school soccer Week 2 - massive look at for Kentucky-Florida, unusual meeting for Alabama-Texas, familiarity in USC-Stanford

After a wild Week 1 that featured 5 consecutive days of video games, starting from Appalachian State scoring forty factors inside the fourth quarter alone and nonetheless shedding to North Carolina to Iowa scoring seven factors (on two safeties and a area objective) in 4 quarters and worthwhile, what does the second full weekend of video games maintain for school soccer?

An SEC matchup that consists of two ranked teams, the foremost common-season meeting between Alabama and Texas in a century, a effectively-acknowledged Pac-12 contest and completely different people self similar extreme-scoring Mountaineers taking on a a lot stingier protection in Texas A&M.

right here is a full rundown of the important factor matchups and most compelling storylines for the very best video games in Week 2.


No. 20 Kentucky at No. 12 Florida (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App)

Even mentioning Kentucky’s title in context with the very best 25 rankings or the SEC soccer race was at one time pure fantasy.

Come on, at a basketball school? do not get soccer coach Mark Stoops started on that one, particularly this week, as his Wildcats sort out Florida inside the Swamp, a recreation that beforehand barely prompted a ripple inside the SEC. in spite of every little thing, Florida acquired 31 consecutive video games inside the collection earlier than the Wildcats lastly broke by way of in 2018.

however on Saturday, it is going to be the foremost SEC matchup of the 2022 season pitting two nationally ranked teams in opposition to every completely different. Coming into this season, most would have predicted that Kentucky could be the one group ranked amongst the numerous two. that is earlier than Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson went into full Cam Newton-mode final week inside the Gators’ 29-26 upset of then-No. 7 Utah.

“it is extremely effective to single out anyone factor,” Stoops mentioned of discover out how to decelerate Richardson. “He has a gifted arm. all people goes to say what an athlete he is, however he can rip it and throw the ball, as effectively.”

The quarterback matchup on this recreation ought to be a deal with. Kentucky’s Will Levis is a projected first-spherical NFL draft choose, and with the Wildcats as quickly as extra anticipated to be with out star working again Chris Rodriguez Jr., Levis would possibly want to maintain an excellent heavier burden if Kentucky goes to beat Florida for the third time beforehand 5 years. The Gators gave up 230 speeding yards to the Utes, and Levis is lots in a place to doing his personal harm on the underside. The 6-foot-three, 232-pound Levis handed for twenty-4 touchdowns and ran for 9 extra final season.

“when you have that franchise quarterback, it adjustments every little thing,” Stoops mentioned.

Stoops has fully modified the soccer panorama at Kentucky, to the objective that he can go Bear Bryant on Saturday as Kentucky’s all-time wins chief. that is one factor that will resonate for a very very prolonged time regardless of the opponent, however doing it on the highway in opposition to Florida?

“people underestimate how onerous it is to assemble a program inside the SEC from the underside,” mentioned Stoops, who’s 60-fifty three at Kentucky and has guided the Wildcats to 4 straight bowl victories. “There’s been a quantity of funding right here by a quantity of various people.”

And have a look on the return.

Kentucky has acquired 10 video games twice beforehand 4 years. earlier to that, the Wildcats hadn’t acquired 10 video games in a season since 1977. Stoops’ capacity to develop gamers, maintain a workers that matches this methodology’s tradition and create a steely toughness that permeates the full program are all components which have led to Kentucky’s sustained success.

“that is the precept factor, as a consequence of there is not any particular person contemplating going backward on this league,” mentioned Stoops, the second-longest-tenured coach inside the SEC, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Over the previous 5 seasons (going again to the start of 2017), solely 4 SEC teams have acquired extra video games than Kentucky: Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M. With forty two wins, the Aggies have simply one other victory than the Wildcats all by way of that stretch.

Stoops, who took over at Kentucky in 2013, has seen 22 head coaches pack up and go away the SEC since his hiring, and solely two of these left to take one other job. Stoops has had his personal alternatives to depart and would have been an exact menace at LSU final 12 months had Brian Kelly not decided to depart Notre Dame.

“I really feel very linked right here, very linked to this fan base. I really feel like there’s mutual respect as a consequence of we constructed it from the underside up,” Stoops mentioned. “you do not get that in each place. And it does not matter what school you are at or what stage, it is onerous. you should be someplace that you only’re rooted. have a look at Bob [older brother Bob Stoops] and the method rooted he was at Oklahoma.

“you do not ever escape how onerous it is to win, probably for a honeymoon interval when you first go away, however that is it.” — Chris Low


No. 1 Alabama at Texas (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)

Texas and Alabama, two of school soccer’s best mannequin names, will meet Saturday for simply the tenth time in historic previous, and the sport has virtually always meant one factor massive is on the highway.

Take the 1965 Orange Bowl, the foremost performed at night and the foremost dwell nationwide community telecast of a school soccer recreation in prime time. Texas handed a 21-17 loss to Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide, who had been topped nationwide champs earlier than the sport was even performed.

however this time is completely different. For one, Alabama is not any. 1 and Texas is unranked. it is additionally the foremost time since 1922 the two have performed inside the common season. There’s not a lot on the highway completely different than bragging rights for the prolonged time period SEC rivals. the two packages have gone in a quantity of instructions since their final meeting on the conclusion of the 2009 advertising campaign, when Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was injured inside the foremost quarter en path to a 37-21 loss as Nick Saban claimed his first nationwide championship at Alabama. Texas has been adrift with three head coaches since then.

The Longhorns have been 20-level underdogs as of Wednesday at Caesars Sportsbook, they typically’re extra seemingly to close with their longest odds to win at residence for the motive that 1978 FBS/FCS break up, in line with ESPN Stats & information. Coach Steve Sarkisian already has mentioned his focus is on making it to the massive 12 title recreation on Dec. three and indicated this recreation will not outline his progress of rebuilding the Texas program.

Sarkisian is aware of what he is up in opposition to, arriving in Austin final 12 months after serving as Saban’s offensive coordinator for two seasons. Matching wits collectively with his previous boss shall be a massive look at, however Sarkisian mentioned he is extra involved with how Texas performs its personal recreation.

“One factor we now want to watch out of is simply not overanalyzing and overthinking it an extreme quantity of,” Sarkisian mentioned Monday. “typically you should be like a pitcher and throw your best pitch. we now want to throw our best pitches and see if it is enough.”

With a redshirt freshman at quarterback in Quinn Ewers and in an effort to gradual the Tide’s go-rushers — fueled by Will Anderson Jr., who led the nation in pressures the previous two seasons — these pitches will seemingly contain an unimaginable deal of Bijan Robinson. The Longhorns’ stellar working again ran for 1,127 yards and eleven touchdowns in 10 video games final season earlier than being sidelined by harm. He’ll seemingly look at the center of the Tide’s protection behind Texas’ youthful offensive line after averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring seven of his TDs between the tackles final season, when Alabama allowed 4.zero yards per carry up the center.

The Longhorns are anxious to see how their protection has improved after permitting 31.1 factors per recreation final 12 months, 99th nationally. And Alabama seemingly is simply too, with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce youthful coming off a fifty five-zero win over Utah State all by way of which he threw 5 touchdown passes and ran for a hundred yards and one other rating.

Saban is 25-2 at Alabama in opposition to his former assistants, with 23 of the wins coming by at the least 14 factors. however each losses have been final season, inside the common season to Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher and inside the nationwide championship to Georgia and Kirby good. Sarkisian mentioned Monday that this recreation shall be simply like one from 2009, when Sarkisian’s upstart Washington squad upset then-No. three Southern California, coached by his former mentor Pete Carroll.

however Saban mentioned the familiarity works each methods.

“we have appeared to play a quantity of teams now that form of know us,” Saban mentioned Monday. “however you act like we do not know them. So merely as a consequence of any particular person is aware of you after they play you does not indicate they are going to beat you. And simply because you understand them when you play them does not indicate you are gonna beat ’em both. it is gonna come proper down to the way you execute.” — Dave Wilson


No. 24 Tennessee at No. 17 Pitt (Saturday, three:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App)

When Tennessee heads as a lot as Pittsburgh, it will mark the foremost time in school historic previous the Panthers will host a group from the SEC.

however these teams have familiarity with every completely different, after Pitt went on the highway final 12 months to beat the Vols forty one-34 — a recreation that set the early tone en path to an ACC championship season. but regardless of having not too prolonged in the past proved Pitt can beat Tennessee, the Vols enter the sport as favorites.

When requested how the Panthers might very effectively be underdogs on this recreation, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi mentioned in a cellphone interview with ESPN.com on Wednesday, “they’ve gamers, and that i assume all people’s saying we do not have Kenny Pickett, so Kenny Pickett will want to have been the distinction final 12 months inside the win.”

Narduzzi then pointed to the turnover margin: Pitt had three takeaways to zero for Tennessee. Pitt additionally acquired the turnover margin in a 38-31 win over West Virginia the earlier week, nonetheless the protection did not play as effectively as to Narduzzi needed. West Virginia gained one hundred ninety yards speeding — the very best whole Pitt has given up for the motive that closing common-season recreation in 2019 — and its greater receivers typically had success in opposition to the smaller Pitt defensive backs.

that is amongst the numerous best keys to look at on this recreation, as Tennessee wideouts Bru McCoy (6-three) and Cedric Tillman (6-three) each have dimension advantages. Narduzzi additionally recognized Jalin Hyatt and his velocity, notably. When requested about this matchup, Narduzzi mentioned, “I really feel good; in any other case, i would forfeit the sport and by no means play. There’s always going to be challenges. we now want to play good protection, that is of course. it is not going to be simple.”

Then there may even be Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker, who bought here into their matchup a 12 months in the past in aid of Joe Milton III and virtually rallied Tennessee for the win. as quickly as Hooker entered the sport, Tennessee averaged 6.2 yards per play, as in contrast with 4.2 with Milton behind center.

there may even be greater than merely their recreation final 12 months that affords familiarity. Narduzzi’s Panthers performed in opposition to Tennessee coach Josh Heupel when Heupel coached UCF, and Pitt confronted Hooker when Hooker was the starting quarterback at Virginia Tech in from 2019 to 2020. — Andrea Adelson


Appalachian State at No. 6 Texas A&M (Saturday, three:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN App)

App State heads to school Station to face Texas A&M coming off of arguably Week 1’s most satisfying recreation, a sixty three-sixty one loss to North Carolina all by way of which the Mountaineers scored forty factors inside the fourth quarter. Quarterback Chase Brice led App State with 361 yards passing for six touchdowns with one choose.

Texas A&M, alternatively, shut out Sam Houston State 31-zero in its opener. it is not a dangerous wager to say that App State will not be placing up forty factors in 1 / 4 this week, however who’s aware of after the opening week we simply noticed in school soccer?

all by way of his Monday information convention, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher praised Brice, saying, “He is aware of ball, and he performed good there final 12 months. He can throw the ball down the sphere, can create performs collectively with his legs and he is bought a … savviness to him. simply physique language, and throw the ball right here, and flip the ball there. Man, he can simply actually play the sport.”

Fisher added that his protection should proceed to play disciplined to have success on Saturday.

Offensively, Fisher was requested about placing extra emphasis on working the soccer this week in apply and mentioned, “that is what we do. we’ll run the soccer.”

Texas A&M going up in opposition to an App State protection that gave up 6 yards per rush in opposition to the Tar Heels shall be a matchup to maintain watch over Saturday afternoon. The Aggies had simply a hundred and ten yards and three.4 yards per carry in opposition to Sam Houston State.

requested Monday for his evaluation on Texas A&M’s offense, App State coach Shawn Clark replied with a smirk and left it at “good.”

Defensively, Clark mentioned, “They recruit on the very best stage in school sports activities. … they’ve good playmakers. they’ve an distinctive offense, protection; schematically, they current you a quantity of extremely effective circumstances on each offense and protection. we now have our work minimize out for us, nonetheless the blokes are excited to get down there to school Station.” — Harry Lyles Jr.


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1:forty eight

Calen Bullock, Shane Lee and Ralen Goforth discover pay grime on every interception to enhance the Trojans’ lead.

USC at Stanford (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App)

If beating Rice sixty six-14 due to 4 interceptions was the appetizer to open USC’s season, then touring to Stanford feels simply like the Trojans sitting down on the dinner desk for the start of their foremost course. The Cardinal aren’t precisely anticipated to be a drive this 12 months, nonetheless the early-season matchup is virtually always a barometer for what form of advertising campaign USC can put collectively. Over the previous 10 years, USC is three-5 in opposition to Stanford inside the month of September, collectively with 1-three in Palo Alto.

Like many issues he has modified since he arrived, Trojans coach Lincoln Riley is hoping to reverse that enchancment too. And each he and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch know 4 interceptions in a recreation, collectively with three returned for touchdowns, is simply not one factor they will always rely upon. but for a protection that is made up of a quantity of new faces and stays the largest question, the function the unit performed in final weekend’s victory bodes effectively heading forward. Stanford, nonetheless, will current a extra appropriate look at.

“you are going to want to be clear inside the [defensive] run recreation,” Riley mentioned, including that regardless of the turnovers, it is one space the place he felt the Trojans’ D might very effectively be extra fixed. “On prime of it, you are dealing with a very extreme-stage quarterback [Tanner McKee], so safety has bought to be sharp. it is going to take a little bit of little bit of all people.”

“it is going to take a little bit of little bit of all people” is most seemingly the theme of this USC season, even on offense, the place Caleb Williams already seems as comfy as is most seemingly behind an line that is nonetheless rotating between two left tackles in Courtland Ford and Virginia change Bobby Haskins.

“simply seeing how effectively he is aware of [the offense] and the method effectively he can translate it to the sphere, it supplies confidence to the offense,” Trojans working again Travis Dye mentioned of Williams, who not solely had simply three incompletions however was USC’s main rusher with sixty eight yards on the underside, displaying the form of offensive stability that is most seemingly vital as quickly as as quickly as extra this Saturday. “He can actually do all of it. He can go, he can paint your again porch, he can stroll your canine and he can run the ball.”

The matchup in opposition to the Cardinal will current Riley & Co. with a clearer view on a quantity of positional battles provided that, as he put it, the three choose-sixes final weekend affected the quantity of reps the teaching workers anticipated some gamers to get. Saturday’s contest additionally will give the school soccer panorama a greater sense for simply how good USC is. One recreation in, the Trojans have already bought jumped from No. 14 to No. 10 inside the AP ballot to wind up to be the very best-ranked group inside the Pac-12, and expectations do not get lowered any time quickly. — Paolo Uggetti

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