As we have seen every year there have been some huge upsets in college football this year. North Carolina State’s stunner over Florida State this weekend was only the latest. By definition an upset is hard to see coming. For fun, though, I thought it would be interesting to look for five other potential upsets looming over the next six weeks or so of the regular season.
Florida State vs. Duke (Saturday, Oct. 27)
Since the Seminoles got me thinking about this in the first place, it’s only fair that they wind up on the list again. One loss probably ended their chances of a National Championship. A second loss would be downright disappointing. Duke could serve up that loss. The Blue Devils are up to an almost unprecedented 5-1 start. In the last two weeks they have beaten Wake Forest and Virginia to move to 2-0 in early ACC action. Most impressively, they did it with two different starting quarterbacks. That means that they are a tough team that doesn’t let setbacks get them down. By the time this game rolls around they should be bowl eligible for the first time in eons. A win like this would be a crowning piece to this season. Duke will have nothing to lose. That can make a team dangerous.
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Kansas State at Iowa State (Saturday, Oct. 13)
Kansas State has been very impressive and is getting real buzz as a serious Big 12 contender — and beyond. Their next game has the potential to be a real soul crusher for the Wildcats. For starters, the game comes right before their huge trip to West Virginia. It would be easy for the team to look past this opponent. While the Cyclones aren’t exactly a dominant team, they are 4-1 and more than respectable. They also have a recent history of elevating their game against strong opponents. In 2010 they narrowly lost to Nebraska by a single point in overtime when the Huskers were ranked seventh. Last year they knocked off second-ranked Oklahoma State, and crushed 20th-ranked Texas Tech 41-7 on the road. Kansas State is only favored by 6.5 points on the road in this one — far fewer points than the public obviously expected given the overwhelming support of the public for the Wildcats — so oddsmakers obviously give the Cyclones a shot.
Louisville at Syracuse (Saturday, Nov. 10)
Louisville is 5-0, and is cruising towards a Big East Championship and potential undefeated season and BCS berth. The Cardinals schedule isn’t very strong — they are in the Big East, after all — so their biggest task is to avoid mistakes and stay on task. Syracuse could get in their way. The Orange are not a good team this year, but they have won two of three at home, and lost to Northwestern by a single point. They played USC surprisingly tough on a neutral field this year, and last year they earned their fifth and final win by overwhelming 15th-ranked West Virginia at home.
USC at Arizona (Saturday, Oct. 27)
Rich Rodriguez is off to a heck of a start in his new job at Arizona. He already has one big upset of a ranked team when he overwhelmed Oklahoma State in Week 2. He has come close two more times since, losing by a field goal to Oregon State and losing in overtime to Stanford after giving up a late lead. As an aside, it’s kind of interesting that all three of those teams were ranked 18th when Arizona played them. USC isn’t likely to be 18th when these teams meet, but Rich Rod will be starved for a second season-defining win to build the foundation for his program. If we’ve learned anything about USC this year it’s that the Trojans are vulnerable. Their defense has holes, and their offense may not be able to keep up in a shootout of the type that Arizona clearly loves.
Louisiana Tech vs. UTSA (Saturday, Nov. 3)
The Bulldogs are a buzz team. They score points like they are in a video game, they are undefeated through five games, and they are ranked this week for the first time. Now that Boise State is struggling and TCU has moved up to the big time, the public is in the market for a new BCS-buster to fall in love with, and Louisiana Tech is the current frontrunner. They have a chance to really make some noise this week when they host Texas A&M. A win there would not only increase the attention they receive, but also clear the path to an undefeated season and their date with destiny. UTSA could easily trip up the Bulldogs, though. The Roadrunners are a remarkable story. Coached by Larry Coker, they had their first-ever practice as a team in August of 2010. Last year they were independent in the FCS. This year in their FBS debut they have opened up at 5-0. It has come against an admittedly weak schedule, but their defense is sound. The team will be fearless because they have nothing to lose. They can also score points fairly well. At the very least they could make it interesting.
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