A handful of teams placed on upset alert last week fell victim to their opponents. Who will walk on a thin wire this week?
If Week 1 was more guessing work than anything else, then the challenge of predicting upset alerts in Week 2 is to not get suckered into overreacting to Week 1. The sample sizes are still small enough to throw us some curveballs, but I think I have a good rundown of upset alerts for you this week.
Each week this season I will be placing one team in each conference on upset alert, based by evaluating which teams are being seen as betting favorites and throwing in some other nuggets to consider as well as the good old-fashioned gut reaction. Last week the upset alert successfully placed N.C. State and East Carolina on upset alert with each going down in defeat. The upset alert also noted Texas (lost), Boston College and Boise State would have some close calls, and each had their fair share of struggles. But, to be fair, the Upset Alert swung and missed on Alabama (foolish), Iowa and Colorado.
Here is what team from each conference should be on the highest of upset alerts this weekend in college football.
Note: All betting line sare according to Bovada as listed via Odds Shark at the time of this posting.
Boston College (-1.5) vs. Wake Forest
Miami traveling to Arkansas State would have been the upset alert to watch this week, but that game has been scratched due to Hurricane Irma heading to the Florida coast this weekend. So instead, we’ll put Boston College on high alert in their home game against Wake Forest. The Eagles could have their hands full with the Demon Deacons, who put up 51 points last week against Presbyterian. Boston College had to scratch their way out of Northern Illinois with a win. The spread has already been cut in half in favor of Boston College, and it wasn’t all that wide to begin with if you assume the home team typically gives three points by default.
American Athletic Conference
Houston (-1) at Arizona
Well, how about this one for a neat twist? After having their season opener scrapped due to Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Cougars are a road favorite against a Pac-12 team. The Cougars giving the home town Arizona Wildcats a point this week screams upset alert in Tucson. Arizona may struggle in Pac-12 play, but give me the Wildcats for an outright at home against Houston.
I would also pay attention to UCF (-3) at home against Memphis. There is upset potential there based on the Week 1 results influencing the line a bit in Week 2.
TCU (-3) at Arkansas
The Horned Frogs opened up as a two-point road underdog but the line has since swung in their favor as they venture into SEC country. The Razorbacks at home should be able to keep the running game going, but that may be just about all they might be good for. And we’ll see if TCU is up to the task. It’s hard to go off of what TCU did against Jackson State last week, but a road game against an SEC team like Arkansas is quite a toss-up.
Ohio State (-7) vs. Oklahoma
In a pivotal week for the Big Ten, the conference is actually looking to put a few teams on upset alert themselves. But as far as the favorites this weekend around the conference, the highest upset alert may be going to the Buckeyes. A revenge game for the Sooners, Oklahoma will hope to find the same holes in the Ohio State secondary as Indiana. The difference this week will be Oklahoma may not fade away like Indiana thanks to a massive offensive line, Baker Mayfield and a potent offense. I still lean Ohio State as the winner, but the spread has already been shaved a couple of points since it opened.
Western Kentucky (-7.5) at Illinois
Aside from UTEP hosting Rice, every team in Conference USA is playing the role of underdog this week except for one. So congratulations Western Kentucky, because you have been put on upset alert by default (for the record, UTEP is favored by 1.5 points against Rice). The Hilltoppers will look to stun one of the doormats of the Big Ten on the road, and they very well should do just that. But if the Illini have any fight in them after scratching by Ball State last week, handing a top Conference USA contender a loss is not out of the question here. More likely, Illinois will cover the spread at home.
Toledo (-9.5) at Nevada
Once again, there is not a whole lot to choose from from the MAC when picking upset alerts. Outside of a handful of games vs. FCS opponents, every MAC team is playing the underdog role except for Toledo. The Rockets are on the road this week to take on a Nevada team that hung with Northwestern last week on the road. Don’t be shocked if the Wolfpack keep this one fairly close at home, but the Rockets should win this one straight-up.
Although, I suppose I should note that Kent State is hosting Howard, who just scored the largest point-spread upset of all-time last week against UNLV.
Mountain West Conference
New Mexico (-7) vs. New Mexico State
This is yet another game that will be labeled upset alert by default. The Lobos host the Aggies in an in-state rivalry game a week after New Mexico State pushed Arizona State in the season opener. Can they do it again against the Lobos? We’ll see. The Mountain West Conference actually has a couple of teams more likely to pull an upset themselves, with Boise State facing Washington State and San Diego State visiting the Sun Devils.
USC (-6) vs. Stanford
Speaking of the Pac-12, this week it will be the Trojans who will be on the highest upset alert in the conference with a home game against Stanford. The Cardinal won last year to continue a winning streak against the Trojans, and Stanford is just the right blend of talent and physical strength that it takes to give USC some issues. If USC gets off to a slow start as they did a week ago against Western Michigan, a fourth quarter comeback may prove to be a challenge even with Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones. This could be a Stanford outright.
Also, Oregon State is giving Minnesota two points this week. Gophers, outright. And keep an eye on Oregon vs. Nebraska. Ducks giving 13.5 is a very wide margin. Too wide for my tastes.
Missouri (-2.5) vs. South Carolina
I’m not sure how much faith we should have in the Tigers after their clobbering of Missouri State last weekend, but the experts feel they can at least keep it going for another week against the Gamecocks. South Carolina just pulled a stunning upset against NC State despite being outworked in the box score all over the place. They’ll have to tighten up a bit this week to slow down the Tigers.
Going the other way, Georgia is getting four or five points on the road at Notre Dame this week. That seems enticing to me.
Sun Belt Conference
Georgia Southern vs. New Hampshire (No Line)
Rather than put Idaho back on upset alert by default this weekend (the Vandals host UNLV, who will be eager to wipe away the memory of their historic loss last weekend), I’m putting the Georgia Southern Eagles on upset alert this week. There is no line because New Hampshire is coming in from the FCS, but the Eagles were demolished last week by Auburn and New Hampshire is the 12th-ranked team in the FCS after a nice win against Maine, and the game has been moved to Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama due to the arrival of Hurricane Irma. This seems like a recipe for an upset from New Hampshire.
Who do you have on upset alert this weekend? Let me know and I’ll review some of your upset alert picks in an upcoming bumpcast. In the meantime, I am also putting together a mailbag for this week, so please feel free to submit your questions to me for a video and mailbag post.