Athlon's staff picks a few upsets for Week 1.
Week 1 of the college football season officially kicks off on Thursday night, headlined by an intriguing non-conference matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina, along with a key SEC contest in Nashville with Vanderbilt hosting Ole Miss. But that’s not all of the action this weekend. Clemson-Georgia, LSU-TCU and Virginia Tech-Alabama are just a few of the other big matchups for Week 1. The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.
College Football's Week 1 Upset Predictions
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Boise State (+3.5) over Washington
Considering the low spread, it’s hard to call this one an upset. But I’m short on other choices, so Boise State is the pick. The Broncos beat Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Chris Petersen’s team returns a good chunk of its core from last year. The offense should be better in quarterback Joe Southwick’s second season, and the defense returns five starters from a unit that ranked 12th nationally in fewest yards allowed. This matchup is a huge game for both teams. A win by Boise State will put it in the driver’s seat to make another run at an at-large spot in a BCS bowl. For Washington, this will be the first game in the newly renovated Husky Stadium, and with a challenging schedule, the contest is a must-win if the Huskies want to win more than seven games. Boise State’s secondary is a concern, but Washington’s offensive line may not give quarterback Keith Price enough time to throw for the passing attack to exploit an inexperienced pass defense.
David Fox (@DavidFox615): Louisiana-Lafayette over Arkansas (-10.5)
A disclaimer: When we do these upset picks each week, I’m going to be bold. We’re supposed to pick any upset, but where’s the risk (and fun) in picking two-point underdog to win? I’m going to try to focus on upsets with a point spread of at least a touchdown. Go big or go home, right? That’s why I’ve picked Louisiana-Lafayette over Arkansas. The Razorbacks won’t be the mess they were early last season under John L. Smith, but they won’t be that good either. Junior quarterback Terrence Broadway finished last season on a hot streak and could cause similar problems ULM’s Kolton Browning did for Arkansas last season. No one would say the Sun Belt is gaining on any major conference, but the good Sun Belt teams are beating the bad SEC teams at a rate we haven’t seen before. This is one the Sun Belt can win.
Mark Ross: North Carolina (+11.5) over South Carolina
Yes, this game is in Columbia, the home team hails from the SEC, has the one-man wrecking crew named Jadeveon Clowney and a pretty stout defense over all. However, I'm a little more skeptical of the Gamecocks' offense whereas North Carolina's attack is all about tempo. Unless SC just completely shuts down the Tar Heels, NC's pace and the number of plays the offense runs alone could be enough to wear down, or at least slow down, Clowney and the rest of the pass rush. Granted, the Tar Heels will need most, if not all, of the breaks and bounces to go their way, especially on defense, but what's not to say the Gamecocks aren't looking ahead to next Saturday's game? It's probably the fan in me more than anything, but I'll take Renner and the Heels to steal one away from the home team.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I will go bold with the Fightin' Ragin' Hudspeths to go into Fayetteville and win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. UL Lafayette is the frontrunner to win the Sun Belt and has a nice nucleus returning for 2013. The Hogs have proven they can be beaten at home by a small school from Louisiana, as Monroe did just that last year. If Arkansas is too excited about the start of the Bret Bielema era — or too distracted by @JenBielema twitter pictures — and not focused entirely on beating a very good Ragin' Cajuns team, they could start the new regime's era in very disappointing fashion.
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