Upset Watch: Possible Week 11 Mid-Major and FCS Upsets

Navy knocked off Notre Dame in Week 10. Which Group of Five or FCS team might upset a Power Five school in Week 11 play this weekend?

Last week, Georgia Southern ran out of steam in its upset bid against Ole Miss. After taking a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, the Eagles were outscored 34-13 in the last 45 minutes of a 37-27 defeat in Oxford. At least they had a chance, something that could never be said about FCS Tennessee Tech when they took on the their state’s flagship school in Knoxville.

Then there was the game in Jacksonville, Florida between a team from Maryland and a team from Indiana. Playing on a neutral field, Navy knocked off rival Notre Dame in a close contest by a single point. Though the Fighting Irish are nowhere near as good as other recent vintages, they remain a brand name opponent that offers significant bragging rights for any mid-major that manages to knock them off.

Who might it be this week that pulls off the upset? Two religiously-oriented independents take on a service academy and an FCS school this weekend. While only one of these constitutes an actual game against Power Five competition, they both merit a look in the Mid-Major Upset Watch for Week 11. (All times listed are Eastern.)

Sep 1, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Southern Utah Thunderbirds quarterback Tannon Pedersen (10) passes the ball in the second quarter against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

FCS Southern Utah at BYU (Saturday/3:00 pm)

There are four Division I schools in the Beehive State, and it has become tradition for some of the FBS programs in the state to take on the lone FCS school each season. Southern Utah has already faced (and been shut out by) Utah in the season opener, and now they get the opportunity to play BYU in Provo. Both schools are 5-4 at this point of the season, but BYU had reached that point by playing a much tougher schedule.

Were the Thunderbirds to pull off the win at LaVell Edwards Stadium, it might prove to be an upset like few others we’ve seen this season. The question is really which team will win the turnover battle. BYU is ranked fourth nationally in the FBS in turnover margin; Southern Utah is ranked 12th nationally in the FCS in the same category. Expect the Cougars to become bowl eligible on Saturday afternoon, but don’t sleep on the Thunderbirds either.

Nov 5, 2016; West Point, NY, USA; Army Black Knights defensive back Rhyan England (20) reacts to a call against the Air Force Falcons during the first half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army at Notre Dame (Saturday/3:30 pm)

Last week it was Navy’s chance to take down the Fighting Irish. This week it will be another service academy taking a shot at dealing Notre Dame yet another upset loss. Army has tapered off after opening the season strong in September, but the Black Knights are still just one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2010 and just their second time in the 21st century. Given Notre Dame’s struggles this year, a win in South Bend isn’t inconceivable.

Army is currently ranked last in the country in passing yards per game, but for a team whose identity centers on the triple-option run game that means little. The Black Knights rank second nationally in rushing, and features a defense that ranks in the top 15 nationally by allowing only 18.1 points per game. This should be a close contest that could come down to the wire, just like last week’s Notre Dame game.

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