College News & Analysis

College Football Week 2 Preview: Storylines, matchups and predictions for five biggest games

2RP44Y8 Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) throws against Rice during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

• Texas-Alabama: With a healthy Quinn Ewers, will the No. 11 Longhorns be able to finish the job this time against the No. 3 Crimson Tide?

• Ole Miss-Tulane: There should be offensive fireworks in this game between the No. 20 Rebels and No. 24 Green Wave.

• Nebraska-Colorado: Can Deion Sanders and the No. 22 Buffaloes pass last season’s win total in just their second game of the year?

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Week 1 of college football lived up to the hype. Colorado put the whole country on notice with a 45-42 road upset of then-No. 17 TCU, a school that played in the national championship game a mere eight months ago. Then-No. 8 Florida State looked unstoppable against then-No. 5 LSU, dominating them 45-24. Finally, then-No. 9 Clemson dropped its season opener to unranked Duke.

There’s even more excitement to come in Week 2, with two games between ranked teams, namely a colossal showdown in Tuscaloosa. Here are the storylines to know, matchups to watch and predictions for the five biggest games this weekend.

No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at N.C. State Wolfpack (12 p.m. ET on ABC)

Storyline to know: The first true test for Notre Dame

While the Fighting Irish have outscored their two opponents 98-6 so far, those two foes were also Navy and Tennessee State. The Midshipmen are outside the top 100 teams in PFF’s power rankings and the Tigers are an FCS squad.

Notre Dame will be tested for the first time on the road against N.C. State, a top-25 team in our power rankings.

Matchup to watch: Can the Wolfpack get the better of Sam Hartman once again?

Sam Hartman faced the Wolfpack three times while he was Wake Forest’s starting quarterback. He lost two of those matchups, throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions (six).

N.C. State will need to force him into mistakes once again if they want a chance at an upset. Unfortunately for them, he’s currently red-hot with a 91.2 passing grade that ranks fifth among Power Five quarterbacks.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, N.C. State 21

The Fighting Irish offense won’t be as explosive as it was in the first couple of games, but it’ll do enough to squeak past the Wolfpack.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 22 Colorado Buffaloes (12 p.m. ET on FOX)

Storyline to know: Are they legit?

Colorado shocked the world in Week 1 with a 45-42 upset win over then-No. 17 TCU, despite entering the game as a nearly three-touchdown underdog.

It took just one game under Deion Sanders for the Buffaloes to go from a 1-11 team last year to one that’s ranked in the top 25. Now, it’s time for Colorado to earn that number next to its name and potentially climb even higher. They’ll face a Matt Rhule-coached Nebraska team that’s hungry for a first win after losing a heartbreaker to Minnesota in the season opener.

Matchup to watch: How will the Cornhuskers handle Travis Hunter?

Hunter’s performance against TCU was unlike anything we’ve seen before. The sophomore played 144 snaps in 100-degree heat, 80 at cornerback and 64 at wide receiver. And he didn’t just play both sides; he dominated. At wide receiver, he caught 11 passes for 119 yards, the second most on the team. At cornerback, he had three forced incompletions and secured an interception in the red zone.

Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims is no stranger to red-zone interceptions this season, as one of his three picks against Minnesota came on the six-yard line. He finished with a dismal 29.7 passing grade against the Golden Gophers and should avoid throwing it Hunter’s way at all costs.

While the Cornhuskers held Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis to just 4.5 yards per attempt, they’ll have their hands full with Hunter and Shedeur Sanders, who threw for 510 yards against the Horned Frogs.

Prediction: Colorado 35, Nebraska 24

Deion Sanders starts 2-0 as Colorado’s head coach, already passing the team’s win total from last season.

No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels at No. 24 Tulane Green Wave (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

Storyline to know: Two explosive offenses square off

Both quarterbacks in this game, Jaxson Dart and Michael Pratt, were fantastic in their season debuts.

Dart earned a 93.1 grade in the Rebels’ 73-7 win over Mercer, ranking third among FBS signal-callers in Week 1. Meanwhile, Pratt posted a 98.0 passing grade in Tulane’s 37-17 win over South Alabama. Not only did that lead all quarterbacks in the country, but it’s the second-highest single-game mark since PFF began charting college football in 2014, bested only by Jalen Hurts’ 98.6 grade against West Virginia in 2019. This game has the potential for fireworks.

Matchup to watch: Will Tulane be able to stop Quinshon Judkins?

While the Green Wave must slow down Dart and the Ole Miss passing attack, they also must account for running back Quinshon Judkins. It was a relatively quiet season debut for the sophomore, who earned a 74.3 grade after running 13 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. However, this was my No. 2 running back in the country entering the season after how sensational he was as a true freshman. Expect him to be featured much more heavily against a quality opponent.

Tulane did an excellent job shutting down the run against South Alabama, allowing just 2.3 yards per attempt. Judkins is a different beast, though, so the Green Wave will have their hands full.

Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Tulane 28

Judkins and Dart prove to be too much for Tulan to handle, although Pratt keeps things interesting.

No. 23 Texas A&M Aggies at Miami (FL) Hurricanes (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC)

Storyline to know: Two programs in desperate need of a statement victory

Last season was extremely disappointing for both teams.

Texas A&M started the year at No. 6 and had serious playoff aspirations before freefalling to a 5-7 record. Miami (FL) reached as high as No. 13 in the rankings before also crashing to a 5-7 finish. This game serves as an opportunity for both programs to prove that 2022 was a fluke and that they’re heading in the right direction.

Matchup to watch: Texas A&M’s passing game vs. Miami’s pass defense

Conner Weigman proved in Week 1 why so many Texas A&M fans were excited about the future with the sophomore under center. The former five-star recruit earned a 91.9 grade against New Mexico, throwing five touchdowns in the 52-10 victory. Aiding him is a top-10 receiving corps headlined by fellow five-star sophomore Evan Stewart, who recorded 115 yards and two touchdowns against the Lobos. The Aggies also feature a top-10 offensive line in college football.

Miami’s defense could give them issues, though. The Hurricanes boast the best safety duo in the nation between Kamren Kinchens and James Williams. Miami will also be able to create pressure with a top-10 defensive line that features interior defensive lineman Leonard Taylor III, a projected top-15 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Prediction: Texas A&M 27, Miami (FL) 24

Texas A&M wins a close one thanks to a few clutch plays from Weigman and some stops from its talented defense.

No. 11 Texas Longhorns at No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (7 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Storyline to know: Is the Jalen Milroe improvement real?

The biggest question for Alabama entering the season was who Bryce Young’s replacement would be. Jalen Milroe eventually won the job and impressed in the season opener with a 92.3 grade that tied for fifth among FBS quarterbacks. However, it came against Middle Tennessee and he was coming off a 2022 campaign where he posted a 30.3 passing grade and a 10.3% turnover-worthy play rate, the worst marks among all quarterbacks in the country with at least 75 dropbacks.

The redshirt sophomore will have an opportunity to show if he has actually made a drastic improvement against Texas, which fields one of the best secondaries in the country.

Matchup to watch: Can Quinn Ewers recapture the magic from a year ago?

When these two teams matched up a year ago, Texas had Alabama on the ropes before the Crimson Tide escaped with a 20-19 victory. Ewers was a surgeon in the first quarter, posting a 90.2 grade with three big-time throws on just 14 attempts. Late in that opening quarter, though, he took a big hit from Dallas Turner and suffered an SC sprain to his non-throwing shoulder that knocked him out of the game. If he doesn’t go down, it stands to reason that the Longhorns win that game, perhaps pretty easily.

Ewers will have a chance to finish the job this time around and has the nation’s second-best receiving corps and a top-10 offensive line at his disposal. While the Crimson Tide’s defense is loaded, they could be without two secondary starters in safety Jaylen Key and slot cornerback Malachi Moore, both of whom are dealing with injuries.

Prediction: Texas 27, Alabama 24

With Ewers healthy and Alabama's secondary beat up, Texas finishes the job this time around and upsets the Crimson Tide.

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protect your family with fast, free will.

College Featured Tools

  • Power Rankings are PFF’s NCAA power ratings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. These power rankings are adjusted based on coach, quarterback and the market each season.

    Available with

  • PFF's exclusive metrics provide matchup previews, position rankings, grades, and snap counts.

    Available with

  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit