As we enter Week 3 of college football season, we aren’t any closer to knowing who the four teams in the College Football Playoff will be. In fact, all we really DO know is that 0-3 Louisville will not be one of them. And now cut to people who bet on the Cardinals to win the ACC going to begrudgingly get their checkbook.
This means that in order for the picture to become clearer, more upsets likely need to happen among teams and for certain campuses and stadiums need to be re-dubbed “Heartbreak City.”
It just so happens that this week, there are another five teams on major upset watch. Let’s take a look at them!
The Trojans enter this week at No. 6 in the rankings, largely due to outscoring opponents 116-15 over their first two games. This is where hats go off to senior quarterback Cody Kessler, who is once again making a case for the Heisman Trophy with 650 pass yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions over that stretch. He has completed an eye-popping 78 percent of his pass attempts.
But USC gets its first test of the season this weekend in playing its first Pac-12 game, against their neighbors to the north the Stanford Cardinal. After a stunning season-opening loss to Northwestern, Stanford quickly rebounded with a 31-7 win over Central Florida and will look to ride that momentum into LA Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.
It should also be noted that Stanford lost to USC 13-10 last year, with a late fourth quarter field goal putting the Trojans over the top after a penalty nullified a Stanford go-ahead score earlier in the quarter. Throw in that USC has defeated the Cardinal each of the past two seasons and that Saturday’s game is ABC’s national game, and this is a game that, though not at the top of the upset watch food chain, deserves to be mentioned nonetheless, especially since Stanford are 10-point underdogs.
4. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish needed a final seconds Hail Mary to defeat Virginia last weekend, and backup quarterback DeShone Kizer will get his first taste of starter’s duties as he is thrown right into the fire when No. 8 Notre Dame takes on No. 14 Georgia Tech in South Bend.
This game will be a true test for both Kizer and the team as a whole, as quarterback Malik Zaire is officially out for the season after breaking his ankle last weekend. On top of that, if fans thought that Virginia was a tough ACC opponent, they clearly haven’t seen what Georgia Tech has done this year. The Yellow Jackets have outscored opponents 136-16 over their first two games and rank 14th in the nation in total offense.
More importanlty, with questions at quarterback despite last week’s win, don’t be surprised if Notre Dame struggles to find its footing and stumbles against a fiery Georgia Tech offense.
The No. 14 Tigers get a second consecutive SEC game this weekend when they play a team that shares their mascot. I’m talking about the No. 18 Auburn Tigers, who dropped to their current position in the rankings from No. 6 after needing both a late fourth quarter equalizer and then overtime to defeat FCS opponent Jacksonville State last weekend.
Though quarterback Jeremy Johnson could have a tough time limiting his turnovers and getting the ball rolling against a tough LSU defense, look for Auburn to play this game with a giant chip on their collective shoulder when they arrive in Death Valley. Coach Gus Malzahn is probably preparing his team to play focused and even a little angry this weekend, refusing to fall to 2-1 after barely beating an FCS team.
If star running back Leonard Fournette is contained, there is every possibility that Auburn will win and prove that it belongs higher up in the rankings.
Though the game is in Tuscaloosa and the No. 2 Crimson Tide are seven-point favorites entering this weekend’s game against No. 15 Ole Miss, let’s not forget what happened last year. In October, then-No. 3 Alabama visited Oxford to play the No. 11 Rebels and came out on a stunning losing end, 23-17. Things have changed since that fateful day, and Alabama will surely be out for blood following that loss last season.
But this Ole Miss team looks a lot stronger than it did last season. The Rebels have outscored their opponents 149-24 over their first two games, and have a wild card in junior defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. The former top recruit has seen time on offense this season as well as on D, even reeling in a 31-yard touchdown catch against UT-Martin in Week 1 and having a one-yard rushing touchdown against Fresno State last weekend.
Thus, unless both Nkemdiche and junior QB Chad Kelly (557 pass yards, six touchdowns) can be contained from the get-go, Alabama could find itself the victim of an upset once again.
On the whole, the Bruins have looked excellent this season. Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen has been the answer and more at the position, throwing for 574 yards and four touchdowns as the team has gotten off to a 2-o start.
But now UCLA must take on the team that has established itself as the proverbial giant slayer over the first two weeks of the season: the BYU Cougars. This team also stands 2-0 thanks to a pair of last-second Hail Mary touchdown passes by freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum, who subbed in for Taysom Hill in the season opener against Nebraska after the latter went down with a season-ending Lisfranc injury.
And Mangum has proven to be a godsend for the Cougars, throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns since taking over under center. In leading BYU to another upset win over Boise State last weekend, he established his team as one to be watched and not taken lightly. This trip to Westwood is a big test for both teams. Can BYU ride their momentum to another win despite being 17-point underdogs, or will they come crashing back to reality against strong and balanced UCLA?
Fans won’t find out until late Saturday night, but anyone who calls themselves a college football fan should be glued to the score of this game from start to finish, as it has major upset implications.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports