GAINESVILLE — Upsets can deflate talented teams or provoke eventual champions.

Take Florida and USC, for example. After a 31-30 loss to Ole Miss last year, the Gators played the rest of the year like a team possessed, as Tim Tebow promised.

The run was so dominant that the Bowl Championship Series voters gladly welcomed UF in the national title game.

These days, USC seems to lose at least one Pac-10 game to a lesser opponent every year. The recent flubs have kept the Trojans out of BCS title contention — even with a string of dominant defenses.

Every year, a handful of otherwise nondescript games could end up defining the season. Here are 10 potential upsets that might do the trick in 2009.

Brigham Young over Oklahoma, Cowboys Stadium, Sept. 5: Remember the last time Oklahoma faced a non-BCS school on a neutral site? Boise State trick-played its way to a Fiesta Bowl win in January 2007.

Brigham Young might be the best team from the most underrated conference, and the blue-and-white faithful will come to Dallas in droves to watch the potential upset.

South Carolina over Ole Miss, Sept. 24: Despite all Ole Miss’ hype, the Rebels still must show they have the steady defense to warrant a Top 10 ranking all year.

South Carolina has been known to play tough teams close early in the year before getting depleted by injuries. A fresh Gamecocks team led by Stephen Garcia might be able to expose Ole Miss’ secondary.

Besides, can’t Steve Spurrier have a little fun these days?

Orlando Sentinel