South Florida at Connecticut
The South Florida Bulls have started the season with a fairly unconvincing 2-0 record, including a 42-22 win at the San Jose State Spartans and a 31-17 triumph over FCS’ Stony Brook Seawolves.
It’s an ominous sign for USF, especially given new head coach Charlie Strong’s past three seasons spent coaching the Texas Longhorns, where he amassed a 16-21 record.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers, last year’s AAC Offensive Player of the Year, has also struggled to adapt to the new coaching staff’s offense, going 30 for 55 for 398 yards in his opening two games, including four touchdowns and one interception.
Strong said his team was a work in progress, particularly on offense.
“We didn’t execute in all three phases, had another punt blocked, offensively, we need to get our quarterback on track. Defensively, we can’t give up the big plays.
“It’s all about protecting the quarterback. You look at when we run the football, we need to open up.
“The offensive line needs to move people off the line of scrimmage so you can establish the run game, which opens up the pass game for [Flowers]. He’s getting pressure and can’t release the ball.
“It’s just making sure we get our offense going and everybody on the right track.”
Strong’s Bulls are slow starters, trailing 16-0 after one quarter against San Jose State, and 10-7 at halftime against SBU, whereas their opponents this week, the Connecticut Huskies, seem to be stong finishers.
Last week against the Holy Cross Crusaders, UConn came back to win 27-20 after being down 3-20 late in the third quarter, the dash to the finish line coming courtesy of senior quarterback Bryant Shirreff entering the game.
If UC can put together a four-quarter effort at home this week behind predicted starter Shirreff, and South Florida falter again, we could be looking at an upset loss that sees them exit the Associated Press poll.
San Jose State at Texas
While watching their defeat at home in the opening game of the year to 18-point underdogs the Maryland Terrapins, a couple of thoughts may have raced through the minds of Texas Longhorns fans.
The first, justifiably so, may have been, “not again”, but secondly, some may have looked to the schedule to provide some relief next week; the schedule’s answer came with the upstart SJSU at home.
Perhaps no Texas fans had witnessed the Spartans’ 34-13 win over the Cal Poly Mustangs, or their mighty effort against number 21 USF in week zero, where they led 16-0 after one quarter before falling short.
If they had, they knew they would be in for another parvenu underdog coming to town sniffing the possibility of a landmark win for their program.
San Jose State started fast out of the gate against the Bulls, who were kept without a touchdown for the first quarter, the same way Maryland held UT Austin without an offensive touchdown in the first half.
Charlie Strong may finally be ancient Longhorns history, but Tom Herman’s program is still quite clearly in transition. If these two teams carry a similar vein of form into this match, the ‘Horns could be on the hook for an 0-2 start.
Hawaii at UCLA
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors have flown out of the blocks to their best start since 2009 – 2-0, with wins away to the Massachusetts Minuteman and at home to the Western Carolina Catamounts.
None of those opponents are anywhere near the quality of their next three, the UCLA Bruins, Wyoming Cowboys and Colorado State Rams, but they’re good wins nonetheless.
“Good” would be a tough way to describe UCLA’s efforts against the Texas A&M Aggies last week – “miraculous” perhaps more befitting.
If for some reason you missed the game, the Bruins produced the second-largest comeback in college football history, winning 45-44 at home after being down 34 points in the third quarter.
For the majority of that match, we saw a UCLA team we do not expect to see much of this season.
However, for one quarter, we saw a team that could make anything connect, led by quarterback Josh Rosen (491 yards, four touchdowns).
More than likely, this week’s performance will be somewhere in-between, but going off what we’ve seen from both teams this season, this has to at least qualify as some sort of upset watch.
Stanford at Southern California
One of the marquee matchups of the week, it may be hard to quantify a Stanford Cardinal win as an upset, but given the latest AP Poll, they are definitely the underdogs against the Southern California Trojans.
Unfortunately for Stanford, their 62-7 pillaging of the Rice Owls in Australia was not enough to leapfrog the Auburn Tigers to 13th, who beat up on the Georgia Southern Eagles.
However, USC’s unconvincing defensive effort against the Western Michigan Broncos was enough to see them drop two places to sixth, below the Penn State Nittany Lions and Oklahoma Sooners.
This is likely to be a close game, and even despite the quality of opposition, the Cardinals’ 55-point battering of Rice was convincing enough to land this matchup in this article.
Bryce Love already looks like a fine replacement for Cards’ stud Christian McCaffrey, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers earlier in the year, and Keller Chryst looks in top form after surgery last year.
We also near the tenth anniversary of October 6, 2007, the day The Farm upset the Trojans in the final 60 seconds of the match – the day many say Stanford football arrived.
This week, it may very well arrive in 2017 – that is, if a 62-7 win over the Owls wasn’t good enough for you.
Which underdogs are you backing to upset the odds this week? Comment below!
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