After a pretty sleepy Week 6 in college football, campuses across the country are ready to play some monster games this weekend.
We’ve got the Red River Showdown, which is technically played at the Texas State Fair, but Dallas is going to be full of Oklahoma Sooners who want revenge for losing last year to their archrival Texas. Baton Rouge is going to be bumping as the undefeated Gator chomp is coming town. Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City will be flying as Penn State heads to Iowa. And Alabama faces a ranked opponent for the first time this season in College Station.
The college football season is about to get good just in time for the leaves to change color around the country. Will we be in for some shocking outcomes or will the big boys hold serve? Let’s make some predictions on what will happen in Week 7.
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas
The annual battle of Big 12 rivals is once again must-see TV. This game matters to those in burnt orange and crimson and cream every season, but UT wasn’t a player on the national stage for several years. However, the last five meetings in Dallas between these two teams have been decided by seven or fewer points. It’s hard to see Oklahoma and Texas and think this game is going to be anything other than a battle right down the wire.
Last year was the first time both teams were ranked since 2012 and Texas was a seven-point underdog. UT won the game 48-45, marking the most combined points ever scored in this rivalry.
This is where Texas battling LSU at home earlier this year is going to pay off. Oklahoma has played a bunch of soft opponents so far. I’m not trying to be negative toward the Sooners because they have played extremely well, but it’s hard to get too excited about blowouts of Texas Tech, Houston, and UCLA. Texas has already seen one of the best teams in the country and that should really benefit the Longhorns on Saturday.
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger and his offense have to sustain drives in this game and control the line of scrimmage as best as they can. UT doesn’t want to get into a track meet and wear out their defense because OU QB Jalen Hurts has been one of the best players in the country this year. The Sooners are averaging nearly 10 yards per play. The Longhorns have to be ready to score points but OU is averaging nearly 50 a game. That’s not a pace UT wants to play.
Here’s the big stat line for this game and it’s the running narrative whenever Texas is an underdog in a big game: Tom Herman is a wizard when catching points and has a bonkers record of 13-3-2 ATS as an underdog as a head coach and is 8-3-1 ATS since moving to Austin. The last time that Texas was getting 11 points was in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia last January. The Longhorns shocked everyone by beating the Bulldogs outright.
I have been a fan of Tom Herman since I covered him when he was the OC for Iowa State. In this rivalry game, it’s too many points for OU to cover.
PICK: Texas +11
No. 7 Florida at No. 6 LSU
Florida made me a believer last week with its impressive defeat of Auburn at home. UF showed freshman QB Bo Nix what it’s like to face a real SEC defense and the youngster struggled all afternoon.
For the second straight game, the Gators are playing in the game of the week in the SEC. But this time, it’s on the road in one of the most intimidating environments in all of college football. The biggest question most have is whether or not this staunch Gator defense can continue to dominate on the road at LSU. Florida is only giving up around 14 points per game but QB Joe Burrow and company have been putting up over 50 per. The Gators have to find a way to slow down LSU’s outstanding receivers like Justin Jefferson, who has already caught seven touchdowns, and Ja’Marr Chase, who has six.
QB Kyle Trask sprained his MCL in the win last week but seems to be good to go for this one. Head Coach Dan Mullen seems to prefer a QB who can move the chains with his legs but Trask isn’t very athletic. He was already a bit of a statue in the pocket before the injury and it’s unlikely he will run much given his knee. LSU will look to pressure Trask into making mistakes but so far, he hasn’t made many. The Gator wideouts are some of the best in the country led by Freddie Swain Jr. and LSU had a difficult time stopping the passing attack of Texas. Florida has to be able to hit the deep ball to free up their rushing attack led by running back Lamical Perine.
One surprising thing about the Tigers season is that they gave up 38 to Texas and to Vanderbilt this season. Scoring 50 and giving up a bunch of points per game is not typical for LSU. It will be interesting to see if Florida has the same success moving the ball through the air that Texas did earlier this season.
I know I’m buying Florida at its highest here but this is too many points.
PICK: Florida +13.5
No. 10 Penn State at No. 17 Iowa
Iowa fans are really frustrated. Their team went to Michigan and held the Wolverines to 10 points and lost. Their offense scored three points in the first quarter and then didn’t score again. This is the ultimate buy-low spot here on a team at home, at night, against a rival that they have lost to five times in a row.
For Penn State, the Nittany Lions are feeling good after they whipped up on Purdue by 28 last week in their annual homecoming game. QB Sean Clifford threw for three touchdowns and 264 yards as PSU improved to 5-0 on the season.
The biggest question I have about this game is about the schedule for Penn State. Who have they played that justifies a Top 10 ranking? I’ve been wrong to ask this question before but I am asking it again because their best win so far is against Pitt. The combined record of PSU’s opponents is 12-16 and Idaho and Buffalo aren’t exactly Big 10 caliber. Sure, the defense is flying around and hammering people, but Iowa isn’t going to be intimidated by that. The Hawkeye defense must force Clifford to make mistakes and turn the ball over. Unfortunately for Iowa, PSU’s QB has only thrown two interceptions against 12 touchdowns.
Hawkeye QB Nate Stanley had a rough game in Ann Arbor, turning the ball over three times. However, before the game, he was considered one of the best signal callers in the Big 10. His offensive line did him no favors by allowing eight sacks but Stanley has to play better and I think he will. The Hawkeyes know that if they want to win the Big 10 West, they can’t afford a loss at home here. Iowa still has to go to Wisconsin and Nebraska. It’s tough to call this a must-win but it feels like it. I think Iowa will play like a team with its back against a wall.
I love that this game is at night. I’ve been to Kinnick Stadium in these types of games and it’s a really tough place to play. I expect another defensive struggle and a low scoring game. I don’t hate a play on the under but I think Iowa will do enough to win the game outright.
PICK: Iowa Moneyline +150
No. 1 Alabama at No. 24 Texas A&M
Is this the game that Alabama finally gets tested? Texas A&M will be the best team the Crimson Tide have faced so far this year and it’s only the second road game for the defending national champs.
The last time Bama went to College Station it was a 25-point favorite and failed to cover with a 27-19 victory. It’s been a disappointing year up to this point for Jimbo Fisher’s club but a win over Alabama would be a monster achievement. Jimbo is from the Nick Saban coaching tree but Saban has dominated his former assistant coaches.
In 2017, Kellen Mond was a freshman and threw for 237 yards and a touchdown. Last year, he took a step backward in Tuscaloosa and was sacked seven times in a lopsided loss. However, this year, Mond has already thrown for 335 yards against Auburn and 236 yards at Clemson. Texas A&M lost those two games by a combined 21 points. If the Aggies are going to keep this game close, Mond has to protect the ball, use his legs to move the chains, and hit open receivers when he has them.
Alabama is led by all-everything QB Tua Tagovailoa who has thrown for a ridiculous 23 touchdowns to zero interceptions. The Crimson Tide offense is scoring over 50 points per game but is a surprising 2-3 ATS on the season. To be fair, though, this is the first game where the line is less than 25.5 points.
Kyle Field is one of the toughest places to play in the country but this is Alabama. I’m scared to get in front of this train but I’m going to do it here because this is the season for Texas A&M. Bama wins but I’ll take the points.
PICK: Texas A&M +17
No. 8 Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
It’s becoming a broken record but Wisconsin is just impressive every week. The Badgers are undefeated and are 4-1 ATS to start this season. Their offense is scoring over 40 points a game and their defense has shut out three of their five opponents so far. Running back Jonathan Taylor has already scored 16 touchdowns and is coming off a four-score performance against Kent State.
Last week, Michigan State played a solid game against Ohio State for the first quarter before giving up 24 points in the second frame. The Buckeyes ran the ball for 323 yards against a Spartan defense that prides itself on not giving up big plays on the ground. QB Justin Fields threw for 206 yards and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown. It was ugly.
It really felt like the spirit was broken for Michigan State last week in Columbus. The Spartans have lost to Arizona State at home and Ohio State on the road. Now, they have to go back on the road to face one of the most dangerous offenses in the Big 10. Michigan State has an open week after this game and I think they really need it to regroup.
Too much Wisconsin here and I think the Badgers fans will be jumping around in the fourth quarter with a big lead.
Pick: Wisconsin -10.5