July 09, 2010
In its ongoing efforts to prevent Oklahoma State mega-booster T. Boone Pickens from hosting their efforts at a high-tech ranch stocked with barbecue and swimsuit models, the Doc Saturday crew forecasts this fall's most likely mid-major upsets over the "Big Six." For entertainment purposes only, unless they come true, in which case we are prophetic geniuses. Part of the Doc's Mid-Major Week.
Matt Hinton: Tulsa over Oklahoma State (Sept. 18).
The Golden Hurricane have dropped 19 straight in Stillwater, and haven't beaten an Oklahoma State outfit that finished with more than six wins anywhere since 1958. In fact, in the BCS era, they haven't beaten any team from a "Big Six" conference (0-20) since taking out the Cowboys in Tulsa in 1998.
That can only mean the Hurricane are due, especially against a notoriously forgiving OSU defense replacing seven starters, three in the secondary. Tulsa has Big 12-caliber talent in quarterback G.J. Kinne (a Texas transfer) and diminutive receiver/returner/part-time international assassin Demaris Johnson, who I believe moonlighted as a ninja-for-hire last year in addition to leading the nation in all-purpose yards. OSU is totally rebuilding both sides of the ball and could be in for a sobering early message for the rest of the season.
Holly Anderson: UTEP over Arkansas (Nov. 13).
Stay with me here: This is UTEP we're talking about, the team that last season lost to Buffalo, beat Houston, then lost to Memphis just to aggravate the general viewing public. The Miners are agents of pickaze-wielding chaos wherever they go, and they return one Donald Buckram, last season's fourth-leading rusher in the nation, to meet a Razorback defense ranked 73rd nationally against the run in 2009. To continue this demented fantasy, let's posit that Arkansas will be undefeated up to this point and will take its one non-conference loss but still make the SEC Championship Game, a game it will lose to South Carolina out of the East. You heard it hear first. (E-mail address is at the bottom; send your slings and arrows thataway.)
Honorable Mention: Ball State over Iowa (Sept. 25), because any team that loses as many running backs as the Hawkeyes seem to on an annual basis is going to run into a buzzsaw sooner or later, and Ball State has to win a game against an actual football team at some point, just by the aw of averages. And Temple over Penn State (Sept. 25), because being the MAC favorite ought to mean something, dammit.
Doug Gillett: Troy over Oklahoma State (Sept. 11).
The Trojans have already knocked off T. Boone's darlings once, a 2007 upset in Troy in which the Trojans were leading 41-10 before OSU put a pair of meaningless touchdowns on the board in the fourth quarter. So it's not hard to see Troy pulling the same trick this year in Stillwater, considering that the Cowboys' offense has been gutted by the NFL (QB Zac Robinson, RB Keith Toston, and WR Dez Bryant are all gone) and the O-line returns just one starter from '09. Troy has its own work to do replacing QB Levi Brown, but this is the kind of game in which they've proven they know how to hold their own.
Honorable mention: Middle Tennessee State over Minnesota (Sept. 2). The Gophers take an unusual road trip to Murfreesboro on the first Saturday of the season, and if you'll recall, that didn't work out so hot for Maryland two years ago. (And that was a decent Maryland team that went to a bowl, not last year's 2-10 bottom-feeder.) MTSU returns 10 offensive starters, including jauntily named QB Dwight Dasher, from a team that hit 10 wins for the first time in program history; Minnesota, meanwhile, faces another major rebuilding project on defense and has already given indications that Tim Brewster might be a dead man walking by the end of the season.
Chris Brown: Northern Illinois over Minnesota (Sept. 25).
Last season, Minnesota's leading rusher totaled a mere 376 yards, while Northern Illinois returns its top two rushers, Chad Spann (1,031 yards, 19 touchdowns) and the sonorously named Me'co Brown (645 yards). Couple this run game disparity with the Huskies' fairly stout defense (30th in scoring defense last season) and Minnesota's futility in the passing game after current Denver Bronco Eric Decker went down with an injury, and I think NIU follows last year's win at Purdue with its second upset over the Big Ten in as many years. And if beating the Gophers isn't in the cards? NIU plays the fighting Zookers of Illinois the week before, likely even easier prey.
Honorable Mention One: Fresno State over Brian Kelly-less Cincinnati (Sept. 4). Wait, this counts as an upset, right?
Honorable Mention Two: Any "Big 12" team that Kansas, Iowa State, or Baylor (or Missouri, too, really) – all of whom were on the brink of mid-major or independent oblivion – manage to beat this year.
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Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.