After witnessing top-ranked teams like Notre Dame and Georgia squeak past inferior competition in Week 8, college football fans must be wondering which unranked squads are poised to shake up the BCS Standings this weekend.
The Fighting Irish required a fourth-quarter touchdown to scoot past BYU Saturday, and the Bulldogs narrowly escaped a loss in Lexington to a Kentucky team with just one previous win under its belt.
There were no major upsets in FBS action last weekend, despite a couple of close calls. Expect that to change in Week 9, as these three underdogs prepare to put their top-ranked opponents on upset alert this weekend.
Cincinnati Bearcats (5-1) Over No. 16 Louisville Cardinals (7-0)
Louisville has already needed late comebacks over Southern Miss and South Florida to keep its undefeated record intact, and nearly coughed up a 39-14 lead against North Carolina after surrendering 20 in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats were also undefeated before a shocking 29-23 loss to Toledo dropped them to 5-1 on the year.
They will be looking to bounce back by crushing the Cardinals’ hopes of an undefeated season in the same manner that the Rockets ended theirs. Believe it or not, Toledo managed to pull off the upset despite its offense never reaching the end zone.
Cincy's D has been strong all season, but a breakdown on special teams (91-yard kick return) and an interception returned for a TD cost them dearly. Cincinnati has won its last nine games against ranked opponents from within the Big East and hasn't lost to Louisville in four straight meetings.
Why are the Cardinals favored again? Oh, right. They’re undefeated and at home.
That may suffice in making them the favorites, but I'm siding with the underdog to pull out the road win in this Friday night special.
Prediction: Bearcats, 31-27
Washington Huskies (3-4) Over No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (6-0)
Few outside of Corvallis, Ore. would've expected the Beavers to join in-state rival Oregon inside the Top 10 this year, but that won't mean much of anything to the Huskies this weekend.
Washington has already faced four ranked opponents in 2012, including three of the country's top teams: LSU, USC and Oregon.
One of the three wins under the Huskies' belt came over (then-No. 8) Stanford, so don't expect this squad to be flustered by the Beavers' recent run of success.
When the two take the field at 10:15 p.m. EST on Saturday, the Huskies' defense will be tasked with slowing an Oregon State offense which features a passing attack that ranks No. 14 in the nation.
Quarterback Sean Mannion will be back under center for the Beavers, and the sophomore signal-caller had been putting up 339.5 passing yards per game before undergoing knee surgery (per The Oregonian) just over two weeks ago.
The Huskies have the ability to bog down potent air attacks.
Their defense was able to limit projected 2013 first-round pick Matt Barkley to 10 completions on 20 attempts for 167 yards, one TD and an interception.
It's the opposition's run game that typically hampers Washington's D, but the Beavers' ineffective rushing attack (No. 110 in FBS at 108.3 YPG) may not even be able to capitalize. Either way, expect a nail biter in this one.
Oregon State doesn't want this dream to end, especially after finishing 3-9 in 2011, but Washington's strength of schedule has prepared the Huskies to withstand whatever the visiting Beavers send their way.
Prediction: Huskies, 23-17
Arizona Wildcats (4-3) Over No. 9 USC Trojans (6-1)
Like Washington, Arizona is yet another battle-tested underdog, having trounced (then-No. 18) Oklahoma State 59-38 back in Week 2 and then dragging Stanford into overtime in early October.
The Wildcats also came within three points of an undefeated Oregon State team and have already traveled to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks.
QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner have gone to the NFL, but senior signal-caller Matt Scott and wideout Austin Hill have developed a nice rapport of their own. Scott followed up back-to-back 400-yard outings against Oregon State and Stanford to throw four TDs with 256 passing yards on just 22 attempts in a 52-17 win over Washington last week.
Sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey's string of three straight 100-yard rushing performances has given the Wildcats offense a nice balance, too.
The Trojans figure to be the least likely of teams to fall to an unranked opponent, but remember that the last five meetings between these teams have been decided by seven points or less.
'Zona even pulled out a win at the Coliseum in 2009.
This year's meeting will be played out in the desert, and you can expect the Wildcats to put the heat on Barkley and the No. 9 Trojans for all 60 minutes on Saturday.
Prediction: Wildcats, 36-33