If you asked a sober college football fan to name one of the reasons they love sports, they will probably not name the BCS but will name upsets as one of their many reasons they love this great sport. The upset is the reason most of us love college football because you really never know what is going to happen.
We can never really be prepared for the upset because none of us are smart enough to predict them. So, to prepare you for the first week of upsets, I made a case for how every top 20 team could get upset. It will not happen, but if it does, you cannot say you were not prepared!
The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes could very well catch the Oklahoma Sooners off guard in this season-opening match up. Last season the Golden Hurricanes had the 13th-ranked passing attack, the 15th-ranked ground game and were sixth in points per game. Quarterback GJ Kinne returns this season and is a leading candidate for conference player of the year, while the Golden Hurricanes might get a breakout season from running back Alex Singleton.
Tulsa might just have enough power to hang three to four touchdowns on a very talented Oklahoma defense, but they will only have a chance to upset Oklahoma if they get stops. Even though it will be tough for a defense with only four returning starters to stop the number one team in the nation, Tulsa can upset Oklahoma if their defense can get a few big stops!
Darrell Hazzell is just plain sick and tired of losing to the SEC. Hazzell was a top assistant at Ohio State for many years, and we all know that until "Tattoogate" this past bowl season, Ohio State had absolutely no success against the SEC. Hazzell is known as a master motivator and a top notch recruiter, so maybe he can motivate a more talented Kent State squad into outplaying a Bama team that will most likely be overlooking them.
Maybe Kent State can load the box and dare one of the inexperienced Alabama quarterbacks to beat them. Kent State will give Alabama a great battle, and if they catch the Tide off guard, maybe they can pull the shocking upset!
Fourth-ranked LSU can upset number three Oregon because, well, they are actually more talented than Oregon. Oregon has always been more of an "offensive team," but LSU can make an argument that it has better skill players than Oregon with Alferd Blue, Michael Ford, Ruben Randle, Russell Shepard and Jarvis Landry. LSU also has a very physical offensive line that will allow them to dominate the line of scrimmage.
On defense LSU has the talent to keep Oregon's high powered offense in check as the Tigers have a defensive line filled with All-American and All-Conference players; they return five of their top six linebackers, and they have one of the youngest and most talented secondaries in the nation. As long as Jordan Jefferson can manage this game, it is tough to find a reason why LSU will not win.
Last season Aaron Murray looked like he had the potential to become an All-SEC quarterback, and it is logical to think that in his sophomore season he can have the breakout season we know he is capable of. Murray has tons of talent around him as Mark Richt did a great job recruiting loads of talent at running back, wide receiver and on the offensive line.
Georgia should also be better on defense as they return seven starters and have a new scheme that will allow them to blitz a lot more often. I think that Georgia's defense will allow them to get after Kellen Moore, and since Boise St. lost a few quality skill players, it will be hard for them to score against a very aggressive Bulldog defense. Georgia has a good chance of upsetting Boise St here because of their SEC speed and explosive skill players.
ULM can pull this upset because it is about time they pull an upset! Every year it seems like ULM boldly opens their season on the road against a big-name team only to get blown out and to collect a very nice check from that school.
Well, this year could be different for the Warhawks as the Indians have a ton of momentum coming off a stellar 5-7 season, and they return most of their skill players and all five players on their offensive line. Even though Florida State might be the most talented team in the nation, they might be doomed for a sloppy start in this classic ESPNU game, and the chemistry the Warhawks have on the offensive line might allow them to get out to a big lead and pull the upset! You've got to believe!
The San Jose State Spartans have, according to experts, one of the most experienced teams in the nation, and even though this does not have anything to do with the actual talent level on the team, it has to count as one positive. Five of the team's top nine returning players are on defense as safety Duke Ihenacho, linebacker Kevin Smith, defensive end Travis Johnson, linebacker Vince Buhagiar and linebacker Pompey Festejuo all look to have breakout and potential All-Conference seasons.
If the San Jose linebackers can get pressure on draft-dodger Andrew Luck (I'm a Panthers fan), they might have a chance to upset the Cardinal.
The SMU Mustangs are the defending CUSA-West Champions, so you know for a fact that they will not go down without a fight against the Aggies. Kyle Padron looks to be one of the best quarterbacks in Conference USA, and the Mustangs also bring back the top running back in the conference in Zach Line.
The Mustangs should also have one of the best defensive lines in the entire conference, and this defensive line might be able to stop the Aggies' offensive weapons. As long as SMU doesn't get the death penalty (too soon?) they might be able to upset the Aggies, who might be overlooking the Mustangs as they get ready for SEC (I mean Big 12) play.
A new era of Ragin' Cajun football will begin with new head coach Mark Hudspeth, and it promises to be, well, Ragin'! What a better way to kick off a new era of football then to upset a team that is funded by T. Boone Pickens? Even though the Ragin' Cajuns return just 36-percent of their lettermen, they do return quarterback Chris Masson, who might just improve on his dreadful eleven-touchdown performance in 2010.
The team also brings back some skill players and might have enough guys left to put eleven players on defense. If Oklahoma St decides to forfeit or to put in their fourth team, you might see the Ragin Cajuns pull the upset here!
Russ Huesman has done a great job of rebuilding the tradition of the Mocs, and this team looks to get into the playoffs (wait, what's that?) this season. The Southern conference also has a history of big-time upsets to start the season. Remember when that school named Appalachian State ("App-a-lach-an" not "Ape-a-lach-an" you dang Yankees) upset the powerhouse that used to be Michigan at the Big House? I'm sure you do.
Well, it has been four years since that upset, and the Southern Conference needs to start an Olympics-like tradition of shocking the college football world with an upset every four years. The Mocs have playoff talent, and Nebraska could be distracted by how much spit is flying out of Bo Pelini's mouth when he yells at people.
Youthful exuberance could be what helps carry UNLV past the Wisconsin Badgers. UNLV brings in 37 new players for this upcoming season, including eight talented transfers. This new energy (especially on the defensive side of the ball) could help the Runnin' Rebels get lots of pressure on chronically overrated quarterback Russell Wilson (ask NC State fans).
If the Rebels can get a lot of pressure on an often indecisive Wilson, they can cause some turnovers and hope that their speed on offense can help take advantage of the turnovers that they create.
Unimportant side note: East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill has lost one hundred pounds since East Carolina's Military Bowl loss to Maryland last season. That is really cool and deserves all of your computer generated applause. Even though McNeill lost one hundred pounds of fat this offseason, he made sure to add lots of fat to the 2011 East Carolina team by recruiting tons of defensive linemen and taking all of the new and returning defensive players through professional workouts.
The new talent, work ethic and schemes on defense should allow the Pirates to drastically improve on defense (in 2010 they gave up 573 points). They also return a lot of key players from one of the more powerful offenses in the nation, and they could outscore the Fightin' Visors in this game.
Appalachian State is a critically-acclaimed giant killer after its shocking 2007 upset of Michigan in the Big House. Virginia Tech is a known for getting upset early in the season after they were shocked twice early last year.
Even though the Mountaineers will miss Armanti Edwards and his dreads for the second straight season, they still have a lot of speed and talent on the offensive side of the ball that might catch the Hokies off guard. The Mountaineers have history on their side, and if they can force some turnovers they might be partying like its 2007 in Boone!
It is tough to underestimate how good of a job Art Briles has done at Baylor, as he has taken a program that was the annual national doormat and made them into contenders in the very tough Big 12. The Bears open the season against the Horned Frogs and have a great chance of upsetting TCU.
TCU is not the most talented team on defense, and Baylor has a dark-horse Heisman candidate at Quarterback with Robert Griffin; they also have lots of talented and fast skill players as options. The speed of the Baylor players and the skill players that this team has should allow them to outscore TCU in this season opener.
Arkansas has had an offseason that has seen them have some injuries to players at very key positions. Even though Bobby Petrino has said that these players might be able to return for the first week or will have very capable replacements, it will be tough to get these new players to gel.
Missouri State, on the other hand, will play 11 players on offense and defense according to my research (I honestly could not find anything on these guys). Missouri State can upset Arkansas if the team comes down with a case of the Bill Clinton flu before the game or forfeits.
In a matchup that might cause Dr. Lou to punch Mark May, the South Florida Bulls open the season against the University of Notre Dame. South Florida has the momentum of a runaway locomotive (using 1930's vocabulary that Dr. Lou would love) as Skip Holtz led the Bulls to an 8-5 record and an upset of the Clemson Tigers in the Car Care Bowl.
Holtz has tons of players returning on offense and recruited skill players that would make his daddy proud. The Bulls also return six starters on defense and, if they can get a few stops, might be able to pull the upset of the Irish.
Youngstown State was doomed by their lack of depth last season and, through a "pretty good" recruiting class, have drastically improved their depth for the 2011 season. Youngstown State is also a team that is due for an upset because they consistently lose to big schools, they need a breakthrough game and they have the best mascot in college sports (the Penguin!).
Michigan State might still be feeling down after they got served SEC-style by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Capital One "We Love Coach K" Bowl. If Youngstown can use all of their new players effectively and force Michigan St into bad field position, they might get the upset they deserve.
If you are an Ohio State fan, it's not like it can get much worse. If Akron comes into Columbus and upsets the Buckeyes, it would just be the icing on the poisonous cake that has been the year of 2011 for the Ohio State football program. Also, the Akron program is improving rapidly as they have a very talented quarterback in Clayton Moore and lots of other talented skill players. Even though the Owls are projected to finish fifth in the MAC East, they might be able to torture Buckeye fans for one afternoon. God bless those Owls.
The Tigers have nine starters back from a team that went 1-11 last season. This only means that the Mississippi State Bulldogs will fail to take the Memphis Tigers seriously, which will allow Memphis to put up a lot of points using one of their three new options at quarterback. The Tigers will also be able to get pressure with their new talent on the defensive line. Also, some Mississippi State players might go deaf from the sound of those annoying cowbells. Even if Memphis loses, their fans can still blame John Calipari!