The buildup heading into the 2021 college football season reached legendary levels by late August. Even then, it wasn’t enough to prepare us for the excitement that abounded in Week 1. Titans fell, underdogs won over hearts, and dozens of 2022 NFL Draft prospects clashed on the nation’s biggest stage. The best part is, it’ll only get better in Week 2. Here are some college football prospects and matchups to watch in Week 2.
Top college football Week 2 matchups
Let’s get right into the action and take a look at some of the top college football matchups in Week 2, complete with prospect pairings and storylines to follow closely. Our matchups are once again headlined by one of the most talented teams in the nation.
Oregon at Ohio State
The headline battle of the Week 2 college football slate pits the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Oregon Ducks. Both teams are in the Top 15 of our latest Top 25 college football rankings, with Ohio State at 4 and Oregon at 11. If Ohio State wants to stay in national championship contention, beating Oregon will go a long way. But the Buckeyes won’t be without resistance on Saturday.
Oregon CB Mykael Wright vs. Ohio State WRs Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave
Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave did nothing to dispel claims that they deserve to be considered the best in the nation in Week 1. Both players found the end zone and recorded at least 80 receiving yards against Minnesota. At this point, we know how Olave and Wilson win. Olave is the blazing technician, while Wilson is the acrobatic, explosive three-level threat.
Together, Olave and Wilson make for a nearly unstoppable combination. But they’ll face one of their tougher tests of the 2021 season in Oregon CB Mykael Wright. Wright is a decent-sized cornerback with excellent burst, speed, and physicality. He’s a feisty competitor who won’t let his opponents off easy at the catch point and has the athleticism to match the Buckeyes duo.
Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (+) vs. Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
The eyes follow Kayvon Thibodeaux wherever he goes. And this week, he’s going to Columbus. It’s not a guarantee that Thibodeaux will play. He’s currently day-to-day with an ankle sprain suffered in Week 1 against Fresno State. If he does, he’ll have another opportunity to solidify his top-five draft stock. However, he’ll face a formidable foe in rising tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere.
The 13th-overall recruit in the 2018 recruiting class, Petit-Frere has quickly developed into an excellent left tackle for the Buckeyes. He’s well-sized at 6’5″, 315 pounds, and he’s an excellent athlete with great get-off at the snap. His feet are fast, and his hands have been steadily developing since last season. If Petit-Frere shows up and puts the clamps on a healthy Thibodeaux, this could ultimately be a matchup between first-round picks.
Iowa at Iowa State
It didn’t take long for our first tense, in-state rivalry to come onto the schedule. This week, our 24th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Iowa State Cyclones, who dropped from 7 to 9 after an uneasy performance against Northern Iowa. The Cyclones have to be nervous about the Hawkeyes, who demolished the Indiana Hoosiers in Week 1 with a swarming defense. Can Iowa State do better?
Iowa DBs Riley Moss and Jack Koerner vs. Iowa State QB Brock Purdy
The central element of this Iowa-Iowa State clash will be the Hawkeyes’ defense. Riley Moss is the star, as he had 2 pick-sixes and 2 pass deflections in Week 1. But there are also plenty of other standouts, with safety Jack Koerner, linebacker Jack Campbell, Dane Belton, Matt Hankins, and Zach VanValkenburg.
Brock Purdy has some help in Breece Hall and Xavier Hutchinson. Still, the Iowa State offense wasn’t consistent last Saturday. Purdy was efficient, but the Cyclones struggled to separate. Against a more proactive Iowa defense, that reserved performance won’t fly. Purdy has the competitive toughness and resolve to make it a fight, but does he have the physical tools to elevate?
Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum vs. Iowa State DL Eyioma Uwazurike
If there’s a silver lining for Iowa State, it’s that Iowa’s offense isn’t very inspiring — at least in the passing game. While the Hawkeyes scored 34 points last week, almost half of those points came on defense. The true engine of the offense is Tyler Goodson, and perhaps even beyond him, stalwart center Tyler Linderbaum. Linderbaum is a stellar athlete who controls the point with immense strength, leverage, and energy.
Linderbaum is a tough matchup for any interior lineman. But for Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike, there’s a silver lining. A strong showing against the Iowa interior lineman could help to boost Uwazurike’s stock. Uwazurike is a 6’6″, 320-pound lineman who’s steadily produced across his collegiate career. Long-limbed, heavy-handed, and versatile, Uwazurike could find himself facing Linderbaum on more than one occasion Saturday. His success could be key in securing a victory.
Also on the Iowa State defensive line is edge rusher Will McDonald IV. McDonald is coming off a loss in his battle against UNI tackle Trevor Penning, and he’ll need a bounce-back in Week 2.
Texas at Arkansas
The Texas Longhorns recently broke into PFN’s Top 10 after dominating the respected Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in Week 1. Texas’ roster is supremely talented, and things are looking up under Steve Sarkisian. Still, they’ll need to bring their A-game. Like Texas, Arkansas also has one of the top defensive producers in college football.
Texas WR Jordan Whittington vs. Arkansas S Jalen Catalon
Texas’ passing offense was fairly efficient last Saturday under Hudson Card’s direction. The Longhorns also enjoyed a stellar day from redshirt sophomore receiver Jordan Whittington, who put up 7 receptions, 113 yards, and a score. Between Whittington, Bijan Robinson, and Joshua Moore, Texas has a loaded skill-position corps. However, there’s one player on Arkansas’ defense who might be kryptonite for it all.
If you don’t know who Jalen Catalon is, now is the time to learn. Also a redshirt sophomore, Catalon is one of the most electric defenders in college football. Last season, Catalon logged 99 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 4 deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. And this year, he’s off to a hot start, coming off an 11-tackle, 2-interception performance against Rice. With elite instincts and play speed, Catalon makes his presence felt each and every week.
Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown vs. Arkansas WR Treylon Burks
Catalon may hold the “Most Electric Defender” label for now, but one of his chief challengers is on the other sideline in this matchup. DeMarvion Overshown is one of the most enticing college football prospects every week, but Week 2 is an especially intriguing game for him. Overshown is a long, rangy linebacker with safety experience, and Texas may call on that safety experience to help stymy Arkansas’ premier playmaker.
Treylon Burks is coming off an up-and-down Week 1 showing that featured multiple drops, but the versatile, big-bodied Razorbacks receiver is still a mismatch on paper for Texas. He has at least a three-inch height advantage on all of Texas’ starting cornerbacks, and he can also pick up run-after-catch yards in the short range.
Overshown can be a mismatch eraser against Burks with his own length, explosiveness, and playmaking ability, but he’ll have to put himself in the right places.
Washington at Michigan
One particular college football Week 2 prospects matchup makes Washington-Michigan our final featured contest of the weekend. This game doesn’t have quite the same bite as it did before Week 1. Washington is reeling from an embarrassing loss to Montana, while Michigan is reeling from the loss of star wide receiver Ronnie Bell. Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of NFL talent in this game — especially in the trenches.
Washington OL Jaxson Kirkland vs. Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
As the Wolverines take on the Huskies this weekend, two of the highest-motor players in the entire 2022 NFL Draft will face off against one another. Jaxson Kirkland is a mean and physical mauler who prides himself in ending opponents by driving them into the dirt. He has a somewhat lean body type, but his style works more often than not. It may not be so fruitful, however, against Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson is a fast-rising star on the 2022 NFL Draft stage. Last week against Western Michigan, he caused constant problems for the Broncos’ offense. His efforts culminated in a sack and a forced fumble, but his impact was observable even beyond that on tape. Hutchinson was quick off the snap. His hands were fast, forceful, and twitchy. And he exuded that relentless energy that has become his trademark.
This is a Week 2 college football prospects battle that NFL scouts will surely have their eyes on. Both players have been mocked in Round 1 at various points this offseason.
More college football matchups to watch in Week 2
Kentucky QB Will Levis vs. Missouri CBs Allie Green IV and Akayleb Evans
Kentucky OLB Jordan Wright vs. Missouri RB Tyler Badie
Coastal Carolina WR Jaivon Heiligh vs. Kansas S Kenny Logan Jr.
North Carolina A&T RB Jah-Maine Martin vs. Duke LB Shaka Heyward
Virginia OLB Noah Taylor vs. Illinois OT Vederian Lowe
Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman vs. Norfolk State EDGE De’Shaan Dixon
Wake Forest CB Ja’Sir Taylor vs. Norfolk State WR Justin Smith
Auburn WR Shedrick Jackson vs. Alabama State CB Naytron Culpepper
Pittsburgh DL Deslin Alexandre (+) vs. Tennessee OL Cade Mays
Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele vs. Miami (OH) EDGE Dominique Robinson
Northwestern WR Stephon Robinson Jr. vs. Indiana State DB Mekhi Ware
Northwestern CB A.J. Hampton Jr. vs. Indiana State WR Dante Hendrix
South Florida OL Donovan Jennings vs. Florida DL Zachary Carter
Wyoming LB Chad Muma vs. Northern Illinois OT Marques Cox
Rutgers WR Bo Melton vs. Syracuse CB Garrett Williams
Rutgers CB Tre Avery vs. Syracuse WR Taj Harris
Notre Dame QB Jack Coan vs. Toledo DB Tycen Anderson (+)
Liberty QB Malik Willis vs. Troy DT Will Choloh Jr.
NC State WR Emeka Emezie vs. Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson
Eastern Kentucky WR Mo Edwards Jr. vs. Louisville CB Chandler Jones
Matchups to watch in Week 2
SMU C Alan Ali vs. North Texas DT Dion Novil
Texas Tech WR Erik Ezukanma vs. SFA CB Bruce Harmon
TCU WR Quentin Johnston vs. California CB Chigozie Anusiem
Florida Atlantic WR Brandon Robinson vs. Georgia Southern CB Darrell Baker Jr.
Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe vs. Army S Cedrick Cunningham Jr.
Boise State OT John Ojukwu vs. UTEP EDGE Praise Amaewhule
Utah LB Devin Lloyd vs. BYU RB Tyler Allgeier
USC WR Drake London vs. Stanford CB Kyu Blu Kelly
Hawaii RB Calvin Turner Jr. vs. Oregon State LB Omar Speights
North Carolina QB Sam Howell vs. Georgia State CB Jaylon Jones
Texas A&M TE Jalen Wydermyer vs. Colorado LB Nate Landman
Georgia OL Jamaree Salyer vs. UAB OLB Alex Wright
Ball State WR Justin Hall vs. Penn State CB Tariq Castro-Fields
Middle Tennessee State QB Bailey Hockman vs. Virginia Tech EDGE Amaré Barno
Ohio State CB Sevyn Banks vs. Oregon WR Devon Williams
Ohio State DT Haskell Garrett vs. Oregon C Alex Forsyth, OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu