Upsets are always a fun part of college football, depending on which team you are a fan of. Often, teams will look at their schedule and overlook their opponent to the next week or underrate them to the point of being shocked. Last week featured its fair share of upsets, with North Dakota State, Texas A&M and Louisiana-Monroe, among others, pulling off the stunners.
This week features quite a few contests that have that potential and because of that, some teams must be put on Upset Alert. This does not mean that the “favorite” is being picked to lose, but that it is a possible “trap game” that must be taken seriously.
Washington State: WSU is a 3.5 point favorite on the road against Nevada. Nevada has a very talented quarterback in Cody Fajardo. Nevada is definitely good enough to at least hang around for a while, but the question is if Nevada’s defense can play a full 60 minutes. If that happens, and Fajardo plays to his potential, Nevada has a chance to come away with the victory.
Illinois: Illinois is a 6 point favorite at home against Western Kentucky. WKU is on the rise after pounding the defending MAC Champions Bowling Green. Illinois has been struggling for a few years now, and had to come from behind with ten minutes left to beat Youngstown State last week. QB West Lunt has potential to be a great quarterback but needs weapons to develop around him. The over/under is 66, so this figures to be high scoring. A win here for Western Kentucky would be just as good for them as it would be bad for the Illini and coach Tim Beckman.
#24 Missouri: Missouri is a 3.5 point favorite against Toledo. Last year, Toledo was able to keep it close on the road against Missouri. This year, Toledo is improved and at home. It might be crazy to think of an SEC team, especially one that played for the SEC Championship, to be on Upset Alert against a MAC team, but Mizzou was incredibly insistent last week. Phillip Ely, a former Alabama QB commit, looks get a victory that would put them in place for a fantastic run in the MAC. A loss for Mizzou would deflate any confidence as they look ahead to the SEC schedule.
Washington: Las Vegas has not put a line on this game. Washington hosts Eastern Washington. EWU made a statement last season by winning a shootout at Oregon State, so the Eagles are no strangers to PAC 12 road victories. Vernon Adams, the EWU QB, is perhaps the best in the FCS and is hard to contain. Washington and new coach Chris Petersen struggled in Hawaii last week, only winning by a point. In his home debut, Petersen does not want to disappoint, but the Eagles are a very tough team that will stay close. This has good potential to be the Upset Special this week.
Northwestern: Northwestern is a 6.5 point favorite at home against Northern Illinois. Even with the loss of Jordan Lynch, NIU remains a top team in the MAC with the potential for an explosive offense. They scored 55 last week and look like they can do that a lot this season. Northwestern was a disaster before the season even started, with the Union talk and the loss of Venric Mark. Last week may have been rock bottom with a 31-24 loss at home to Cal. This game has “trap” written all over it.
#13 Stanford: Stanford is a 2.5 point favorite at home against #14 USC. Las Vegas says a USC win would be an upset, but in reality, either of these teams can win and not surprise many people. David Shaw and Steve Sarkisian have animosity already, and this game has potential to further that.
#3 Oregon: Oregon is an 11.5 point favorite at home against #7 Michigan State. Its kind of surprising that Oregon is a double digit favorite. Even at home, the defense of the Spartans is more than capable of keeping this game within reach. The tough road environment may be too much to overcome, but by the second quarter, MSU should be set in and ready for the Ducks. If the defense of MSU can contain – or at limit – Marcus Mariota, the Spartans have a chance.
BYU: BYU is a 2 point favorite on the road against Texas. Texas will play tough under Charlie Strong, but Strong has some sometimes tough is not exactly tough enough. With QB David Ash out for Texas, the Longhorns chances of beating BYU get tougher, but doubting Texas at home would be foolish.
#8 Ohio State: Ohio State is an 11 point favorite at home against Virginia Tech. Frank Beamer always has his team, especially his defense, ready for big games. Without Braxton Miller, the OSU offense could struggle. But there is more to like if you are Virginia Tech than just no Miller. Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson are two of the top defensive backs in the country, and may be the best DBs for VT since Brandon Flowers. Also, the VT rushing attack seemed to have found a groove last week, with 147 yards. OSU’s defense allows over five yards per carry in its last four games. This road upset will not be easy, but if it happens, it should not be a shock either.