NCAAF betting: Top 5 early upset picks of 2011
It's only the first week in August, but you can go ahead and lock these upsets up.
David Payne writes for Covers Expert Ben Burns.
Sept. 17: Arizona over Stanford
This one will shake up the Pac-12 and the national-title picture in a big way. Stanford is projected as a top-10 team, mainly because of the return of junior quarterback Andrew Luck. Arizona is projected as bottom-feeder in the newly expanded conference.
But the Wildcats have a pro prospect quarterback of their own in Nick Foles and better receiving options than the Cardinal. Stanford will be returning from a cross-country trip to Duke the previous week before hopping back on the plane to go to Tucson.
Arizona will be playing at home with revenge, after last year’s 42-17 loss at Stanford.
Sept. 25: Pittsburgh over Notre Dame
Todd Graham did it last year. Why not a repeat?
Graham coached Tulsa to a stunning upset of the Irish in South Bend last season and was rewarded with the head coaching job at Pitt. He’s got a solid QB in junior Tino Sunseri, who threw for 272 yards in a close loss at Notre Dame last year.
The Panthers have by far the better defense, featuring NFL prospects at defensive end and linebacker.
Brian Kelly enters his second season at Notre Dame with a shaky quarterback situation. If he doesn’t get it worked out in three tough opening games against USF, Michigan and Michigan State, it might be time to try something knew when the Irish head to Pittsburgh.
Nov. 12: Kansas State over Texas A&M
By this point in the season, this may not even be considered an upset. A&M will be coming off a trip to Oklahoma, which will likely have decided their Big 12 title and BCS hopes. Win or lose in Norman, the Aggies will be emotionally drained and ripe a Bill Snyder special, when they arrive in Manhattan to face what should be a maturing Wildcat team.
Nov. 19: Indiana over Michigan State
New Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson has people talking about Indiana football, a rarity around Bloomington. The ex-Oklahoma assistant and hurry-up offense specialist shocked the nation by landing the No. 1 high school quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel, who chose Indiana over Alabama and Oklahoma among others. But Wilson insists he’s focused on this year’s Hoosiers, who he believes have “bowl talent.”
To reach the postseason, the Hooisers will need to knock off one of the Big Ten’s higher-ups. They’ll be coming off a bye week when they travel to East Lansing to face what will be a weary Spartans team, playing their fifth game in five weeks.
Nov. 26: Michigan over Ohio State
Oddsmakers raised some eyebrows when they posted Ohio State as a very early pick ‘em against Michigan. A large contingency of sharp bettors quickly jumped on the Buckeyes. But bettors would be wise to monitor the Wolverines’ improvement during coach Brady Hoke’s first season in Ann Arbor.
Michigan arguably has more playmakers than Ohio State and certainly has the better quarterback. If the NCAA adds a postseason ban to the Buckeyes’ looming penalties, the season could turn into a long grind under over-his-ahead coach Luke Fickell.