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College Football Upset Watch for Week 1

These teams are favored in their season openers but they better not take their opponents lightly.

Part of what makes college football great is the fact that there are very few sure things in the sport. One sure thing, however, is that there will be upsets each and every week. 

Most of the time, upsets catch us by surprise. I'm here to take some of the surprise and mystery out of the equation by presenting facts and things that make you go "hmm" heading into some of Week 1's biggest matchups.

Related: Ranking All 83 College Football Games in Week 1

The end result: Upset Watch.

Here are five teams who are on "Upset Watch" heading into Week 1 of the 2022 college football season.

NC State (at East Carolina)

The 13th-ranked Wolfpack travel to East Carolina to open their season. There are whispers around the "Twittersphere" that NC State could be a tad overrated. Vegas might agree, as the spread is only 11.5 — a little low for a top-15 team playing an unranked Group of 5 opponent. East Carolina returns 14 starters from a team that won seven games last season. The Pirates also have the ability to shorten the game with a very good rushing attack.

BYU (at USF)

The Cougars will travel across the country to Tampa to face a USF squad that only won two games a season ago. That said, the Bulls return 18 starters from a team that was very competitive in a lot of those games — including a 45-28 loss to Cincinnati and an eight-point loss to these Cougars in Provo. That, combined with the travel and humidity could mean trouble for Kalani Sitake's 25th-ranked BYU club.

Virginia Tech (at Old Dominion)

There was a time when Hokie football built its roster by recruiting the talent-rich 757 area code better than anyone else in the country. That was before Old Dominion — nestled in the heart of the 757 — was an FBS program. Now, that area code provides the backbone for both rosters, and the Monarchs don't view themselves as an inferior opponent to the visiting ACC member. ODU returns 17 starters from a team that played in a bowl game a season ago. Virginia Tech is slightly more than a touchdown favorite, but this Friday night game looks pretty even at ground level.

Georgia (vs. Oregon in Atlanta)

The Bulldogs were historically good on defense last season. They were so good, eight players from that unit were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. They also sent six offensive players to play professionally on Sundays. Sure, Georgia has recruited at a high level and will just reload its talent pool, but this is Week 1. This team will be much better on Oct. 1 than it will be on Sept. 3. That opens the door for a very experienced, No. 11 Oregon team to come to Atlanta and shock the Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Remember the Ducks upset Ohio State in the Horseshoe early last season. Auburn transfer and new Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has three years of SEC football under his belt and won't be intimidated by the opponent or the atmosphere.

Ohio State (vs. Notre Dame)

The Buckeyes are a sexy pick to win a national title this season, and for good reason. They are led by C.J. Stroud at quarterback — who many see as the Heisman Trophy favorite. They are loaded everywhere, including at wide receiver, as Jaxon Smith-Njigba might be the best in the country. They could be this year's Georgia, both in NFL talent and on-field success.

They'll host No. 5 Notre Dame to kick off their seasons. The Fighting Irish are 17-point underdogs at the moment, despite returning a roster full of future draft picks. It's head coach Marcus Freeman's first regular-season season game as head coach of the sport's most storied program — and it's against his alma mater. The Irish are playing with house money here. They can lose (as most expect them to) to the Buckeyes and remain in the College Football Playoff hunt so long as the game is competitive. 

The pressure is all on Ohio State. Regardless of Notre Dame's ranking, a home loss to a 17-point underdog won't look good nationally and won't feel good internally. Pressure, hype, and hosting a mature, motivated-yet-loose team is a recipe for disaster.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.