3 College Football Teams on Upset Alert in Week 12
Week 11 didn't have too many big-time surprises, but there were enough upsets to make us glad that we are not on the College Football Playoff committee.
Some of the games last weekend will certainly have a major impact on the 2015 season. If you missed any of the action, here is what you missed:
- Oregon was on the winning end of an upset as it knocked off Stanford, 38-36.
- Arkansas dominated from start to finish as it defeated LSU for the second year in a row, 31-14.
- Arizona needed a little extra time, but it managed to upset Utah 37-30 in double overtime.
- Washington State pulled off a huge upset win over UCLA in the final seconds of the game. The Cougars won by a final of 31-27.
- South Florida handed Temple its second loss of the season and did it in dominant fashion. The Bulls won 44-23 in front of a home crowd.
It is hard to predict when and where an upset will happen, and some fans do not know where to look. Fortunately, we have the top three games that could be close or become an outright upset.
Over the last two weeks, five out of the six teams we put on upset alert lost. Here are the teams we think are in danger this week:
**Note: All stats, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of cfbstats.com**
Motivation will go a long way in determining how a team will finish the season. The recent announcement that Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer would retire at the end of the season may be the motivation the Hokies needed to finish the season strong. A home win over a ranked opponent would get the ball rolling.
Beamer's retirement alone did not lead to us putting North Carolina on upset alert. A combination of Virginia Tech's pass defense and having home field advantage in a hostile environment also factored in. The Hokies are known for their strong play in the secondary, which is the number one key to upsetting a team with the offensive firepower that the Tar Heels have had over the past few weeks. However, Virginia Tech will also have to score quickly and often.
North Carolina will certainly not go down easily. The Tar Heels have one of the more balanced offenses in the entire country, putting up almost 500 yards per game. The defense has also held its own. There have been inconsistencies in regards to how many points it allows week to week, but it leads the ACC in forced turnovers. UNC can put away Virginia Tech early by simply forcing turnovers because the Hokies do not have the firepower to play catch up if they get behind.
Some teams are hard to stop once they get on a roll, but Blacksburg, Virginia is where dreams go to die. A win would get Virginia Tech to bowl eligibility, and it would also be a big win for Beamer to hang his hat on. This still has the potential to get ugly if North Carolina gets off to a hot start.
No other team in college football has experienced as many wild finishes as Michigan has in 2015. The Wolverines have been fortunate to escape with wins in the last few weeks, but they may not be so lucky this week traveling to Penn State.
The Nittany Lions have already had a roller coaster season. They have three disappointing losses on the year, but all three came to teams that have been or are currently ranked in the top 25. Defensively, Penn State can change the outcome of a game using its pass rush alone as it leads the country in sacks (42.0). Continuing their success against Michigan is vital, but it will all be for nothing if the Lions cannot find a way to score, which has been a continuous struggle all season.
Michigan is not a major scoring threat by any means. However, the offense is much more consistent. This team operates just like an NFL team, which is no surprise considering who its coach is. It does not seem logical to put the Wolverines on upset alert when they have the conference's best defense and they are facing one of the conference's worst offenses. The recent struggles we have seen from Michigan make us speculate that they may struggle to put this one away especially on the road.
James Franklin is the kind of coach that will throw out his whole playbook for one week just to catch an opponent off guard. It is guaranteed that Beaver Stadium will be packed and ready for the visiting Wolverines. The capability of both team's defenses leads us to believe that this could be an good, old-fashioned defensive battle.
This game has plenty of hype surrounding it. College Gameday will be in Columbus and everyone is already expecting a good one. However, the Buckeyes are double digit favorites, and they appears to be a bit of an overreach.
Michigan State being a 13-point underdog has a lot to do with its poor performance against teams like Maryland and Rutgers, so the spread is understandable. It should also be noted that this team plays significantly better in big games. Connor Cook is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country and he can lead long scoring drives. Meanwhile, the defense is not as good as it has been in recent years, but it certainly has the man power to matchup with any team in the country.
Ohio State has been a hit-and-miss team this season as well. The Buckeyes struggled against teams like Northern Illinois and Indiana. That still does not take away the fact that they are one of the most complete teams in the country. Ezekiel Elliot has over 1,400 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, while Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett have combined to throw for over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns. This offense does have a habit of catching fire late in the game, and that may not be enough to take down the Spartans.
This will be a fun one to watch regardless of the outcome. Ohio State will be a difficult team to bring down, but the Spartans have certainly done it before. They also have a great coach to guide them. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.