College Football Week 1 kicks off tonight, with a dozen games to get you ready for the long weekend. After a handful of match-ups last Saturday, we have games every night between now and Monday.
There are plenty of previews you can read for every single team in the FBS. However, you don’t really know what you have until you see the teams hit the field.
That means that, as usual, there are bound to be some big upsets in Week 1, as some teams we expect a lot from struggle out the gate, and others get started on surprising years.
Here are five teams on “upset alert” for College Football Week 1.
We have a couple of ranked teams, as well as other sizable favorites going on the road to open the season.
No. 12 Notre Dame (-1) vs. No. 14 Michigan
Notre Dame is only a very slight favorite, in both the point spread and in the rankings. With two pretty evenly-matched teams, Notre Dame should get a nice bump by being at home, under the lights, in one of the premier match-ups of Week 1.
Stylistically, this one may very well favor the Wolverines. Michigan should field yet another elite defense under coordinator Don Brown, and one with the speed to shut down Fighting Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush on the ground. If Wimbush can’t make Michigan pay through the air, or Brian Kelly doesn’t pull the plug and move to Ian Book early enough, UM could grind out a defensive win here. If Shea Patterson shows the ability that made him look like an elite quarterback of the future at Ole Miss, it may be more decisive than that.
No. 19 Florida State (-7) vs. No. 20 Virginia Tech
This is another game between two teams separated by a few total votes in the rankings, but the sportsbook lines have Florida State as a much more definitive favorite than Notre Dame is above. The Seminoles will be in their first game under new head coach Willie Taggart, and have a home game on Monday night, which should be a good environment.
Before his one year at Oregon, Taggart was at USF, and it took him a while to get things going there. He was pretty firmly on the hot seat, before breaking out midway through the 2015 season, his third in Tampa. From there, the Bulls were an awesome team to watch, but he was just 7-21 through his first 28 games there.
It may take a while for Taggart to really get things rolling at FSU, though there is plenty of talent on the roster. There are questions over in Blacksburg about Bud Foster’s defense, a rarity for his many years with the Hokies, but Justin Fuente has settled in with the program, and will be a very tough out in Week 1 for a new-look ‘Noles team.
No. 22 Boise State (-10) at Troy
Boise State is the classic Group of Five power at this point, and is the favorite to land the open New Year’s Six bowl game spot entering the season. The Troy Trojans have been really strong though, and have managed to hold on to head coach Neal Brown.
The 38-year old Brown is 21-5 in his last two years at Troy, including a 10-2 record at home. Last year, Troy battled the Broncos up in Boise, falling 24-13. Don’t pencil Boise State in for a win just year.
Indiana (-9.5) at FIU
With UCF going undefeated, Lane Kiffin’s amazing turnaround at FAU, and even Charlie Strong’s solid first year at USF, it makes sense that there wasn’t a lot more Group of Five attention to be spread around in Florida. However, FIU was also a pretty impressive story.
Butch Davis, the former Miami, UNC, and Cleveland Browns head coach, led the Panthers to an 8-5 record and bowl berth, just a year removed from a 4-8 season and an overall very poor Ron Turner tenure at the school.
Indiana maintained itself under Tom Allen, fielding a strong defense, but a very poor offense in 2017. This week, it named sophomore Peyton Ramsey the starter at quarterback, beating out Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins, who has since stepped away from the sport. Ramsey had moments last season, but the team was just 78th in scoring offense. If FIU hangs in this one, and can put up some points on a solid Hoosiers defense, it could definitely steal this game at home.
Navy (-10) at Hawaii
Navy’s trip to Hawaii looks a lot more perilous now than it did just a few days ago. The Rainbow Warriors had the biggest statement win of “Week Zero,” beating up Colorado State on the road. Quarterback Cole McDonald was fantastic, throwing for 317 yards and four touchdowns, and Hawaii managed 199 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Colorado State did tighten things up late, and did plenty of damage through the air, with 537 yards. Of course, that isn’t a huge factor for Navy, which does most of its damage on the ground with its triple option attack. Navy is also coming all the way from Maryland.
If the Colorado State game wasn’t a fluke, Hawaii could really have something going this year, and that could make this road trip very tough for Navy, a 10-point favorite right now.