Predicting College Football's Five Biggest Upsets for the 2010 Season
The definition of upset is to disturb or overturn the natural order. Using the term in sports signifies that a popularly expected favorite has lost.
Each week of the college football season provides the public with several games that conclude with the favorite losing to a perceived underdog.
The history of who the underdogs are and how they defeat favored teams varies depending on other developments in the season.
An example would the 2008 battle in Athens between highly touted Georgia and the rebuilding Crimson Tide of Alabama. The game, won by Alabama, was seen as a monumental upset.
However, as the season continued the truth became clear: Alabama was a better team with a better record. There was in fact no real upset if viewed from the end of the season.
The 2007 season LSU and Arkansas game is a more conventional example of a traditional upset.
The Tigers, headed for the BCS title, were almost derailed by losing the final regular season game to the Razorbacks in Baton Rouge.
Circumstances later obliged for Les Miles and company, allowing LSU to win the national championship, becoming the first team with two losses to do so in 47 years.
No question about it—a true underdog Arkansas team had pulled a stunning upset over the eventual BCS champion.
With the 2010 season on the horizon, the situation begs the question: When will the next teardrop fall? Or, to define it in more succinct terms: Who are the most likely candidates to be upset in their quest for championship glory?
Upset No. 5: Florida State @ Oklahoma on Sept. 11, 2010
During the season one only has to pick up the newspaper or check their preferred oddsmaker location to see who is favored and by how much.
Prior to the season, this is a hit and miss prospect at best for reasons outlined previously.
Still, projecting the point spread for certain contests seems within reach of most knowledgeable football fans. Let's give that a shot as well as stating who will prevail against the odds.
Let's give the new coach in Tallahassee the benefit of the doubt and say he takes FSU into Norman as an 8.5-point underdog. Fair enough?
Oklahoma is perceived as being an offensive juggernaut. Last season they averaged 278 yards passing and 141 rushing. Surprisingly enough, the Seminoles averaged 278 yards passing and 143 rushing.
We can look for the FSU defense to be improved, while the Sooners must retool after losing some of the finest players in the country.
It all adds up to a shocking upset on the road courtesy your friendly neighborhood Seminoles, who should feel right at home in Oklahoma.
For those seeking a score to this bunkhouse battle, let's call it 24-16.
Upset No. 4: Connecticut @ Michigan on Sept. 4, 2010
It wasn't always this way for the mighty Wolverines.
For decades the powerful maize and blue simply stomped the resistance out of whomever they faced, eventually becoming the winningest program in the history of college football.
Given their history and home field, one can easily see the Big Blue as a 5.5-point favorite in this battle with a middle of the road Big East opponent.
But this is not one of the historical Wolverine teams, and this Big East outfit just could end up in a BCS game.
Well coached, stout and solid throughout the 22 positions, look for the Huskies of UConn to shock Michigan by double digits.
The final damage should be in the 31-14 range.
Upset No. 3: Washington @ BYU on Sept. 4, 2010
Not all upsets are the result of matchups or scheduling. Some involve an old-fashioned motive—revenge.
Before the powerful Husky program was led off the tracks by one Tyrone Willingham, the fans in Seattle looked forward to challenging for the top spot in the highly competitive Pac-10 conference year after year.
A local Washington high school quarterback, Jake Heaps, is perceived as messiah in Provo. As an incoming freshman this season, he is expected to rewrite the record books at a school where the position of signal caller is taken quite seriously.
Why did he turn down the local UW for a ride in the mountains of Utah?
Husky coach Steve Sarkisian has been quiet on the matter.
With all the Cougar talent returning, they should open the season as a seven-point favorite over the men from Seattle.
What say Washington does its talking on the field, en route to a stunning upset of highly respected Brigham Young?
The final? Why not place it in the 28-24 range?—that seems about right.
Upset No. 2: Notre Dame @ Michigan State on Sept. 18, 2010
One thing is certain: When these two teams get together, there is no telling who will win or what the final score will be.
Many speak with eloquence regarding the wonderful series between Notre Dame and Michigan. The Irish and the Wolverines have met 37 times.
But hold your horses—Notre Dame and Michigan State have played 73 games against each other!
Now, that is a rivalry! And a good one over the past decades.
With Brian Kelly coming into South Bend this year, you can look for a no-nonsense point of view concerning leadership at Notre Dame.
The Irish appear set to open with two rather astonishing victories and will probably enter East Lansing as a 2.5 to three-point favorite.
Word around local watering holes and on the street will say this reflects a belief the Spartans "have not played anyone" during the early part of the schedule.
That will all change with this game.
Coming or going, the Irish are going to have a hard time with the Michigan State offense and defense.
By the end of the evening, look for the upset of an Irish team that truly is on the road back—but not without some bumps along the way.
Let's say Kelly suffers his first defeat as head coach of Notre Dame, 17-14.
Upset No. 1: Alabama @ South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010
It is said Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier can teach anyone to play quarterback.
Well, in view of this related photo, maybe not anyone. Although she does appear to have hands that are big enough. I wonder if...
The truth is, the Heisman Trophy winner has endured more than his share of problems with the available signal-caller talent since arriving in Columbia for the 2005 season.
But for the newfound patience of the old ball coach, he would be without a quality quarterback this season.
Talented, but troublesome off the field, senior Stephen Garcia has tested the nerve of his head coach on many occasions in the past. These are well documented, and it serves no purpose in continuing to discuss them.
On the field, Garcia was the acknowledged leader last year of a talented group of yearlings known as the Kiddie Korps. Now with a year of experience under their belts, look for Carolina to be back at its old tricks, pulling off an upset every season.
Last year the victims were Cotton Bowl winner Ole Miss and ACC runner-up Clemson. And so on and so forth in prior years.
Alabama, for its part, has struggled with USC since the Cocks joined the league in 1992. The Crimson Tide won in Tuscaloosa over the Roosters during Alabama's two national championship years of '92 and '09 and also captured a win there in 2000.
The Gamecocks won in 2001 and 2004 and received two additional wins when the Crimson Tide vacated their 2005 win and forfeited the one in 1993.
To hear some Alabama fans tell it, they will never lose another game to anyone. Reasonable Tide faithful realize that is fantasy and all winning streaks come to an end.
Think great Alabama teams can't lose? You ever heard of the Utah Utes?
No doubt the Tide will enter Columbia undefeated as an 8.5 to 10-point favorite.
When the Rooster crows for the final time, the scoreboard will read "Down Goes No. 1" with a final tally in the neighborhood of 24-21.