College Football 2012: Top 3 Underdogs in Week 1
Sometimes you can just spot an upset from a mile away. Then again, upsets tend to happen when you least expect it. In the first week of the 2012 college football season there are a few matchups that seem to smell of an upset.
Of the three underdogs most likely to pull off an upset in Week 1, two of them are used to being underdogs. One of them can seriously alter the national championship picture and one underdog could pour salt on the wound of a storied program who endured one of the most painful offseasons in history.
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 2 Alabama
Michigan is the biggest of the three underdogs, giving 14 points to Alabama on most sports books. The impact the Wolverines could have on the national championship picture will ensure most fans across the country will be paying close attention to this game.
Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson is one of the most electric and talented offensive players in the country. He will be facing a Rolling Tide defense that will be full of new starters after losing plenty of talent from last year's national championship team.
It's hard to believe that a top 10 team who also received a first place vote could be a double-digit dog to anyone. Especially when they are coming off of an 11-2 season and BCS Bowl win.
This one comes down to Alabama's defense and the ability of their new faces to keep Robinson in the pocket. The Tide would like to make the Michigan quarterback beat them with his arm. If Robinson gets loose this could turn into a big win for Michigan.
The Wolverines are a good bet in this one with such a large spread, but an upset may be tough to come by because of the way the Tide have been able to reload with great recruiting. Fans in Los Angeles, Eugene and Oklahoma have high hopes.
No. 24 Boise State vs No. 13 Michigan State
Boise State is accustomed to being the underdog. Although, their dog status has been more perception than reality over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2011, the Broncos have gone 50-3. Even before that stretch, Boise State was an established winner, having defeated Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
The argument could be made that Boise State has lost too much offensive firepower from last year's team and may have a hard time scoring on Michigan State's powerful defense. If the Broncos have proven anything over the years, it's that they have always been able to plug in new talent on offense.
Keep in mind, Michigan State will also be breaking in a new quarterback in Andrew Maxwell. The staple for Boise State over the years has actually been their defense. With linebackers Chris Norman and Max Bullough leading the way, there's really no doubt that trend will continue.
Over the past three seasons Boise State has opened the season with No. 16 Oregon, No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 19 Georgia in the Georgia Dome and came away with a victory each time.
Ohio vs Penn State
There's no need to rehash the disaster that is Penn State football. But, their fall from grace isn't the only reason to look for an upset in this game. This Ohio team is for real.
Led by quarterback Tyler Tettleton, the Bobcats have their eyes set on an undefeated season. A win over a depleted Penn State squad would go a long way towards making that an attainable goal.
Tettleton—a Norman, Oklahoma native and son of Major League Baseball player Mickey Tettleton—will be leading the offense for a second year and is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,086 yards and 26 touchdowns. With a similar performance in 2012, he would become Ohio's career leader in passing yards in just two seasons.
The Ohio defense is full of experience with seven seniors in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien will just be trying to hold things together on both sides of the ball.
The Nittany Lion offense was bad enough before losing most of their talent either to graduation or to transfers, ranking 110th in the nation in scoring a year ago. Losing their best rusher and best receiver won't help with the healing process.
Maybe Penn State comes out motivated and united in front of the home crowd or maybe they fold under the pressure. One thing is for sure: football hasn't been their only focus over the past year. The entire program has become one big distraction.
The reality of what fans in Happy Valley can come to expect for the future will become very clear on Saturday when Ohio not only covers as six point underdogs, but leaves Beaver Stadium with a win.