It happens every year. A undermanned, less-talented team will bring their “A” game, while the favorite comes in sleep walking, plays sub-par and leaves embarrassed and heart broken. They often happen when teams, coaches, and fans least expect it, but it happens every year. Upsets are inevitable, and seem to happen more in college football than other sports.
Last year we saw Oklahoma State go to Iowa State and have their National Championship aspirations ruined. Boise State needed a win to earn a BCS game, but missed a field goal against TCU and settled for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Whether it’s due to injuries, missed FGs, Hail Mary’s, or trap games, just like in 2011, you will see some shockers in 2012. But predicting them can be tough and almost impossible. But here is a look at the 10 upsets I think could happen this season:
10. Maine at Boston College (Week 2)
Ok so Boston College isn’t exactly an elite team, and they will end up with more losses than wins, but anytime you lose to an FCS school, it’s embarrassing. Boston College is without Montel Harris and 1st round pick LB Luke Kuechly. With a new OC the Eagles might not be too much better than they were last season. So after a tough home game against Miami, and before a road game against Northwestern, BC will take on a Maine team that went 9-4 last season and barely lost to Pitt. The Black Bears reached the Quarterfinals in the FCS playoffs last season and they aren’t a walk in the park by any means.
9. Duke at UNC (Week 8 )
When you think of UNC/Duke you immediately think of the hardwood variety, seeing that Duke doesn’t offer much in terms of football talent. Well this year could be different. Duke returns 9 defensive starters and 8 on offense. The Blue Devils senior WR Conner Vernon is one of the best pass catchers in the ACC and facing a UNC defense that lost 5 guys to the NFL could be tough for the Tar Heels. The last 5 games between these two went something like this – 20-14(OT), 28-20, 19-6,24-19, 37-21. No matter how talented UNC is, Duke seems to constantly give them a hard time.
Michigan enters 2012 with expectations higher than they have been in recent memory. With exception to the opener against Alabama, Michigan should be favored in every game. They have a Heisman hopeful in Denard Robinson and 7 returning starters on defense. In week 12 they get a home against Iowa, a team that has beat them 3 seasons in a row. Not to mention, a week later they travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. This has trap game written all over it and they Hawkeyes could pull of the stunner and crash the Wolverines Big 10 title hopes.
7. USF vs. Florida State (Week 5)
To many, Florida State is a darkhorse title contender. They return 17 starters including QB EJ Manuel, and one of the best Defensive lines in all of football. In week 5 they take on a South Florida team on the road after a home game against Clemson that could be one of the toughest games for the Seminoles all season. The next week they will go on the road to an improving NC State team. Plain and simple FSU could overlook the Bulls. South Florida went 5-7 last season, but they are my pick to win the Big East in 2012. Don’t be surprised if South Florida gives 100% max effort and pulls off a shocker at home.
6. Vanderbilt vs. Florida (Week 7)
Last time the Commodores won at home against the Gators was 1988. Last year in the Swamp, Vanderbilt lost a great opportunity to win the game, but gave up a game ending drive and lost by the score of 26-21. This is a Vanderbilt team that also lost to Georgia by 5, Arkansas by 3 and not to mention James Franklin looks to be one of the more underrated Head Coaches in football. This game, Florida is sandwiched between homes games against LSU and South Carolina. Nashville could be home to one of the bigger upsets this season in week 7.
5. Mississippi State at LSU (Week 11)
I know, Tiger Stadium is one of the most difficult places to win at if you’re an opposing team. Last time the Bulldogs played in Baton Rouge in 2010 they lost 29-7, while last year they played the Tigers tough, but ultimately fell 19-6. The reason this game could spell trouble for the Tigers is two-fold, first they will be coming off a hard fought, and possibly losing effort against Alabama. It could be hard for the Tigers to overcome a difficult loss and be prepared for a lesser opponent. Second, the Tigers are only returning 5 defensive starters, including Heisman finalist Tyrann Matheiu. It’s very possible that Mississippi State could be 8-1 heading into this contest with tons on the line.
4. Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma (Week 6)
Hey it’s happened before, why not again? It seems that the Red Raiders play the Sooners tougher than anyone else. Oklahoma hasn’t won a game in Lubbock since 2003, and last season’s loss at home was one of the biggest of the year. If Landry Jones looks like Landry Jones of late last season then Texas Tech could be rushing the field once more. This game will be played the week before the Red River Rivalry for Oklahoma and could be a tough one to get pumped up for.
This is the season finale for both teams, and the last game of the season for Penn State, due to the fact they won’t be playing in a bowl game. So for those seniors on the Penn State roster this is their National Championship. Wisconsin will be coming off a game against Ohio State and will most likely be in the driver’s seat for an appearance in the Big 10 title game. It’s possible that the Badgers could overlook an outnumbered Penn State squad and sleepwalk through this game. Not to mention regardless of how bad Penn State could be, Beaver Stadium is a tough place to play.
2. Utah vs. USC (Week 6)
In my opinion Utah is one the more underrated teams in football. They return 9 offensive starters and 7 on defense including DT Star Lotulelei. Last season, Utah was lining up for a game winning field goal but was blocked and returned for a TD to give USC the 23-14 victory. This year, the game is played in Salt Lake City on a Thursday night. And if you know College Football, you know those Thursday night road games can be tough for anyone.
1. Arkansas vs. Alabama (Week 3)
On paper, and according to the point spread, this wouldn’t be the biggest upset, but it would be a season altering one to say the least. Anytime you pull off a victory against Alabama, regardless if you’re at home, it should be considered an upset. In 2010, the last time Alabama visited Fayetteville, the Crimson Tide rattled off 17 unanswered points to win 24-20. Last season, the Razorbacks played the Tide tough for a quarter and half, but ending up losing 38-14 en route to a 11-2 season. This year, Arkansas is led by QB Tyler Wilson and a stable of RB’s while Alabama loses several key members to the NFL. The Razorbacks will have two weeks to tune up as they host Jacksonville State and ULM, and Alabama will be coming off games against Michigan and Western Kentucky. This game could make or break either teams hopes for a title game, and at the very worst should be one of the better game this season.
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports