10 Realistic Upsets That Would Send the 2018 College Football Season into Chaos
College football fans and analysts tend to believe they have a clear understanding of what to expect in 2018.
Chaos, however, always has its day.
Surprise results happen, some more impactful than others. We've picked out 10 potential upsets that could drastically alter the college football landscape. It's improbable they'll all happen—though what a chaotically fun disaster that would be.
All selected matchups involve one team expected to contend for not only a conference crown, but the national championship.
Sep. 8: Georgia at South Carolina
The underdog: South Carolina
What's at stake: Early front-runner status in the SEC East.
Both programs opened the year 1-0, and the showdown in Columbia will provide a critical tiebreaking win. If Georgia lost, it would need South Carolina to fall at least twice in conference play.
The impact: Georgia, last season's national runner-up, still has matchups with LSU, Florida and Auburn on the horizon. If the Bulldogs were to fall at South Carolina, a second loss would put the Gamecocks—or even Florida—in position to steal the division.
Sep. 22: Wisconsin at Iowa
The underdog: Iowa
What's at stake: An essential win to begin Big Ten action.
Whereas Wisconsin must travel to Michigan and Penn State in crossover action, Iowa only heads to Penn State. The Hawkeyes could assert themselves as the team to chase in the West division.
The impact: Wisconsin, behind a vaunted offensive line and Heisman Trophy contender in running back Jonathan Taylor, has long been considered the West's favorite. However, an Iowa victory would suddenly put the Badgers' championship hopes in trouble and gives the Hawkeyes a legitimate chance to enter Penn State with a 7-0 record.
Oct. 6: Oklahoma at Texas
The underdog: Texas
What's at stake: Tom Herman's reputation, most likely.
The season-opening loss to Maryland has stirred up some doubt in Austin, and a September that includes USC, TCU and Kansas State could send the Longhorns into the rivalry clash at 2-3.
The impact: Would a fourth—or even third?—loss put Herman on a scorching hot seat in only his second year? That answer is probably yes. Conversely, Oklahoma would be faced with the weekly dilemma of avoiding a second loss, which typically removes teams from the College Football Playoff discussion.
Oct. 6: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
The underdog: Virginia Tech
What's at stake: Perception of the Hokies as a national contender.
Virginia Tech smoked Florida State 24-3 in the opener, and the upcoming slate suggests a 5-0 start for the Hokies. Plus, few predictions have Notre Dame falling to the ACC program, something that now appears like a distinct possibility.
The impact: Notre Dame hosts Stanford a week before this meeting. Regardless of that result, the Irish must survive Virginia Tech because five power-conference opponents—including Northwestern, Florida State and USC—remain on the schedule.
Oct. 6: Auburn at Mississippi State
The underdog: Mississippi State
What's at stake: The sanity of Auburn fans prior to November clashes at both Georgia and Alabama, as well as Mississippi State's place in the SEC West.
Neither side should be worse than 4-1, so the winner will retain control of its path—not destiny, you cannot control destiny—to a conference championship appearance.
The impact: Auburn is an exception to the two-loss rule. Say the Tigers lost to LSU and Mississippi State but held victories over Washington, Georgia, Alabama and potentially Georgia again. That's a potential CFP qualifier. Still, it'd make for a nervous November. On the other hand, Mississippi State would just need victories over LSU and Texas A&M to create an interesting showdown in Tuscaloosa.
Oct. 13: Washington at Oregon
The underdog: Oregon
What's at stake: Survival for the programs, both nationally and in the Pac-12.
Washington is no lock to arrive in Eugene at 5-1, though it's likely. Oregon, given its laughable nonconference slate, should be 4-1 or 5-0 pending its result against Stanford.
The impact: We'll call Stanford the favorite Sep. 22 at Oregon. Barring madness, losing to both the Cardinal and UW would effectively eliminate the Ducks from the North division race. On the other hand, defeating both Pac-12 powers would vault them into the national discussion. Washington is already there, but—again—a second loss is decisive in a bad way.
Oct. 20: NC State at Clemson
The underdog: N.C. State
What's at stake: Clemson's supremacy.
This is a big what-if discussion, because the Tigers finish 2018 at Florida State, Louisville, at Boston College and home against Duke and South Carolina. We don't expect a letdown, but we don't expect a lot of things that end up happening in college football. Starting that stretch with a loss would spark uncertainty around Clemson.
The impact: Could an upset be the springboard for N.C. State to steal the Atlantic division? Would FSU or Louisville jump into the picture? Only those two schools will have played each other prior to Oct. 20, so the Atlantic would be entirely up for grabs down the stretch.
Oct. 20: Oklahoma at TCU
The underdog: TCU
What's at stake: Positioning as the conference favorite.
TCU and Oklahoma will have encountered both Iowa State and Texas, and even a 1-1 finish in those games would keep a rematch of the 2017 Big 12 championship in play. Barring a couple of stunners before Oct. 20, this result may shape the league's tiebreaker outlook.
The impact: Will either school's College Football Playoff dreams evaporate? While losses to Ohio State and either ISU or Texas would bounce TCU, a 7-0 or 6-1 record post-OU sure would look pleasant. On the other hand, the highly regarded Sooners could open a relatively tame second-half schedule with a massive win.
Nov. 3: Alabama at LSU
The underdog: LSU
What's at stake: Whatever LSU is at that point, plus Alabama's margin for error.
One impressive victory does not a season make. LSU thrashed Miami, but it's anyone's guess how effectively the Tigers will navigate Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State before hosting the Tide. Alabama will likely hold an 8-0 record entering a manageable yet challenging November.
The impact: Is Ed Orgeron back on the hot seat? Is he rapidly moving LSU in the right direction? What will be the prevalent storyline? The Crimson Tide have never not reached the College Football Playoff, so their performance will always be newsworthy.
Nov. 24: Michigan at Ohio State
The underdog: Michigan
What's at stake: Verbal ammunition for Jim Harbaugh's critics. Oh, and CFP aspirations, possibly for both and likely one.
Michigan already has a loss, so the midseason three-game stretch opposite Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State will determine if the Wolverines are still alive. But can Harbaugh finally beat Ohio State? Michigan is 0-3 under him and 1-13 since 2004.
The impact: Another Michigan loss would draw widespread criticism of Harbaugh, whose record against rivals is borderline pathetic. However, he could silence the critics with a victory—particularly if that seals an East division crown and keeps Ohio State out of the CFP.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.