21 Power Five vs Group of Five Upset Alerts: 21 For 2021 College Football Topics, No. 12

·11 min read

21 for 2021: 21 most dangerous upset alert games for Power Five teams vs. Group of Five programs.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

You want to make a statement as a Group of Five program? You want to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids? Beat the Power Five teams.

The Group of Five – American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt – doesn’t have the success you might think it does against the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

The Gof5ers went 4-8 last season against the P5, and that’s after going 22-81 in 2019.

But they’re there. There are big wins to be had to cripple the seasons of the schools with the big money, bigger names, and snobby expectations.

Here are 21 Group of Five vs. Power Five games to watch out for.

21 for 2021 Preview Topics (so far)
21. Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes for 2021
20. Best Teams To Not Make CFP
19: Teams That Will Rebound Big
18. Teams That Will Fall Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches
15. Expectations For 2nd Year Head Coaches
14. Power 5 Hot Seat Coach Rankings
13. 21 Key Transfers You Need To Know

CFN 2021 Preview: All 130 Team Previews

21 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

21. Syracuse at Ohio, Sept. 4

It’s a new era of Ohio football in the first game after the Frank Solich retirement, but there won’t be any sort of a slowdown. Syracuse is the better team, but it’s a road trip to start the season for a program that hasn’t blocked a pass rush in a few years.
Syracuse Preview | Ohio Preview

20. Georgia Southern at Arkansas, Sept. 18

Curveball game alert. It’s about as big a sandwich as this gets for Arkansas, playing Texas the week before and Texas A&M right after. Georgia Southern is 0-10 against Power Five programs since moving into the full-time FCS world in 2014 – more often than not getting stomped – but if the option attack starts to work like it did against Minnesota in 2019 and Alabama in 2011, this could be interesting.
Arkansas Preview | Georgia Southern Preview

19. Army at Wisconsin, Oct. 16

In theory, Wisconsin is the perfect team to destroy Army. Through the years, the Badgers generally have had problems with the better passing games and hurry-up attacks. Army’s slow, deliberate running game along with a smallish defensive front should be right in Bucky’s wheelhouse. However, if the knuckleball is working, and if Wisconsin is a bit off after playing Notre Dame, Michigan, and Illinois in the Bret Bielema game, there might be problems.
Army Preview | Wisconsin Preview

18. South Carolina at East Carolina, Sept. 11

Call this the puncher’s chance game. South Carolina will get a warm-up against Eastern Illinois to start the Shane Beamer era, but East Carolina should have a dangerous offense that might catch the Gamecocks looking ahead to the SEC road opener to Georgia up next. The last time ECU had a home game against a Power Five program, it rim-rocked North Carolina 41-19 in 2018.
East Carolina Preview | South Carolina Preview

17. Fresno State at Oregon, Sept. 4

Be very, very careful here. Fresno State has a Pac-12-caliber quarterback in Jake Haener leading a high-powered offense that’s going to keep on pushing. It might be the season opener for the Ducks, but their attention might already be on the monster date at Ohio State the following week. Speaking of Pac-12 vs. Big Ten focus …
Fresno State Preview | Oregon Preview

16. Arkansas State at Washington, Sept. 18

Can Washington hit the four-foot putt? The Huskies should be able to roll if they’re fully focused, but this comes right after the trip to Michigan and just before the Pac-12 opener against Cal. Ask 2020 Kansas State what Arkansas State can do – the Red Wolves pulled off a 35-31 shocker – and new head coach Butch Jones has a dangerous team. Speaking of Sun Belt road stunners …
Arkansas State Preview | Washington Preview

NEXT: Top 15 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

Top 15 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

15. Louisiana at Texas, Sept. 4

Louisiana 31, Iowa State 14. Yeah, it really did happen to start the 2020 season – even if the rankings refused to acknowledge the victory all season long – and the 2021 Ragin’ Cajuns come back loaded. This isn’t the layup the Steve Sarkisian era might need or want to kick things off.
Texas Preview | Louisiana Preview

14. Mississippi State at Memphis, Sept. 18

Be mad if there aren’t a bazillion yards of total offense between these two. It’s a dangerous road game for a Bulldog team coming off a big non-conference date against NC State and with the SEC opener against LSU to follow. Memphis is good enough to push for the American Athletic Conference title.
Mississippi State Preview | Memphis Preview

13. Hawaii at Oregon State, Sept. 11

There isn’t the continuousness between the two programs since Nick Rolovich was the head coach at Hawaii – he claimed Oregon State was allegedly recruiting Rainbow Warrior players – but it’s still a key game for both teams. The Beavers can’t afford to lose this with a tough Pac-12 schedule ahead, but Hawaii should have the veteran team to potentially pull this off.
Hawaii Preview | Oregon State Preview

12. Temple at Rutgers, Sept. 4

The two haven’t faced each other since they were both in the American Athletic Conference back in 2013 – and the Big East before that – but watch out. This will be seen as a layup opener for a resurgent Scarlet Knight team under Greg Schiano, but Temple should bounce back fast from a rough run in 2020. There’s enough in place to pull off the season-opening upset.
Temple Preview | Rutgers Preview

11. Indiana at WKU, Sept. 25

You never, ever, ever like being the Power Five program going on the road to face a jacked up Group of Five team. WKU already had the defense in place – and it almost all returns in 2021 – and now the offense should be a high-flying passing game fun show. The Hilltoppers will get two games to warm up, and IU might not exactly be focused after facing Cincinnati and with a trip to Penn State to follow.
Indiana Preview | WKU Preview

NEXT: Top 10 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

Top 10 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

10. Buffalo at Nebraska, Sept. 11

It might have been a few years ago, but Troy shocked Nebraska in 2018 and Northern Illinois pulled off a win in Lincoln in 2017. This isn’t as strong a Buffalo team as last year’s, and it’s a new era with a new coaching staff, but it’s still going to be in the mix for the MAC title. Worse yet, put the Huskers on letdown alert coming off the Big Ten opener against Illinois and the trip to Oklahoma to follow.
Buffalo Preview | Nebraska Preview

9. Appalachian State at Miami, Sept. 11

You want nothing to do with Appalachian State if you’re Miami. The Mountaineers have the talent and experience to win the Sun Belt title, the running game will be dangerous, and few Group of Five programs have the attitude to win a game like this. There’s a bigger issue for the Canes – what kind of shape will they be in after playing Alabama the week before?
Miami Preview | Appalachian State Preview

8. Houston vs. Texas Tech, Sept. 4 (in Houston)

The Dana Holgorsen era at Houston desperately needs a signature win. The pre-Holgorsen Cougars put up a fun fight in a 63-49 loss to Texas Tech in 2018 and lost 27-24 in 2017. This year’s team is loaded with veterans and talent, and it’s a season opener without a warm-up for the Red Raiders. It’s going to be a shootout.
Texas Tech Preview | Houston Preview

7. Oklahoma State at Boise State, Sept. 18

Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy has been terrific against Group of Five programs … usually. There was the shocking 30-27 loss to Central Michigan in 2016, and before that was a loss to Houston in 2009. Both of those were at home, and now the Cowboys have to travel in a true fish-out-of-water game as part two of the home-and-home after beating Boise State in Stillwater in 2018. It’s a huge spotlight date for the Mountain West on the same day as …
Oklahoma State Preview | Boise State Preview

6. Nevada at Kansas State, Sept. 18

Be really, really afraid of Nevada. It has one of the nation’s best passing games led by excellent NFL quarterback prospect Carson Strong, and it’s not going to blink at a road game at Kansas State. The Wolf Pack beat Oregon State in 2018, Strong and company pushed past Purdue in 2019, and Kansas State isn’t above a rough non-conference home loss – it dropped the date against Arkansas State last season. Keeping with the Mountain West big game theme …
Nevada Preview | Kansas State Preview

NEXT: Top 5 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

Top 5 College Football Group of Five vs. Power Five Upset Alerts

5. Vanderbilt at Colorado State, Sept. 11

Can Colorado State make a statement to get the Steve Addazio era going? After a tough first season, he should have the parts in place on both sides of the ball to be far, far better. It gets a warm-up against South Dakota State to prepare for a Vandy program that hasn’t won a road game since the middle of 2018. And if that wasn’t enough pressure put on the Mountain West to come up with an important non-conference win …
Vanderbilt Preview | Colorado State Preview

4. San Diego State at Arizona, Sept. 11

Arizona is in full-on rebuilding mode. There might be a few nice players in place – there’s Pac-12 talent under new head coach Jedd Fisch – but this should be a rock-solid San Diego State team under Brady Hoke, with one of the best defenses in the Mountain West and a grinding ground game to control things from the start. It’s one of the few games on this list that should see the Group of Five program as the favorite.
Arizona Preview | San Diego State Preview

3. UCF at Louisville, Sept. 17

The Gus Malzahn era at UCF will have a spotlight game against Boise State to open up the season, but this is when the team should be in a groove. The Knights have the offense to blow up against anyone, they’re not going to be the slightest bit fazed by facing an ACC team – even in a down 2020, they beat Georgia Tech 49-21 and are 5-2 in their last seven games against Power Five programs.
UCF Preview | Louisville Preview

2. Kansas at Coastal Carolina, Sept. 11

Come on, Kansas? You can’t get threezied by Coastal Carolina.

A Power Five program losing three years in a row to the same Group of Five program?! That can NOT happen … but it probably will.

The Chanticleers shocked the Jayhawks 12-7 early in the 2019 season, came up with a stifling 38-23 victory to start 2020, and now they get a Power Five program in their house. Almost everyone is back to pull it off.
Kansas Preview | Coastal Carolina Preview

1. Cincinnati at Indiana, Sept. 18

The two schools are only 130 miles apart – that’s nothing in college football non-conference distance world – but it’s only the seventh meeting and the first since 2000. The Bearcats lost the last five after taking the first game 21-0 back in 1957.

It was the knock against the great 2020 Bearcat team – it didn’t beat any Power Five programs. It was able to roll through the regular season and it pushed Georgia in the Peach Bowl, but couldn’t get the job done. However, the 2019 team beat both Boston College and UCLA and the 2018 squad dropped the Bruins and Virginia Tech.

None of those UC teams had the expectations, talent, or the high ranking that this one will.

The American Athletic Conference slate won’t be easy, but the two toughest games – UCF and SMU – are at home. Win this against IU, and two weeks later the hype will be through the roof for the showdown at Notre Dame.
Indiana Preview | Cincinnati Preview

21 for 2021 Preview Topics (so far)
21. Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes for 2021
20. Best Teams To Not Make CFP
19: Teams That Will Rebound Big
18. Teams That Will Fall Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches
15. Expectations For 2nd Year Head Coaches
14. Power 5 Hot Seat Coach Rankings
13. 21 Key Transfers You Need To Know

CFN 2021 Preview: All 130 Team Previews