After a wild week 6 in college football that saw once believed titans fall dramatically, week 7 will give the underdogs another chance to take center stage. Even newly ranked teams such as Michigan State and Navy will look to hold their places in the top 25 while climbing the ranks to become respected programs in the eyes of both pundits and fans. This week, top programs such as Wisconsin and Miami face unique challenges that could throw them off kilter if they’re not careful. Even high-profile programs such as Clemson and Georgia cannot look too far ahead as they face relatively mediocre opponents that will come in hungry with hopes of pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the college football season.
1. Texas Tech Red Raiders (24) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
Unsurprisingly, this game features two gun-slinging quarterbacks that have looked stellar up to this point but have succumbed to top-tier opponents in the Big-12. While the Red Raiders are slightly better in terms of scoring efficiency, their Achilles heel has been their lack of an effective running game, something that the Mountaineers have in senior running back Justin Crawford. Although senior quarterback Nic Shimonek has the elite arm talent and discipline to push the Mountaineers to their limit, West Virginia’s dynamic capabilities when it comes to scoring will allow them to win this bounce back contest at home.
Final Score: Red Raiders 37 Mountaineers 41 Spread: West Virginia -3.5
2. TCU Horned Frogs (6) vs. Kansas State Wildcats
After a thrilling victory against the Mountaineers, the Horned Frogs will look to keep the good times rolling against a Wildcats program that lacks intimidating offensive firepower but makes up for it with a scrappy defense. While the Horned Frogs have looked fantastic offensively thanks to quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Darius Anderson, it’s been their bend but doesn’t break defense that has allowed them to come out on top against the likes of Oklahoma State and West Virginia. While the Wildcats are well-coached and have a nice defense to keep things interesting, the absence of dual-threat passer Jesse Ertz will prevent the Wildcats from pulling off the upset in this matchup.
Final Score: Horned Frogs 34 Wildcats 20 Spread: EVEN
3. Michigan Wolverines (17) vs. Indiana Hoosiers
After getting exposed last week by an elite Michigan State defense, the offensively inept Wolverines are desperate for a dominant victory to revitalize their confidence. While Michigan’s offense may not look much better against the Hoosiers, their physical defense will have a field day against senior quarterback Richard Lagow. Although the Hoosiers have a solid running game led by freshman running back Morgan Ellison, it’s hard to imagine this aspect of their offense establishing any type of continuity against Michigan’s elite defensive front seven. Despite all of that, this game will actually be fairly close due to the poor quarterback play of the Wolverines.
Final Score: Wolverines 21 Hoosiers 13 Spread: Michigan -5.5
4. Auburn Tigers (10) vs. LSU Tigers
It was not long ago that the LSU Tigers looked like a hot mess against a vastly superior opponent in Troy at home. Yet, despite this embarrassment and the immense pressure on head coach Ed Orgeron, LSU rallied and defeated the defensively stout Florida Gators on the road. While it was not pretty, LSU looked like the fearlessly physical program that they have always been and certainly gave renewed hope to their devoted fan base. However, that high could come crashing down as LSU faces an Auburn program that can score consistently on offense while smothering opponents with their formidable defense. Thus far, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has looked like the real deal and has only gotten better with each game he has participated in. LSU, on the other hand, lacks a game-changing quarterback and their young defense will only get them so far against a legitimately elite Auburn program.
Final Score: Auburn 30 LSU 17 Spread: Auburn -6.5
5. Oklahoma Sooners (12) vs. Texas Longhorns
One of the hardest teams to predict in terms of success, the Longhorns have been all over the place on defense and offense. Most recently, the Longhorns have defeated two underrated Big 12 teams in Iowa State (who beat Oklahoma) and Kansas State with both victories coming in completely different ways. Unlike the Longhorns, the Sooners have been dominant on the offensive end but have looked lost on the defensive side of the football as they have given up 72 points in their last two games. Considering how deep this rivalry runs, I fully expect this to be a competitive shootout with the Sooners prevailing down the stretch.
Final Score: Sooners 48 Longhorns 45 Spread: Oklahoma -8
6. Purdue Boilermakers vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7)
For anyone that watches college football on a regular basis, there is always that one game that seems like a lock but then turns out to be one of the craziest upsets of the season. This is that game. Yes, Wisconsin has seen vastly improved play from quarterback Alex Hornibrook and their defense has been outstanding for the most part. However, Purdue quarterback David Blough has quietly played well for the Boilermakers as his impressive completion percentage (68.9%) combined with his underrated mobility have been vital to Purdue having one of the better passing attacks in college football. It will be a major test for the Boilermakers on both sides of the ball, but this team has the resiliency and ability to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Final Score: Boilermakers 24 Badgers 21 Spread: Wisconsin -16.5
7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Miami Hurricanes (11)
It’s easy to look at this matchup initially and make the assumption that the Hurricanes will win because of their great passing game and resilient defense. However, while the Yellow Jackets are dreadful at passing the ball, their triple-option run-heavy offense is far from predictable. While the Hurricanes won in dramatic fashion against their in-state rival Florida State, Malik Rosier had his worst game completion wise (43.2%) and normally explosive running back Mark Walton was held to just 25 yards on 12 carries. While I believe Rosier will have a nice day in terms of scoring, his overall accuracy passing the football will be severely compromised against a tough Georgia Tech defense that will do enough to allow their high-octane offense to win in the end.
Final Score: Yellow Jackets 33 Hurricanes 28 Spread: Miami -6.5
8. Navy Midshipmen (25) vs. Memphis Tigers
If you ever bring up a conversation about the triple option, it’s nearly impossible not to give props to the Navy Midshipmen. Considering this type of offense has been their bread and butter for success for years, it’s not surprising that this program leads the nation in rushing yards per game (414.2 rushing yards per game). What makes this matchup truly exciting though is that the Tigers also have a strong running game and have an even better passing attack that will make this a particularly high scoring affair. Combine that with the fact that both teams struggle on the defensive side of the football and you have a potential shootout for the ages with the victor mostly likely being decided by who has the ball last.
Final Score: Midshipmen 50 Tigers 57 Spread: Memphis -3.5
9. Texas A&M Aggies vs. Florida Gators
For anyone that is looking for a rooting interest in this particular game, it simply comes down to one deciding factor: offense or defense. The Aggies have one of the most explosive rushers in Trayveon Williams and a competent dual-threat passer in quarterback Kellen Mond. While Florida also has a great rushing attack with Malik Davis leading the charge, their oppressive defense has been their saving grace in all of their victories this season. While the Aggies are trending in the right direction and gave Alabama everything they could handle last week, it’s hard to imagine the Gators dropping back to back home games given how strong their defense is against the run.
Final Score: Aggies 26 Gators 29 Spread: Florida -3
10. Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans (13)
While the perception of talent between the Utes and the Trojans seems to completely favor USC, these teams are actually fairly evenly matched on paper. Both have capable passers and each defense is well built to defend the run. However, where the similarities end is with each programs respective running games, with the Trojans having a clear advantage in this regard. While Utah quarterback Tyler Huntly is much more accurate and disciplined as a passer, USC has a passer in Sam Darnold that is a bit more wild with his throws but also can change the momentum of a game with one big-time pass downfield. It will be close, but I think the superior rushing attack combined with the big play ability of Darnold should be enough for the Trojans to earn a nice win at home.
Final Score: Utes 30 Trojans 38 Spread: USC -13