UPSETS! 2015

Upsets: They are what make the college game so much more exciting than the NFL, even if they may lack the technical execution of the football elite. Upsets can be smaller like a CUSA school over an SEC bottom feeder or they can be ground shaking like 2007’s Appalachian State vs. Michigan shocker. After extensive research and perhaps a bit of finger crossing, here are 2015’s upsets week-by-week.

Week #1

Michigan at Utah-There is no doubt that Jim Harbaugh’s know-how and enthusiasm will not be enough to bring Michigan to the top of the Big 10 in year one, but it will be enough to fire up the fan base in the opener. Rice-Eccles stadium is not an easy place to win, and Utah will be a 3-5 point favorite barring any major developments between now and September 3rd. Michigan has plenty of talent left and the energy surrounding Harbaugh will carry the Wolverines in this one. Michigan 24 Utah 21

Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt-If you haven’t seen WKU QB Brandon Doughty play, you’re in for a treat. Vandy will be heavily favored but will struggle to keep up with the high-powered Hilltopper offense. Nine returning starters on defense including CB Torren McGaster will help the Commodores, but WKU wins this one to start what could be a great season. WKU 33 Vandy 28

Sam Houston State at Texas Tech-Texas Tech scores a lot of points, but early season games against great FCS teams spell disaster for teams who are slated near the bottom of their conferences. Sporting News has tabbed SHSU as the number two FBS program in the country and with Kliff Kingsbury’s coaching ability being called into question by some in Lubbock, this loss will turn the heat up even more. SHSU 49 Texas Tech 48

Purdue at Marshall-Marshall was phenomenal in 2014 behind QB Rakeem Cato, and while the Herd are due for another strong year, the loss of Cato will be bigger than most fans realize. The Boilermakers will roll out their own new signal caller in David Blough who could be West Lafayette’s version of Rakeem Cato when all is said and done. His ability to scramble and strong downfield passing ability will cause fits for a Marshall defense that only returns five starters.

Purdue 31 Marshall 22

Week #2

Bowling Green at Maryland-We hemmed and hawed about picking Bowling Green to upset Tennessee in week #1, but ultimately this feels more achievable. BGSU is stacked on offense behind RB Travis Greene and QB Matt Johnson. Maryland has major issues in the pass rush and big holes to fill on offense with the loss of Stefon Diggs and QB CJ Brown. These are two teams headed in opposite directions. Score one for the MAC! BGSU 32 Maryland 25

UMass at Colorado-The Buffs are improved this year, but so are the Minutemen who only lost by three to the Mike McIntyre’s squad last season. UMass brings back 19 starters including QB Blake Frohnapfel who racked up 3,345 yards and 23 tds for a 3-9 team last season. The Buffs will face UMass after a long road trip to square off with a tough Hawaii team and just before facing their in-state rival, Colorado State, who embarrassed them in 2014. This is the perfect storm for an upset. UMass 36 Colorado 33

Minnesota at Colorado State-CSU should open as the home favorite against the Gophers, but despite some key losses for both teams, this one will strictly come down to coaching. If you’ve followed Minnesota HC Jerry Kill’s career, you know that nobody is better at crafting a road upset than he and his staff. CSU’s Mike Bobo may be a great one, but he’s green (no pun intended) and could have major issues at RB, OL, and special teams. This would be a great win for the beginning of Bobo’s Ft. Collins tenure, but we just don’t see it happening. Minnesota 23 Colorado 20

Iowa at Iowa State-Paul Rhodes is great at proving people wrong, which can be good and bad. Expectations are not high in Ames this season, but Rhodes knows how important this game is to keep his increasingly hot seat a bit cooler. The Cyclones have beaten Iowa three of the past four games despite losing seasons all three of those years. QB Sam Richardson is only getting better and somebody has to serve Iowa one of their three annual letdown losses.

Iowa State 24 Iowa 20

Week #3

Louisiana Tech at Kansas State-Bill Snyder has done a fantastic job in Manhattan but don’t discount what Skip Holtz is building in Ruston. K-State loses QB Jake Waters and WR Tyler Lockett who accounted for a large portion of the offense in 2014. Tech adds Florida QB Jeff Driskel to an already potent offense behind RB Kenneth Dixon (1,299 yds 22 tds). Coming off two cupcake wins to start 2015 (South Dakota, UTSA) the Wildcats won’t see this coming. La Tech 26 K-State 19

Florida at Kentucky-Jim McElwain has to have a letdown or two in his first SEC season at the helm and this will be one of them. Mark Stoops is getting the program turned around at Kentucky quickly and this will be his first signature win. Kentucky QB Patrick Towles showed real promise as a sophomore and has great vision over the middle. McElwain will be relying on a redshirt freshman QB in Will Gaines to orchestrate an offense that has done nothing but underachieve thus far. Throw in a new system with real issues and you’ve got yourself an upset. Kentucky 17 Florida 16

Wyoming at Washington State-Wyoming Head Coach Craig Bohl was one of the best hires of 2014. He’s got two dominating running backs in Shaun Wick, and Brian Hill. Wazzu loses QB Connor Halliday and still hasn’t shown the drive most thought would arrive with head coach Mike Leach. Not that it will mean much when the season ends, but take the Pokes in an upset. Wyoming 35 Washington State 33

BYU at UCLA-QB Taysom Hill and the Cougars are on a mission-literally and figuratively. Their performance this season could be one last audition for Big 12 membership should the conference expand next season. UCLA is loaded with talent but it is largely unproven. BYU has a strong defensive line, and fans seem to forget that Hill was in the Heisman conversation before his injury last season. We’re taking the Cougs’. BYU 27 UCLA 23

Cal at Texas-The Cal offense is going to put up jaw-dropping numbers in 2015 but what’s more amazing is that they have a much improved defense to go with it. Head Coach Charlie Strong is rebuilding Texas the right way, but until the remodel is done he has to try and stop Cal QB Jared Goff who put up nearly 4,000 yards and 35 tds in 2014. Only five returning defensive starters won’t help the Longhorns. Take Cal to leave Texas with the “W”. Cal 49 Texas 28

Week #4

USC at Arizona State-Arizona State is going to shock some teams this season; first up is USC. Todd Graham has a real weapon in WR DJ Foster and a defense bringing back nine starters. Graham has managed to show he can win the big games and that includes the last two against the Trojans. Assuming USC takes care of Stanford in Week #3, they will roll into Tempe as a small favorite but leave with a loss.

ASU 34 USC 31

NIU at Boston College-Make it two years in a row for frustrating, non-conference losses at home for the Eagles. Last year it was Colorado State, this year it will be NIU. BC Loses their leading passer and rusher in QB Tyler Murphy and leading receiver in Josh Bordner. NIU has beaten a Power 5 conference school four of the last five seasons, and with a dominating core of receivers led by the returning Tommy Lee Lewis, and a lot of experience on defense, this year will be no different for the Huskies.

NIU 38

BC 31

Week #5

Nebraska at Illinois-It’s been a year of change in Lincoln as the Huskers lose Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell to go along with head coach Bo Pelini. QB Tommy Armstrong is serviceable, but struggles to hold onto the ball quite a bit. Illinois has had its own fair share of issues and injuries, but they are due against the Huskers. QB Wes Lunt can sling it, and with large losses on defense and a big crowd in Champagne for the B1G opener, this will be the Illini’ lucky day. Illinois 26 Nebraska 23

UNLV at Nevada-UNLV hired a high school coach (Tony Sanchez) to take over for the departed Bobby Hauck. How will that play out? Not well as a whole, but in a rivalry game anything can happen. UNLV has some talent in WR Devonte Boyd and a great core of linebackers. As for Nevada, whomever winds up as the starting QB, it will be their first battle for the Fremont Cannon. UNLV wins it for the second time in three years.

UNLV 42 Nevada 39

Week #6

NC State at Virginia Tech-Tech has a lot of returning talent behind QB Michael Brewer, but let’s face it, the Frank Beamer era is coming to a close. We’ve seen cracks in the armor the last few seasons. Tech will win a lot of games, but have just enough setbacks to keep the chatter alive concerning the Hokies needing a change at the top. Wolfpack QB Jacoby Brissett is dangerous and with DE Mike Rose and eight others returning on defense, the ‘Pack is officially back-at least for this game. NC State 34 Va Tech 31

Week #7

Boise State at Utah State-Boise State will win the Mountain West again, but like last season (Air Force) they will stub their toe. QB Chuckie Keeton will get his last and only shot against the Broncos, and Aggies fans won’t be disappointed. New Broncos QB Ryan Finley will have games where he struggles. The atmosphere for this important, nationally televised conference game in Logan, Utah, on a Friday night will be nerve-wracking for the youngster leading to an Aggie win. Utah State 26 Boise State 24

Cincinnati at BYU-Assuming that the Cougars are a home favorite, Cincinnati has a great opportunity to send a message in this game. Both of these teams are vying for a Big 12 invite, and a nationally televised road-win by the Bearcats could certainly be a talking point come expansion time. Talent wise, Cincy QB Gunner Kiel has what it takes to match the Cougar offense. It’s the AAC who will take the win in this one. Cincinnati 38 BYU35

Oklahoma at Kansas State-Sure we’ve got the Wildcats getting upset early, but you didn’t think we would leave Bill Snyder off the list of upsetters did you? Oklahoma hasn’t earned the moniker “Choke-lahoma” for nothin’! This is upset country, and by the time this one rolls around, K-State will be in a much better place offensively. Did we fail to mention this is the week after the Red River Rivalry? Take the ‘Cats!

K-State 33 Oklahoma 24

Pitt at Georgia Tech-Tech is primed for another big year behind QB Justin Thomas, but Pitt is just the team to roll into Atlanta and pull the upset. Pitt RB James Connor can singlehandedly put down as many rushing yards as Tech on any given Saturday and you have to give the air-advantage to Pitt with wideout Tyler Boyd. Tech will be caught off guard with this game sandwiched between a road game at Clemson and a home tilt with the Seminoles. Pitt steals this one on the road. Pitt 45 Tech 38

Week #8

Auburn at Arkansas-Arkansas should enter this game as a home underdog after back-to-back losses at Tennessee and Alabama. Last season, Arkansas got throttled 45-21 against Auburn but this year they will face them after a bye-week and with a much improved passing game. WR Hunter Henry is due for a breakout year and Head Coach Brett Bielema is ready to take the Hogs to the next level. Don’t forget, the Razorbacks posted back-to-back shutouts against ranked LSU and Mississippi at the end of 2014. Arkansas 24 Auburn 20

Bowling Green at Kent State-If you read our MAC preview, then you know we think Kent will surprise some folks. Those folks will be BGSU in week #9. QB Colin Reardon is ready to bounce back from his sophomore slump and has a much more experienced line to work behind. The Falcons will be coming in on a three-game winning streak (Buffalo, UMass, Akron) and could be caught napping. Score one for the Flashes! Kent State 38 BGSU 35

Week #9

Oregon at Arizona State-Have you figured out yet that we have high hopes for the Sun Devils? Oregon landed QB Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington in the off-season, but the fact is he’s not Marcus Marriota. While Oregon may roll into this game undefeated or at worse with one loss, you have to expect a bit of a step back after last season’s championship appearance. This Thursday game will have Tempe rocking. ASU 31 Oregon 30

WKU at Old Dominion-Old Dominion very quietly landed a 6-6 record in their first full year at the FCS level. RB Ray Lawry was spectacular as a freshman, racking up 947 yards and a whopping 7.1 yards per carry average. This team won their last three in 2014 including the upset of Louisiana Tech, so they know how to get the job done. C-USA won’t have an undefeated champion in the East and the Monarchs will contribute to that with a home upset over the Hilltoppers.

ODU 44 WKU 41

Air Force at Hawaii-Hawaii is going to upset a couple of teams this season. While we thought long and hard about their opener with Colorado, this seems a bit more likely. This game lands right before Air Force welcomes Army to town which could help. Aside from that, Hawaii is very much improved from 2014. Former USC QB Max Wittek takes over behind center and the defense has a few transfers who will make a difference. This is Hawaii’s moment to build some momentum and step up to a very good Air Force team. Hawaii 49 Air Force 35

Week #10

New Mexico State at Texas State-New Mexico State’s defense was atrocious last year, but three of their loses were by eight points or less. This season, they return 10 starters on defense and the 11th starter is a Michigan State transfer. The offense is talented and features RB Larry Rose who was spectacular as a freshman. Head Coach Dennis Franchione draws all the headlines at Texas State, but his counterpart Doug Martin has created a team in Las Cruces that many will overlook and a few will get stung by-including the Bobcats. New Mexico State 44 Texas State 41

UCF at Tulsa-It’s definantly a rebuilding year of sorts for Tulsa, but their offense hasn’t gone anywhere. QB Dane Evans returns as do all his weapons. UCF Throttled the Golden Hurricane last season 31-7, but after a three game stretch with Houston, Temple and Cincy, this is the perfect setup for Tulsa to take advantage and pull the upset. Tulsa 49 UCF 34

Week #11

None

Week #12

Baylor at Oklahoma State-Mike Gundy is no longer 40, but we still know he’s a man! Okie State suffered last season at times, but the defense was young. Getting this game late and at home will serve the Cowboys well. The offense was productive last year despite poor QB play. This year, Baylor will fall in Stillwater and will need to win out over TCU and Texas to win the Big 12. OK State 39 Baylor 36

Week #13

Western Michigan at Toledo-Revenge! That’s what Western Michigan will serve up in the season finale and ruin Toledo’s MAC West championship hopes in the process. Last year, the Broncos lost on a missed extra point in a freezing overtime drizzle in Kalamazoo. This year, this game is circled on the schedule for the Broncos, and barring another sleet-soaked affair, they have the offensive weapons in WR Corey Davis and company to blow up the Rockets high hopes. WMU 56 Toledo 44

Colorado at Utah-The Buffs have lost three straight to Utah since 2012, but none by more than a touchdown. The offense will be even stronger than 2014 and Jim Leavitt is now the defensive coordinator. Factor in the loss of Nate Orchard for the Utes, who put up 18.5 sacks in 2014, and the Buffs have the opportunity to squeak one out in the season finale.

Colorado 23 Utah 21

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