No. 8 Notre Dame 24, Ball State 16
Call it the Michigan hangover. Notre Dame struggled to keep Ball State at bay and the offense couldn’t get much going, but the Irish held off a rally to win 24-16.
Was it a sign of trouble in South Bend? Coach Brian Kelly certainly sounded concerned after the game, going as far to criticize himself for not preparing the Irish well enough after an emotional 24-17 victory against Michigan in Week 1.
Was it an overreaction? Oh, absolutely. Notre Dame went undefeated in the regular season before falling to eventual national champion Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Ball State went 4-8.
Kentucky 27, No. 25 Florida 16
Kentucky ended a 31-game losing streak dating back to 1986 against No. 25 Florida with an impressive 27-16 victory in Gainesville.
The win was Kentucky’s first in The Swamp since 1979.
Running back Benny Snell ran for 175 yards. “There’s no feeling like this,” Snell said after the game. “When the game ended, it’s what I had dreamed about. There’s no better feeling anywhere.”
Kentucky went on to win 10 games and finished in the top 15 in the polls for the first time since 1977. Mark Stoops was named the SEC’s coach of the year. Florida also finished 10-3 in Dan Mullen’s first season as the Gators’ coach. In retrospect, this was a Kentucky team finding its footing on the upper rungs of the SEC ladder against a resurgent Florida program still trying to discover its own identity under a new coach.
Arizona State 16, No. 15 Michigan State 13
Herm Edwards‘ hiring at Arizona State was divisive, but he provided immediate results.
The Sun Devils rallied with 13 unanswered points, including the game-winning field goal as time expired, to knock off No. 15 Michigan State 16-13 in Week 2 of the 2018 season.
MSU went on to finish 7-6 and dropped out of the polls entirely. ASU also finished 7-6 in Edwards’ first season.
East Carolina 41, North Carolina 19
In what may have been the most depressing game in the Carolinas in 2018, two out-of-the-door coaches faced off and it was the Group of 5 team that came out with a blowout victory.
East Carolina stomped North Carolina 41-19, placing another nail in the coffin of head coach Larry Fedora. Meanwhile, ECU coach Scottie Montgomery didn’t have long as head coach, either. He was fired before the season finale.
The Tar Heels finished 2-9 and Fedora was fired.