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Teams that need to avoid an 0-2 start

National Football Post

Week 1 of the college football season was not kind to many programs across the country.

Today, let's take a look at some 0-1 teams that are in desperate need of a victory to get their seasons trending in the right direction.

This list only includes 0-1 teams that have difficult Week 2 games on their schedule. So, for instance, Presbyterian's visit to Atlanta shouldn't be too big of a concern for 0-1 Georgia Tech.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers travel to Cincinnati for a huge Big East Thursday night matchup after a disappointing loss to FCS squad Youngstown State in Paul Chryst's debut as head coach. The Panthers were playing without six suspended players, but there's no excuse to lose to an FCS team. Quarterback Tino Sunseri, however, looked comfortable throwing for 239 yards and a score in the loss. But senior running back Ray Graham had a crucial turnover, and the offense couldn't produce a big play when it needed one. We know the Big East race is wide open seemingly every year, so the Panthers can get back on track and get a head's up on the race with a road win. But the Bearcats will be a tough task at home.

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Ryan Nassib
US PRESSWIRECan Ryan Nassib lead a Syracuse upset over USC in New Jersey?

Syracuse: The Orange play USC in East Rutherford, N.J., following their heartbreaking last-minute defeat to Northwestern at the Carrier Dome. If the Orange defense gave up 42 points to Northwestern, imagine what Matt Barkley and Co. can do. But Ryan Nassib, who threw four second-half touchdowns and went 44 of 65 for 470 yards against the Wildcats, might be able to move the ball on the Trojans defense. And I think this is the game that Doug Marrone further utilizes 6-4, 229-pound freshman Ashton Broyld all over the field to take advantage of his athleticism. But it's tough to imagine the Orange not dropping to 0-2 after this one unless the 'SC defense has an awful day.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack, after falling to Tennessee last Friday night at the Georgia Dome, go on the road to take on a Connecticut team that shut out UMass last Thursday night. Star cornerback David Amerson and the Wolfpack defense didn't have a great day against the Vols, and now they'll have to deal with a Huskies team that received solid play from quarterback Chandler Whitmer and running back Lyle McCombs in the opener. After Mike Glennon's four-interception effort against the Vols, I expect a big day from the strong-armed quarterback as well as an aggressive defensive effort from Tom O'Brien's squad on the road.

Houston: The Cougars host a Louisiana Tech squad that is a BCS buster to watch this year. The Bulldogs' opening contest against Texas A&M was cancelled, so this will be the first game for head coach Sonny Dykes and the Bulldogs. Quarterback Colby Cameron has receivers Quinton Pattonm, Myles White and D.J. Banks at his disposal, and this is a Bulldogs team that beat Ole Miss and fell to Mississippi State in overtime last fall. Meanwhile, Houston was blasted by a Texas State squad that is playing its first season in FBS. David Piland was 17 of 44 for 211 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars to ruin the head-coaching debut of Tony Levine. Can the Cougars pick up the pieces and be ready for a tough Bulldogs squad?

Michigan: We all witnessed how overmatched the Wolverines were in their lopsided loss to Alabama at Cowboys Stadium last Saturday night. And there's no question that Air Force poses a serious challenge after rushing for 484 yards in the team's opener. While the Wolverines need to be more physical on both sides of the ball, I expect that process to begin in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Brady Hoke's squad will also overwhelm the Falcons with an offense that is looking to break out after being stymied by the Crimson Tide. Expect a huge effort from Wolverines dual-threat signal-caller Denard Robinson.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions travel to Scott Stadium to take on a Virginia squad that looked strong offensively behind quarterback Michael Rocco in the team's win over Richmond in the season opener. While Matt McGloin and the Nittany Lions offense looked productive in the first half of the team's loss to Ohio, it seemed to be stagnant in the second half. Will running back Bill Belton be a bigger part of the game plan? This is a big spot for a Cavaliers team that is moving in the right direction under Mike London. PSU's defense cannot wilt as it did against Ohio in the second half.

Auburn: Gene Chizik's squad fell to Clemson for the second year in a row, and they now must now travel to Starkville to take on a Mississippi State team that displayed a balanced offense in its Week 1 victory. True sophomore starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier had a rough 2012 debut in Atlanta, and he'll be facing a Bulldogs defense that returned two interceptions for touchdowns last week against Jackson State. Expect a physical SEC opener for both teams, and the result might fall on an Auburn defense that will have to contend with a very balanced Mississippi State offense.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores travel to Evanston for a game under the lights against Northwestern at Ryan Field. While James Franklin's group may not be ready to win more than 6 games this season, there are nice young pieces on this offense. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers has weapons around him in the backfield and at receiver, and the defense is solid. Taking on a high-powered NU offense, however, will be a challenge.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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