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  • Will we see another top-five upset this weekend? Unlikely—but these ACC and SEC leaders are prime targets.
By Joan Niesen
October 12, 2017

Last week brought the first big upset of the season, Iowa State’s 38–31 win over Oklahoma, and in a week where each of the top five teams all played unranked conference opponents, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Still, it’s hard to predict one of the best teams in the country losing, and in this week’s Upset Watch, we’ll do no such thing, instead focusing on two top-25 teams that might be a tad overrated and two SEC matchups that could mark a turning point for the programs involved.

Georgia Tech over Miami: Even after its comeback win at Florida State, I remain skeptical of No. 11 Miami. Plus, Georgia Tech is good—and well-rested—coming off three straight wins and a bye week. The game being in Miami doesn’t help the Yellow Jackets’ cause, but Hurricanes leading rusher Mark Walton being out for the season with an ankle injury does. Through four games, Walton had racked up 428 yards on the ground and 91 yards off seven catches. He had more than double the yards of Miami’s next-best back, Travis Homer.

Georgia Tech’s defense has been a pleasant surprise this season—apart from Week 1’s 42–41 overtime loss to Tennessee—and if the Yellow Jackets can keep up the 11.3 points per game pace they have set since then, they’ll have more than a chance against Miami and its shorthanded offense.

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South Carolina over Tennessee: This game has big implications for Tennessee coach Butch Jones—although don’t we say that every week? The Vols stewed over their 41–0 loss to Georgia during the bye week, and if they lose to South Carolina, Jones may not be around for the next game. Losing to South Carolina seems perfectly reasonable after a string of unimpressive performances—Tennessee only beat UMass by four the week before the Georgia embarrassment.

Meanwhile, South Carolina has been better than expected early this season, rolling Arkansas 48–22 last week and knocking off NC State to open the season. The Gamecocks’ losses to Kentucky and Texas A&M indicate there’s a certain amount of inconsistency to contend with here, but facing a first-time starting quarterback in redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano and entering a stadium that is bound to be loaded with angst and frustration, they have a real opportunity to win their second SEC road game this season.

Texas A&M over Florida: These two-loss teams seem pretty evenly matched, especially on defense. Texas A&M has far more offensive weapons, but the effect of a revved-up Swamp at night shouldn’t be overlooked. Still, I think the Gators are on shaky enough ground to drop a second consecutive home game. (It doesn’t help that they’ll be wearing uniforms that are an affront to the eyes.) Their offense remains lackluster, and their defense—apart from the red zone, where it’s been quite good—hasn’t been up to the program’s standards. It’s a risk to ride with the Aggies in any game after the calendar turns to October, but Kevin Sumlin’s offense is averaging 34.3 points per game, and if they can get close to that number, the Gators would have a hard time matching it.

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