It doesn't match last weekend's smorgasbord of blockbuster matchups, but Week 2 of the college football season offers a number of under-the-radar games that carry make-or-break implications for a number of teams. Dive into the top 10 coaching matchups of Week 2:
1. Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen vs. LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. It's not the biggest game of the weekend, but it's probably the most important, at least in terms of measuring the impact on the participants' respective seasons. Mississippi State, picked seventh in the SEC West in preseason and the lowest of ranked team in the division, would be faced with overwhelmingly unfavorable odds of winning said division with a loss. For LSU, a setback would mean losses in three of their last four against the SEC West, four out of five against Power Five opponents, and (gulp) two straight to Mississippi State. The Tigers haven't dropped two straight to the Fighting Cowbells since 1990-91.
As for the actual game on the field? A year ago, Dak Prescott used a win over a (in retrospect, highly overrated) LSU team to springboard his Bulldogs to five weeks of No. 1 rankings. His stats that day: 15-of-24 passing for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. Oof.
2. Michigan State offensive coordinator Dave Warner vs. Oregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum. One would understand Oregon's offense taking a step back in Week 1, what with Marcus Mariota gone and but two weeks to work with new starter Vernon Adams. But the Ducks were the Ducks in their lid-lifter defeat of Eastern Washington. But it was the defense that struggled, allowing 549 yards on 6.38 yards per play (97th nationally) and six touchdowns. Now enters projected first-round pick Connor Cook and Michigan State. Cook threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns in last year's loss at Autzen Stadium.
3. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley vs. Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek.Take a look at last week's passing leaders and at No. 4 you'll find Bowling Green, Tennessee's opening week opponent. The Falcons threw for 433 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a losing effort. This week's opponent? No. 2 Oklahoma. In Lincoln Riley's debut as offensive coordinator his Sooners threw for 439 yards (at 10.5 yards per attempt) in a 41-3 blowout of Akron.
4. Western Kentucky head coach Jeff Brohm vs. Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz
5. Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck vs. Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz
If there was such a thing as the Group of Five College Football Playoff (which, let's be honest, there should be), the winners of these two games would be in prime positions to grab bids along with Boise State and whoever wins the American.
Of teams that threw at least 29 passes in Week 1, only Florida State posted a higher efficiency rating than Louisiana Tech and new quarterback Jeff Driskel, firing five touchdowns (with two picks) on 380 yards passing. Brohm's Hilltoppers, the nation's third-most efficient passing team in 2014, ranks 65th so far in this young season after a low-scoring win over Vanderbilt. How much of that is due to Derek Mason's defense and how much is self-inflicted? We'll find out.
In Statesboro, we've got a matchup between last year's 18th-leading rusher in Western Michigan's Jarvion Franklin and the nation's No. 1 rushing team in Georgia Southern. Both sides posted pedestrian numbers in season-opening losses to Power Five opponents, but the running games should crank up again as both teams return to their weight class.
6. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier vs. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. Following an offseason in which he squawked about how his South Carolina team didn't receive the same preseason love as Tennessee and Arkansas, Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks lose to North Carolina by multiple scores if not for Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams hitting South Carolina defensive back Skai Moore in the chest for two end zone interceptions. Now they return home to face a Kentucky team, losers of 20 straight SEC road games, begging for a breakthrough win. It's coming at some point. Is it Saturday?
7. East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill vs. Florida head coach Jim McElwain. "Hey," you think to yourself as you peruse this week's schedule, "East Carolina at Florida. That could be interesting." Which, really, is all you need to know about McElwain's reclamation job at Florida. His Gators looked the part in a 61-13 pillaging of New Mexico State last week but McNeill's Pirates, 27-13 since 2012 figure to be less forgiving. And considering Florida visits Kentucky next week and then faces five straight ranked opponents, this is a game the Gators can't afford to lose.
8. Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates vs. BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae. For the second in a row, Anae scraps the preseason plan after quarterback Taysom Hill suffers a season-ending injury. This time it's Tanner Mangum, flinger of the Hail Mary that beat Nebraska on Saturday, making his first start against a defense that crunched another newcomer (Washington's Jake Browning) last week.
9. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz vs. Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. Who can least afford a loss: the burgundy-and-yellow clad coach that's 2-16 in conference play in his last two seasons, or the black-and-yellow clad coach that hasn't won more than five conference games since 2009 and has dropped three of his last four against his in-state rival?
10. Washington State head coach Mike Leach vs. Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood. Perhaps no one had a worse week on the field last week than Mike Leach's Cougars, losing as heavy favorites to Portland State. Absolutely no one had a worse week off the field than Rutgers' Kyle Flood. This should be... fun?