After the excitement of Week 1, the second week of college football rolls in with a less-than-exciting slate of games. There’s also a massive hurricane bearing down on Florida, which caused two of the games I initially considered to be rife with upset potential to be canceled or rescheduled. That leaves us with this slate of games, in which some of the best of the Group of Five have a chance to knock off Power 5 nonconference opponents. And then there’s Howard, because why not?
Ranked team in trouble: Boise State over Washington State. This game is our best shot to see an unranked team beat a ranked one, a feat that happened just once in Week 1, when Maryland toppled Texas. Washington State, ranked No. 20 this week, is a good team, and it impressed last Saturday, blanking Montana 31-0. But Boise State is good, and it too won in Week 1, beating Troy 24-13. The game being played in Pullman doesn’t help Boise’s chances, but Washington State is only favored by 10, and with quarterback Brett Rypien under center, it’s hard to count the Broncos out. The key here will be Boise’s offensive line, which will need to protect Rypien at all costs against a solid defensive front. It’ll have to improve from a week ago, when it allowed Troy’s unit four sacks.
Trendy upset alert: Howard over Kent State. I know, I know. Predicting two straight FBS wins for Howard probably means I need to be committed immediately. But hear me out: In no way am I saying this is super likely to happen. I’m just suggesting you keep an eye on this game in a week with few games with true upset potential. Kent State is coming off a 3-9 season a year ago--it went 2-6 in MAC play--and plays under an interim coach while head man Paul Haynes takes a leave of absence. That’s enough instability, I think, to warrant giving Howard at least a fighting chance after its offense put up 43 against UNLV last week. Howard was a 45-point underdog against the Rebels under new coach Mike London, who has experience coaching at the FBS level, and that didn’t phase it, so why count them completely out this week?
Out of left field: Western Michigan over Michigan State. Michigan State is favored in this one, a home game, by 7.5 points--against a team that proved it could hang with the best in college football for much of last week’s game. Sure, the Spartans beat Bowling Green a week ago, but they’re back in Upset Watch this week after proving not so much against a lesser opponent than the Broncos. There should be plenty of Western Michigan fans representing in East Lansing in the team’s first in-state game of the season, and the Broncos will need to run the ball effectively if they can hope for a win. Another key will be limiting Michigan State’s ground game, as the Spartans have a new mobile quarterback and a stable of experienced rushers.