Upset Watch: Possible Week 7 Mid-Major and FCS Upsets
There are only two games between Group of Five schools and Power Five teams. An upset in either could have major implications in conference races.
Last week we were left without any chance of a Cinderella upset in college football. October always marks the beginning of conference slates across the country, but it is still rare that there isn’t even one paycheck game on the national calendar between either a Group of Five or FCS school and one of the power-conference programs.
This week we at least get the chance to see two mid-majors taking on Power Five competition. While the hosts will be heavily favored in both cases, an upset in either Atlanta or Baton Rouge would impact conference races. Will the SEC or the ACC get another shakeup from a home upset to a lower-tier team? Let’s dive right in and break down the only two possibilities we have this week for David to topple Goliath. (All kickoff times listed are Eastern.)
Georgia Southern Eagles at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday/12:30 pm)
Last year Georgia needed overtime to fend off the upset bid by longtime FCS powerhouse and Sun Belt neophyte Georgia Southern. Two years ago, when the Eagles first moved up to the FBS ranks, they fell by just four points when they played Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That Yellow Jackets team finished 11-3 and played Florida State in the ACC championship game, so the fact that the upstarts were within a touchdown is quite impressive.
This year’s Georgia Tech team isn’t nearly as good offensively or defensively as the 2014 vintage, and they host the Eagles while on a three-game losing streak. Georgia Southern has had its own issues this year, having lost two straight themselves. The defeat at Western Michigan is understandable given the way the Broncos are playing this year; falling by a point to an Arkansas State team in a down year was not so great.
But Georgia Southern still fields a top-ten rushing attack, and this could be the year they finally claim their first win over Power Five competition since moving up a subdivision. The two teams have comparable defensive numbers, but the Eagles have been far better implementing their option offense than Georgia Tech has this year. The ingredients are there for an upset, and all that remains to be seen is whether or not Tyson Summers and his team can pull off the job.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at LSU Tigers (Saturday/7:30 pm)
The only time that Southern Miss and LSU have squared off against one another prior to this weekend, Curley Hallman was coaching the Tigers against the school that gave him his first head gig. It proved to be his last game as a head coach in the college ranks, as the Golden Eagles continued a history of upsets that began under Hallman. On that day Southern Miss ended LSU’s forgettable 4-7 season with a 20-18 win.
This Southern Miss team has already knocked off one SEC team this season, coming from behind in Week 1 to topple Kentucky 44-35 in Lexington. The Golden Eagles are 4-2 at the midway point of the season, having fallen to Troy out of conference and to UTSA in C-USA play. Senior quarterback Nick Mullens is throwing for over 300 yards and nearly three touchdowns per game, ranking in the top 35 nationally in passing efficiency.
The Golden Eagles are in the top 20 in both yards gained and yards allowed per game, and they have outscored opponents by an average of 13 points per game to this point. If Mullens and the offense can find a way to crack LSU’s top-ten offense, the Tigers probably don’t have the offensive chops this year to hang in a shootout. Were an upset to occur, it might not even matter for the Tigers whether they make up their game against Florida that was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. A win, however, could put Southern Miss back into the longshot discussion for an Access Bowl bid were they to win Conference USA.
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