Week 1 Fireworks: MAC Upsets Brewing
By Thomas Delves
Week one of the college football season is great for two reasons.
The first reason is that it means college football is back! You get to cheer on your favorite school with optimism and expectations through the roof. Speaking of expectations, week one is usually full of one-sided matchups as major conferences square off with smaller ones.
The second reason that week one is great? Upsets. A squad that won no games last season has the same record as its opponent in week one.
This season kicks off with three Mid-American Conference matchups that scream upset. It might only be April, but I am ready to place these games on alert.
Aug. 29: Bowling Green at Western Kentucky
Last season, the Falcons went 10-4 (7-1 MAC) and were 2-2 in non-conference games. The Hilltoppers went 8-4 and beat Kentucky in their season opener. The reason I like this matchup is Bowling Green's defense. Ranked fifth in points allowed per game last season (15.9) the Falcons should be able to shut down Western Kentucky's offense, especially after losing Antonio Andrews to the NFL Draft.
Both teams return their starting quarterbacks — Matt Johnson for Bowling Green and Brandon Doughty for Western, but Falcons running back Travis Greene is primed for a huge season. After rushing for almost 1,600 yards a year ago, Greene is ready to boost his workload in an offense that isn't scared to hand off the ball.
Look for Bowling Green to control the clock and the ball. This wouldn't be a shocking upset, but an upset nonetheless.
Aug. 30: Marshall at Miami (Ohio) University
This would be a shock to open the season with a team that beat no one a year ago starting 2014 with a win. Marshall beat Miami (Ohio), 52-14, to open 2013, but so much has changed with the Miami program.
Miami brings a new coach in Chuck Martin to the table as well as a talented quarterback in Andrew Hendrix. This combo, as well as some of their talented returning skill players, could make the difference. If Martin can develop an offense to stay on the field (a big problem last year) that should aide the defense in stopping someone.
Miami needs to come out clicking on all cylinders and the Herd needs to stumble out of the gates, but optimism and expectations are high in Oxford.
Aug. 30: Western Michigan at Purdue
These were two really bad football teams in 2013. Western and Purdue both finished 1-11 and allowed an average of more than 35 points per game. The big difference coming into this season is that Western brings in the No.1 recruiting class in the MAC, while Purdue has the second-worst recruiting class in the Big Ten. Western was tied for 59th in recruiting this offseason while Purdue was 72nd (ranking provided by Rivals.com).
This will give a much-needed fresh look to the Broncos while Purdue will be stuck at the bottom of the Big Ten. Western will have to bring its 'A' game, but this is a realistic upset to start the season.