College Football Playoff upset watch: Looking for chaos with unbeaten top 10 teams | NCAA Football
A total of 11 teams remain unbeaten heading into Week 7 of the college football season, and that includes seven teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest AP Top 25. Those teams should be favored in the rest of their remaining regular-season games.
We’re not saying No. 19 N.C. State, No. 20 Colorado, No. 23 USF and No. 25 Cincinnati can’t join that group, but all those teams will be underdogs at some point this season. Colorado already is against USC. So we’ll stay focused on the top 10 — especially with the usual hypotheticals that pop up wondering if four or more teams will go undefeated — with just two weeks until the first set of College Football Playoff rankings are revealed.
Here is the best chance each one of top 10 teams lose in the regular season, and one potential upset you might not see coming.
No. 1 Alabama (6-0)
Best chance: at LSU (Nov. 3)
Auburn and Mississippi State have to go to Tuscaloosa, and the last five Alabama-LSU matchups at Tiger Stadium have been decided by 10 points or fewer. The Crimson Tide have won four of those meetings, but LSU is still capable of pulling that upset at home. We want to see how that Tigers’ defense matches up against Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa-led offense.
Didn’t see that coming: at Tennessee (Oct. 20)
More like you haven’t seen it since 2006. None of the last five meetings at Neyland Stadium has been remotely close, either. Other than knowing Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt knows Saban’s tendencies, there’s no real reason to believe it will happen. That’s why it would be that much more shocking if Tennessee won than if Mississippi State or Auburn knocked Alabama off at home.
No. 2 Georgia (6-0)
Best chance: vs. Florida (Oct. 27)
Georgia travels to LSU this week, but we didn’t want to give the same answer as Alabama. Florida-Georgia has a history of unexpected results, and the Gators have won three of the last four meetings. Last year’s 42-7 blowout wasn’t close at all, but first-year coach Dan Mullen has Florida playing with more confidence with each week. Considering the SEC East will likely be in the balance, this is the biggest game left on Georgia’s schedule.
Didn’t see that coming: vs. Georgia Tech (Nov. 24)
The Bulldogs travel to Kentucky too, but the Wildcats can’t sneak up on them anymore. This game, meanwhile, is a rivalry against an unpredictable Georgia Tech team that uses the triple option. Georgia has a cupcake game against UMass the week before, but just know the Yellow Jackets have won the last two meetings in Athens. Could the Bulldogs somehow be caught peeking ahead to Alabama?
MORE: Week 7 bowl projections
No. 3 Ohio State (6-0)
Best chance: vs. Michigan (Nov. 24)
It’s the best team left on Ohio State’s schedule, and is a rivalry game. The Wolverines haven’t won in Columbus since 2000, but Shea Patterson is the best Michigan quarterback the Buckeyes have faced since Jim Harbaugh took over. Ohio State still has the upper hand, but Michigan remains the biggest foreseeable road block.
Didn’t see that coming: at Michigan State (Nov. 10)
We would have answered Purdue before they made the Oct. 20 matchup a primetime event in West Lafayette. That might work against the Boilermakers. The Spartans are down and have an uncharacteristically poor pass defense this season. Ohio State’s last three wins in East Lansing are by an average of 4.7 points per game.
No. 4 Clemson (6-0)
Best chance: vs N.C. State (Oct. 20)
We aren’t looking past the trip to Florida State, where the Tigers have split the last two meetings in games decided by no more than six points. N.C. State should have won the last trip to Death Valley, and Ryan Finley has seen the Clemson defense a few times. The Wolfpack are the best team remaining on Clemson’s regular-season schedule, and that counts for something.
Didn’t see that coming: at Boston College (Nov. 10)
The Tigers escaped a road scare at BC with a 17-13 victory in 2014, and the Eagles have a game-breaking running back in AJ Dillon, who should he healthy by this time. It’s another test for Lawrence on the road. We don’t see him losing at home.
No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0)
Best chance: at USC (Nov. 24)
It’s a rivalry game, and the Trojans would love nothing more than to upset the Irish in the regular-season finale, especially if they are in the Pac-12 championship hunt. It’s an opportunity for JT Daniels to make a name for himself in the rivalry, too.
Didn’t see that coming: vs. Florida State (Nov. 10)
The Seminoles will have a couple chances to play spoiler in November, and this one would have all kinds of irony given it’s the 25th anniversary year of the legendary No. 1-vs.-No. 2 showdown between these teams in 1993. The Seminoles will play Clemson and N.C. State before this — and they’ll need to get one to be bowl eligible.
No. 6 West Virginia (5-0)
Best chance: vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 23)
It’s a tossup with Texas, but West Virginia needs to prove it can beat the Sooners, which it hasn’t done since joining the Big 12. Oklahoma has won the last six meetings (the Mountaineers are 3-3 against the Longhorns in the same stretch), and the Black Friday matchup will certainly have an impact on who goes to the conference championship game.
Didn’t see that coming: vs. Baylor (Oct. 25)
The Mountaineers travel to Iowa State this weekend — a popular spot for upset bids. After that, West Virginia comes out of a bye week for a Thursday night home game against the Bears — an improved team that hung with the Mountaineers in a 38-36 shootout last season.
MORE: Week 7 Playoff Picture
No. 10 UCF (5-0)
Best chance: at South Florida (Nov. 23)
This rivalry game is becoming quite the Black Friday attraction. The Bulls are undefeated too, and this will be a showcase game for Blake Barnett. To be clear, we’re not overlooking this week’s road trip to Memphis or the Nov. 17 matchup with undefeated Cincinnati. We won’t overlook Navy either. UCF has work to do for an other undefeated season.
Didn’t see that coming: vs. Temple (Nov. 1)
Another Thursday night special at home against an Owls team that’s good enough to beat Maryland one week and inconsistent enough to lose to Buffalo on another. The Owls’ struggles in the passing game make this a long shot, but it’s the most unlikely upset on the board we can entertain.