College Football Rankings 2011: Ranked Teams on Upset Alert in Week 2
Last week we all saw TCU fall to an unranked and seemingly underrated Baylor squad. A day later, we saw Notre Dame fall victim to unranked South Florida and Oregon fall to a more prepared LSU squad.
South Carolina, Boise State, USC, Auburn and Missouri all survived close games. Needless to say, Week 1 may have been more competitive than most might have believed it would be.
The newest AP Poll said goodbye to Notre Dame, Georgia, Auburn and USC in order to make room for Baylor, South Florida, Penn State and Texas.
Will any of these new teams falter the first week after being ranked? What about the teams that survived close games and stayed in the rankings? What will be the biggest upset this week?
I have found eight ranked teams that have the best chance of being upset this week and have ranked them from low to high on the upset-level alert scale.
Here are this week's contestants for biggest upset.
No. 11 Virginia Tech at East Carolina
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Upset Alert: Low
Final Score Prediction: 45-28, Virginia Tech
After almost pulling off Week 1's biggest upset, East Carolina has another chance to do something big, only this time it will be against a better team.
Going into halftime, East Carolina held a 24-14 lead over No. 12 South Carolina and looked like it was poised for an upset. Unfortunately for the Pirates, South Carolina exploded in the third quarter for 28 points behind QB Stephen Garcia and never looked back.
This week, East Carolina has a new task: slowing down Virginia Tech's running back David Wilson. After giving up 112 yards and three touchdowns to South Carolina's star running back, Marcus Lattimore, ECU will be trying to contain Wilson, who ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns in Virginia Tech's season opener.
While all eyes were on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in Week 1, it was Wilson who stole the show and led the Hokies to a 66-13 pummeling of Appalachian State.
The quarterback matchup in this game will be intriguing to watch. Thomas' much-anticipated debut ended with an average stat line: 9-of-19 for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
On the flip side, ECU quarterback Dominique Davis turned in a quite impressive game: 37-of-56 for 260 yards and four touchdowns. Davis did throw an interception in the game, but he proved that he is a big-time quarterback.
While Davis may have another impressive stat line this week, he just doesn't have the help around him to beat a team like Virginia Tech.
No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn
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Upset Alert: Low-Medium
Final Score Prediction: 34-21, Mississippi State
Auburn was down 10 points with three minutes to go in its season opener against Utah State. Fortunately for the Tigers, they were able to score twice and recover an onside kick within those three minutes.
While they survived a scare in their opener and won 42-38, the Tigers won't be so lucky this week.
Auburn will stay at home for the second straight week, but this time it will be hosting conference foe Mississippi State. Mississippi State took care of business and handled their season opener against Memphis in a dominating fashion (59-14).
In order to pull off the upset this week, Auburn will have to contain Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard. Ballard ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns last week against Memphis, but he only ran the ball 10 times.
That's 16.6 yards per carry—16.6! Auburn gave up 227 yards on the ground to Utah State. Needless to say, the defense is going to have to pick things up in order to come out on top.
The game will be closer than most might expect. The current line has Mississippi State as only a 6.5-point favorite, but I still think that's a little too close.
Auburn will put up a fight in front of its home crowd, but the visiting Bulldogs will emerge victorious.
No. 9 Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
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Upset Alert: Medium
Final Score Prediction: 55-45, Oklahoma State
If you want to watch a high-scoring, exciting game with virtually no defense played, this is your game of the week.
After a much anticipated preseason, No. 9 Oklahoma State didn't exactly look spectacular in its Week 1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys gave up 34 points to the Ragin' Cajuns and looked rather vulnerable on the defensive side of the ball.
Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden threw for almost 400 yards and three touchdowns, but he also tossed three interceptions in the game. If he has another mixed performance, OSU could see itself out of the top 10 earlier than anybody expected.
The man to watch in this game won't be Weeden or Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, who is bound to be a top 10 draft pick next April. Instead, the player to watch will be the one pictured on this slide: Arizona QB Nick Foles.
Foles turned in a huge game in Arizona's Week 1 victory over Northern Arizona. He completed 34 of 42 pass attempts for 412 yards and five touchdowns.
If Oklahoma State doesn't make some key defensive improvements during the short week (the game is tonight), the Cowboys could be in for a long night. With the talent they have on their roster, the Cowboys should be able to fix their mistakes.
If not, they're still going to score 50-plus points. Arizona will have to keep up.
No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia
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Upset Alert: Medium
Final Score Prediction: 38-30, South Carolina
If South Carolina can win this week on the road, it will surely be in the top 10 come Week 3.
After being down 10 points at halftime, the Gamecocks rallied, winning a hard-fought game against East Carolina in Week 1. This week they will travel to Athens and take on a highly motivated Georgia team that is coming off a disappointing Week 1 loss to No. 5 Boise State.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier chose not to start senior Stephen Garcia against East Carolina, but after the offense sputtered, Garcia was put into the game and led his team to a comeback victory. This week, Garcia will have to play well from the start, because the team won't want to play from behind again.
Georgia had the opportunity to knock off Boise State, as the game was close through the first half, but after Boise State scored with less than a minute left before halftime to take a 14-7 lead, the Broncos never looked back, rolling to a 35-21 victory.
Georgia has another chance for redemption against South Carolina this week, but it will be playing for more than just pride and rankings. Georgia head coach Mark Richt is on the hot seat, and starting off the season 0-2 won't help him by any means.
Richt will have Georgia ready for this weekend, but the Bulldogs won't have enough to stop South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore.
No. 24 Texas vs. Brigham Young
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Upset Alert: Medium-High
Final Score Prediction: 31-24, Texas
After their first losing season since 1997, the Texas Longhorns have found their way back into the AP Top 25 behind a dominating Week 1 performance.
The Longhorns defeated the Rice Owls 34-9 in their season opener and looked like a whole new team offensively. They managed to rack up 506 yards of total offense under new co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. Harsin, who held the same position at Boise State the last five years, installed a new wildcat-type of offense for the Longhorns.
Junior QB Garrett Gilbert finished the game 13-of-23 for 239 yards and one touchdown, while highly touted freshman RB Malcolm Brown finished with 16 carries for 86 yards. Brown was just one of 18 freshmen that saw playing time last week for the Longhorns.
While things seem to be looking up in Texas, coach Mack Brown knows the Longhorns still have work to do. They had a good defensive game overall, but they need to get better defending the run. Texas gave up 130 yards on the ground to Rice last week and didn't commit a single sack.
This bodes well for BYU, which is coming off a big win against Ole Miss in its season opener. BYU had to pull off a fourth-quarter comeback to get the victory, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall called it "one of the most gratifying victories" he has ever had at BYU.
Senior RB JJ Di Luigi only racked up 56 rushing yards in BYU's Week 1 victory, but he also caught five passes for 32 yards. This is common for Di Luigi, who finished with 917 yards rushing and 443 yards receiving last season.
He will need to get going in this game for BYU to gain any momentum against what looks to be an improved Texas squad. However, this will be Texas' first big test of the year, so it will be bound to make a few mistakes.
The edge should go to Texas, as it is playing in front of its home crowd, but the Longhorns only won two of the seven games they played at home last season.
Regardless, they will still be the better team this weekend, but not by much.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State
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Upset Alert: Medium-High
Final Score Prediction: 31-27, Alabama
Even though the College GameDay crew will be in Michigan this week, the real marquee game will be played in University Park, Pa.
Playing in front of their home crowd, coach Joe Paterno and his Penn State Nittany Lions will be trying to defeat a top-five team for the first time since 1999, and they have a pretty decent shot at doing it.
Alabama and Penn State both won their season openers easily, so this will be their first true test of the season. Also, both teams are still trying to decide on an official starter at the quarterback position.
For Alabama, the job seems to be in sophomore A.J. McCarron's hands. McCarron started the season opener for the Crimson Tide and threw for 226 yards, a touchdown and, unfortunately, two interceptions.
Alabama also gave redshirt freshman Phillip Sims an opportunity to display his talent, but he also threw two interceptions. Sims finished the game with 73 yards and no touchdowns.
Penn State split time evenly between sophomore Rob Bolden and junior Matt McGloin. Bolden started the game and finished 6-of-12 for 37 yards. McGloin started the second quarter and finished 6-of-8 for 77 yards.
Paterno said both would likely see time again this week against Alabama, but it's Penn State's rushing attack that really won the game against FCS school Indiana State. The Lions ran for 245 yards in the game and were led by sophomore Silas Redd, who finished with 12 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
The big story in this game will be Penn State's rushing attack against Alabama's defense. Alabama actually gave up negative 23 rushing yards last week. Granted, Kent State is a different team than Penn State, but the Tide still proved their defense is one of the best in the country.
If Penn State can score and get a few stops, it'll be in a good position to win the game, but Alabama's defense and balanced offensive attack will be just enough to get the Tide through a tough game.
Alabama wins, but it's close.
No. 25 TCU at Air Force
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Upset Alert: Medium-High
Final Score Prediction: 38-35, TCU
After a crushing loss to then-unranked Baylor in their season opener, the TCU Horned Frogs finds themselves not completely out of the AP Top 25. This is likely due to the resiliency they showed in the second half.
The Horned Frogs crawled back to take the lead after being down 47-23 in the fourth quarter, only to lose it again on Baylor's last drive of the game.
TCU, which normally prides itself on playing great defense, gave up 564 yards to Baylor behind the strong play of QB Robert Griffin III. It wasn't just the secondary getting embarrassed, either. TCU gave up 150 rushing yards on 36 attempts. Last season, TCU gave up just fewer than 100 yards rushing per game.
Senior LB Tank Carder will have to help get his defense motivated and ready to stop the run before they take on Air Force this weekend.
After Week 1, Air Force is currently the leading rushing team in the nation, as it was able to gain 391 yards on the ground against South Dakota. Air Force has always been a force on the ground, and this year is no different.
In its season opener, Air Force was able to get four players double-digit rushing attempts. Three of those four were able to score at least one touchdown, and the fourth who didn't score, senior Asher Clark, actually led the team with 13 attempts for 97 yards. Clark was able to gain more than 1,000 yards on the ground last season.
TCU will have to play as hard as it can in order to keep from starting the season 0-2. Hopefully after a week of analyzing their mistakes, the Horned Frogs will come into this weekend's matchup ready to right their wrongs.
TCU will win a close, hard-fought game.
No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State
Upset Alert: High
Final Score Prediction: 28-20, Arizona State
This is a hard game to call. What actually is the upset in this game? For this article's purpose, the upset would be the ranked team, Missouri, losing, which is what I'm predicting.
However, the Sun Devils are actually 7.5-point favorites over the visiting Tigers. So will a ranked Missouri team winning on the road against an unranked Arizona team actually be the upset?
Maybe so, but in order to do that the Tigers are going to have to play a lot better than they did at home in their season opener against Miami (Ohio).
Missouri QB James Franklin (pictured above) gave himself a C-minus for his Week 1 performance, and that was being nice. In his debut, Franklin finished 17-of-26 for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also led the Tigers on the ground with 14 rushes for 72 yards and one score.
His dual-threat ability is a blessing for the Tigers, who were seemingly unmotivated offensively last week. All that will have to change to keep up with Arizona State, which dominated its season opener with a 48-14 victory over UC-Davis.
The Sun Devils managed to rack up 517 yards in the game, which is well over what Missouri was able to accomplish (291 yards). Junior QB Brock Osweiler completed 19 of his 26 pass attempts for 262 yards and two touchdowns, but had to leave the game in the third quarter with a right calf cramp.
The Sun Devils barely missed making the AP Top 25 this week, but a win over Missouri will almost assuredly put them into the mix next week.