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Debate: Which top 25 team could be victim of upset in opener?


There are only two matchups during the opening weekend of the 2014 college football season that pit two ranked teams -- according to the CFB 24/7 Top 25 preseason Power Rankings -- against each other. Otherwise, a number of ranked teams will be going up against a seemingly overmatched foe. Which top 25 team could be prime to be a victim of an opening-game upset?

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  • Charles Davis
  • Buckeyes better mind Midshipmen

There are plenty of good top 25 matchups that carry upset potential. LSU is higher ranked, but Wisconsin is more than capable. Ditto for Georgia and Clemson, both schools are starting new QBs.

Ordinarily, I would point to Boise State coming off the pace to sting a ranked Ole Miss team, but not this time.

How about Ohio State going on the road to play Navy at a neutral site? The loss of Braxton Miller could loom large if the Buckeyes' offense sputters at the start under J.T. Barrett's direction. The Buckeyes' defense has a new coordinator in Chris Ash, and his challenge is to get his charges to play assignment football and slow down the vaunted triple-option attack of the Midshipmen.

I like Ohio State to prevail, but the Buckeys had better be wary of the U.S. Naval Academy!

In this week's picks, I've already said Clemson pulls the upset on Georgia. But I also think Rice is good enough to get the win in South Bend on a Notre Dame team still trying to figure out what to do without three quality starters. Brian Kelly is a good coach, but the combination of a new look-defense against a fairly high-powered offense with a dual-threat quarterback could spell trouble for the Irish.

I think the best chances for an upset come in two games matching top 25 foes: Clemson at Georgia and Texas A&M at South Carolina. I think the home teams win both, but the result that would surprise me the least is a Clemson win over Georgia.

Everyone is focused on the offensive losses incurred by Clemson, and those are extensive. But the Tigers' defense should be better than it was last season, when it finished 25th overall nationally. DE Vic Beasley and DT Grady Jarrett are stars up front, LB Stephone Anthony is one of the best at his position in the ACC and redshirt freshman CB Mackensie Alexander is a huge talent. I think Georgia's running game will be fine, but am unsure about Bulldogs QB Hutson Mason and the Bulldogs' passing attack. I also think Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is savvy enough to take advantage of what senior QB Cole Stoudt has to offer and hurt Georgia's secondary.

Although the prediction here is Auburn by four, the Tigers had best not overlook Arkansas. The Razorbacks were winless in SEC play last year, making them easily dismissed. But who better than Auburn to know better, given that Auburn came off a winless SEC mark of its own in 2012 to win the SEC title a year later? Auburn should get the job done at home, but Arkansas' backfield tandem of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams is potent enough to move the chains, keep the Tigers' offense off the field, and keep the score close. As well, Nick Marshall won't start at quarterback and it's unclear how much he'll play.

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  • Gil Brandt
  • Navy could give OSU fits; Badgers might baffle Tigers

I have three criteria that alerts me to possible major upsets in college football (I'll share them at a later date). You usually see them pop five to six times a season, but this week is not one of them.

I do see a few possibilities. I tweeted earlier this week that I thought Navy could give Ohio State trouble, but I don't see them ultimately winning.

Although I picked LSU to beat Wisconsin, I think the Badgers could easily win. They are starting an inexperienced quarterback, which makes picking them tough to do. But this might be an exception. Wisconsin is a team that doesn't rely on the passing game, and the Badgers have Melvin Gordon, one of the top running backs in the country. No one should be shocked if they pull off the upset in Houston.

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