Upsets are what make the college football season so much fun, because they remind you that any team can win each Saturday. But not every underdog that wins a game should be thrown into the same category.
You have the minor upsets that catch a few people's attention, and then you have the games that come out of left field that absolutely nobody was expecting. Both scenarios are always interesting to watch, but then there are the games that turn college football upside down and affect the rest of the season. These are the upsets that play a role in the path to a national championship and conference titles.
While it is nice to see a powerhouse program get smacked around once in a while by an inferior opponent, it could prevent that dream matchup that you were hoping to see later in the season.
Here are some of the upsets that could take place during the 2013 schedule that would wreck the college football season.
Home Team: Cal
Cal is going to be an interesting team this season now that they are under new head coach Sonny Dykes. Nearly the entire team must be replaced, with only nine starters returning, but this is a game that comes near the end of the year and will be played in California Memorial Stadium. There is plenty of time to figure things out.
While Cal only won three games last season it did give Ohio State all it could handle, it beat UCLA and it wasn't like USC dominated the Golden Bears when they played last year. As for USC, well, everybody knows what happened and no one will be surprised if another disappointing season takes place again.
A loss to California would likely crush the USC program which already has to play Notre Dame, many of the improving Pac-12 teams and Stanford right after this matchup. It would also add further proof that a coaching change really is needed for the Trojans to get back on top of college football.
A loss to Cal almost guarantees a change during the offseason.
Home Team: Florida
Usually the SEC schedules the frailest teams for season openers to try and avoid any early season hiccups. With the Florida Gators, there is no such thing as a safe game, even if that means playing a team from the MAC.
Florida had trouble with Bowling Green last year, barely beat Missouri, and let's not even discuss the embarrassing game that was played against Louisiana-Layette. Will Muschamp and his staff continue to have questions on the offensive side of the ball and there will be a lot of youth defensively. Toledo is a fast-paced team that can put up quite a bit of points in a hurry and that won't change with nine starters returning.
If Florida finds a way to lose then you can likely kiss those national championship hopes goodbye. A home loss to an unranked team in the season opener would not be pretty and would crush the hearts of many Gators fans across the country. It would also bring out the critics who last year said that this Florida team was a fluke.
Home Team: Kentucky
Speaking of the Florida Gators, the Louisville Cardinals are receiving a little bit of love due to their victory over the SEC team in a BCS bowl. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now considered a Heisman candidate, and some are starting to believe that this team could be in the national championship conversation with an undefeated record.
Put a loss to Kentucky on the schedule and all of that comes to an end. The Wildcats would probably have to play their best game in years to pull off this upset, but there seems to be a culture change going on with the hire of head coach Mark Stoops. There is also a bunch of injured players that will return this season, including quarterback Maxwell Smith.
This is a rivalry meeting and would be the first road game of the season for the Cardinals with a trip to Commonwealth Stadium.
Many power conference fans may not care about this matchup, but a loss to Charlie Strong's club would mean one less team that you can consider for a chance at a possible national title.
Home Team: Northwestern
Regardless of what Ohio State fans will tell you, that undefeated season did not come without earning a few gray hairs. They needed somewhat of a miracle to beat Purdue, barely held on against Cal and survived a nail biter in the game against Michigan State.
Northwestern won 10 games last season and lost two of the remaining three all by one possession. This is no longer the program that is known for getting it done in the classroom—these book geeks can hang with the big boys on the gridiron as well.
There are 15 starters returning from last year's squad, and you better believe they are hungry to take things to the next level.
If the Buckeyes lose to Northwestern, it would likely mark the first loss for Urban Meyer as an Ohio State head coach. This would also put a severe dent in the chances of reaching the national championship. It would then force everybody in the country to consider Northwestern a true Big Ten contender the rest of the way.
Did you ever think you would hear those words?
Home Team: Oregon
This appears to be an interesting game that not many people may be paying attention to.
Well, they should.
No matter what Tennessee has done the last few years, this is still a program that produces quality NFL talent. While there are about 50 questions on the defensive side of the ball, a top-notch offensive line returns along with a veteran backfield that is looking to take another step in the right direction. Under a new coaching staff, this should be a competitive SEC team that isn't going to be pushed around as easily as you may think.
We know what we are going to get with Oregon, but this is the chance for the Volunteers to prove that they should still be considered an elite program.
If Mark Helfrich and his Ducks receive an early loss they will have to play catch-up in the national championship picture—just as they have the last couple of seasons. This would also add excitement back into Knoxville and show everybody that Tennessee isn't as far off as everybody once thought.
Home Team: Florida State
The Miami Hurricanes have not beaten the Florida State Seminoles since 2009. They have also managed to lose six of the last eight meetings against the rival up in northern Florida.
Miami is a mess right now—from having a brutal defense, to fighting a tired fight with the NCAA. But while all of that may be leaning in the Seminoles' favor, the Hurricanes still return with 19 starters from a year ago. All of that can't be too shabby considering Miami won a respectable seven games last year and had an offense that could score with the best of them.
Florida State has been one of the more disappointing teams over the years, losing that one game it shouldn't have lost. Miami coming up to Doak Campbell Stadium is a game that should result in a win, but you never know these days.
If the Seminoles lose then there is a good chance they have to wait yet another season to be thrown into the national title picture. It would be a small sign to remind everybody that Miami is further along in the recovery process, and it would be the loss that puts even more pressure on head coach Jimbo Fisher.
This rivalry still holds some weight.
Home Team: Neutral (In Atlanta, GA)
If you ask around Tuscaloosa, Alabama fans will tell you that the only game on the schedule that should be feared is the meeting against Texas A&M. If the Crimson Tide manage to shut down Johnny Manziel, it is likely an undefeated season and another crystal football will be added to the overwhelming collection.
Those thoughts alone make this meeting worth watching and would make the college football universe explode if the Hokies pull off the upset.
No matter how Frank Beamer's team performed a year ago, this is still Virginia Tech. It's still a highly respected program, a physical team defensively with a veteran quarterback in Logan Thomas, who is capable of making plays.
We all witnessed last season that one loss for Nick Saban isn't enough to keep his team out of the big game. This will likely remain the case if Virginia Tech shocks the world. However, it may take a little bit of the hype away from the matchup in College Station.
Home Team: Oklahoma
I'm not sure anybody knows what the true expectations are for this year's Oklahoma team.
Do we continue to overrate them and watch them lose two or three games? Or do we expect what we have been given the last few years and act shocked when it actually happens?
Whichever side of the fence you are on, TCU looks to be that game that will either make or break the Sooners. Right in the middle of Notre Dame and Texas on the schedule, a loss to the Horned Frogs could result in three straight losses. Keep in mind that this doesn't include having to play West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
TCU returns 15 starters from last year and should be a little more comfortable in the Big 12 with a season under the belt. A loss here wouldn't ruin any national championship hopes, but it would play a role in probably the worst season since 2009 for Oklahoma and result in yet another mediocre performance by a talented team.
Home Team: Neutral (In Arlington, TX)
Notre Dame once again has the toughest schedule in college football with 11 of the 12 opponents reaching a bowl game last year. With that said, the Irish can't give games away if they expect to return to a BCS bowl this season.
Teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC and Stanford are all on the schedule. Notre Dame must take care of business in all of the games it is favored in. The problem is that Arizona State is going to be a tricky team with 14 starters returning. Another season under head coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils finished last season second in the Pac-12 in total defense and averaged 464 yards offensively.
The Sun Devils are the team on the Notre Dame schedule that may be flying under the radar, but they should be treated with the same respect as the rest of the clubs.
Add a loss in Cowboys Stadium, and there is a high possibility that Notre Dame will miss out on a BCS bowl. This won't exactly wreck the college football season, due to the feelings for Notre Dame outside of South Bend, but it would sure receive a majority of the headlines and have many Irish fans scratching their head as to what went wrong.
Home Team: South Carolina
I know it may be tough to remember but Vanderbilt nearly knocked off South Carolina in last year's season opener. With a questionable no-call pass interference towards the end of the game, the Commodores very likely would have won and wrecked the season before it really even gotten started.
This time things will be a little different, with the game being played in Williams-Brice Stadium. But don't sleep on Vanderbilt, a squad that won nine games last year and is making significant progress each season under head coach James Franklin. The Commodores have a respectable offense if they can just find a quarterback, and the back end of the defense is loaded with experience.
South Carolina on the other hand, has missing pieces defensively and has yet to really generate any type of consistency on the offensive side of the ball.
A victory for Vanderbilt would be huge, as it would quiet all of those critics that say Vandy will never seriously compete in the SEC. It would also create a steep climb for Steve Spurrier, who already has to face Georgia, Florida and Clemson on the 2013 schedule.
Yes, Vanderbilt will help decide who reaches the SEC Championship from the East.