Upset Watch: Week 3

Last week, college football fans saw thrillers in Ann Arbor, Auburn, and Columbus (among others) saw games come down to the last play of the game, with the home team prevailing in each. As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas.

As an added twist, we’ll look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.


1. The Good

Florida International +4.0 @ Louisville. Result: Florida International 24 Louisville 17.

Utah +9.0 @ USC. Result: USC 23 Utah 14.

2. The Bad

Connecticut +2.5 @ Vanderbilt. Result: Vanderbilt 24 Connecticut 21.

@ Georgia +2.5 South Carolina. Result: South Carolina 45 Georgia 42. 

3. The Ugly

Boston College +7.0 @ UCF. Result: UCF 30 Boston College 3. 


This Week

There are some really intriguing matchups this week, especially in the Big Ten – Penn State @ Temple, Pittsburgh @ Iowa, Michigan State @ Notre Dame, Arizona State @ Illinois, and Ohio State @ Miami. Outside of the Big Ten, LSU travels to Starkville on Thursday night, Boise State travels to the Glass Bowl on Friday, capping off the weekend with Oklahoma visiting Chief Osceola on Saturday night.

Can you think of a better Saturday night game to follow up what might be the most thrilling Saturday night game of the year?

Upset Watch

@ Toledo (1-1) +19.5 Boise State (1-0). Toledo Coach Tim Beckman is 6-6 against the spread as a dog. Boise Coach Chris Peterson is 35-22 against the spread as a favorite. The Broncos blasted the Rockets last year on the Smurfturf, winning 57-14, covering the 38.5-point spread. Since then, Boise State has lost Titus Young and Austin Pettis to the NFL draft, but returned Heisman candidate Kellen Moore and, Pre-Season All Mountain West First Team, Doug Martin at running back. The Rockets have a history of pulling upsets in the Glass Bowl, having beaten the No. 9 Pitt Panthers in 2003, Kansas in 2006, and Minnesota in 2001. If history is a guide, the game should be close. Toledo may not pull the upset, but they should beat the spread.

Washington State (2-0) +5.5 @ San Diego State (2-0). Last meeting was in 2007, with Wazzou dismantling the Aztecs in Pullman, 45-17, covering the 14 point spread. First year Coach Rocky Long is 1-1 as a favorite against the spread this year. More telling stats: The last time the Aztecs opened 3-0 was in 1981 and they have lost eight straight when hosting a BCS conference opponent. Try to contain your laughter, but Washington State is a program on the rise. Yes, Coach Paul Wulff is only 7-32 at Washington State, but the defense should improve from having given up an average of almost 36 points per game in 2010 (38 points per game in 2009 and 44(!) points per game in 2008). Cougs QB Marshall Lobbestael is 38-51 for 591 yards and 7 passing TDs through the first two games. Jeff Tuel was 32-58 for 416 yards and 3 passing TDs through the same number of games last year.

Colorado State (2-0) +7.5 Colorado (0-2). The Rocky Mountain Showdown will be played in Denver. Last two games have been upsets, with Colorado winning 3 of the last 4. The Rams have won 8 of the last 14 against the spread. Colorado State is 9-3 straight up coming off a win, under Coach Steve Fairchild.

@ Vanderbilt (2-0) +1.5 Mississippi (1-1). The Rebels have not won an SEC opener since 2003 (lost in 2010, 2008, and 2007 to Vanderbilt) and have lost 4 of the last 6 to the Commodores. Mississippi Coach Houston Nutt is 12-13 as a favorite against the spread at Mississippi, but is just 3-5 on the road as a favorite against the spread. Vanderbilt has already matched their win totals from 2008 and 2009. If Vanderbilt can get better QB play from Larry Smith (50% completion against Connecticut), the Commodores can start 3-0 for the first time since 2008.

@ Temple (2-0) +7.5 Penn State (1-1). Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941, with the Nittany Lions winning 28 straight! Despite the streak, Temple has been the pick against the spread the past two years (29.5 point dogs in 2009, losing 31-6 and 14 point dogs in 2010, losing 22-13). Penn State is STILL sorting out its quarterback situation. Temple has outscored opponents 83-10 this year (vs. Villanova and @ Akron). First year Coach Steve Addazio is 2-0 against the spread and now finds himself as an underdog against Penn State. Temple should keep this one close, but Penn State likely extends the streak to 29 straight.


Sure-fire Favorite

@ Cincinnati -34.5 Akron. I’m not sure how to be nice about this, but Akron is bad, really bad. The Zips returned six starters on offense and eight on defense, from a team that was 1-11 last year. Give second year Coach Ianello credit, he at least is competitive against the spread, a record of 4-8 against the spread as an underdog and 5-9 overall (0-2 this year). In two games (@ Ohio and vs. Temple), the Zips have scored THREE points and gave up 83. Akron walks into a hornet’s nest on Saturday, with Cincinnati having lost at Neyland Stadium 45-23. Second year Coach Butch Jones is 4-4 against the spread as a favorite. Cincinnati hung 72 on Austin Peay week 1. Akron isn’t much better than Austin Peay; take the Bearcats.

Gameday Prediction

Ron English is 4-22 straight up at Eastern Michigan, including a 2-0 start this year. Coach English is 8-14-2 against the spread as an underdog and 9-16-2 against the spread overall.

Brady Hoke is 49-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 25-14-2 against the spread as a favorite and 40-22-2 overall since 2006.

Coach Hoke is 2-1 against Eastern Michigan, against the spread (3-0 overall).

Since 1998, Eastern Michigan and Michigan have met four times, with Michigan winning all four meetings (3-1 against the spread). Average margin of victory for Michigan against Eastern Michigan is 33.25 (average score of 48-14.75).

@ Michigan -29.5 Eastern Michigan.

Michigan 48 Eastern Michigan 17

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