5 Possible Upsets for Week 1 of the College Football Season
5 Possible Week 1 College Football Upsets
My two favorite days in the sports calendar are the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament and the first day of the college football season.
Like last year, both are on Thursdays this year. My anticipation for the long college football weekend that begins this Thursday has a lot less to do with the various office pools and a lot to do with the fact that all of the teams start with a clean slate and most of them have high hopes. I like that about college sports. Unfortunately, that changes after the first week for a lot of teams.
Still, the office pools have their appeal and I love finding a line, especially in the first week, that causes me to say, “What the heck are they thinking?” Now, the Las Vegas odds makers are professionals because they don’t give away money, but they cannot be expected to know everything, and neither can the public who dabble in those things for “amusement purposes only.”
However -- and this is a big however -- if you are a fan of lesser conference teams like the Mid-American Conference and the American Athletic Conference, or even Football Championship Series (formerly Division IAA) play, you can sometimes catch an odds maker off guard, particularly in the first week.
Vegas tends to do most of their research on the big boys -- the Power 5 Conferences, if you will -- and neglect those teams and conferences just outside that window of scrutiny.
Here are five possible upsets for Week 1:
5. Mississippi at Vanderbilt (W)
Vanderbilt is a 2.5-point underdog despite using a last-minute touchdown to win against Ole Miss last season. The Commodores, after a 2-4 start last season, won their next seven games and finished with a No. 23-ranked program. The Commodores have an outstanding coach in James Franklin, and most of their starters return on both sides of the ball. Vandy not only covers, but wins this game outright.
4. Tulsa (W) at Bowling Green
Bowling Green is favored by 2.5 points. Over the past five years, Tulsa has been one of the better under-the-radar programs out there. Bowling Green had a nice eight-win season under a fine coach in Dave Clawson, but the home field advantage is probably not enough to warrant being a favorite at all in this game, as the Golden Hurricane won 11 games last year for the second time in the past five years. Quarterback Cody Green is back, and that should be enough for the Golden Hurricane to coast to an outright win in this game.
3. Syracuse (W) vs. Penn State
This game, played at “neutral site” MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.), has the Nittany Lions favored by seven points. The NCAA sanctions have to kick in at one point, and this is one of the points (or at least seven of them). Even though the Orange have lost their quarterback, their best lineman and their head coach to the NFL, this is a well-stocked program coming off a thumping of West Virginia in its bowl game. Penn State might be starting a true freshman QB in Christian Hackenberg. The Orange win this game outright.
2. Ohio (W) at Louisville
Ohio is a 21-point underdog in this game. Almost every American Athletic Association preview show has been a half-hour tribute to the Cardinals rather than a detailed analysis of any of the other conference teams. To be sure, the Cardinals' win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl was impressive, but they also beat a 3-9 Florida International University team by a touchdown (28-21). They also let 0-12 Southern Mississippi hang around in a 21-17 win. Ohio, brilliantly coached by Frank Solich, finished last season 9-4 with a 45-14 bowl win over Louisiana Monroe, and return playmaking quarterback Tyler Tettleton and top running back Beau Blankenship. This has outright upset written all over it for the Bobcats.
1. Villanova (W) at Boston College
The only FCS vs. FBS game that earns a line is Villanova at Boston College on Aug. 31, where the Wildcats are 12.5-point underdogs. This will be the third time that BC head coach Steve Addazio has faced Andy Talley in the opener, with Addazio beating Talley twice when he was at Temple . The third time will be the charm for Talley was he returns 19 starters from a team currently ranked No. 5 in the FCS. Addazio is inheriting a mess at BC, and his run-first philosophy will play right into Talley's hands.