Every team has games where they’re expected to win but are somehow upset. Sometimes it’s because they look past those teams, sometimes the other teams want it more or sometimes it’s just a bad game for the favored team. In this post, we’ll look at the potential upsets in the ACC.
Boston College – Potential upset: Week two at UCF
Anytime a BCS team plays at a non-BCS team, it can always be considered a trap game. What doesn’t help the Eagles is that UCF is 11-3 the last two years at home. The Knights return seven starters on offense including Conference USA Freshman of the Year QB Jeff Godfrey. The sophomore threw for 2,159 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, while being one of three Knights who rushed for at least 10 touchdowns. He rushed for 10 scores and 566 yards. Last year’s top two rushers also return. Ronnie Weaver rushed for 890 yards and 11 scores, while Latavious Murray has 637 yards and 11 touchdowns. They also bring back 2009 leading rusher Brynn Harvey, who rushed for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns in ’09 before suffering an injury last year. So needless to say, Boston College needs to stop the run to win.
Clemson – Potential Upset: Week one vs. Troy
Yes, Clemson gets the Trojans at home. But that isn’t the reason they’re a prime candidate to get upset. The Clemson offense is going to have to replace a lot of stars, including quarterback and running back. Tajh Boyd takes over the signal caller duties from Kyle Parker, who decided to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. One thing the depleted Tiger defense, which brings back only five starters, will have to do is contain Davey O’Brien candidate, quarterback Corey Robinson. Last year, Robinson threw for 3,726 yards and 28 touchdowns. Leading rusher Shawn Southward also returns after rushing for 623 yards and seven touchdowns. The Tiger offense will have to stop star defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, who had a HUGE coming out season as a sophomore, compiling 76 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. But it all goes as the Clemson offense goes. If Boyd and Co. have a smooth transition, should be a win. If not, upset alert will be on.
Duke – Potential Upset: Week five at Florida International
Like Boston College, this is a trap game, as the Blue Devils go on the road for this nonconference tilt. The Golden Panthers are coming off of their first bowl appearance and win and bring back a potent running attack. It’s the rushing attack. FIU averaged 187.5 yards per game last season – a jump of 83.2 yards per game from 2009. The top four tailbacks return, and while Darriet Perry ran for 839 yards and 16 TDs last season, he again will share time with Darian Mallary and Jeremiah Harden. As a trio, they combined for 1,845 yards and 19 TDs last season. Senior WR T.Y. Hilton is FIU’s best player; he’s also the best player in the Sun Belt. The guy is electric with the ball in his hands. Hilton had 59 receptions for 848 yards and five TDs last season, and he ran for another 282 yards and four scores. He has 5,602 all-purpose yards, third-most among active players. The secondary star is FS Jonathan Cyprien, who had a team-high 113 tackles last season. Duke returns 17 starters, including eight on offense. If Sean Renfree doesn’t improve on his TD:INT ratio, having two star receivers back might not matter.
Florida State – Potential upset: Week 11 vs. Virginia
This could be a game ripe for an upset for three reasons: it’s a week after the game against Miami; it’s Homecoming; and it’s a week before the game with Florida. Now Virginia does bring back 17 starters from 2010, so Mike London’s second year might be better than his rookie campaign. But they will have to do it with a new quarterback. Luckily for the Cavs, eight offensive and nine defensive starters return. Perry Jones rushed for 646 yards on 137 carries and Kris Burd caught 58 passes for 799 yards and five touchdowns. Luckily for the Seminoles, 18 starters return, including three offensive lineman, both running backs and all three wide receivers.
Georgia Tech – Potential upset: Week 11 vs. Duke
This could be a trap because it comes after games against Va Tech, Miami and Clemson and is a week before Georgia. Duke returns 17 starters, including eight on offense. The leader of the offense, quarterback Sean Renfree returns for his second year as starting quarterback. While he completes almost two-thirds of his passes, he has to throw more touchdowns than interceptions, something he didn’t do last year. What will help the redshirt junior is the return of his top three playmakers, running back Desmond Scott and wide receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner. Scott led the team in rushing with 530 yards and 120 carries and added three touchdowns. Because he is also a weapon out of the backfield and also a kick returner. Scott finished with 1,083 all-purpose yards. Varner will be looking to bounce back from a 2010 season that saw him finish with 736 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers were down considerably from the 1,047 and eight touchdowns he had in 2009. Vernon, on the other hand, saw his numbers grow and finished with an impressive stat line of 73 grabs for 973 yards and four touchdowns. He is also an all-purpose threat. The Jackets lose their top two rushers from last year, but bring back three players that saw significant action in their backfield. They do, however, lose all four defensive backfield starters. Hopefully by this time, they will have the position settled. If not, watch for the Blue Devils to pull a surprise.
Maryland – Potential upset: Week nine vs. Virginia
Virginia does bring back 17 starters from 2010, so Mike London’s second year might be better than his rookie campaign. But they will have to do it with a new quarterback. Luckily for the Cavs, eight offensive and nine defensive starters return. Perry Jones rushed for 646 yards on 137 carries and Kris Burd caught 58 passes for 799 yards and five touchdowns. The Terps bring in a new coach in Randy Edsall, but return 13 starters, including last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year, quarterback Danny O’Brien. The offense also returns all four offensive line starters, as well as two running backs. Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams also form a formidable backfield tandem. Meggett posted a team-high 720 rushing yards in 2010, while Adams posted a freshman school-record 11 rushing TDs. They need to replace last year’s top receivers, but you would think that’s possible by week nine.