10 Biggest Potential Upsets for the 2013 College Football Season

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMarch 19, 2013

10 Biggest Potential Upsets for the 2013 College Football Season

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    There are a lot of things that make college football great, but none are greater than the upsets that take place every week. There is nothing better than seeing the underdog take the field and knock off a giant that was being hyped up by the media and college football fans alike.

    It doesn't matter which team is ranked, what the records are or who is missing the game due to injury, college football fans have seen all types of upsets take place. And with hundreds of games being played in 2013, we are sure to see plenty more bizarre outcomes of teams falling for the trap and losing to a less talented opponent.

    Here are 10 matchups that not only give the underdog a fighting chance, but will provide the biggest shock value if an upset actually occurs.

Vanderbilt at Texas A&M

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Besides the early game against Alabama and the late-season matchup against LSU, Texas A&M should have very little trouble running through that schedule. With Johnny Manziel leading the way, the Aggies are going to steamroll the competition and should have a say at the end of the season in who wins the SEC.

    Vanderbilt? Oh, it’s a nice school with terrific academics and is doing a good job of improving on the gridiron. But let's be serious, it is still Vanderbilt at the end of the day.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    While most are quick to rule out Vanderbilt as a true SEC contender this season, it is important to know that it really wasn't that far off last year. We're talking about a team that won all of the games it was supposed to, and lost in close contests to South Carolina, Northwestern and Florida. By the way, all of those teams, including Georgia (which provided the only blowout loss to Vandy), won at least 10 games last year.

    As for Vanderbilt, the offense has all of the pieces in place from a game-changing wide receiver in Jordan Matthews to three returning offensive linemen. If a quarterback can step up to the plate, things will be very interesting offensively. As for the defense, the Commodores did finish fifth in the SEC last season and return six quality starters from that bunch.

    After the game against Alabama, Texas A&M doesn't have much to worry about schedule-wise for the most part. However, I would not be so quick to write off Vanderbilt just yet, even with the game being played in College Station. The Commodores are going to remain a stiff challenge for the rest of the SEC whether you want to admit it or not.

Michigan at Connecticut

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Connecticut has a football team? I knew the basketball program was one of the best in the country, but I never heard of there being a football team. Seriously, Michigan and UConn sounds like a great matchup on the hardwood, but this is one of those games you stop watching after the first half because it puts you to sleep. I'm not even sure you give this game a look due to the Wolverines likely winning by four touchdowns.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    First you have to give the Huskies a chance because the game is taking place in Rentschler Field. And unlike many top-notch programs that have several marquee home games, Michigan is the only school actually worthy showing up for if you are a Connecticut football fan. While I'm sure this school has bigger goals than just beating Michigan, this is a game you wake up for and try to make things as difficult as possible for the opposing team.

    Also, let's not act like Connecticut couldn't play last year. This is a team that just barely missed qualifying for a bowl game and lost four of its seven games by one possession. The defense is one of the best in the Big East, and this is a feisty team that won't let you off the hook easy.

    When you include the fact it is a road game for Michigan against a team that may not be highly ranked on the schedule, this is a game the coaching staff needs to be concerned about.

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (In Atlanta)

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Nobody can beat Alabama. If Nick Saban and his guys go into College Station and leave with a victory, the Tide will have yet another undefeated season and eventually win a third straight national title. You can book that because there is no other possible outcome.

    Virginia Tech? Oh, you mean the school that barely qualified for a bowl game and went 4-4 in the ACC last season? Right.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    We can sit around and clown on the Hokies all we would like. The team was one of the biggest disappointments last year and the letdown should have lit a fire under head coach Frank Beamer. If we are basing this game off of last season, Alabama should turn this season opener into a Michigan 2.0. However, regardless of what happened a year ago, Virginia Tech still has a few things going for it.

    First off, it is the first game of the season on a neutral field. This is just going to give Saban fans a chance to remind everyone how the head coach has the entire offseason to prepare, and he never loses games when that happens. But at the same time, Alabama does have a few concerns heading into the season and not having the ability to play "cupcake" games to iron out those wrinkles may play into the Hokies' hands.

    Also, Logan Thomas is still on the roster. Say what you want about the kid, but he is talented and one of the more experienced quarterbacks in the country. When you have a big-play signal-caller that is capable of putting on a show, you have a chance.

    You won't be able to convince folks in Tuscaloosa that the Hokies are a threat, but you would be foolish to take a Beamer-coached team lightly.

Ohio State at Northwestern

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Ohio State went undefeated last season as the Big Ten is starting to look like the Big East when it comes to quality on the gridiron. The Buckeyes return the majority of their key players that made running the table possible. When you add everything together, you end up with another Urban Meyer team competing for a national championship. There is no possible way the Buckeyes lose to a school known for producing journalists rather than elite football players.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    Much like Vanderbilt, Northwestern is a program that is on the rise. Only losing three games last season, the Wildcats were a bounce or two away from competing for a Big Ten title last year. After all, the losses to Michigan and Nebraska were by a combined nine points.

    With 15 starters returning, this is a team that should be taken seriously in the Big Ten.

    Kain Colter is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in all of college football, as he can play pretty much any position and cause headaches for opposing defenses. With the job the Buckeyes did on defense last year, he will be a handful. There are also seven starters returning from a defense that had its moments last season and should only improve on those efforts.

    Ohio State will travel to Ryan Field after playing a tough game against Wisconsin. Can you say "trap game"?

Oregon at Washington

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Even with the coaching change in Eugene, Ore., the Ducks are still the cream of the crop in the Pac-12. Sure, other teams are slowly making progress in the conference, but there is still a lot of catching up to do before reaching the status of Oregon. This includes Washington.

    The Huskies are a nice little program on the rise, but you know what happens when you predict against the Ducks? It results in a 40-point victory and a whole lot of embarrassment.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    Washington not only has the pieces in place to win this game, but it wouldn't knock me off my chair if it somehow inched its way into the Pac-12 title game. The Huskies are tied with Arizona and Colorado for the most returning starters in the conference with 17, and a few of those guys will end up on NFL rosters once they graduate.

    The offensive line was really an area that was holding this team back, but with four starters returning up front, it can only improve moving forward. Regardless of what the numbers may indicate, Keith Price is a top-10 quarterback in college football and has the ability to lead his offense score-for-score with the Ducks. He also has weapons around him on the offensive end, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

    Defensively seven starters return, including Shaq Thompson, who is quickly developing into a star in the secondary for the Huskies.

    Washington was an extremely young team a year ago and will only get better with a full year under its belt. This is an athletic group on both sides of the ball, and it will be ready when the Ducks travel to Husky Stadium.

Florida at Miami

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Miami is now a basketball school. OK, maybe we won't go that far, but the Hurricanes have certainly lost their edge and there isn't anybody in college football that fears this team. We keep hearing how Miami is going to make its mark felt, and every season we are left with disappointment.

    As for the Florida Gators, well, they are rising up the totem pole and appear to be a legitimate SEC contender. Maybe next year, Miami.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    This is just one of those rivalry games that you don't look past. It doesn't matter what the depth charts look like or what direction the program is heading. Miami and Florida don't play each other every year, but the pride runs deep.

    Actually, with four years between both schools playing each other, it makes this meeting that much more heated.

    Miami is making progress, believe it or not. This is a school that had won six games under Al Golden in his first season two years ago. And despite losing so much talent after that first season and having question marks at nearly every position, the Hurricanes still managed to win seven games last year.

    Miami now returns 19 starters, and this could be the season the football program generates some serious success. This will be a competitive ballgame and with Sun Life Stadium being a packed house for once, the Hurricanes have a real shot of destroying the Gators' national championship hopes.

Ole Miss at Texas

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    It will take more than three years of subpar play to remove that prestigious label from the Texas Longhorns. And it will take more than a top recruiting class and a little bit of excitement created before we are going to believe in Ole Miss. Also, didn't these two teams play last year and the Longhorns won, 66-31? Yeah, wake me up when the Rebels can have a winning record in their own conference.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    If you are going to continue to sleep on Ole Miss, you must find the faults in Texas. Sure, the Rebels couldn't hang with the Longhorns last year, but Mack Brown's club wasn't blowing the doors off in the Big 12 last season. Not only did they lose three of the five games against ranked opponents, but they nearly lost to Kansas and Baylor. Yuck.

    That Texas defense isn't scaring anybody away, and I'm not sure the folks in Austin are completely confident in the quarterback situation.

    If the inconsistency of the Longhorns wasn't enough, Ole Miss returns 18 starters from last year, which is the most in the SEC. When you add an impressive recruiting class, you end up with a talented and young team that is ready to earn some stripes in a game like this.

    The Rebels will be looking to build some momentum before heading into the brutal SEC West schedule, and this is the perfect game to do just that, as well as turn some heads along the way.

Notre Dame vs. Arizona State (In Arlington, Texas)

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Even though we dislike Notre Dame, we have to give the Irish credit as far as reaching the national championship. It did win some impressive games, and there is truly enough talent returning to where things could get interesting once again.

    Arizona State is still that iffy team in the Pac-12, as one victory against a ranked opponent last season isn't going to draw much attention.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    We talked about Washington and the chances of winning the Pac-12, but Arizona State should be thrown in that conversation as well.

    The first reason is simply because this defense can get after it. Finishing second in the Pac-12 last season, the Sun Devils racked up 51 sacks and forced 24 turnovers. Led by NFL prospect Will Sutton, the defensive front will get in your face and with a young quarterback for the Irish; this will play into the underdogs favor.

    Quarterback Taylor Kelly proved himself last year, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He will also still have his security blanket to lean on in tight end Chris Coyle, who will push other players at his position for individual awards at the end of the year.

    Arizona State has the talent from top to bottom to give every team in the Pac-12 a run for its money, and when you add the fact this game will be played under the bright lights in Cowboys Stadium, the Irish should be on upset alert.

LSU vs. TCU (In Arlington, Texas)

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Unless you are a talented team in the SEC, you aren't knocking off Les Miles and the Tigers. This especially goes for a team in the Big 12. LSU may have question marks heading into the 2013 season, but the talent on the roster is still better than any other team outside of the SEC. Let's face it, folks, the SEC rules, and until other conferences can step up their game, there is no reason to pick TCU to win this game.

    Besides, what in the world is a Horned Frog, anyway?

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    Another year under head coach Gary Patterson, another year of having a top-25 defense. TCU has nine starters returning from a group that finished 16th in the country last year, which includes one of the best pass-rushers in defense end Devonte Fields. There is also talent on the offensive end with wide receiver Josh Boyce and quarterback Casey Pachall.

    You could say TCU didn't even live up to expectations last season in the Big 12, but three of the six losses were by one possession. Also, there was an issue with Pachall at the quarterback position that didn't exactly help matters.

    As for LSU, well, there are plenty of concerns on the defensive end. Losing majority of the key guys to the NFL draft, there are going to be several underclassmen expected to keep the defense from falling down a few notches. With this being the first game of the season, it doesn't leave much room for error.

    TCU has always been a tough team to play and because it can play defense at an elite level, I smell an upset brewing in Cowboys Stadium.

Clemson at South Carolina

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    What Most of the College Football World Thinks

    Clemson is a cool little team that can rack up a bunch of points in a hurry, but what happens when it plays quality teams? The Tigers lost to both Florida State and South Carolina last year. In 2011, Clemson lost to Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, South Carolina and let's not even address the game against West Virginia. This team chokes on the big stage and has lost the last four meetings against the Gamecocks.

    Once again, the SEC continues to roll.

     

    Why Everybody Should Reconsider This Being a Cakewalk

    Did you watch the bowl game against LSU?

    I don't know about you, but that looked like a team that as finally turning the corner. The defense for once actually showed up and the offense did its thing by producing 455 total yards on a loaded SEC defense. If that was any indication of things to come in 2013, South Carolina is in serious trouble.

    The Gamecocks simply don't have nearly enough offensive weapons to keep up with Clemson and its high-scoring attack. Led by Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, this should continue to be one of the best offenses in the country. The defense returns six starters, including five of the front seven, and with another year under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, this could end up being the most balanced Clemson team we have ever seen.

    South Carolina is talented and has the pieces in place, but still provides that inconsistency at times, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Clemson is eager to end the losing streak of this bitter rivalry and will have the perfect opportunity to do so in Williams-Brice Stadium at the end of the year.