Superior college football teams love to schedule an easy home game, but what if that underdog knocks them off? Here are a few favorites that might be worried heading into the opener.
1. Rice at Texas A&M, Saturday
The Rice Owls went 7-6 last year but have almost the whole team back. Texas A&M has plenty of distractions with their quarterback Johnny Manziel, and lost most of the their defense. Rice is predicted to be near the top of Conference USA and has a senior quarterback in Taylor McHargue ready to slug it out with Manziel. It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest Rice can steal a win. Crazier things have happened.
2. Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky, Saturday
The Hilltoppers went into Lexington last year and beat the Wildcats 32-31 in overtime. On Saturday they play in a neutral site in Nashville, Tenn. so the odds might be even more in Western Kentucky’s favor. It’s really hard to call this an upset really. I’m sure Kentucky fans would be happy with a win period.
3. Indiana State at Indiana, Thursday
I live in about an hour away from the two schools and this is not a hard one to figure out. Indiana has never been good at football and while some are calling for an improved year their defense is … not good. Most magazines I’ve seen has the Hoosiers near the bottom of the Big Ten in defense. The Sycamores should be able to move the ball and stay close like they did last year before losing 24-17. Just another play here or there and maybe Indiana State wins it.
4. Southern Illinois at Illinois, Saturday
Another FCS school taking a Big Ten neighbor. Illinois, like Indiana has a bad defense. Just three starters back on that side of the ball. Ouch. In nerd language that’s like playing Call of Duty with a couple of teammates who have never touched a controller before. Southern Illinois may just have a shot here to pull off the upset. It’s hard not to yell for a team called the Salukis anyway.
5. Northern Illinois at Iowa, Saturday
Not to be outdone by their southern counterparts, Northern Illinois plans to down a Big Ten team too. To me a Northern Illinois win at Iowa would not be an upset. For a team that went to the Orange Bowl a year ago the Huskies better beat the Hawkeyes (4-8 last year). Still, Iowa won this game in 2012 on a neutral site and are the Big Ten team going up against a MAC. Will call this a game where both fan bases are worried.
On deck: Utah State at Utah, Northern Iowa at Iowa. FIU at Maryland, Arkansas vs. UL Lafayette, Austin Peay at Tennessee.