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College football forecast: USC upset, what's next?

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

September 30, 2017 09:03 AM
Fifth-ranked USC closed as a 5-point favorite Friday night. Sam Darnold and the Trojans were toppled 30-27 at Washington State.
© USA Today Sports Images

When the mighty fall and fans storm the field, college football is at its best. Sam Darnold is the latest victim in a rash of early-season ‘dog attacks.

Teams in the Top 10 continue to tumble. Ohio State and Oklahoma State were the first to go down. An overhyped Southern California team, which luckily escaped an upset attempt by Texas two weeks ago, finally was exposed under the Friday night lights in Pullman, Wash.

Darnold, a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite who will not win the award, was sacked and lost a fumble in the final two minutes of Washington State’s 30-27 victory over No. 5 USC, which closed as a 5-point favorite. Darnold has thrown eight interceptions in five games. It’s never easy to live up to the hype.

Cougars coach Mike Leach offered a classic line during the postgame celebration, saying, “It's like Woodstock except everybody's got their clothes on.”

Is another top team about to get exposed?

Second-ranked Clemson is on upset alert Saturday, when coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers roll into Blacksburg for a night game against No. 12 Virginia Tech.

The Tigers proved they are legit by pounding Louisville in a mid-September road game. This will be a more serious test, because the Hokies have a dual-threat quarterback and a great defense. In fact, the matchup features two of the nation’s sharpest defensive coordinators in Clemson’s  Brent Venables and Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster.

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant will be making just his second road start. He passed the first test with ease. Bryant is limited as a passer, throwing for only two touchdowns in four games, but he has rushed for 268 yards and seven touchdowns. Foster’s defense has allowed 10.3 points per game, with 24 surrendered in the Hokies’ season-opening win over West Virginia.

The Tigers’ defensive front, arguably the nation’s strongest, had no problems with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Up next is Josh Jackson, an emerging star. Virginia Tech’s quarterback has passed for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns with one interception, while adding 144 yards on the ground.

The Hokies should put up a great fight on their home field and look dangerous as 7½-point underdogs.

Saturday’s plays: Iowa (plus-4) over MICHIGAN STATE; WAKE FOREST (plus-7½) over Florida State; Georgia (-8½) over TENNESSEE; VIRGINIA TECH (plus-7½) over Clemson; HAWAII (plus-7) over Colorado State.

Last week: 4-5 against the spread

Season: 16-17

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