The 10 Tastiest Cupcake Games of College Football Week 5
One of the best things about the fifth week of the college football season is the reduction in the number of “gimmee” games.
Yes, by Week 5 most BCS teams are done playing FCS (formerly Division I-AA) teams, and they’re also finished handpicking opponents from the Sun Belt and MAC conferences.
Despite all this happy news regarding amped up competition levels on the horizon, the truth is that when you have 124 teams in a league, there will always be, week in and week out, at least a handful of lopsided matchups.
The following slideshow pinpoints, and then ranks for your pleasure, 10 of the tastiest cupcake games of Week 5, and though most of these aren’t necessarily Florida State vs. FCS Murray State, all are contests that have every chance of being blowouts.
These are all games that fans, when looking at their team’s schedule in July, count as a “win,” and then hide and nervously watch when the clash actually occurs, hoping nobody screws it up.
10. UCLA at Colorado
One of five league games on our list, UCLA at Colorado sounds pretty good on the surface, but when you peel back the layers, your perception is easily altered.
The Bruins are 3-1 coming into their second Pac-12 game of the season while the Buffs are 1-3 with losses to Colorado State, FCS Sacramento State and Fresno State.
Colorado’s only win thus far came via a one-point victory last Saturday over Washington State, a triumph fueled by a stunning 21 fourth-quarter points that left everyone shaking their heads.
Perhaps the biggest mismatch between the two is UCLA’s No. 13-ranked passing attack squaring off with Colorado’s No. 117-ranked passing defense.
Overall, the Buffs are once again struggling all over the field, and it’s difficult to see them pulling even a handful of wins out of their hat in what is a stacked Pac-12 slate moving forward.
If you don’t think this one deserves “cupcake” status keep in mind that the Bruins are 21-point favorites.
9. Nevada at Texas State
A bit of a more subtle mismatch comes via Saturday afternoon’s clash between Nevada from the Mountain West and Texas State from the WAC.
Both teams are new members of their respective conference homes with Nevada leaving the WAC after last season and Texas State rising from the FCS to the FBS level to join the WAC for the 2012 campaign.
The Wolf Pack are 3-1 on the season, falling just one point short of perfection in Week 2’s loss to USF. Nevada’s wins thus far include a triumph over Cal in the opener and then victories over FCS Northwestern State and Hawaii.
The Bobcats, on the other hand are a respectable 2-1 (remember, they were members of the Southland Conference only 12 months ago) with wins over a depleted Houston squad and FCS Stephen F. Austin. Texas State’s loss came via a 58-10 beat down at the hands of Texas Tech in Week 2.
What makes this matchup a mismatch is twofold; first you’ve got Nevada’s No. 12-ranked scoring offense taking on Texas State’s No. 106-ranked scoring defense.
After that you’ve got a Bobcat offense that has struggled to score points (they’ve averaged 27 per game, earning them a No. 72 rank) facing a Wolf Pack “D” that hasn’t necessarily sparkled but has still managed to hold foes to an average of under 30 points per game.
Simply put, it would be a stretch to think that Texas State could outscore Nevada and win.
Still, stranger things have happened but what you’ve got here is basically a FCS team taking on a non-BCS squad that is favored by 21 points.
8. Ohio at UMass
The second of our lopsided league games finds 4-0 Ohio squaring off with 0-4 UMass in a battle between the top and the bottom of the MAC.
Ohio’s perfect run thus far includes wins at Penn State, New Mexico State, Marshall and FCS Norfolk State while the Minutemen’s losing streak includes games dropped to UConn, Indiana, Michigan and Miami (Ohio).
It’s key to view UMass’s 2012 campaign in light of the fact that they have only just now moved up from the FCS Colonial Athletic Association to the FBS MAC.
Among the disparity in this clash are Ohio’s No. 30-ranked scoring offense vs. UMass’s No. 122-ranked scoring defense and then the Bobcats No. 35-ranked scoring defense taking on a Minutemen “D” that currently ranks No. 122 in scoring.
7. Idaho at North Carolina
Regardless of the fact that the Tar Heels are 2-2 with disappointing losses to Wake Forest and Louisville, it’s still difficult to believe that Idaho at North Carolina presents a high risk of upset.
UNC’s total margin of defeat in both losses this season is a mere six points, and really, you’re talking about a team that, despite their record, is solidly ranked No. 27 nationally in points for and No. 36 in points against.
Idaho, on the other hand, is 0-4 with losses to FCS Eastern Washington (20-3), Bowling Green, LSU and Wyoming (in overtime).
As far as comparative stats, the Vandals are ranked a dismal No. 117 in points for and an equally unsettling No. 106 in points against.
If you want more fuel for the fire, consider the fact that the Tar Heels haven’t dropped a game to a non-BCS foe since they lost to East Carolina in 2007 and Idaho hasn’t won a game versus a BCS opponent since they upended Washington State in 2000.
6. Middle Tennessee State at Georgia Tech
In a battle pitting the ACC vs. the Sun Belt, 2-1 Middle Tennessee State will travel down to Georgia to face the 2-2 Yellow Jackets this Saturday at high noon.
Georgia Tech looked impressive in their Week 1 overtime loss to Virginia Tech and then rolled through the next two games over FCS Presbyterian and Virginia, scoring over 55 points in each contest.
And then came the Week 4 overtime shocker to Miami (Fla.) when the Yellow Jackets fell 42-36, putting doubts back in everyone’s mind regarding the frontrunner in an intriguing and bottom-heavy ACC Coastal.
But, don’t let the loss to the Hurricanes fool you, this is still a solid Georgia Tech squad that has run the option well enough to be ranked No. 13 nationally in points scored and has a defensive unit that has hung in there well enough to hold opponents to under 22 points per game.
On the other side of the coin, don’t let the Blue Raiders 2-1 record make you believe that they are automatically giant killers in waiting.
Yes, MTSU has beaten FAU (now 1-3) and Memphis (now 0-4) this year but don’t forget that they lost the opener to FCS McNeese State by a score of 27-21.
Most alarming is the fact that the Blue Raiders’ No. 67-ranked rushing defense (again, look at the games they have played) will need to contain Georgia Tech’s No. 3-ranked rushing attack to even stay in the game.
Things become even more fraught when you consider the angle that the Yellow Jackets will be madder, well, than a hornet’s nest after dropping a game unexpectedly last weekend at home versus Miami.
5. Oregon at Washington State
Though this one could turn into the upset of the season, Oregon’s trip to Washington State has all the makings of a blowout.
No. 2 ranked Oregon rolls into Seattle (WSU is technically the home team but the game is being played in Seattle) to face the Cougars this Saturday night for a contest that features the scary clash of the Ducks No. 4-ranked scoring “O” vs. Washington State’s No. 82-ranked scoring defense.
The Ducks are, thus far, a perfect 4-0 and fresh off a 49-0 win over a good Arizona team. Oregon’s other wins include the less impressive trio of Arkansas State, Fresno State and FCS Tennessee Tech.
The Cougars are 2-2 on the season with a pair of narrow wins over FCS Eastern Washington (24-20) and UNLV (35-27) and then a couple of losses to BYU (30-6) and then last weekend’s fourth-quarter disaster versus Colorado (35-34).
No matter how you slice this one, it looks like a huge Duck win: a prediction that is validated by a nasty four-touchdown spread.
The only matchup that looks interesting from an upset standpoint is Washington State’s No. 18-ranked passing offense taking it to Oregon’s No. 49-ranked pass defense.
But still, who really believes that the Cougars can contain the Duck’s potent offense for four full quarters and then score enough points to win?
4. Hawaii at BYU
There is no doubt that BYU’s 2-2 record is absolutely disappointing, especially given the fact that they’ve dropped their last two games by a total of four points.
Yes, this is a Cougar team that could have done better, but the good news is they have plenty of time to atone for their losses and this all starts with a huge win this Friday night at home versus Hawaii.
The first part of what makes this game a potential blow out is the lingering notion that BYU is a really good team hiding behind Week 3 and Week 4 defeats that came a mere five days apart.
The Cougars dropped a late night Saturday, September 15 game to Utah 24-21 (which included a memorable double field goal ending that still defies explanation) and then travelled to Boise the next Thursday (September 20) and lost 7-6 to a Bronco team with zero offense and lots of “D.”
So, it seems that BYU is struggling to put points on the board which explains their No. 88 national ranking in scoring offense.
And this is precisely what makes Hawaii the perfect partner to get things back on track as the 1-2 Warriors have the No. 119 ranked scoring defense in the land.
Sure, Hawaii’s losses include lopsided contests with USC and Nevada but their only win came versus FCS Lamar.
The Warriors rank No. 100 in passing yards and No. 90 in rushing yards making a clash with BYU’s No. 13-ranked defense seem terrifying.
It’s simple: a good, experienced team who has suffered two narrow losses taking on a very young, inexperienced team at home.
3. Boise State at New Mexico
The 2012 edition of the Boise State Broncos touts one of the most lopsided offensive/defensive balance levels in recent memory.
Yes, Boise State’s young and impotent offense ranks a dismal No. 109 nationally in scoring while their stifling defense ranks a glorious No. 10 in scoring.
And this goes a long way in explaining how they lost their opener to Michigan State 17-13; they simply couldn’t score enough points against the Spartans' wicked defense to win the game.
Similarly, this is the basis of the argument for why the Broncos' trip to New Mexico this Saturday afternoon is cupcake material.
New Mexico’s No. 77-ranked scoring offense ought to struggle mightily against Boise State’s defense, and if the Broncos are ever going to improve on their average offensive scoring mark of 19.7 points per game, this is the weekend versus the No. 96-ranked Lobo scoring "D."
If you don’t want to sip the Kool-Aid on this one without further reassurance, how about the confidence booster of a 30-point spread?
2. Ole Miss at Alabama
Really, it’s difficult to argue that any contest pitting two SEC West foes against one another is a “cupcake,” but this game may serve as the rare exception.
No. 1-ranked and thus far perfect Alabama will host 3-1 Ole Miss this Saturday night in what will be billed as a potential (though farfetched upset) that could, in reality, get ugly early.
What really makes this contest worthy of a No. 2 ranking on our list is a quick review of the opponents these teams have played coming into Week 5.
On one hand, you’ve got the Tide who have played two BCS teams (they blew both out) and then a pair of squads from the Sun Belt. Overall, Alabama’s opponents currently have a record of 7-9.
Next up, you’ve got Ole Miss who has played one BCS team (Texas, who blew them out) and then an FCS team and a couple of lower tier C-USA foes (Tulane and UTEP). In total, the Rebels' FBS opponents thus far hold a current mark of 4-6, not including the FCS team.
These facts are important because these foes are what the two teams' statistical resumes are built upon, making a stronger case that this game could be lopsided in a big way.
It’s the Crimson Tide’s No. 2-ranked scoring defense (that has faced, arguably, a better slate of opponents) taking on the Rebels' No. 29 scoring offense, and then it’s Ole Miss’s No. 73-ranked defense taking on Alabama’s No. 13-ranked offense.
Throw in the fact that the Rebels haven’t beaten the Tide since 2003 and haven’t upended them in Tuscaloosa since 1988, and it’s easy to understand a whopping point spread that exceeds the 30-point mark.
1. FCS Towson at LSU
After a longwinded, exhaustive listing of comparative stats and head-to-head data we come to the one game on our list that doesn’t need numbers to justify why it’s the biggest mismatch among Week 5’s games.
No. 3 ranked LSU hosting the Colonial Athletic Association’s 2-1 Towson has all the makings of a long, lopsided and potentially sloppy saturated evening in Baton Rouge.
If you would like a gauge for the festivities, Towson played Kent State in its opener this season and lost 41-21 to a Golden Flash team that went on to give up 47 points to Kentucky in Week 2.
This one shouldn’t even be close and, really, you probably shouldn’t program CBS into your remote control “favorites” on Saturday night because Texas at Oklahoma State (Fox), Wisconsin at Nebraska (ABC) and even Ole Miss at Alabama (ESPN) ought to be far more intriguing.