Five teams on Upset Alert in Week One

Just one day away from kickoff in Week One of the college football season, sports bettors are putting their money where their mouth is, hoping to cash in on the biggest and most unpredictable slate of games the regular season has to offer. Here is a look at five teams on upset alert on the opening weekend.

1. Toledo at Illinois (-9.5)

Topping the list on upset alert is Illinois, who hosts Toledo. The Rockets are a sleeping giant in the Mid-American Conference. QB Dequan Finn is what makes them go. The dual-threat fifth-year junior is a headache for opposing teams, when healthy. However, Finn did a have a habit of trying to make too much happen at times, throwing 12 interceptions a year ago. Maintaining his ability to rack up passing and rushing yards and not turn the ball over will be crucial, especially against a defense that ranked second in the nation in takeaways.

Now as for why Illinois may be on upset alert, last yearʻs 8-5 record was surprising, but can it be sustained? The Fighting Illini have not had back-to-back winning seasons since 2010-11, but the belief is that if anyone can do it, Bret Bielema can.

Winning the turnover battle and time of possession are the fundamentals of the program. The number-one ranked defense last year, looks a lot different now. Four starting defensive backs went pro along with top tackler Isaac Darkangelo. Up front, the Illini look really strong.

On the offense is where the concern lies. Illinois will not have 1,600 yard rusher Chase Brown. They will also be starting Ole Miss transfer Luke Altmyer at quarterback, who completed 51 percent of attempted passes and had three touchdowns to three interceptions over two years with the Rebels. Statistically, Illinois was not great on third down, even with Brown in the backfield. The Illini converted 38 percent of third downs (78th) and go up a against a Toledo defense that ranked 26th in the nation at preventing third down conversions (33.6 percent).

I canʻt imagine a more intriguing Week One matchup for Toledo, a team that knows how talented they are and are chomping at the bit to make a statement.

2. Stanford (-3.5) at Hawaii

One week ago, Stanford was a touchdown favorite on the road against Hawaii. Well things have certainly changed. If you were watching this line closely it would have been wise to pick up Hawaii +6.5 on Sunday afternoon before the major movement. The reason for such a drop? We have seen the new Hawaii.

Timmy Chang, slowly but surely, is building the Braddahhood back up and it starts at the position that was once his own, quarterback. Brayden Schager was impressive last saturday against Vanderbilt, to say the least. Despite two critical interceptions, Schagerʻs night was one of the best in Week Zero. The sophomore from Dallas currently leads the nation in passing yards and has a QB rating of 178. His top target was freshman Pofele Ashlock, who came out of nowhere to burn the Vanderbilt defense for 127 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Kansas transfer Steven McBride added 98 yards and two scores on seven catches. Even after a tough loss in tough conditions, Hawaiiʻs previous performances could spell concern for Stanford

Not to menion:

The Cardinal are in a really tough spot. Stanford is looking down the barrel of not having a conference to play in next year and need to show some improvement in order to boost their case that they are still a contending Power 5 team. And that is a job Troy Taylor is willing to take on. The first-year head coach comes from FCS Sacramento State, where he lead the Hornets to 30 wins over three seasons.

It will sure be tough, as Taylor inherits a team that returns just 35 percent of its productivity, according to ESPN. That number ranks 129th out of 133 schools. Ouch.

The bright spot on offense is running back EJ Sanders, the son of Emmitt. And the bright spot on defense is, if there is one, the defensive line. Other than that it will be a lot of experimenting this year for Stanford at all positions and all sides of the ball. Which doesnʻt bode well against a team with one game under its belt, at home, and on the rise. Welcome to the upset alert, Stanford.

3. Clemson (-13) at Duke

Monday night, home-opener, conference game, against Clemson, following up a 9-4 season…this matchup screams upset alert in Durham.

Duke has not beaten Clemson since 2004, but coach Mike Elko believes that will change. The confidence is in the defense, with an exceptional pass rush and solid squad of defensive backs, it wonʻt be all that easy for Cade Klubnik to shred it apart.

Offensively, the Blue Devils are riding with much of the some players from last season. Riley Leonard, who led the team in passing and rushing returns at quarterback and is accompanied by three talented running backs led by Jordan Waters.

Clemson is going to bring a big fight, but with the backing of a home crowd, Week One might end with a surprising result.

4. Fresno State at Purdue (-3.5)

Despite not having Jake Haener, Fresno State should not see a significant drop-off results-wise from a 10-win season and Mountain West championship.

Haenerʻs replacement will be UCF transfer Mikey Keene. Keene threw 17 touchdowns in 2021 and has the ability to lead the offense even without a strong option at wide receiver. Jaelen Gill comes in from Boston College and should be impactful right away. As for running back, Jordan Mims is gone, but a rotation of Malik Sherrod and Devon Rivers should suffice.

The real question is Purdue. Ryan Walters enters his first season in West Lafayette and it might take some time for this team to become a contender. Walters is a defensive-minded coach, which is great, but does he have the guys to take the team to new heights? Cam Allen is a name to watch at safety, but the rest of the lineup is very much a new crew from different schools.

Will those holes open up opportunities for Fresno? I believe so. Put Purdue on upset alert.

5. Nebraska at Minnesota (-7)

Of course I had to add this one. A classic, over-hyped Nebraska season-opener against a Minnesota team that I am totally confused about.

Remember when PJ Fleck came under some criticism this offseason for how he ran things? That might sting. He also has a defense that didnʻt get to the quarterback nearly enough and a quarterback who may not be guns-blazing right away. The Gopher defense totaled just 19 sacks in 2022 which was tied with Akron and Cal for 111th.

Athan Kaliakmanis played in 11 games last year and completed more than ten passes in one such game, a magical road win against rival Wisconsin. Will he be ready to go against a new look Nebraska team?

This is a new Nebraska. Scrap the Scott Frost project, the Huskers brought in one of the best rebuilders of our time, Matt Rhule. Rhule did an exceptional job of turning around Temple and Baylor in his past, and this is the next project. There is a veteran offensive line protecting a good-but-not-great Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims at quarterback. Anthony Grant ran for nearly 1,000 yards in 2022 and should be able to eclipse that this season.

The defensive backs group is loaded for Nebraska with Marques Buford, Quinton Newsome and Isaac Gifford being some of the best. Up front, Nebraska will have to fill in the void of NFL departures Ochaun Mathis and Garrett Nelson. On the bright side, Ty Robinson will be the stronghold at nose tackle.

I believe Nebraska is all systems go right away with two road tests to begin the season and put the Gophers on upset alert.

Also Worth Mentioning

Northern Iowa at Iowa State

Rhode Island at Georgia State

Florida at Utah (-4)

South Alabama at Tulane (-6.5)

Akron at Temple (-9.5)

Get the latest sports news via Fantom Sports Industries. Follow us on Twitter via @Fantom_sports. Like us on Facebook via Fantom Sports Industries. Subscribe to our YouTube channel via Fantom Sports. Subscribe to our Newsletter! Shop Fantom Sports Industries Merch. 

Invest in your favorite athletes like stocks with “Prediction Strike!” Use code FANTOM when you sign up.