3 CFB Teams on Upset Alert in Week 9
On paper, it was hard to make an argument that week eight would have any upsets much less multiple upsets. However, as many of us saw, that did not prove to be the case as week eight featured what may have been the biggest upset of the season.
Just in case you are not up to date, here is what you need to know:
- A third quarter touchdown proved to be the difference maker for #10 Wisconsin as they avoided Iowa's upset bid in a 17-9 win.
- It was all SMU last Saturday as they routed #11 Houston, 38-16.
- A blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown helped lift Penn State past #2 Ohio State in the Nittany Lions' 24-21 win.
Week nine is a little different in regards to the number of games that have the potential to turn into upsets. That does not necessarily mean anything because no one knows when the next upset it going to happen. This list will hopefully provide you with an idea of where to look:
**All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com**
Not many people could have expected that Michigan State would be 23-point underdogs at home to their arch-rival Michigan. The Spartans have just not met their usual standard of excellence on the gridiron as they have lost five straight games. Do they have enough juice to upset the Wolverines?
There are two primary factors to consider when evaluating if the Spartans can pull off the upset: rivalry and home field advantage. The atmosphere will be unlike any other game this season as Michigan State fans hope to spoil Michigan's season. The rivalry aspect is always something to consider because most head coaches will tell you that you can throw all statistics out the window because teams play with a different approach when they play their rivals.
Michigan, however, will be extremely difficult to beat despite those factors. The Wolverines have the best defense in the nation and a constantly improving offense. The one thing they must avoid is a slow start. Slow starts have almost cost them two times this season, and Michigan State will be feeding off any momentum they are given.
The Spartans have an excellent head coach in Mark Dantonio, who proven winner that has pulled off major upsets before. He will likely use aggressive play calling to his advantage as they try to pull off this monster upset.
Washington may very well be the nation's most efficient team. Quarterback Jake Browning has thrown 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions on the year. Nothing has slowed the Huskies down yet, but Utah certainly stands just a good of chance as any.
The Utes have the third best total defense in the PAC-12 as well as the third best turnover margin (+8). They must put pressure on Browning and force him into a corner that he has never been in. If Utah manages to force any turnovers then they must capitalize. By national standards, Utah has an excellent offense that is averaging well over 400 yards per game. However, that is only good enough to rank 8th in the PAC-12.
It is hard find any flaws with Washington because they simply do not have any. The Huskies lead the PAC-12 in almost every category on both sides of the ball. It will be up to Utah to expose any weaknesses the team may have. If they fail to do so then it could prove to be a very long night for the Utes.
College Gameday will be in town for this matchup, which make the crowd in Salt Lake City even more hostile. The Utes can use this to their advantage, but a hostile crowd will not win the game for them. They need much more.
Last season, Charlie Strong had already found his way onto the hot seat. That is until he pulled off a major upset in the Red River Rivalry. While it is unlikely that a win will take Strong off the hot seat, it is worth noting that this team does have Strong's back.
That factor alone will not make it any easier to beat Baylor. The thing that sets this Baylor team apart from past teams is the fact that Bears have actually put together a decent defense in addition to their powerful offense. Baylor has proven that they are not invincible, which was most evident in their narrow three point win against Iowa State.
The Longhorns will need to bring their A game on defense if they plan on pulling off the upset. While the defense has struggled, one cannot forget that Charlie Strong is a defensive minded coach. In addition, Texas has home field advantage, which is never a bad thing to have.