College Football 2011: 7 Games Where the Favorite Could Win by 70 Points
It's a phenomenon that's unique to college football: massive, earth-shattering, make-you-want-to-go-home-and-cry blowouts.
While there are certainly lopsided victories in the pros, no NFL team can orchestrate a blowout quite like a college team.
For one, there's a general level of parity in the NFL. You're not playing in the pros unless you're really good, and although there are some talent freaks, most of the league has relatively the same level of ability.
That's not true in college. Again, there are freaks of nature on the field, but there are also players who have no hope of making the pros. In fact, there are teams comprised of nothing but players who have no hopes of playing football past their senior year.
When two teams with a massive disparity of talent meet, the nation is usually treated to a blowout. Here is a look at a few games that could be the biggest in 2011.
Oklahoma State vs. Louisiana
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When the boys from Lafayette show up to face the Cowboys, there probably won't be a single person who gives the Ragin' Cajuns much of a shot to win the game.
On top of that, with so many weapons returning from 2010, Oklahoma State is poised to be the top offensive team in the nation again this year.
Lafayette hasn't exactly been a hot bed of football greatness over the years, and the fact that they struggle to find wins in the Sun Belt Conference—easily one of the worst FBS conferences—only attests to their overall weakness.
Expect Brandon Weeden to put the ball in the air early and often against the Cajuns. This game will be over by the end of the first quarter, but the only reason this game may not end up being a 70-plus point disaster is if Mike Gundy decides to sit his one's and two's before the second half gets underway.
Alabama vs. Kent State/North Texas/Georgia Southern
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Take your pick.
Alabama is coming into the season ranked No. 2, and their non-conference schedule isn't exactly the stuff legends are made of.
Any self-respecting SEC-phile will tell you that Alabama has an excuse because they play in the SEC, which is such a difficult conference—rocks bleed, the grass bows down in submission, women cower and babies cry.
Others call this type of schedule crap. Truth is, it's a weak schedule, and you never know how the BCS computers might treat this weak SOS come November and December, especially if the SEC doesn't end up with five or more ranked teams by season's end.
But like it or not, Alabama is playing Kent State from the horrible MAC. They're playing North Texas from the aforementioned horrible Sun Belt. They're playing Georgia Southern from the FCS in the Tide's annual second bye week of the season.
The truth is, Alabama is once again loaded with talent. We're not just talking "talent" talent; we're talking "freaks of nature" talent.
IAlabama's only perceived weakness is their quarterback situation.
Both candidates vying for the starting job are pretty darn good. If Alabama can figure out who is starting at quarterback, and the player who does start lives up to the lofty expectations in Tuscaloosa, only two words will be needed to describe the Crimson Tide in 2011: look out. If they can't, there's always Trent Richardson, who has the ability to take over a game all by himself.
Any of these three games (or quite possibly all three) could end up seeing massive Alabama victories. In fact, all of them will see the Tide roll very easily. But will any of them approach a 70-point differential?
Chances are definably yes.
Louisiana State vs. Northwestern State/Western Kentucky
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LSU is another team from the SEC that went the easy route with their non-conference schedule, but they have an excuse.
These two push-over games are easily made up for by the fact that LSU has Oregon on their non-con schedule in 2011 (Alabama, take notes). The fact that the No. 3 and No. 4 teams will meet in a non-conference game the first game of the season is not only impressive, it's worthy of an "atta-boy" to the powers that be who scheduled the game.
LSU will come off their Week 1 showdown with No. 4 Oregon by hosting FCS Northwestern State. There's probably not too much that needs to be said about this game except for the fact that if LSU loses to Oregon, they'll probably beat Northwestern State by 80 or 90, rather than just 70.
As if par for the course in the SEC, the top programs in the conference schedule a cupcake game in November (something you don't often see in the Big Ten—just saying). LSU's victim this year will be Western Kentucky. The newest FBS program from the weakest FBS conference. Nice.
If LSU doesn't win this game by 70 points, Tigers fans should be concerned. WKU is not good, and LSU is supposed to be very good.
Again, it all depends on how long the starters and primary backups get to play, but when you're facing Western Kentucky, even your three's and four's should be able to take it to them.
Oregon vs. Missouri State
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Since we mentioned Oregon, it's only fair the Ducks are on this list. After all, they're starting the season in the top five, and they have a game or two on their schedule that could see them favored so heavily that Vegas doesn't bother with releasing a line on the game.
The Ducks get a visit from the Missouri State Bears on Sept. 17. Missouri State is an FCS program from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which over the past few years, has been one of the better conferences in the FCS.
Unfortunately, the Bears haven't been one of the teams taking advantage of the conference's success.
Oregon is also one of the most difficult places to play in the entire nation, and I'm sure Ducks fans will be eager to put that offense out on the field and really open it up. Missouri State should provide a nice scrimmage before starting Pac-12 play the following week, and the high-octane of Oregon's offense should provide them with enough points to win three or four games, let alone this one.
On a side note, Oregon also could flirt with a 70-point victory on Oct. 29 when they host hapless Washington State.
Boise State vs. Wyoming
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As Boise State moves to the Mountain West this season, they'll have a unique opportunity that will vanish after 2011.
For this one season, Boise State and TCU will be in the same conference before TCU bolts for the Big East in 2012. That means the MWC has more teams in the preseason top 25 (two) than the Big East (zero), which is a BCS Automatic Qualifying conference. Interesting, isn't it?
That will mean Boise State will have a strength-of-schedule boost this season they did not have in the WAC and probably won't have once TCU leaves the conference after this year. So Boise State must (and will) take every opportunity to impress the BCS computers, especially late in the season.
Just such an opportunity presents itself Nov. 26 when the Broncos host Wyoming—a team that rarely, if ever, gives anyone problems.
By the time Nov. 26 rolls around, Boise State could be just on the outside of a potential BCS bowl (or even a BCS title game bid). A 70-point thrashing of Wyoming could be just what the doctor ordered to finally give the Broncos the opportunity they've proven they deserve.
Illinois at Ohio State
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For our first and only road game on the list, we'll look at the Ohio State Buckeyes.
To say Ohio State has had an interesting past couple of months would be a massive understatement. After allegations of improper benefits, to the suspensions and discovery that Jim Tressel knew about the whole affair months ago, but tried to cover it up (or at best, was so ignorant he didn't know who to tell), to his increased suspension, it's probably all anyone in Columbus can do not to go and hide under their beds.
The “Tattoo Five” will miss the first five games of the season, as will Tressel (provided none of the suspensions and sanctions are increased by the ongoing NCAA investigation). The first game back for this crew will be the Oct. 8 game at Nebraska.
While no one knows for certain, it is at least possible that Ohio State could be 3-3 by this time. If that's the case, expect the Buckeyes to get very, very cranky.
Their first subpar opponent after the return of the suspended players will be Oct. 15 with Illinois in town. The Illini haven't exactly been much of a threat in the Big Ten the past couple seasons, and 2011 won't be much different.
On top of that, they'll be facing a Buckeyes team that could be very, very, very unhappy. Even if Ohio State is out of the Big Ten running by this point (and that's a mighty big "if"), they will still have a lot to prove, especially the seniors.
Long story short, it could be very tough to be a Fighting Illini fan on Oct. 15.
Florida State vs. Louisiana-Monroe
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It's probably only fair that since we mentioned Lafayette, we mention Monroe too.
But this game will be less about how bad ULM is and how good Florida State wants to prove to everyone they are.
There's been a ton of hype surrounding the Seminoles this spring, and they're likely to see a top-10 ranking in most preseason polls. Head coach Jimbo Fisher had such a great first year, he was named by the Football Writers Association of America to their Freshman All-America team. With so many weapons returning and the entire team improving by leaps and bounds, you almost wonder why anyone would even bother playing Florida State this season.
But the games are played for a reason, and more often than not, hyped programs prove to be not quite as advertised.
Florida State really wants to prove they are every bit as good as advertised, and what better time to do it than Week 1 against a lesser opponent from the Sun Belt?
Expect E.J. Manuel to throw the ball early and often as he looks to silence his critics who have harped on his inconsistency all spring.