College Football Picks Week 2: 5 Powerhouse Programs on Upset Alert
The first two weeks of the college football season have left many fans feeling lukewarm.
There were several marquee games, such as Boise State vs. Georgia and LSU vs. Oregon in Week 1 and Penn State vs. Alabama in Week 2, but for the most part, fans were treated to mismatches and blowouts.
That will start to change in Week 3.
Games against FCS (formerly I-AA) teams are melting away and we are ratcheting up towards the conference season.
College football fans that were left wanting more in the first two weeks of the season should sit up and pay attention. The third week of the season promises to bring much more drama and intrigue.
With that drama and intrigue comes the possibility of big upsets. Several big-name teams in the Top 25 will have to be in top form to fight off opponents.
In particular, the following five teams will be on upset alert.
No. 1 Oklahoma (at No. 5 Florida State)
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Personally, I'm not too high on Florida State's chances to pull off the upset in this game, but I have to admit that it's certainly within the realm of possibility. FSU is ranked in the Top Five for a reason.
Under Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles have started recruiting like they did during Bobby Bowden's heyday. Most importantly, that highly-ranked talent is performing up to expectations.
The key for FSU will be the play of E.J. Manuel at quarterback. The Sooners' defense is probably the most talented and athletic defense in the nation and the Seminoles' offense can't afford to give them the ball on turnovers.
If FSU is going to seriously challenge OU, they will have to get off to a hot start. Last season, the Sooners blew them off the field early and never gave FSU a chance to get back in the game.
No. 6 Stanford (at Arizona)
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Stanford is doing everything they can to show that they, not the Oregon Ducks, are the class of the Pac-12 conference.
Granted, their competition hasn't been great, but they handily beat teams that they were expected to handily beat. There's something to be said for that.
The Arizona Wilcats, on the other hand, are coming off a bad loss against Oklahoma State last Thursday.
Many figured the Wildcats would put OSU on upset alert last week, but it never happened.
The Wildcats aren't as talented as they have been in the last couple of seasons, but they still have a lot of talent on the roster.
Quarterback Nick Foles is one of the better signal callers you may never have heard of. If Arizona can find a way to slow down Andrew Luck and the Cardinal, the Wildcats might be able to sneak away with an upset win at home in the desert.
No. 16 Florida (vs. Tennessee)
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Tennessee may very well find themselves as the bottom of the SEC in 2011, but that won't keep this rivalry game from being close.
The Gators have looked good in their two wins so far, but count me as one that's not convinced they are going to be back at the top of the SEC.
They will still struggle for consistency on offense again from time to time. There's little reason to believe that their offense is a whole lot better than it was last year.
Their defense, which has looked unbeatable in their first two games, will finally be tested. Tennessee's quarterback, Tyler Bray, would be a much bigger star if he were somewhere other than Tennessee.
It was just Cincinnati, but Bray looked like a future All-SEC quarterback last week.
Rivalry games are unpredictable by nature and that will play right into the hand of the Tennessee Volunteers.
No. 17 Ohio State (at Miami)
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Their away loss against Ohio State last season was the beginning of the end for Randy Shannon in Miami.
Coming into that game, the thought was that the Hurricanes were finally ready to compete on the national level again. Ohio State blew them off the field and Miami was exposed as a fraud.
Things are even dicier in Miami this year in the face of the Nevin Shapiro improper benefits scandal, but an Ohio State team hurt by scandal almost as much is ripe for the picking.
The Hurricanes have gone into this season with an "us against the world" mentality and that will pay off before the end of the season. The team is playing for their coach and each other. That's a dangerous team to play.
Even if they don't end up pulling the upset, expect to a see a much more focused, disciplined Miami team than the one we saw Labor Day weekend against Maryland.
No. 22 Arizona State (at Illinois)
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Ron Zook has long been one of the more criticized coaches in all of college football, but he has quietly built something really good at Illinois. They haven't gotten back to the Rose Bowl heights they reached several years ago, but the Illini are as talented as they have been in quite some time.
The Sun Devils are looking to back up their ranking. Many felt they should have been ranked to start the season, but it took a big Friday night prime-time win over Missouri to get them the respect they probably deserved from the beginning.
The key for the Sun Devils will be linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The Illinois offense features speed, speed and more speed from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to running back Jason Ford to wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. Burfict needs to lead this defense and not hamper it with penalties as he too often does.
There isn't a ton of hype surrounding this game, but it's huge for both programs. Both are assumed seven or eight-win teams that could really use a 3-0 to start to possibly propel them into that next echelon of teams.