Soft scheduling is a bit of an epidemic in the second week of the season. Only two games are between Top 25 teams and eight of the Top 25 scheduled a FCS school. Here is a look at some of the games that can put a member of the autonomous five in jeopardy.
Eastern Washington at Washington
Washington dropped out of the Top 25 despite defeating Hawaii last week 17-16. That’s how vulnerable the Huskies looked against a 1-11 team and in comes the No. 2 FCS school in country this Saturday. Eastern Washington posted 625 yards of offense in its win over PAC 12 Oregon State last season and that was second highest total OSU allowed all year. Washington will have to have a solid performance to avoid the upset. I don’t think it will as the FCS will get its third win on the season against a FBS school. Hawaii outgained Washington last week and that is a giant red flag.
Oregon State at Hawaii
To the school that nearly defeated Washington as Hawaii gets another crack at a PAC 12 team this week at home. The Rainbow Warriors are better than last season’s 1-11 team and look for them to come out wanting to prove it. FCS Portland State actually had a 14-13 lead at the half last week against Oregon State before the Beavers pulled away in the second half for a 29-14 win. I’ll pick Hawaii since I don’t think Oregon State is stronger than Washington. Plus, this pregame Hawaiian chant is just too cool.
Missouri at Toledo
A MAC frontrunner hosting a SEC team that’s in for a bit of a regression year. Now we’re talking. Toledo pulled away from a very good FCS team in New Hampshire Saturday and has an experienced team. The Tigers defeated the Rockets last year 38-23 but it was only 24-23 in the third quarter. Toledo is going throw everything into this game and that’s why I’m picking them.
Western Kentucky at Illinois
This is a slam dunk, Illinois nearly lost to FCS Youngstown State last week. Now comes CUSA Western Kentucky, who trashed the defending MAC champion Bowling Green State 59-31. The Hilltoppers scored over 30 points per game last season and the Fighting Illini could only do 28 against a FCS squad. Not good. I’m taking WKU.
Central Michigan at Purdue
Purdue is coming off a 1-11 year and showed little improvement against Western Michigan last Saturday who was also 1-11. While the Boilers won 43-34 they are going up against a stronger MAC school in the Chippewas this week. I knew Central would struggle against a quality FCS team in Chattanooga but its defense held a good offense to just 16 points. Honestly, I think Chattanooga’s offense is better than the Purdue squad Central Michigan will face. Purdue has to prove to it can beat an average team before I feel comfortable picking them.
Northern Illinois at Northwestern
This one is also obvious as Northern Illinois has a history of devouring weak Big Ten teams. It beat Iowa and pummeled Purdue 55-24 last season and Northwestern is a sitting duck. The Wildcats have lost eight of their last nine games so it’s insane to see them as a favorite against anyone. My main concern is that NIU winning is not really an upset. Maybe the Huskies will take this game lightly while the Wildcats will be in redemption mode? Until Northwestern shows some life I have to go with NIU.
— NIU Huskie Athletics (@NIUAthletics) September 4, 2014
Old Dominion at NC State
NC State will always be on upset alert when it plays a team from the group of five. CUSA Old Dominion hung in there against Pittsburgh last season in a 35-24 and returns most its team. NC State barely survived Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt last week 24-23 and lost its last eight games of 2013. This is a coin flip and always go with the underdog in that case. Look for ODU to get a big win over an ACC school.
Other upset alert games: Texas Tech at UTEP, Stony Brook at Connecticut, Alcorn State at Southern Miss, Washington State at Nevada