Will the Upset Bug Strike Again? Big Questions for Week 13 in College Football
It should be a relatively quiet week in college football, but this season has taught us to expect the unexpected. Here are some of the big questions this week:
Will the Upset Bug Bite Again?
On paper, this looks like an uneventful week, with just two games between ranked opponents and much of the SEC taking a break from FBS action. However, as we’ve been seeing a lot lately, upsets can happen anytime, anywhere. Florida State has needed five second-half comebacks this season. Will another one be coming against 6-4 Boston College? Can Oklahoma State right the ship and end Baylor’s title hopes? Or will some small school shock the world?
We probably won’t be reading about a major upset this weekend, but no one should be surprised if we do.
Who Comes Out of the Pac-12 West?
The only real drama this week happens out west with two games between ranked Pac-12 opponents. No. 15 Arizona will try to keep its conference title hopes alive at No. 20 Utah. And division-leading No. 11 UCLA hosts archrival No. 24 USC in a game that could either determine the Pac-12 West winner or make the division one big mess.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Can Notre Dame Right the Ship?
After starting the season 6-0, the Fighting Irish have since lost three of their last four and have fallen out of the Top 25. Once a Heisman candidate, quarterback Everett Golson has become opponents’ MVP, committing 19 turnovers in his last seven games. And the defense has gotten in on the act as well, giving up 30-plus points in five straight (only the second time in school history they’ve done so).
With remaining games against Louisville and at No. 24 USC, the Fighting Irish don’t have much margin for error. And the Notre Dame faithful are just hoping for something to celebrate.
Can Nebraska’s Defense Rebound?
Every year since Bo Pelini has taken over, the Cornhuskers have won nine or 10 games but have been humiliated in games on the big stage (15 double-digit losses, with 10 of them by 20-plus points). So after giving up an NCAA-record 408 rushing yards to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, it will be a big question this week to see how the Blackshirts respond. Minnesota gave No. 8 Ohio State all it could handle in a 31-24 loss last week, and will certainly be no pushover for the reeling Cornhuskers. Gophers running back David Cobb is averaging 135 yards per game and has to be itching to go against this suspect run defense.
Pelini has lost four games every season he’s been at Nebraska, and a loss this weekend would go a long way toward keeping that streak alive … and make for more always-entertaining @fauxpelini Twitter exchanges.
.@CFBPlayoff Wouldn't a 23 team playoff be more inclusive and fair
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) November 19, 2014
Can Marcus Mariota Make a Heisman Statement?
A week ago, it looked like Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was on the verge of running away with the Heisman trophy. One record-setting day later, Melvin Gordon is suddenly very much in contention. Can Mariota come off his bye week and make a statement? He should be able to put up some big numbers against a Colorado defense that has given up at least 36 points in every game during its current six-game losing streak. Mariota, meanwhile, has been on a tear. During the Ducks’ current five-game winning streak, he has averaged more than 335 yards per game and scored 19 touchdowns.
Gordon has certainly made the race more interesting, but the trophy is still Mariota’s to lose and it’s hard to imagine the Buffs being the ones to take it away from him. Now when does he get the video game treatment?