So I understand that the offseason can be long, and you need to generate content. Lists are the best, because you can generate content with minimal effort, and a list is always an easy way to generate discussion (see: the article you are reading right this second).
That said, I would prefer at least a shred of effort go into articles like the one Athlon created about ten FBS/FCS games that might produce an upset this coming season.
Picking UC Davis or Northern Arizona to beat a couple of FBS teams in San Jose State and UTEP that were terrible last season makes sense, I get that.
Picking Villanova to upset a Temple team they almost upset last year makes a ton of sense as well. I’m even behind a young but strong Kennesaw State team having a chance against a Georgia State team that lost to a lesser FCS team last year.
I can even get behind Southeastern Louisiana having a shot against ULM in an offensive shootout, or a Howard team that beat UNLV last year having a chance against a likely bad Kent State team.
But I can assure you the reaching began in earnest in order to push this list from six to ten.
Wofford beating Wyoming? I suppose it’s not impossible, though I think Craig Bohl can handle prepping for the triple-option just fine, since he sees it every year against Air Force.
Maine may have two weeks off to prepare for Central Michigan, but their offense is replacing their starting RB, their two best WRs, and their most experienced quarterbacks are the kid who stunk as a freshman last year and the guy who moved to TE because he couldn’t beat that kid out for a job. Not likely.
Illinois State beating Colorado State? Are you high? Yes, they beat Northwestern 9-7 two years ago, but they’ve also gone 12-11 the last two seasons after posting a 37-15 record the four years prior. They’d have to return a bunch of starters and improve over last season’s squad just to be a long shot to be competitive in this game, and that’s before you factor in the altitude.
But none of those compares to the suggestion that Alcorn State will beat New Mexico State.
The reasoning is, and I quote, that “Alcorn State has been one of the top two SWAC programs the last four years, and, well, this is New Mexico State that we’re talking about.”
First of all, Alcorn State is one of the better football teams in the SWAC, but the SWAC is one of the worst football conferences in all of FCS, let alone FBS.
Secondly, just because NMSU’s 7-6 record last season was their first successful season in a long time doesn’t prove that it was such a severe fluke that they’re liable to lose to a mediocre SWAC team at home the next season.
You’re talking about a SWAC team that has won their division the last two years while posting an overall record of 12-11, is replacing its starting QB and RB plus most of it’s offensive line, and doesn’t have their lone bye week of the season until the Saturday after this game.
New Mexico State, meanwhile, returns almost everyone from a top-50 defense and will be playing this game at home on Senior Night heading into their second bye week of the season.
The Aggies aren’t about to crap the bed in their final home game, especially when there is no opponent the following week to be looking ahead to.
So how about some other upsets that might actually happen, versus pulling “durr hurr this will stir some shit” out of a hat?
Grambling at Louisiana-Lafayette: I know we just discussed the SWAC, but the Tigers went 11-2 last season, losing their opener against Tulane and their finale in the Celebration Bowl against North Carolina A&T. In between, only four of their eleven wins were by less than two touchdowns, and they return about 98% of their offense from that team. That matters against a Cajuns team that will have a new coach and who knows what else new. A team with turnover at the top could do crazier things than lose their first game of the season.
North Carolina A&T at East Carolina: Similar quality FCS opponent versus an FBS team that was worse than ULL last year and less likely to improve. A loss here has an outside chance of getting Scottie Montgomery fired, and this is one you could easily talk me into.
I’m not saying that either of these upsets is a lock, nor would I even go far enough to suggest betting money on them right now, but even at about 30-40% odds of occurrence, these two upsets are far more likely than Alcorn State or Illinois State.