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2015 Potential Non-conference Upsets

By Kenzie Stanford
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Only time will tell what the potential is for upsets in the Sun Belt's non-conference games, but there is no doubt that a few of these matchups will be interesting to watch as the season takes flight.

After taking a look at the release of the 2015 Sun Belt Conference schedule, we have had some time to wrap our heads around what this season of college football is going to look like.

But where there is talent, there is also the lingering possibility of potential upsets – both in conference and nonconference matchups. The schedules always have games set to match up the “big dogs” against the “underdogs” in nonconference play – but what is the likelihood that a Sun Belt team could upset a team from the "boss" conferences? We have seen it before, but will we see it again in 2015?

To set the stage for what this season is going to look like in terms of Sun Belt teams playing larger conference teams, let’s take a look at some of the featured matchups:

·      Appalachian State – Clemson 

·      Arkansas State – Missouri

·      Georgia Southern – Georgia

·      Georgia State – Oregon

·      Idaho – Auburn & USC

·      New Mexico State – Florida & Ole Miss

·      South Alabama – NC State

·      Texas State – Florida State

·      Troy – Mississippi State

·      Lousiana – Kentucky

·      Louisiana-Monroe – Georgia & Alabama

There are games that make us want to cringe at the thought of the potential outcome, but there are also others that have some hope. For starters, bless Idaho and the beat-down that the Vandals are likely to take from both Auburn and USC. Seriously, that is a nightmare that I’m sure they will be itching to wake up from in the future. And that is also the case with New Mexico State against two powerhouse teams like Florida and Ole Miss.

Also, taking a look at ULM playing both Georgia and Alabama is a doozy. Teams like that don’t tend to run up the score, but the only thing that will save ULM is its defense. The Warkawks will most likely get run out of Athens, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t give the Dawgs a little trouble on that side of the ball.

But looking at the most likely upsets is another story. There are a few games that have question marks around them which should make for a solid game to watch.

I think that a game like Louisiana against Kentucky is one that could be a possible upset. The Cajuns have been consistently at the top of the Sun Belt for a while, so to take them out of the game against Kentucky is a mistake.

There’s also the Arkansas State game against Mizzou. This game stands out to me because it is on the Red Wolves’ home turf and they have talent to line up against the Tigers. Arkansas State is going to have a veteran roster this year and to underestimate them could be dangerous for Missouri. Head coach Blake Anderson will have the experience that he has been developing for a lethal offense, and this game will give the Tigers a serious headache.

But then there is Georgia Southern playing Georgia. This could be a stretch – but I’m sure we heard the same murmurs about the Eagles' upset against Florida at the end of the 2013 season. This year would be the perfect time for GSU to take its turn against UGA with the Dawns bringing in both a new quarterback and offensive coordinator. We could have seen the Eagles upset both Georgia Tech and NC State last season if it weren’t for their turnover ratio toward the end of the games. If the odds roll in their favor, then there is nothing saying that Georgia Southern can’t potentially go head-to-head against an SEC powerhouse like UGA.

Maybe the stars will align and these games will make headlines in the 2015 season. Only time will tell what the potential is for upsets in these nonconference games, but there is no doubt that a few of these matchups will be interesting to watch as the season takes flight.

Kenzie Stanford - Kenzie Stanford is a Georgia Southern student and Atlanta native who spent her summer as an intern at Turner Sports and spent her last semester as the Sports Director for WVGS 91.9 “The Buzz.” She was apart of the women’s soccer team at Georgia Southern, but her passion for sports goes far beyond that. Per her graduation in May, she is planning to keep the dream alive and work in the sports industry. Watch for Kenzie’s coverage of the Sun Belt Conference and Georgia Southern University here at Southern Pigskin.