Hide the children, lock the doors and pray it doesn't happen to your team! they're called upsets, and no matter how much they make your stomach turn when your team is on the losing end of one, there's nothing quite as sweet when your beloved pulls one off! After examining every nook and cranny of the 2016 schedule, here are the 30 games we feel are most likely to cause an emotional overload for fans across the country this fall. Is your team on the list?
Indiana @ FIU-The Panthers made great strides in year three under Ron Turner and played Indiana close in last season’s 36-22 loss to the Hoosiers in Bloomington. Fast forward to 2016, and FIU returns all 11 starters on offense including RB Alex Gardner-Conference USA’s “Mini McCaffrey”- who put up 1,202 total yards and 10 TDs. The departure of Indiana RB Jordan Howard and QB Nate Sudfeld leaves the Hoosier offense in a questionable spot and vulnerable as they roll into FIU Stadium on a hot September night to kick off 2016. Go with FIU in this one.
FIU 31 Indiana 26
Western Michigan @ Northwestern-Remember how Northwestern pulled the upset in week one against Stanford in 2015? Time to flip the script. The Broncos open as a 6-point underdog on the road in this one, but they are dripping with talent and are primed for a signature win. PJ Fleck’s crew has improved every year and gave Michigan State a run for their money last season. With offensive fire power in the form of WR Corey Davis and a stable of running backs who put up 2,700+ yards and 28 TDs on the ground in 2015, WMU gets a signature win over QB Clayton Thorson and RB Justin Jackson who will keep it close with some offense of their own!
WMU 39 Northwestern 37
Southern Miss @ Kentucky-There’s a good chance that Kentucky may roll out 6 true freshmen in their defensive starting 11! Combine that with inexperience at the QB position, and a poor Kentucky pass rush, and Southern Miss has an opportunity for an SEC upset! QB Nick Mullens threw for a staggering 4,476 yards and 38 tds in 2015 and versatile RB Ito Smith (1128 rushing/515 receiving) was spectacular as USM went 9-5 and set themselves up for an even stronger 2016. Southern Miss gets it done in this one.
USM 27 Kentucky 23
Cincinnati @ Purdue-Like Elvis Presley once sang, “It’s now or never.” Purdue football will live on, but the tenure of Head Coach Darrell Hazell will not if Purdue can’t turn the corner in year four in West Lafayette. The good news is, he’s gonna’ do it! Win the B1G? No. Bowl eligible? Yes! And it starts with an upset against Cincy. We suspect the Bearcats, behind future NFL QB Gunner Keil, will come in favored in this one. That being said, Purdue is the better, more balanced team. Cincy needs to replace all four starting wideouts from a year ago and both starting tackles. As for Purdue, QB David Blough has the confidence of the coaching staff and a supporting cast, led by RB Markell Jones (882 yards/10 tds) and WR DeAngelo Yancy (700 yards/5 tds). If Purdue holds on to the ball, they pull the minor upset as Cincy rebuilds.
Purdue 42 Cincy 39
MTSU @ Vanderbilt-Last season, Vandy narrowly beat the Blue Raiders 17-13 in Murfreesboro. This season, take the road team again as this series shifts to Nashville. MTSU has a scary-good offense led by the coach’s son, Sophomore QB Brent Stockstill (4005 yards/30 TDs). Last season, Vandy trailed 13-3 midway through the fourth before going soft on defense and giving Vandy the improbable win. MTSU hasn’t forgotten, and will focus on Commodores’ RB Ralph Webb (1152 yards/5 TDs), who is the key to Derek Mason’s offense. Both teams lose a lot on defense, but Vandy is prone to upsets, and with this one sandwiched between South Carolina and Georgia Tech for Vandy, we are going with the Blue Raiders.
MTSU 21 Vandy 17
Wazzu @ Boise State-Everyone is high on Wazzu right now, and with good reason; The Cougs went 9-4 last season in head coach Mike Leach’s 4th season including upset wins at UCLA and Oregon. Impressive, but the Pac-12 as a whole was just the opposite last season. The Cougars return nearly every bit of that offensive fire power, but they lose two of their top three pass rushers. As for Boise, the offense is stacked. RB Jeremy McNichols highlights an offense that is the most balanced it’s been in years. Defensively there are holes to fill, but if this comes down to a shootout, I’ll take Boise’s home crowd, blue turf, and consistency any day.
Boise State 42 Wazzu 37
Arkansas State @ Utah State-Utah State is going to have to plug holes very quickly to compete early this year. Linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil are gone as is a majority of the starting defense-not to mention standout Wide Receiver Hunter Sharp. As for the Red Wolves, the defense is tenacious, scary, and almost entirely intact. ASU is not afraid to blitz from every corner of the field and has one of the best up-and-coming pass rushers in the game in DE Ja’Von Roland-Jones who recorded 9 sacks as a freshman in 2015. ASU has questions at QB but depth at running back and plenty of speed which will leave the crowd in Logan wondering what happened!
Arkansas State 26 Utah State 13
New Mexico @ Rutgers-One of the best stories in football last year had to be the “mini” resurgence of New Mexico football. This year, they’ll shock B1G nation with an ugly upset over Rutgers. Two thirds of New Mexico’s 3-headed backfield monster return in the form of QB Lamar Jordan (807 yards/9 tds) and TB Teriyon Gipson (850 yards/6 tds). More importantly, the defense is a year wiser and brings back nearly all its talent including LB Dakota Cox (97 tackles) who has NFL written all over him. As for Rutgers, first year head coach, Chris Ash, will have a high learning curve while installing a spread offense. Losing WR Leonte Carroo hurts Rutgers, and while putting up lots of points, the Scarlet Knights come up short in this one as the rebuilding begins in New Brunswick.
New Mexico 45 Rutgers 38
Western Michigan @ Illinois-It’s round two for the boat rowers from K’Zoo! After a win over Northwestern and a home blowout victory against FCS North Carolina Central, WMU will be geeked for this one! Illinois will succeed under Lovie Smith-just not this year. QB Wes Lunt struggled last season, partly due to a depleted WR Core and ill-advised decision making. This year, the Illini will need a big year from a WR returning from an ACL injury (Justin Hardee) and they lose stud offensive lineman Ted Karras. Throw in a depleted defense, a new scheme, and a chance for Illinois native PJ Fleck to complete the sweep of B1G teams from his native state and you’ve got an upset!
Western Michigan 23 Illinois 21
Florida State @ South Florida-We will admit it: we were hasty to write Willy Taggert off so quickly at USF…. Sorry about that. Regardless, we have seen the light and it includes a monumental upset of Florida State! USF will be 3-0 after wins over Towson and NIU, and well-prepared to run, run, run and use clock against the very talented Seminoles. On paper, FSU, even with the departures of QB Everett Gholson and DB Jalen Ramsey are loaded with talent, however, USF had a tradition of pulling upsets prior to 2010 and this year they will return to prominence just in time for the next round of expansion. USF will use the dynamic duo of QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack and a very experienced secondary to hang around long enough to win this one on a late FG.
USF 17 FSU 16
ECU @ VT-ECU has beaten VT the last two times they’ve met, and with the passing game largely intact, the Pirates will make it three in a row at the expense of new VT coach Justin Fuente. ECU’s new man-in-charge, Scottie Montgomery, has taken the controversial step of giving the starting job to former Minnesota QB Phillip Nelson who played a role in the beating of a football player in Minnesota two years ago. Nelson has the benefit of throwing passes to senior wideout Isaiah Jones who caught 98 passes a year ago. VT on the other hand will try an up-tempo system with a yet-to-be-determined quarterback, a depleted defensive line, and a mediocre running game. Take the Pirates in an ugly win!
ECU 18 VT 15
UConn @ Houston-Houston is the current darling of the G5, but UConn deserves a little credit for being the only team to beat the Cougars in 2015! The good news for UConn fans is 4 of their top 5 defensive players return including Folorunso Fatukaski who recorded 8 sacks as a sophomore on a stingy defense that held opponents under 20 points 8 times in 2015. Houston will be good again but loses WR DeMarcus Ayers and RB Kenneth Farrow. If UConn can produce more offensively, the defense may be good enough to land a monumental upset!
UConn 23 Houston 21
Baylor @ Iowa State-Remember this name: Joel Lanning. The Iowa State Junior QB can run (330 yards) and pass the ball (1247 yards/10 tds) as evidenced in limited action in 2015. The good news for Cyclones fans is he has parts and pieces to work with. RB Mike Warren (1339 yards), WR Lazard Allen (808 yards/6 tds), and eight returning defensive starters will go a long way for the Cyclones in 2015. Oh…did we mention that Baylor has a new coach, a lot of controversy, and will be coming off a demoralizing loss to OK State the week before this game? Take the Cyclones…who could surprise some people in 2016. ISU 36 Baylor 29
Clemson @ Boston College
Boston College played defense at a mind-numbing level last year giving up just a shade over 17 points per game. Concurrently, the offense was equally as bad at a shade over 15 points per game. The good news? The defense will be equally as good as long as new defensive coordinator Jim Reid doesn’t tinker with the successful recipe too much. Offensively, the Eagles will improve behind transfer QB Patrick Towles and 1,000 yard rusher Jon Hillman. Clemson, having already lost to Auburn in week one, will be riding a four game winning streak, setting them up for a letdown. Clemson is loaded on offense behind DeShaun Watson and a returning Mike Williams at wide receiver, but Steve Adazzio is a terrific coach and he always overachieves. This nationally televised game will be his crowning glory.
BC 21 Clemson 19
Air Force @ Wyoming-We thought long and hard about taking the Pokes in Laramie to upset NIU in week one, but they won’t quite be ready. Head Coach Craig Bohl is gonna’ get the Cowboys headed in the right direction and this is the game that will set the ball rolling. Wyoming’s Brian Hill (1,631 yards) is the best RB 95% of college football fans haven’t heard of and will put up 200 in a game that will see the Cadets coming off a tough game with Navy the week before. Air Force will win lots of games, but this won’t be one of ‘em!
Wyoming 27 Air Force 24
Georgia Southern @ Georgia Tech-Everyone knows about Paul Johnson’s option attack at Georgia Tech, which put up 3,074 yards on the ground in 2015. What you may not realize is that Sun Belt powerhouse Georgia Southern is even more potent on the ground. The Eagles put up a staggering 4,719 yards running the ball last season. GSU is a well-kept secret, but in RB Matt Breida’s (1,658 yards/17 tds) final year of eligibility, the Eagles will get a signature win over an in-state ACC team. Remember, the Jackets lost 10 of their last 11 and several starters on both sides of the ball. They’ll have a hard time keeping up in this one.
Georgia Southern 45 Georgia Tech 35
Oregon @ Cal-Oregon had a nice run as the PAC 12's big name, but all good things must end…or at least cool off. Cal, riding high on a year that saw QB Jarred Goff selected as the NFL’s #1 pick, welcomes QB Davis Webb, a Texas Tech Transfer with a big arm. Oregon will depend on a Montana State transfer, Dakota Prukop, to fix an offense that lost its mojo at times in 2015. Oregon has more than QB questions, they also lose 6 starters on defense and have O-line issues as well. Yes, their recruits are more solid than Cal’s on a yearly basis, but Cal will be very balanced offensively with a running game that will produce heavily when called upon and a stable of receivers, led by freshman Melquise Stovall, who will be surprisingly good. Sorry, Ducks…It’s Cal at home this year.
Cal 45 Oregon 42
North Carolina @ Virginia-The ACC is notorious for letdowns. This one, unlike most, will benefit the Cavaliers. Keep in mind; while former coach Mike London couldn’t produce victory’s he recruited quite well, which will benefit Bronco Mendenhall quite well. QB Matt John’s isn’t terrific, but Mendenhall will use him as an experienced game manager to showcase senior RB Tiquan Mizzell who caught 75 passes out of the backfield to go along with nearly 700 yards rushing. UNC will need to replace QB Marquise Williams who was terrific last season with over 4,000 yards of combined offense. This year, the Tar Heels will look to Mitch Trubisky to lead the offense. Trubisky is good, but he’s no Williams. In an otherwise tough season, Virginia will steal one here.
Virginia 24 UNC 21
Ohio @ Toledo-Despite a close opening week win over Arkansas State, look for Toledo to hold their own and roll into this game at 6-1 with their only loss coming at BYU. Why the upset now? Simple: at some point the defense will be an issue, and Frank Solich knows it. Factor in that Solich will smell blood in the water as he faces freshman head coach Jason Candle and a new defensive coordinator Brian George, and age wins over beauty. Despite issues at quarterback, Ohio has a very underrated RB in AJ Ouellette (6877 yards) and returns their top two receivers. The Bobcat’s defense is strong up front and will keep Hunt, relatively, in check. Ohio will get the MACtion started a week early with an upset in October’s final weekend.
Ohio 28 Toledo 24
Army @ Wake Forest-Call us crazy, but we think Army’s going to turn a corner in 2016. A year older, wiser, and more experienced, Army returns all their big guns, led by WR Edgar Poe (36 yards per reception) and linebacker Andrew King (16.5 tfl). Wake Forest will continue to struggle in what will probably be Dave Clawson’s final season at the helm and replacing the leadership of LB Brandon Chubb, who recorded 13 tackles in last season’s contest, will be no easy task. Wake escaped West Point with a 17-14 win on a last second field goal in 2015, this season, Army will strike back.
Army 20 Wake 14
Florida @ Georgia-How good was Florida in Jim McElwain’s first year? Georgia fans hope they get that kind of energy and turnaround in year one of Kirby Smart’s tenure. The issue for the Gators is they still have question marks on offense-especially at QB where they are looking to transfer QB Luke Del Rio (Washington State) to kick start a sputtering offense. Throw in some big losses on defense, including DB Vernon Heargraves, and Florida has a few leaks in the boat. Georgia has their issues too, but they will bring back a healthy Nick Chubb at RB and we anticipate highly-touted frosh QB Jacob Eason will be at the helm by week nine, only increasing Georgia’s offensive production. The Bulldogs won’t forget last year’s beating in Athens and will perform much better in this year’s matchup.
Georgia 20 Florida 13
Marshall @ Old Dominion-ODU has so much depth this year it makes most teams sick. RB Ray Lawry (1136 yards/11 TDs) headlines an offense with two capable QBs and a deep receiving corp lead by Sophomore Josh Dughart (8 TDs). Marshall has a good young QB in Chase Litton, but not much for him to work with. The Herd loses their top 4 rushers (1,772 yards combined) and has massive depth issues in the secondary and at QB. Most of the predictions at Marshall for a good season have more to do with name recognition than facts. Keep an eye on ODU, especially in this one!
Old Dominion 42 Marshall 38
UCLA @ Colorado-Year four of the Mike MacIntyre era in Boulder will land the former San Jose State coach with the big win the Buffs have looked for since arriving in Boulder. After two close calls against UCLA the past two seasons, the Buffs will pull a shocker at home in week #10. The Buffs lose Nelson Spruce and his 89 receptions, but have a stable of capable receivers which may actually add more depth to CU’s passing game. Did we mention a defense that returns 9 of their top 10 tacklers and a healthy Addison Gillam at LB? UCLA has superstar QB Josh Rosen, but lose their top two WR, RB Paul Perkins, and their top two pass rushers on defense. Is that an upset we smell?
CU 28 UCLA 27
Pitt @ Miami-Ok, maybe Pitt over Miami is not the world’s biggest upset, but Mark Richt will get a lot of mileage out of the Canes, making them the favorite in this week #11 matchup which may be one of the most fun games of the season. Miami returns nine starters on offense, including QB Brad Kaaya (3,238 yards/16 TDs) while Pitt will have 2016’s feel-good storyline, RB James Connor who is returning from a battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and a backfield loaded with talent. Miami will be coming off an emotional game at Notre Dame on national TV and may be vulnerable to a close upset. We’ll bet they are.
Pitt 24 Miami 16
Cincy @ UCF-Let’s address the obvious: Yes, UCF was 0-12 last season, and yes, they have a 1st time head coach in Scott Frost. But let’s not forget that they are loaded with talent. QB Justin Holman had a strong sophomore season in 2014, and the new offense under Frost will help him return to those better days. With 10 starters returning on offense, including stud freshman WR Tre’Quan Smith (52 rec/724 yards) UCF will put up a lot of points. Cincy will put up big numbers on offense as well behind former #1 ranked QB Gunner Kiel, but this is not as strong of a team as the Bearcats rolled out in years past. Transfer WRs will make or break the offense for Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats and that’s always a risky proposition. UCF will be hungry to avenge last season’s 52-7 shellacking and pull out a squeaker.
UCF 44 Cincy 36
USC @ Washington-Don’t be shocked if Washington rolls into this game at 9-0 and both teams are in the top 10! Chris Peterson has to put up or shut up with the amount of talent he has returning for 2015 behind RB Myles Gaskin (1302 yards/14 TDs) and four returning starters on the offensive line. Washington was able to beat the Trojans 17-12 last season in L.A. and will have to match USC tit-for-tat on offense to win this one. As untested USC QB Max Browne goes, so go the Trojans. Browne will be outmatched a few times this season and Washington’s Jake Browning will do just that in this one.
Washington 31 USC 27
Minnesota @ Nebraska-Call us haters, but we’re not drinking the Nebraska Kool-Aid. Many publications think the Huskers are set for a big year, but there’s not much evidence to back that up. QB Tommy Armstrong can’t hold on to the football, and there are no true “superstars” on this team. The Huskers have played down (losses to Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota) over the past three seasons, and they will have letdowns in 2016 as well. Gophers HC Tracy Claeys is revered by his players and he’ll get maximum mileage from his team including an upset or two.
Minnesota 21 Nebraska 18
Boise State @ Air Force-This one could decide the Mountain West’s “Mountain” division. Boise is due for a big year, but Air Force seems to have their number. The Zoomies pulled out a 28-14 win in 2014 and followed that up with a 37-30 victory last season which landed them in the MWC Championship game. November 25th in Colorado Springs could turn this into a battle of who runs the ball better, and it’s tough to pick against the triple option behind senior Jacobi Owens. The Falcons’ senior-laden defense is led by SS Weston Steelhammer (9.5 tfl/10 pbu/5 ints) who will have a big game on a cold night to give the Falcons three straight wins over the Broncos.
Air Force 35 Boise State 34
New Mexico State @ South Alabama-Wyoming’s Brian Hill is not the only fantastic RB most of America has never heard of, you can add New Mexico State’s Larry Rose III to that list. Rose has put up over 2,700 yards the last two seasons for an Aggies team that has struggled mightily. In the season finale, NMSU will have the tough task of rolling into Mobile to take on South Alabama who will need a win to reach bowl eligibility. While we like Head Coach Joey Jones and linebacker Kalen Jackson (8.5 tfl/2int) the Aggies have a solid team and may hit their stride just in time to reel off three straight wins, including two upsets, to close the 2016 campaign. If USA is asleep in this one, it will cost them bowl eligibility.
NMSU 37 USA 29
Navy @ Army-This is the year! No more Keenan Reynolds, only one returning starter on offense for Navy, and a 14 game losing streak in the series that is ready to be broken. Army has had enough, and this is the year they beat the Midshipmen! Army has two solid QB’s who can run the offense and a bonafide WR in Edgar Poe when they need to switch it up. Nine starters return on defense including linebacker Jeremy Timpf. Last season, Army gave Navy all they could handle before succumbing 21-17 late in the game. Army will not only win, but clinch a bowl game in this one.
Army 27 Navy 23
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