Week 9: The five teams on "upset alert"
Week 9 of the 2017 college football season is here, and there are plenty of matchups that are just ripe for an upset.
What top 25 teams are at risk of being upset Week 9?
Here are the five teams we’re placing on “Upset Alert” this Saturday:
1. No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on FOX
The game of the week, and probably the most important of the year. Ohio State absolutely has to get this win if they want to stay in the CFP discussion, otherwise they’re toast. And honestly, things look pretty good for them, despite being the underdog in terms of their ranking. It’d technically be an upset if they won, but the Buckeyes have nearly everything going in their favor. Not only are they favored by Vegas and be ESPN’s FPI, but they’ll also have home-field advantage. AND they’re coming off a bye week so they should be plenty rested.
BUT…they’re playing against Penn State, a team with basically no flaws. Saquon Barkley plays like he’s on another plane of existence, Trace McSorley can do anything and everything whether it’s with his arm or his legs and meanwhile the defense is quietly one of the best in the country. This game will be all fireworks, that’s a guarantee.
Ohio State is a 6-point favorite.
2. No. 4 TCU at No. 25 Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on ABC/ESPN2
I think TCU is legit, but I also think the Horned Frogs will lose a game this season, probably one they wouldn’t expect to lose—and who better than the Iowa State Cyclones to lose it to?
Earlier this year, the pesky Cyclones took down Oklahoma 38-31, and while they won’t be able to sneak up on TCU like they did with the Sooners, the potential for an upset is still there. The Cyclones held the explosive Texas Tech offense to just 13 points last week on the road, and I expect the Cyclones to come out in full force at home and shut down TCU. It’ll be a close one—expect a 23-20 type game, with Iowa State’s offense doing just enough to get the win.
TCU is a 7-point favorite.
3. No. 11 Oklahoma State at No. 22 West Virginia, 12 p.m. E.T. on ABC
I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it once more: Oklahoma State is not good. The fact the Cowboys were able to survive Texas had more to do with the Longhorns’ incompetence and sloppy play than it did the Cowboys’ prowess. Oklahoma State’s entire identity relies on Mason Rudolph throwing for an obscene amount of yards and touchdowns, so to only score 13 points is not a great sign moving forward, and this offense will have its work cut out for them as the Mountaineers can put up points in a hurry as well.
If Oklahoma State stalls in the red zone like they did on numerous occasions last week, the Mountaineers will get the upset.
Oklahoma State is a 7.5-point favorite.
4. No. 16 Michigan State at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN
The inevitable reckoning is near for Michigan State, and it might come this weekend in the form of a loss to Northwestern. Like Oklahoma State above, Michigan State isn’t that good either! But somehow, the Spartans just keep eking by mediocre teams (Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa and heck, let’s include Michigan as well) but eventually that luck has to run out at some point, right?
Northwestern has been up and down this year, but they’re on the upswing and match up well versus the Spartans who’ve had trouble offensively. This will inevitably be another grind-it-out, Big Ten style 13-10 game, but with the Wildcats at home, I’m giving them the nod to upset MSU.
Michigan State is a 2.5-point favorite.
5. No. 21 USC at Arizona State, 10:45 p.m. E.T. on ESPN
USC went from a title contender to the most disappointing team in college football after their 49-14 loss to Notre Dame last week, but what’s new I guess. Injuries and less-than-stellar play have spelled the end for the Trojans as a CFP team, and now it’s all about making the Rose Bowl. But if the Arizona State Sun Devils have any say, that’s not gonna happen.
Early on in the season, the Sun Devils looked like the bottom-feeders of the Pac-12, but after wins over Washington and Utah in the past two weeks, they now look pretty legit. They’ll be playing at home against a USC defense that just got toasted by Notre Dame’s ground game for 377 yards last week, and Kalen Ballage, Demario Richard and Manny Wilkins should all have turns to feast.
USC is a 3-point favorite.