Will we see another early stunner in college football's opening weekend?
There have been several September shockers over the last few college football seasons. Appalachian State beating Michigan in 2007 still gets a lot of talk, and there were early stunners last year with Jacksonville State blindsiding Ole Miss, Kansas losing to North Dakota State 6-3, and James Madison topping Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. There may not be a surprise of that level during the opening weekend, but interesting storylines always seem to happen early in the season.
Do you see a significant underdog pulling a Week 1 upset?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
I’ll take the Colorado Buffaloes. Jon Embree makes his debut as a head coach Saturday night when he takes his alma mater to Oahu to battle WAC power Hawaii. The Warriors are coming off a 10-win season and return quarterback Bryant Moniz, who led the nation in total offense a year ago. But Moniz, one of only three returning starters on offense, will be without several of the key weapons who played a big role in last season’s success. Some have moved on to the NFL (tailback Alex Green and receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares) and another has been suspended for the opener (receiver Darius Bright). Hawaii has shown the ability to reload on offense, but right now this doesn’t look anything like the unit that averaged over 500 yards per game last season. Oh, have we mentioned that Hawaii lost, 31–13, at Colorado last season? The Buffs rolled up 452 yards and held the Warriors 337, including only seven on the ground. CU is a bit of an unknown, but keep in mind that the Buffs, even with their struggles last year, went 3–0 in non-conference games, beating Colorado State, 24–3, Hawaii, 31-13 and Georgia, 29–27.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I like Baylor over TCU. The Bears were flat out embarrassed in last season’s matchup, suffering 45-10 beatdown in Fort Worth to the Horned Frogs. Much has changed since that matchup. TCU enters this game with several uncertainties, including new quarterback Casey Pachall and a rebuilt offensive line. Although Gary Patterson has recruited well, and TCU usually reloads without much of a problem, it may take a game or two for everything to come together. In last year’s game, the Horned Frogs held Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin to under 200 yards of total offense, but keeping him in check will be a bigger task on Friday night. The defense features a rebuilt secondary, which could be an issue against Griffin and likely All-Big 12 receiver Kendall Wright. TCU’s 4-2-5 defense is one of the best in the nation, but Griffin and his receivers will be a handful to slow down. Although TCU may eventually end up as the better team this year, the motivation from last year’s blowout loss – and catching the Horned Frogs in the opener – should be a recipe for a Baylor upset on Friday night.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I’m not sure we’ll see another FCS shocker, but one possibility that I like is William & Mary over Virginia. Mike London seems to have changed the culture in Charlottesville, but he will have an inexperienced starter at quarterback in Michael Rocco. The Tribe will counter with North Carolina transfer Michael Paulus at signal caller, and Jimmye Laycock’s team should have another stellar defense this year. William & Mary lost at UNC by four points last year and won at Virginia, 26-14, in the 2009 opener. The FCS power is used to playing winning football, evidenced by Laycock’s 200+ wins at the school. If the Cavaliers protect the football (unlike the ’09 game when they had seven turnovers), their talent should be able to topple the Tribe. But if the William & Mary defense keeps it close into the fourth quarter, we very well could see another FCS over BCS upset special.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
To be blunt, no, I do not see any significant upsets happening in week one. At least, any that are more than a touchdowns underdog. Maryland was a great pick early in the week, but the line has shifted dramatically in the last two days. I like UCLA and Georgia to pull minor upsets, but no one would be shocked if those teams won their first contest. I do like the Baylor Bears’ chances against TCU. The growing animosity directed at Fort Worth from Waco has reached a fever pitch, and Robert Griffin III will have his team fired up for the primetime national TV showcase on Friday night. Other than that, Week 1 will be a lot of business as usual.
Check out all of our college football predictions for this week's games.