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TSL’s “Oh Snap! It’s a Trap!” – College Football Upsets

The college football season is off with a bang, and what signifies the "bang" like upsets?  Though football is most definitely a game of inches, these upsets signify that adage more than most.

The college football season is off with a bang, and what signifies the “bang” like upsets?  Though football is most definitely a game of inches, these upsets signify that adage more than most.

Just days ago there were a plethora of prognosticators trying to guess which teams from the Power Five conferences would give up the ghost, and which teams from smaller conferences would swing above their weight class in toppling a Goliath who simply didn’t see that left hook coming.  

Now, with the first season of college football behind us, cable sports network talking heads are scrambling to reconcile their prior predictions with what actually went down.  In the case of these games, nothing was as it seemed. 

South Alabama over Mississippi State, 21-20


Mississippi State was a 28-point favorite over the scrappy Jaguars of South Alabama.  It seemed like everything was over but the crying when the Bulldogs took a 17-point lead into halftime.


Mississippi State quarterback Damian Williams put in work in the first half. That was supposed to be it.  Teams from the Sun Belt Conference aren’t supposed to beat any SEC team, let alone come back from such a deficit, at least not in football.

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But the football deities don’t give a darn about what’s “supposed” to happen and that’s why we love it so much. South Alabama would battle back in the second half.  The Bulldogs would miss a 28-yard chippy from Westin Graves and fall short 21-20.  

Texas A&M over 16th-ranked UCLA, 31-24


Unranked Texas A&M’s defense harassed UCLA QB Josh Rosen all day long, forcing him into three first half turnovers. The Aggies would take a 10-9 lead into halftime and score 14 points in the third quarter before the Bruins would respond with 15 in the fourth to tie the game.

A&M’s defense was the reason for the victory, but a fourth and one scamper by Trevor Knight for the go-ahead score would be the game winner in overtime.  


The Aggies were a three-point favorite at home in College Station, but that doesn’t trump the fact that they were unranked going up against a UCLA football team many thought was greatly improved. It may not be as momentous an upset as some others, but it’s still an upset.

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 Richmond defeats University of Virginia, 37-20

The Richmond Spiders have been getting the “bad end” of the stick against in-state big dogs the University of Virginia in their football competition for a very long time.  Yes, the Spiders are good football team on the level at which they compete, but the last time the FCS (Division 1-AA) Spiders defeated their FBS rivals was in 1946, and they only have two wins overall.  

Most of the victories by the Cavaliers were by an excessive amount of points.  However, it would be Richmond that would be putting up the crazy numbers this time around.  They put up 524 yards of total offense, including 264-yards and three touchdowns from first time starting QB Kurt Benkert.  

Our team expected to win when we left Richmond [on Friday], and we expected to win when we took the field at the start of the game, Spiders head coach Danny Rocco told the Roanoke Times. 



Other upsets from this incredible weekend of action were Wisconsin over 5th-ranked LSU, but it was practically a home game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. So, a tiny-bit of that “mismatch” veneer is worn away due to that fact and the fact that the Badgers are underrated by prognosticators.  


Additionally, No. 15 Houston over No. 3 Oklahoma in convincing fashion is very notable, but Houston was wildly under-ranked walking into the season. Just check the beatdown they administered to Florida State last year in the Peach Bowl. Though they haven’t defeated a team ranked this high since the mid-80s, the Cougars’ victory over a highly- ranked Power conference team is something they’re growing accustomed to. 

Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.