Prescription for an upset: How five college football teams pulled off upsets...could Tulsa be next?

BY DAVID UBBEN AND JAKE TROTTER, Staff Writers Modified: September 18, 2009 at 8:21 am •  Published: September 18, 2009
The No. 12 Sooners host Tulsa on Saturday, and the Golden Hurricane has an upset on its mind. Oklahoma teams have fallen victim to college football’s biggest upset in the 2009 season’s first two weeks. How can Tulsa make it three?

Here’s how five teams pulled off the improbable:

Breaking in a QB

Favorite can’t lean on a veteran at QB
→The example: TCU 17, No. 7 Oklahoma 10 (2005)

→Breaking it down: The Sooners were trying to replace Heisman winner Jason White, but the inexperience of starter Paul Thompson and backup Rhett Bomar gave TCU its biggest win since 1960. Bomar and Thompson combined to complete just 13 of 31 passes for 128 yards. The loss came early in the season, making the upset look less shocking in January. The Sooners finished the season 8-4 and unranked. The Horned Frogs went 10-1 and finished the season ranked 14th.

→How it applies to OU-Tulsa: Not quite the same situation, but Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is making just his second start. Jones showed potential in start No. 1 against Idaho State, but he’s bound to make at least a few more mistakes against a higher-quality opponent. The only players with the potential to win games by themselves are on the defense.

Overlooked opponent

Favorite has bigger things on their mind
→The example: Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32 (2007)

→Breaking it down: The No. 5 Wolverines entered 2007 with national championship aspirations on their mind and Pac-10 opponent Oregon coming to Ann Arbor the next week. But The Big House was already hosting a defending national champion in the season opener. The Mountaineers were two-time defending champs, and four months after leaving Michigan Stadium with a win, took a third consecutive Football Championship Subdivision title back to Boone, N.C.

→How it applies to OU-Tulsa: No one pegged Tulsa as a defining game in Oklahoma’s season. It still isn’t. Make a list of the team goals for Oklahoma and "beat Tulsa” would be well outside the top five.