There will be at least one upset in the first full week of college football; it’s only logical, given the history of previous season-openers.
In last year’s first week of college football, there were some big upsets. Among the more notable: Utah upset 5-point favorite Michigan, Minnesota upset 16-point favorite TCU and Northwestern upset 10-point favorite Stanford.
Even an FCS school got in the action, with Portland State upsetting 30-point favorite Washington State. Rest assured, the big upset will happen in Week 1— but who will pull it off is difficult to predict. Injuries, suspensions and staff changes can all affect a team’s performance, after all.
Predictions are fun. They’re also a useful tool to spark debate while we tick off the last little few days left between us and college football.
These predictions — if they hold true — could spell trouble for some teams contending for a College Football Playoff berth.
USC will upset Alabama
Most experts believe this game will be won in the trenches: Alabama has a superb offensive line — so does USC — while both teams have lost some star power in the front seven.
What this game will come down to is big plays, not trench warfare.
So what are the intangibles that favor USC?
This game is not in Tuscaloosa, USC has nothing to lose as a 10-point underdog and offensive coordinator Tee Martin will have more tricks up his sleeve than former USC offensive coordinator — and current Alabama OC — Lane Kiffin.
Unless Kiffin deviates from his predictable and safe playcalling for his new quarterback, especially in that quarterback’s first game, bubble screens will be the doom of Alabama’s offense.
Ohio State will struggle against Bowling Green
The Buckeyes return six starters to their team from last season. Granted, Ohio State’s roster is littered with elite talent, but don’t underestimate four-touchdown underdog Bowling Green.
Last year, the Falcons smoked Maryland 48-27, lost a 44-41 heartbreaker to Memphis and scored 30 points on Tennessee — only Oklahoma and Georgia scored more points (31) on the Volunteers.
The MAC champions also went 2-0 vs the Big Ten last season (Maryland and Purdue). The loss of three defensive starters on the line will be problematic for the Falcons, but the Buckeyes have new faces on the line as well.
This game will be a struggle for Ohio State.
Get ready for “Trevor Knight for Heisman”
Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight will make his debut for the Aggies against UCLA on Sept. 3. And while SEC quarterbacks tend to be overshadowed by the running backs in Heisman conversations, this year’s race looks wide open for signal-callers.
Why not push Knight’s name?
Coach Kevin Sumlin’s system will give Knight a lot of opportunities to impress in a nationally televised game. If UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen doesn’t steal Knight’s thunder, get ready for Trevor Time.
Jordan Rodgers will be a star on SEC Now
Most men will not admit they watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. When ESPN hired former Bachelor star Jesse Palmer as a college football analyst, bloggers derided the decision; almost a decade later later, Palmer is still broadcasting games.
Palmer landed the gig because he was a former NFL quarterback, looked like a natural on camera and understood the Xs and Os of football. The same can be said about Jordan Rodgers, brother of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers is at ease in front of the camera, knows his football and won the heart of The Bachelorette’s Joelle Fletcher.
Rodgers’ audition tape is solid: rock solid. ESPN knows what is doing.
Get ready for an FCS upset
Will an FCS team upset an FBS team? Probably.
Here are the front runners, with my two favorites in bold:
— Northern Iowa at Iowa State (Northern Iowa beat Iowa State in 2013, 28-20)
— Eastern Kentucky at Purdue (EKU barely lost in overtime vs. EKU last season, 34-27)
— Eastern Washington at Washington State (Last year, Portland State upset Washington State 24-17)
— Rhode Island at Kansas (the Rams went 1-10 last season, but I still like their chances)
— Montana State at Idaho (Not the Montana Grizzlies — but the Bobcats are still legit)