Week 3 may be pretty light for the Upset Alert, but you just never know
The beautiful thing about college football is you never know when a shocking upset is going to happen. Each week I try to pick out the most likely upset or the game with the highest potential for a possible upset that could scare the living daylights out of some fans, but doing so has no exact science or formula to follow as far as I know. This week, there are a good number of games with what appear to be solid favorites, but I scanned each conference’s schedule to find the games that could hold the most likely upset scenarios. Some were easier to pick out than others, as is sometimes the case.
I am not too thrilled with a number of these games, but let’s see how it all plays out. Remember that just because I am putting teams on upset alert does not mean I am picking them to lose. These are just teams that could be in for a battle and could see a win slip through their fingers if they are not careful. This is what alarms are for.
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. This is not a sponsored post and neither Bovada or Odds Shark have any influence on this post. This is simply for reference purposes.
Clemson (-3.0) at Louisville
Clemson has shown to have one of the best defenses in the nation, but now the defending national champs look to keep that going in their first road game of the season. And it happens to be against a team that has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and has played Clemson intensely tough the last three seasons. Can Louisville snap their losing streak against Clemson? This feels like Louisville’s best chance to make a push for an ACC title, and getting the game at home for a blackout could be quite the setting for an upset in the ACC.
American Athletic Conference
Temple (-14.5) vs. UMass
The Owls have looked like a team replacing nearly their entire starting lineup with a brand new head coach in the first two games. That is because the Owls are a team replacing nearly their entire starting lineup with a brand new head coach in the first two games. Temple was just pushed to the limit by Villanova last week, and the Minutemen aren’t that much better than the FCS foes from the Main Line.
With only three AAC favorites to choose from this week, it was down to Temple or USF at home Friday night against Illinois (I didn’t even consider Houston vs. Rice). I think the Bulls top the Illini but struggle to cover the spread, while the Owls really need a breakout game to establish any confidence this season.
Kansas State (-4) at Vanderbilt
I did think about placing Oklahoma State on upset alert as they hit the road to play a Pitt team that showed a good ability to work the clock against Penn State last week, but I just couldn’t convince myself the Panthers could come off last week’s game and give Oklahoma State enough of a battle. But Vanderbilt has a way of playing some teams pretty tough, and Kansas State is not a team that should overpower the Commodores on the road. This might be an outright pick.
Wisconsin (-13.5) at BYU
Bovada is actually the most favorable with the spread for BYU in this game, as other books are giving the home team 16 to 17 points. BYU has been flat out awful on offense so far this season, which is a tad shocking to me. The Badgers should be able to pick up the win here, but there is something about a trip to Provo that can still be a bit uneasy for me when a visiting team is such a heavy favorite. The Badgers making a road trip to BYU’s stadium is commendable, and in a week when nearly every game involving a Big Ten team looks like a pretty easy decision, I’ll place the Badgers here almost by default.
Western Kentucky (-7) vs. Louisiana Tech
The Hilltoppers are also pretty much here by default, but they do appear to be the most likely team to be on upset alert this week. The Bulldogs have traditionally been one of the top contenders in the conference and they will look to make a statement in a key early-season Conference USA battle after a rough showing last week at home against Mississippi State that included the early leader in the clubhouse for blooper of the season.
Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech yakety sax. pic.twitter.com/JEakKSE9or
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) September 10, 2017
Miami Ohio (-5) vs. Cincinnati
The long-running in-state rivalry is lined up through at least 2029, which is always good to see. This year, Miami enters as a favorite a week after Cincinnati hung in long enough to make some Michigan fans nervous in Ann Arbor. Cincinnati may not have the offense to make the plays needed, but they could sneak out of Miami with a win of the RedHawks struggle against Cincinnati’s potentially improved defense.
Mountain West Conference
Boise State (-15.5) vs. New Mexico
Aside from Nevada in a matchup against FCS Idaho State, the only team in the Mountain West Conference playing the role of a favorite this week is Boise State. Therefore, the Broncos get placed here by default. Keep in mind, New Mexico did win their last time playing on the blue turf against the Broncos two years ago.
On the flip side, could any Mountain West teams pull an upset? Wyoming hosting Oregon and San Diego State hosting Stanford would appear to be the leading candidates. This is actually a big weekend for the conference with Colorado State visiting Alabama, Air Force visiting Michigan, and Fresno State visiting Washington. Wins would be amazing for the conference, but just playing good and competitive football against these power conference programs could help shape the MWC image moving forward.
UCLA (-3) at Memphis
During the first three quarters of their season opener, I joked the Bruins would be in for a battle in their Week 3 matchup at Memphis. Then Josh Rosen led UCLA to an incredible comeback against Texas A&M and now UCLA is 2-0. So maybe UCLA has an easier time that I originally thought they would. Regardless, they may be playing the trickiest road game this week against a dangerous Group of Five team (Oregon is at Wyoming and Stanford is at San Diego State), as Memphis could be a top contender for the American championship this season. And getting UCLA at home sets the stage for Memphis to try and grab the top non-conference win by a Group of Five program, which could always come in handy down the line. It’s a noon eatsern kickoff for a PAc-12 team. We’ve seen this situation before, and it is a dangerous one.
Missouri (-7) vs. Purdue
Missouri just fired their defensive coordinator after two games, and Purdue’s offense has shown dramatic improvement in the early going this season under new head coach Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers also pushed Lamar Jackson and Louisville to the brink in the season opener, suggesting this Purdue team is not going to roll over for anyone. And Missouri just got trucked at home by South Carolina. This one could be fun.
Troy (-7) at New Mexico State
I don’t love this pick at all, so keep that in mind. This was more a situation where there were few options to chosoe from as far as favorites from the Sun Belt are concerned this week, and Troy playing on the road against a team that played Arizona State well feels like the closest we could potentially get to an upset alert from the Sun Belt this weekend. There are a good number of underdogs this week from the Sun Belt, both home (Louisiana-Monroe vs. Southern Miss) and on the road (Georgia State at Penn State, Louisiana at Texas A&M), and most of the favorites in the Sun Belt are ones I don’t feel will be threatened (Appalachian State is a 23-point favorite at Texas State, Arkansas State is hosting FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Troy, on the other hand, could be the most at risk in conference play.
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.