Photo by Gregory French // Staff Photographer
By Caleb Luketic // Contributing Writer
The first few weeks of the college football season are filled with excitement and anticipation, as fans get to see their newly loaded teams square off against mid-major schools.
These games are usually mismatches that are mutually beneficial to the schools. A power conference university adds an easier game to prepare for their conference schedule and the mid major school gets financial compensation and national exposure
The games aren’t usually close in score, but every now and then the big school trips up, and the little guy steals the show.
Middle Tennessee has been given this exact opportunity in Tuscaloosa where they will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, September 12.
Schools similar to MTSU, have a difficult time stacking up against major programs in the power five conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and ACC); however, there have been a handful of schools that have overcome the “cupcake” reputation, which provides MTSU hope.
In 2013, the Florida Gators paid Georgia Southern $550,000 to travel down to “The Swamp” to pad the Gators win total in hopes in hopes of making a bowl game.
The Eagles were expected to lie down and let the Gators walk all over them, but Will Muschamp and company overlooked their opponent as Southern Georgia took full advantage.
The FCS school ran the ball for 429 yards and four touchdowns, while only throwing the ball three times. The Gators tried to make a second half comeback, but they ultimately fell 26-20.
Just last week, Nebraska paid BYU $1 million in hopes of an easy start to the season, but didn’t go as planned. BYU was able to pull off the tight upset 33-28 on a last-second hail mary from backup quarterback Tanner Mangum. This early loss significantly lowers the chances for the Cornhuskers to keep up with the Big 10 favorite Ohio State, something MTSU would love to do for Alabama in the SEC West.
Arguably the most renowned pay-to-lose upset was Appalachian State taking down Michigan in 2007. The Mountaineers were a FCS school at the time, which made their chances of beating the fifth ranked Wolverines that much slimmer.
Appalachian State had taken a late fourth quarter lead, but Michigan looked to be in control as they drove down and set up for a last second field goal. Appalachian State blocked the kick to seal one of the craziest upsets of all time.
MTSU is currently a 35.5-point underdog heading into Tuscaloosa this weekend. While this point spread is higher than that of Georgia Southern (+28) and Appalachian State (+33), MTSU will look to match these teams that were able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable task of upsetting a power five conference team.
MTSU’s offense has multiple threats with the ability to stretch the field with deep passes, and complimenting the air attack with a ground and pound run game. Alabama’s defensive front seven is as strong as any in college football, but if the Blue Raiders can rattle Alabama’s young quarterback, they may have a shot at pulling one of the biggest upsets of all time.
To contact sports editor Michael Ward email firstname.lastname@example.org.