Something strange and unpredictable is about to happen. In a sport as random and outrageous as college football—and I mean that in the best possible way—that is a given.
There is no greater currency in college football than chaos. It's the coal that drives the engine. It's what produces the greatest games and most unlikely outcomes. And given just how many games will be played over the coming week, chaos is likely to be served on more than a handful of occasions.
But where? That is the question.
To help find the appropriate answers, we asked B/R readers to deliver us the biggest upsets from a stockpiled Week 1. Per usual, you guys delivered.
Using point spreads from DraftKings to help summarize the scope of the upset being called upon, jump into your Week 1 upset predictions.
A Hot Seat Gets Hotter
Comment: Western Michigan over Michigan
Current Point Spread: Michigan (-17)
Let's not tiptoe into this thing. Let's dive headfirst into the weird and explore an upset that would set every Michigan message board on fire. A loss would engulf Jim Harbaugh's already-scorching hot seat into a pile of ash.
And you know what? It's not impossible.
Now, Western Michigan must play a brilliant game. Not perfect, but brilliant.
In 2020, the Broncos won their first four games and lost their last two. (Although even in both defeats, they scored points and the outcomes were close.)
D'Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan's star wideout, is no longer there. But much of the other pieces are back, and the nation's No. 9 scoring offense from a season ago should still put up points.
That said, Michigan should be better. I like Cade McNamara at QB. The offensive line should be one of the best in the Big Ten. This defense, which really regressed last year, must be better. And if it's not, prepare the message-board cannons.
While an actual upset would be somewhat shocking, a close call wouldn't be in the least.
Horns Way, Way Down
Comment: Ragin' Cajuns whoop Texas University
Current Point Spread: Texas (-8) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
First and foremost, "Texas University" is amazing. Expert-level trolling.
I'd also say you have plenty of company with this opinion. When this point spread first appeared, it was north of two touchdowns. That line has since come down over the course of the offseason, and it's easy to see why. Louisiana-Lafayette was an exceptional story and team in 2020, finishing the year 10-1.
That entire team—or at least the majority of the impact players—are back in 2021. For a Texas program adjusting to new head coach Steve Sarkisian, that could present a bit of an issue.
The Longhorns are not without talent. Bijan Robinson is a star at running back, and the reports out of camp on QB Hudson Card, who was recently named the starter, have been excellent. The defense, however, has a long way to go, and I don't expect a lot of the issues that have plagued this program to be repaired overnight.
The Ragin' Cajuns weren't just a cuddly Group of Five program last season. Iowa State saw that up close in the opener, which Louisiana-Lafayette won. If the Longhorns aren't careful, they could experience the same fate.
This is absolutely one to watch.
An All-Florida Shocker
Comment: FAU OVER THE GATORS
Current Point Spread: Florida (-23.5) vs. FAU
I can say, somewhat convincingly, that this will be the most surprising upset presented in this piece if it ultimately takes place. That is a polite way of saying that it feels unlikely, although don't let me derail the ambition.
We appreciate bold around here—along with all-caps—and this does both of those things well.
FAU wasn't bad in 2020. A 5-4 record will earn a polite golf clap from the crowd. Most of the contributors return in 2021. Plus former Miami QB N'Kosi Perry, who had some success with the Hurricanes, will be the team's starter.
That is at least part of the good news. The other part is Florida's offense is almost entirely new with a slew of productive players off to the NFL. Kyle Pitts? Gone? Kyle Trask? Gone. Kadarius Toney? Gone.
I like Emory Jones at QB, and coach Dan Mullen will find a way to make things go. But the difficulty of replacing that many pieces this early will not come easy.
The problem for FAU is that the difference in speed and size will be spectacular. Not a hot take. These two schools simply recruit different levels of players.
Is an upset impossible? Goodness, no. Don't ever say that. This sport can always deliver. But this one would be one of the memorable upsets of my lifetime, and I think I'll politely look elsewhere.
The Return of Chip Kelly
Comment: UCLA will beat LSU by 10+
Current Point Spread: LSU (-3) vs. UCLA
While I normally keep this piece light and fun, I simply cannot talk about LSU without wishing everyone in Louisiana and beyond my well wishes after seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida.
Unbelievably scary. Again, much love to all impacted.
LSU was certainly impacted. The Tigers relocated to Houston for practice shortly before the hurricane hit, which presents a unique set of circumstances leading up to the opener. It's hard to know the impact that will have, although it's certainly a change from the normal routine.
UCLA, meanwhile, looked dominant in its opener against Hawai'i. While the offense was good enough, the defense was excellent. The Bruins allowed only 10 points, which is promising when you consider the leaps this group made last year. The defense improved across the board, and that momentum appears to have carried over, albeit in a small sample size.
Look, the point spread says it all. While LSU has more talent across its roster, UCLA appears more than capable of pulling this off. Chip Kelly has had his struggles in his return to college football, although a win would go a long way.
Of course, an upset is possible. In fact, at this point it wouldn't be much of an upset at all.
Comment: Charlotte upsets Duke
Current Point Spread: Duke (-6.5)
I love that this game was mentioned, because I have been looking at this point spread for the better part of the last week.
It is fascinating. In fact, it says a lot when you consider that Duke won this matchup last season 53-19. So why is a Group of Five team that finished 2-4 last season getting less than a touchdown?
The contrarian in me is intrigued.
Let's go down the rabbit hole a little deeper. Duke's defensive line has essentially been rebuilt, and tight end Noah Gray, who was a star for this program, is also gone.
Charlotte's 2020 was essentially a wash because of COVID-19 issues, and chances are we see a much better version this week. With the offense almost entirely back, I am feeling this upset quite a bit. Plus, the game is at home.
I'll go a step further. It's happening.
(Please delete this section if Duke once again wins by more than 30 points.)
Florida State (Finally) Gets Back on Track
Comment: FSU over the Irish
Current Point Spread: Notre Dame (-7.5)
We close with one of the final games of Week 1, which features two programs with great historical weight coming off of two very different stretches.
Notre Dame has been excellent under Brian Kelly. Florida State has frankly felt somewhat lost for a few years now.
But the gap, evident by this spread, appears to be closing slightly. And although FSU head coach Mike Norvell struggled in his first year, there is reason to believe better days are ahead.
Notre Dame is breaking in a new QB along with a handful of other significant pieces. Specifically, I am curious what the offensive line looks like after losing so many key pieces.
On the FSU side, quarterback McKenzie Milton is poised to make his long-awaited return to the sport after suffering a significant knee injury that forced him to miss multiple years. In fact, it looked like we would never see him play football again.
We saw what a healthy Milton was capable of in his time at UCF, where he became one of the faces of college football and one of the best players at the position. Anything close to that could really flip this result.
I'll be playing Florida State (+7.5). I think this game will be close until the very end, and we'll see a much more polished version of the Seminoles this time around.
Odds accurate as of Wednesday.
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