Thursday, March 21, 2013
SEC upsets to keep an eye on in 2013
By Edward Aschoff
In keeping with our March Madness theme, I decided to take a look at one area everyone loves about the Big Dance and translate it to the football field: upsets.
We saw some good ones last year, like Louisiana-Monroe upending Arkansas, Texas A&M knocking off No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Louisville embarrassing Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Since anything -- and everything -- can happen on any given Saturday, we'll probably see some fun upsets yet again this fall.
Here are some potential upsets involving SEC teams to look out for in 2013:
Virginia Tech over Alabama, Aug. 31: The Hokies limped through a 7-6 2012 season, but return nine starters on a defense that finished the year ranking 18th nationally in total defense. With four defensive linemen returning, Virginia Tech could give Alabama's new-look offensive line fits in the opener, while quarterback Logan Thomas could make a few plays here and there inside the Georgia Dome.
TCU over LSU, Aug. 31: The Tigers have a lot of holes to fill on defense, and TCU just happens to bring back nine offensive starters. Plus, quarterback Casey Pachall is back. This game will also be played in Arlington, Texas, which is less than 20 miles away from TCU's campus.
Miami over Florida, Sept. 7: The Gators finally get some more meat on their out-of-conference schedule and you better believe the Canes, who have spent the past few years in the shadow of Florida and Florida State, are itching to pull this upset. The game will be played in Sun Life Stadium, so Canes fans should be out in full force.
Western Kentucky over Tennessee, Sept. 7: Bobby Petrino returns to the SEC with his new team with 13 returning starters, including six on offense. After getting zero love from SEC schools during his job hunt, Petrino will be looking to exact some revenge on the league. The Vols have tons of questions to answer and will be adjusting to a new staff. Also, this is a trap game with Oregon next on the schedule.
UCF over South Carolina, Sept. 28: This would be a major upset for the Golden Knights. South Carolina is clearly the better and more talented team, but this is a road game early in the year. UCF is coming off of a 10-win season and returns 11 total starters, including 3,000-yard passer Blake Bortles and five of its top six receivers. The Gamecocks also have a tendency to play down to their competition.
Ole Miss over Texas A&M, Oct. 12: The Rebels choked away a second-half lead in this game last year, so there's plenty of motivation on Ole Miss' side. This game is in Oxford again, too. The Aggies have to replace five starters in their front seven, and the Rebels' explosive offense, which returns eight starters, could be a bad matchup for a younger defense like that.
Arkansas over South Carolina, Oct. 12: Everything is new in Fayetteville, but the Hogs have won three straight at home against the Gamecocks. A physical Bret Bielema team could catch the Gamecocks off guard, and you know that environment will be rocking.
Missouri over Florida, Oct. 19: The Gators will be coming off of what should be a tough, physical game at LSU, and must stay on the road to play these Tigers. Fatigue could set in and if Mizzou can stay healthy, its offense should be better than what we saw last year. Florida's offense still has a bunch of questions and can't afford to let another road environment rattle it.
Vanderbilt over Georgia, Oct. 19: In 2011, the Commodores came very close to pulling this upset. Last year, Vandy was run out of Athens. And we all know how much James Franklin wants this one. A solid defense returns and with the playmakers Vandy has on offense, this team could put some points up on Georgia's younger defense.
Auburn over Alabama, Nov. 30: Yep. This could happen. Alabama is going to lose again and while most are looking at the Tide's trip to College Station as the most likely loss in 2013, don't sleep on Bama's biggest rival. Auburn will be a better team next year and could be a nuisance late in the season. If that offense gets going, the Tigers could really challenge Alabama on the Plains.