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College football Week 2 preview: Texas welcomes No. 1 Alabama to Austin, Top 25 SEC battle in Gainesville

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There’s usually a lull after Week 1 of the college football season

After all the excitement and shine wears off from the beginning of a new season, the Week 2 slate can be filled with its fair share of duds.

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Not this year. Not this week. 

The Texas Longhorns take the field before a game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Sept. 3, 2022, in Austin, Texas.

The Texas Longhorns take the field before a game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Sept. 3, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

College football Saturday kicks off with a matchup between two traditional powers before ending late into the evening with a matchup between two future Big 12 foes. 

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Let’s take a look at a few games to be aware of Saturday as the college football season kicks off Week 2.

Texas vs No. 1 Alabama – 12 p.m. ET, FOX

There are moments in the history of every program where fans can point and see where the turnaround occurred. For Texas, Saturday is one of those opportunities as Nick Saban and No. 1 Alabama roll into Austin, Texas, for the first meeting between the two schools since the 2010 national championship game. 

Coming off a Week 1 win over UL Monroe, Texas gets its biggest test of the Steve Sarkisian era. On Tuesday, Sarkisian attempted to play down the matchup, saying Texas needed to focus on simply playing “good football.” 

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches during the first half of the team's game against Utah State Sept. 3, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches during the first half of the team’s game against Utah State Sept. 3, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
( AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

“You can get caught up in being worried about Alabama,” Sarkisian said Monday. “You can get caught up worrying about GameDay being here. You can get caught up with Fox being here. You can get caught up in stuff that really is irrelevant to our ability to play good football. We need to be enamored with us. Focused on us.”

ALABAMA’S NICK SABAN RECALLS TRIP TO STATE OF TEXAS AS HEAVY FAVORITE: ‘WE GOT OUT A– KICKED’

It’s the first time since 1922 Texas will host Alabama, and the Crimson Tide roll into town after blanking Utah State 55-0. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young threw for five touchdowns while accounting for 295 yards of offense with six touchdowns against the Aggies. 

The Alabama defense held Utah State to just 136 total yards and will look to shut down Heisman hopeful running back Bijan Robinson Jr. 

“Bijan’s a great running back. Everybody knows that, everybody sees that. He’s quick, elusive, finds holes that not an average back can find,” Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o said.

Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) leads the team onto the field during a game against the University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks Sept. 3, 2022, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. 

Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) leads the team onto the field during a game against the University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks Sept. 3, 2022, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. 
(Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Alabama will be 20-point favorites heading into Austin, but Saban doesn’t think too highly of odds. 

TEXAS HEAD COACH STEVE SARKISIAN ON FACING NO. 1 ALABAMA: ‘WE NEED TO BE ENAMORED WITH US’

“Everybody has heard that we’re a 20-point favorite in this game,” Saban said Thursday on his weekly radio show. “The last time we were 20-point favorites and went to Texas we got our ass kicked.”

Texas leads the all-time series 7-1-1. 

Appalachian State vs No. 6 Texas A&M – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

App State isn’t heading to College Station, Texas, to take a payday. They’re playing an SEC school with an upset on their minds. 

Following a wild 63-61 loss to North Carolina, the Mountaineers will look to build on a 40-point fourth quarter against the Tar Heels. 

“Well, I’ve done this 22 years, and I’ve never scored 40 points in one quarter or scored nine touchdowns and got beat,” App State head coach Shawn Clark said this week when asked how his team moves past the Week 1 loss. “But it happens. You talk about situations come up throughout a season of two-point conversions, onside kicks, clock management. They all came up in the first home game or the first game of the season. Our kids, they expect to win.”

TEXAS A&M’S JIMBO FISHER ON OFFSEASON WAR OF WORDS WITH ALABAMA’S NICK SABAN: ‘TIME TO SHUT UP AND PLAY’ 

Quarterback Chase Brice threw for 361 yards and a school-record six touchdowns while App State rushed for 288 yards on the ground. 

Texas A and M Aggies students sing during a game against the Sam Houston State University Bearkats Sept. 3, 2022, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.  

Texas A and M Aggies students sing during a game against the Sam Houston State University Bearkats Sept. 3, 2022, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.  
(Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Texas A&M allowed just 198 total yards against Sam Houston State in its Week 1 win, but head coach Jimbo Fisher understands his team faces a much tougher challenge in Week 2. 

“This team can play in any league,” Fisher said. “They have great players, have gotten a few transfers and recruited well. This is a great team and one that can play on either side of the ball.” 

App State is most known for one of the greatest upsets in college football history, a 34-32 victory in 2007 over No. 5 Michigan at The Big House. 

No. 17 Pittsburgh vs No. 24 Tennessee – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

It’s the first time Tennessee has been ranked in the Josh Heupel era, and the Vols will now be looking to beat a ranked team for just the second time in Heupel’s two seasons in Knoxville. 

Pitt is coming off a win over Tennessee in 2021, a close win over West Virginia in “The Backyard Brawl” in Week 1 and is fresh off an ACC Championship. Yet the Panthers will be underdogs Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. 

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) jumps into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against the Ball State Cardinals Sept. 1, 2022, at Neyland Stadium, in Knoxville, Tenn. 

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) jumps into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against the Ball State Cardinals Sept. 1, 2022, at Neyland Stadium, in Knoxville, Tenn. 
(Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“You’ve heard all summer about the SEC, and there’s only really two Power Five conferences in the country — the SEC and the Big Ten,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “So we’re in the peewee league, and we’re going to line up and see if we can play.”

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Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, a Heisman Trophy dark horse, leads the high-powered Vols offense into Pittsburgh. 

“Hendon is a completely different guy,” Tennessee quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle said. “His confidence, his fundamentals, his development since that point, he’s a completely different quarterback.”

FOLLOWING TENNESSEE COACH JOSH HEUPEL’S DEBUT 7-6 SEASON, THE VOLUNTEERS LOOK FOR MORE WINS

The run game could be key as Tennessee rushed for 218 yards on the ground against Ball State in Week 1, while Pitt allowed 190 yards on the ground to West Virginia. 

Kedon Slovis of the Pittsburgh Panthers scrambles out of the pocket in the first quarter during a game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Acrisure Stadium Sept. 1, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

Kedon Slovis of the Pittsburgh Panthers scrambles out of the pocket in the first quarter during a game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Acrisure Stadium Sept. 1, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
(Justin Berl/Getty Images)

It will be Tennessee’s biggest test before the start of its SEC conference schedule. 

“This is a big game for us, obviously,” Heupel said. “(It’s) the first road test for us against a really good football team.”

No. 12 Florida vs No. 20 Kentucky – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

For just the fourth time in 73 meetings, Florida and Kentucky will face off with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25. 

In the first SEC matchup of the season, the two quarterbacks will be the focal point, with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson coming off a masterful game against the Utah Utes and projected first-round NFL selection Will Levis looking to improve on his performance after being intercepted and sacked four times in Week 1. 

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“He don’t need him to put that kind of pressure on himself,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “We love and respect his drive and motivation, and that’s obvious. But there also can be added pressure when the expectations go high on him.

“We just need him to be him. He is very driven and playing at a very high level.”

The Wildcats are expected to be without star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., as the senior is dealing with an off-the-field issue. 

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For Billy Napier and Florida, they’ll need Richardson to once again be otherworldly and build on his three-touchdown performance against Utah. 

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) runs through the end zone after rushing for a 45-yard touchdown during the first half against Utah Sept. 3, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. 

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) runs through the end zone after rushing for a 45-yard touchdown during the first half against Utah Sept. 3, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. 
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

“Everything you want in a quarterback, he has,” Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall said of Richardson. “He’s got a rocket for an arm. If he wants to throw it across the entire field, he can do that. Just ask him, he’ll throw it a hundred yards.”

Stoops has turned around the Kentucky football program, going 60-53 in 10 seasons in Lexington. 

“People underestimate how hard it is to build a program in the SEC from the bottom,” said Stoops, according to ESPN.”There’s been a lot of investment here by a lot of different people.”

No. 21 BYU vs No. 9 Baylor – 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

A fantastic nightcap to a beautiful day of college football and a soon-to-be Big 12 matchup.

It’s the first time Baylor will travel to Provo, Utah, since 1984, and the final time that BYU will face the Bears before joining the Big 12 next season. 

“All I have to say about that is that I’m just excited to play them,” BYU offensive lineman Blake Freeland said.

Jaren Hall (3) hands the ball off to Lopini Katoa (4) of the Brigham Young Cougars in the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium Sept. 3, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. 

Jaren Hall (3) hands the ball off to Lopini Katoa (4) of the Brigham Young Cougars in the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium Sept. 3, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. 
(Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

BYU is 12-2 at LaVell Edwards Stadium over the past two years, and Baylor is ready for the Cougar faithful to bring the noise. 

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“It’s packed. It’s loud,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “That’s a storm we have to run into, and we’ve been talking about and preparing for that.”

For Baylor, the defending Big 12 champions, BYU is one of just three ranked teams on its schedule and an opportunity for the Bears to show on the national stage that they’re ready for a College Football Playoff run. 

A general view during the second quarter of a game between the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Sept. 18, 2021 in Gainesville, Fla. 

A general view during the second quarter of a game between the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Sept. 18, 2021 in Gainesville, Fla. 
(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

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“What a great opportunity with this next game versus BYU,” Aranda said, according to Sports Illustrated. “[Cougars coach] Kalani [Sitake] and his team are playing at a high level. So excited for that. I think an opportunity for us, again, to show what we’re about.”

BYU has not beaten a top 10 team since 2018 and will reportedly have to play Saturday without its two top wide receivers in Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney, acording to ESPN. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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