In addition to my picks of the week entries, I will also be publish my weekly upsets to watch out. Last year I had particular success with longshot underdogs of 10 points or more. I picked one of these teams each week and 10 of 14 covered, and 5 won straight up. These are ordered from smallest underdog to largest, and the value in each parentheses represents the number of points by which each team is currently an underdog according to the World Sports Exchange.
Pittsburgh (+2.0) vs. Utah- This is a solid first week matchup, as both of these teams are conference title contenders in their respective leagues. It should be the only competitive contest on this opening Thursday, but in the end, Dion Lewis should prove too much for Utah’s inexperienced defense.
UCLA (+2.5) vs. Kansas State- This game could go either way, but I go to give the nod to the Bruins here since they have more guys coming back than the Wildcats from a team that was slightly better last season. The irony is that even if UCLA wins, K-State has a much better chance of bowling than the Bruins solely based on each team’s remaining schedule. In fact, this is one of the seven or eight games that the Bruins will be an underdog this season, as they begin their trek through one of the toughest schedules in the country.
UConn (+3.0) vs. Michigan- See analysis for this game in my weekly picks entry.
Washington (+3.0) vs. Brigham Young- See analysis for this game in my weekly picks entry.
Virginia Tech (+3.0) vs. Boise State- I have to reveal my bias here and go ahead and say that I”m hoping and praying that the Broncos win this one. And while I definitely think they can, it’s definitely not going to be easy. Boise hasn’t played a BCS conference team in a full calendar year, so they’ll have to make a lot of adjustments to match wits against the size and strength of the Hokies. Also, this is hardly a neutral site game, as Virginia Tech will be playing in nearby Washington D.C. This contest could go either way, and while I still think Boise should win, it’s hard not to find this line a little enticing.
Double-Digit Longshot of the Week: Oregon State (+13.0) vs. TCU- Sadly enough, it’s quite possible that both of the non-BCS national title contenders (Boise and TCU) could go down in the first week. I love the Horned Frogs this year, but the Beavers are my surprise pick to win the Pac-10, as they return 15 starters (including both Rodgers brothers) from a team that came within a possession of the Pac-10 crown last season.