The 2013 College Football season is finally upon us all, with the No. 6 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks hosting the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday evening to kick things off in Columbia. While the Gamecocks may not need to be on high upset alert, they may struggle to cover the current 13 point spread. This is an underrated UNC team and, although the Gamecocks boast the best defensive player in the country in Jadeveon Clowney, the Tar Heels counter with Bryn Renner under center. While I would not predict an upset in this one, there are at least 5 teams who should be on upset alert during Week 1 of the 2013 NCAA Football campaign.
To end the suspense, the No. 1 team in the country and reigning two time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide are not one of those teams. With all due respect to the Virginia Tech Hokies and Logan Thomas, The Tide will roll in this one, although they may struggle to cover the current 21.5 point spread away from Tuscaloosa. Although, with the game being played in Atlanta, it will not be that much of a road game for the Tide.
But that does not mean other ranked teams should not be a bit nervous this weekend. The first one who should enter Week 1 with a bit of trepidation is the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Texas Kickoff Classic in Reliant Stadium in Houston. Without some key offensive players from last season, as well as their top starting offensive lineman, it will be interesting to see how Mike Gundy plans on using his two quarterbacks in this game. The ‘Pokes are still the more talented team on paper, but I would certainly not feel comfortable giving up 13.5 points.
Another team from a power conference who may have to worry about being close to a two touchdown favorite is the North Carolina State Wolfpack. While they are at home against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, N.C. State is led by a new head coach as well as starting quarterback. Dave Doeren will lead the ‘Pack without Mike Glennon against a Bulldogs team who boasted one of the most prolific and explosive offenses in the nation last season. It would not surprise me one bit if the two touchdown underdogs escape with a big road win.
If you want another pick of a school from a smaller conference pulling off a double digit underdog upset against a major conference team, look no further than the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns traveling to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Bret Bielema makes his debut on the Hogs’ sidelines, although he faces a stiff test in his debut performance. The Cajuns are a formidable squad, and Arkansas faces many question marks heading into 2013. I understand why the ‘Backs are favored, but 10.5 seems a bit high to me.
While one top 10 preseason team may be favored at home this weekend, another is a home underdog. The No. 8 Clemson Tigers will play host to the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs in what is the biggest game of opening weekend. The Week 1 battle between the Tigers and Bulldogs is the game of the week, and with good reason. Both teams have two of the top quarterbacks in the country in Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Aaron Murray (Georgia), with both also boasting other explosive players on offense in Bulldogs RB Todd Gurley and Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. The ‘Dawgs are a 2 point road favorite, but I like the Tigers in this one.
Finally, when Cinderella darlings and the No. 19 Boise State Broncos travel to take on the unranked Washington Huskies, they will do so as a 3 point underdog. The Huskies are at home and have one of the top tight ends in the country in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, but how can you bet against the Broncos? It doesn’t matter if they play at home on the smurf turf, on the road in hostile territory or at a neutral site in a big game. This team always comes to play. Being ranked and not favored will not sit well with them. Expect to see them take it out against an improved Washington squad.