The opening week of the college football season brought with it plenty of surprises, but it also reinforced one certainty we at the Underdogs Poll carried into the season: The road to the top of the mountain in the Group of Five runs through Houston.
|4||San Diego State||50||3|
|Dropped out: Marshall, Temple, Air Force, Cincinnati | Others receiving votes: Central Florida (4), Temple (4), Marshall, (4), Tulsa (3), Middle Tennnessee State (2), Army (2), Air Force (1)|
For UH's primary contenders in the Mountain West, the "upset" over Oklahoma presents a problem because neither the Broncos or Aztecs face an opponent of a similar caliber in 2016.
Washington State, which visits the blue turf on Saturday, just faceplanted against FCS Eastern Washington. Northern Illinois got upended by Wyoming -- more on that in a moment. A long winning streak may not matter as long as Houston remains undefeated, though obviously it remains to be seen just how much influence any loss will affect the teams at the top.
And things could, in fact, break in both teams' favors, as South Alabama cracked the top 15 following their big win over Mississippi State and both Oregon State and BYU played well on the road last Saturday. If the weekend's games were an indication, anything is possible.
At the tail end of this week's poll, you might think that your eyes are deceiving you, but the Cowboys earned just enough votes from their gutsy late-night win against NIU to leap into the rankings. A competitive showing next Saturday against Nebraska could be enough for the Pokes to hang around another week or two, as many of our voters seem okay with rewarding competitive losses (see Appalachian State, Louisiana Tech).
Underdogs of the Week
Dallas Davis, QB, South Alabama - 24-of-34, 285 yards passing, two touchdowns in a 21-20 win at Mississippi State
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU - 21-of-29, 202 yards passing, 37 yards rushing, one touchdown in an 18-16 win at Arizona
Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP - 31 carries, 249 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards, two touchdowns in a 38-22 win vs. New Mexico State
Greg Ward, Jr., QB, Houston - 23-of-40, 321 yards passing, two touchdowns in a 33-23 win vs. Oklahoma.
Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky - 25-of-31, 517 yards passing, three touchdowns in a 46-14 win vs. Rice
Thomas Woodson, QB, Akron - 23-of-32, 407 yards passing, six touchdowns in a 47-24 win vs. VMI
Top Underdogs Games of Week 2 (all times PT)
Central Michigan vs. #21 Oklahoma State, 9:00 AM, September 10 (FS1) - This one might be off the beaten path since the Chippewas haven't received much respect thus far, but a win over the Cowboys could open some eyes. They blitzed an overmatched Presbytarian squad last Saturday, and Cooper Rush has very quietly been one of the Group of 5's steadiest quarterbacks. Plus, nobody ever squabbled over some breakfast MACtion, right?
Western Kentucky vs. #1 Alabama, 12:30 PM, September 10 (ESPN2) - The Hilltoppers showed last year they could hang around against a top-flight defense when they played LSU, but toppling the Crimson Tide is a tall order no matter how good an offense you have. Mike White picked up where Brandon Doughty left off last year, but it remains to be seen how good the WKU defense can be.
Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama, 4:00 PM, September 10 (ESPN3) - An early battle for Sun Belt supremacy, who knew? The Jaguars surprised everyone with their shocking win in Starksville, but now they have to defend their home turf against a motivated Eagles that missed their chance at the SBC title a year ago and just blasted poor Savannah State. They'll likely want to improve upon the seven yards per carry they allowed the Bulldogs on the ground in order to stake their claim at the top of the conference.
Cal vs. San Diego State, 7:30 PM, September 10 (CBS Sports Network) - This is the first real crucible for the Aztecs, who coasted to an easy win against FCS New Hampshire in their season opener. Cal won this game handily behind Jared Goff in 2015, and Davis Webb has already shown he can create big plays in their Bear Raid attack. If they play their game -- running the ball and playing aggressive defense -- to a victory, SDSU should be able to quiet a lot of skeptics.