third most in the Pac-12 South and an implied improved win percentage of 0.108.
Utah commands the rivalry, dubbed the “Holy War,” with the Utes taking their last nine matchups. However, don’t pencil Utah in just yet– their average point margin over their last seven matchups has been 7.1. Every year, this matchup provides an entertaining game at the very least.
No. 15 Texas () at Arkansas
Aside from being an evenly matched game between two teams with something to prove, Texas and Arkansas is a revived Big 12 rivalry that’s long overdue to return. Both teams are facing a change at quarterback with the Longhorns losing star Sam Ehlinger to the NFL. It’s also Year 1 for new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who took the Texas job after a successful run as the Alabama offensive coordinator.
Arkansas is a popular pick to be a team on the rise after the Razorbacks came up just short several times in 2020. While plenty of questions remain about this team, they do return 17 starters, including their entire offensive line, from a season ago. Texas is Arkansas’ biggest out of conference test and their first big game of the year after they open with Rice. This will be Sarkisian’s first Power Five opponent of the season, but Texas does have a tough Week 1 against Louisiana.
What the game comes down to is which team is more ready? They each have minimal time to adjust to the speed of major college football, and this exciting revived rivalry will be a keep-up lesson for both squads. Finally, it will also serve as a tone-setter for the rest of 2021.
No. 10 Iowa at No. 9 Iowa State ()
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry gets its own week to shine in 2021, coming just two weeks into the season. Iowa has won five straight, but the last three matchups have come at an average win margin of +4.3. This year, many project the Cyclones to have a breakout season, even being a favorite darkhorse pick to sneak into the CFP. They return two of the best offensive players in the Big 12 – Brock Purdy and Breece Hall (the latter finding himself near the top of Heisman odds tables).
Hall’s first test of the season comes against an Iowa defense that ranked first in the nation in explosive plays allowed in 2020 after leading the nation in rushing yards. The Hawkeyes also finished first in scoring drives allowed, stopping opponents 81.3% of the time a season ago. While Iowa has to find a new defensive front, they do return every starter in the defensive secondary, which should help limit Purdy’s effectiveness off play action; Iowa also allowed a 30-yard reception on just 1% of their defensive snaps last year.
Iowa State fielded one of the top rushing defenses a year ago, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. They take on Iowa’s Tyler Goodson, who rushed for 95.2 yards per game (29th). Expect a run-heavy game and low scoring totals – the last two iterations of this game resulted in 35 and 16 total points.