College Football Picks - Week 7

Written by Sam Pearce

***Looking for our NFL Week 6 picks? Get them here!***

Last week we noted that it's that time of year when we start to see some separation between the contenders and the pretenders.  We were too quick to include Michigan and Oklahoma with our contenders.  Our bad.  But the team here at thefootballpod.com did give you a unanimous recommendation to take Michigan State getting all those points in Ann Arbor.  Hopefully that made up for our premature faith in the Sooners.  We should have known better.  Now we're on to Week 7 in college football.  All the previews and game picks you need are here!

Can Auburn Win a Battle of the SEC's Tigers and Stay in the Hunt for the College Football Playoff?
Photo Courtesy:  Julie Bennett, AL.com

 

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Clemson (-22.5) @ Syracuse:

Syracuse gets Clemson at home in the Carrier Dome on Friday night and it's the beginning of a brutal three game stretch that includes road trips to Miami and Florida State. The Orangemen won last week to even their record at 3-3 for the season. Even in losses at LSU and at NC State, the team has shown signs of improvement. It may be hard to identify more improvements this week with the defending champs coming to town. Clemson has beaten Syracuse four years in a row, by an average score of 39-12. But the Tigers quarterback, Kelly Bryant, left their win over Wake Forest early last week after injuring an ankle. Bryant is supposed to play, but what happens if Clemson gets up early? Do they wisely rest Bryant? Last week Clemson was up 28-0 in that win over Wake but the Demon Deacons got a backdoor cover after Bryant left and Clemson let up. My prediction is a similar game here. Syracuse will struggle mightily to move the ball on Clemson in the first half. But just like they have the last three weeks, they'll be better in the second half. Orangemen to cover late:

Sam's Play: Orangemen
KAM's Play: Orangemen 
Kevin's Play: Tigers 
Matt's Play: Orangemen

 

Washington State (-13.5) @ Cal:

We get not one, but two Power 5 matchups on Friday night, with Washington State going to Cal in the second half of the double-header. It was two weeks ago on a Friday when the Cougars got one of their bigger wins in recent history, knocking off USC when the Trojans were ranked in the AP top ten. Equally impressive to me, is the fact that Washington State went down to Oregon the following week and there was no let-down. The Cougars won by more than three touchdowns, and did it largely on the strength of their defense. They held Oregon scoreless for the final three quarters of that game. For the season, the Washington State defense is forcing turnovers (15 for the year) and they limit their opponents' ability to move the ball. They've held teams to well under 300 yards per game (YPG), and more importantly, only 4.5 yards per play (YPP). Cal, meanwhile, has been out-gained by Pac 12 opponents by 140 YPG. Washington State is 4-0 ATS in their last four, while Cal is 2-6 ATS in their last eight conference games. The trends continue this week. Cougars to cover:

Sam's Play: Cougars
KAM's Play: Cougars
Kevin's Play: Cougars 
Matt's Play: Cougars 

 

TCU (-4.5) @ Kansas State:

TCU has been winning all year and following Oklahoma's blunder last week they find themselves the Big 12's best hope for the College Football Playoff. Now they go to Kansas State for a tough game and a tough line. These are two of the better defenses in the conference, arguably the two best. On paper these defenses look remarkably similar: TCU gives up 19.6 PPG and 360.4 YPG. K-State gives up 20 PPG and 356 YPG. In addition to the solid defenses, both teams are well-coached. Add it all up and sounds like close enough game to take K-State getting the points. But TCU has been better on offense. While both teams have capable quarterbacks, Jesse Ertz left the K-State game last weekend with a knee injury and his status is uncertain (as of mid-week). Kenny Hill is quietly having an excellent season for TCU. This includes impressive wins on the road at Arkansas and at Oklahoma State. I'll take the Horned Frogs to win and cover again on the road this weekend:

Sam's Play: Horned Frogs
KAM's Play: Horned Frogs
Kevin's Play: Horned Frogs 
Matt's Play: Wildcats

 

Auburn (-6.5) @ LSU:

Is Auburn the best one-loss team in the country? It's definitely possible. The close loss at Clemson way back in Week 2 is the only blemish on Auburn's record. Since then, quarterback Jarrett Stidham is finally playing the way Auburn fans hoped he would: The Tigers have put up at least 44 points in their last three SEC wins. None of these games have been close. LSU got off to a rough start this year, but got a much needed win at Florida last week. Most importantly, they actually looked focused and ready to compete in a physical football game. They'll face the same challenge this week. Both teams have talented defenses that should be able to limit the opposing offenses and turn this into an ugly SEC West game. But Auburn is even better on defense. They'll bring a lot of pressure and force LSU quarterback Danny Etling to beat them over the top. Good luck with that, LSU. Auburn is better on offense too, and through six games now, they've developed a very balanced attack: The Tigers go for 228 YPG rushing and 224 YPG passing. Auburn won't rack up yards and points this week like they have in their last three, but they have enough advantages on offense to win by more than a touchdown. Tigers to... Excuse me, let's avoid confusion here, War Eagle:

Sam's Play: War Eagle
KAM's Play: War Eagle
Kevin's Play: War Eagle 
Matt's Play: Tigers  

 

Georgia Tech (+7) @ Miami:

We'll learn a lot about Miami this weekend. After their big win at Tallahassee last Saturday, can Mark Richt keep the Hurricanes on track to win the ACC Coastal? They'll have their hands full defending Georgia Tech's rushing attack, ranked second in the country, and averaging an astounding 396 YPG. Georgia Tech hasn't played anyone as good as Miami yet, but they should still have some success on the ground this week, as Miami ranks only 63rd in the country at YPG allowed rushing. Miami's freshman quarterback Malik Rosier continues to impress, but this is another matchup that Georgia Tech welcomes: The Yellow Jackets only give up 158 YPG through the air, and only 260 overall. The Hurricanes should win at home, but I like the Yellow Jackets getting a full score in this game:

Sam's Play: Yellow Jackets
KAM's Play: Hurricanes 
Kevin's Play: Yellow Jackets
Matt's Play: Yellow Jackets 

 

Oklahoma (-7.5) vs Texas, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX:

The Red River Shootout! (I think we're allowed to call it that...) The hype here should be bigger but then last week Oklahoma pulled a typical Big 12 move and lost as a 30 point home favorite. Getting the extra half-point here is tempting. But I'm trying not to overreact to the Sooners loss last week. Oklahoma at its best (think Columbus) is still better than Texas at its best (think hard-fought loss at USC). Sooners to win, cover, and hang around the CFP discussion for now:

Sam's Play: Sooners
KAM's Play: Sooners 
Kevin's Play: Longhorns
Matt's Play: Sooners

 

Purdue (+16.5) @ Wisconsin:

Purdue has improved significantly this year under new coach Jeff Brohm. Defensively, the change is particularly noteworthy. The Boilermakers finished up last year allowing over 38 PPG. This year they've limited that number to 20.8 PPG. Wisconsin is playing well n defense too. The Badgers are the 9th best scoring defense in the country, giving up a little more than 14 PPG. Last week, though, Wisconsin looked vulnerable at Nebraska and actually gave up over 300 total yards in the first half. Wisconsin made adjustments and the defense played much better in the second half. This game is almost certainly going to be close in the first half. Taking Purdue on a first half line is recommended. Wisconsin actually trailed Northwestern at halftime in Madison two weeks ago. Wisconsin is an unimpressive 1-4-1 ATS in its last 6 home games. Purdue, meanwhile, is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall. Wisconsin is also dealing with some key injuries on its offensive line. Up to three starters could be limited or ruled out this week. That will make it harder for freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to dominate this game like he did the second half in Lincoln last week. If Purdue can contain the Wisconsin running game and get the Badgers into 3rd-and-long situations, that will keep it close, as Wisconsin struggles to convert third downs. With both defenses playing so well this year, these are just too many points. Boilers to cover:

Sam's Play: Boilermakers 
KAM's Play: Badgers 
Kevin's Play: Boilermakers 
Matt's Play: Badgers 

 

Texas A&M (+2.5) @ Florida:

For two unranked teams, this is a huge game. Florida looked pretty bad last week, losing at home to LSU. Florida's been underwhelming most of the year. Even in wins, the Gators just haven't been very convincing. A&M's season got off to a notoriously bad start at the Rose Bowl, but the Aggies rebounded to win four straight before losing Alabama last week. A loss is a loss, yes, but A&M played Alabama a whole lot better than anyone else this year. Can Kevin Sumlin use that to his advantage and continue to improve? Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has been impressive for A&M. It helps that he has playmakers Christian Kirk and Trayveon Williams to lean on. Conversely, Florida just can't seem to get anything going on offense. The A&M defense is hardly a juggernaut but has been solid against the run. If they can do that on Saturday then Florida will have to try and open it up with their passing game, which doesn't bode well. Aggies to cover and get the outright win in Gainesville:

Sam's Play: Aggies
KAM's Play: Gators 
Kevin's Play: Aggies
Matt's Play: Gators

 

Arkansas (+30) @ Alabama:

Whatever's going on in Fayetteville, it's not good. Arkansas lost badly to South Carolina last week, which drops them to 2-3 for the season. Worse, Arkansas is an unimpressive 0-3 against Power 5 opponents. In those losses they give up an average of 42 PPG. Alabama is the exact opposite here, going 3-0 against Power 5 teams (5-0 overall), and putting up over 50 PPG in SEC games. The numbers would be even more eye-popping if Alabama hadn't been somewhat slowed down in College Station last week. Setting aside that Texas A&M played pretty well, Nick Saban was none too happy that the media is "poisoning" his players' egos. I'll trust Saban to have the antidote this week in Tuscaloosa. Oh, and Arkansas is 0-7 ATS in their seven games. This could and should get ugly. Tide to roll:

Sam's Play: Crimson Tide
KAM's Play: Razorbacks 
Kevin's Play: Crimson Tide
Matt's Play: Razorbacks

 

Ohio State (-24) @ Nebraska:

Nebraska played pretty well for three quarters last week before giving up 21 unanswered points to Wisconsin. On the one hand, the loss looks more lopsided than it actually was. Nebraska was in a tie game until there were about 20 minutes to go. But on the other hand, they were dominated when it mattered most. Now Ohio State comes to town, with a more explosive offensive than Wisconsin. Ohio State has beaten two lower-tier Big Ten opponents in their last two outings by a combined score of 118-14. Nebraska is a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten program so this shouldn't be a 50-10 type of score, but then again, the Buckeyes put up 62 when this game was in Columbus last year. Buckeyes to cruise in Lincoln:

Sam's Play: Buckeyes
KAM's Play: Buckeyes 
Kevin's Play: Buckeyes
Matt's Play: Cornhuskers

 

Utah (+13) @ USC:

This was a fun game to watch at Utah last year, and could be good this year too. The line sounds a little too high, and USC hasn't exactly fared well this year with these big spreads. The Trojans are 5-1, but only 1-5 ATS. Utah is 4-1, but 4-0-1 ATS, so generally overachieving, as you'd expect from a Kyle Wittingham-coached team. The Utes have not, however, performed well at USC. They're 0-3 in their last three trips there and also 0-3 ATS. This year may be different. Utah is probably the best defense that USC has faced yet. The Utes only give up 108.8 YPG rushing. USC will still look to establish their ground game early. They've outgained each of their five previous opponents on the ground. So we should see strength against strength here. Utah committed a couple critical second half turnovers against Stanford last week, yet they hung around and scored late to get the ATS win (or cover depending on when you got the their line last week). We could see a similar result this week. Utah may get down, especially if Sam Darnold gets going early, but they won't quit. Utes to cover even if it's late:

Sam's Play: Utes
KAM's Play: Trojans 
Kevin's Play: Trojans
Matt's Play: Utes 

 

Boise State (+7.5) @ San Diego State:

In this week's episode of #MountainWestAfterMidnight, Boise travels to San Diego State. This is actually the first time the teams have met since 2014, since Boise plays in the Mountain Division, and San Diego State in the West. Both teams were impressive in road wins last week, but Boise has struggled at times this year. They were up two touchdowns on Washington State in the fourth quarter but let the Cougars come back to force overtime and lost. They were also beaten badly by a very average Virginia team. San Diego State is yet to lose and that includes an early season win over Stanford. In this game, the Aztecs will look to run Rashaad Penny early and often. Penny is a fringe Heisman candidate, leading the country in all-purpose yards. The senior running back hasn't been held under 100 yards rushing in any game this year, and he typically goes for a lot more. Boise will sell out to stop the run, as have San Diego State's previous opponents, but Penny will still be productive. The extra half-point here is scary, but San Diego State is rolling early in the season. Boise has been a little inconsistent. Aztecs to cover at home:

Sam's Play: Aztecs
KAM's Play: Aztecs 
Kevin's Play: Aztecs
Matt's Play: Broncos 

 

Oregon (+10.5) @ Stanford:

It's an 11:00 Eastern kick, so we get #Pac12AfterDark on both Friday and Saturday this week! Stanford starred in last week's episode too, getting an underrated win on the road at Utah. The Utes scored late to make that game look a little closer than it was. Stanford was in control most of the second half, and capitalized on a couple key turnovers. While Stanford isn't as good defensively as what we've seen from them in years past, they'll look to push Oregon around and dominate this game physically. That won't be as easy as you might think in the first half. Stanford will be without two key defenders in the first half, due to targeting penalty suspensions incurred last week. So Stanford may struggle defensively. But Oregon will be playing a backup quarterback, so they could just as easily have a tough time in this matchup. The difference will be Stanford's run game. Bryce Love continues to impress this year. Love has had at least one run of 50 yards or more in his last 8 games, a remarkable streak. It's hard to predict that he'll keep that streak going, but it's even harder to envision Oregon containing him. Love will have another big game and it will be the difference late. This is a big number but Stanford should pull away in the second half and cover:

Sam's Play: Cardinal 
KAM's Play: Ducks  
Kevin's Play: Cardinal 
Matt's Play: Cardinal 

 

 

Good luck with your picks and have a great October weekend! Life is good: Thank God it's football season!

 

Last Week Win Loss Push
Sam 7 10 0
KAM 12 5 0
Kevin 6 11 0
Matt 7 10 0

 

Season Win Loss Push
Sam 31 35 0
KAM 33 33 0
Kevin 29 37 0
Matt 36 30 0

 

***Want even more picks?! Lucky you! Our NFL picks are posted here!***  

Still can't get enough? Listen to this week's football podcast. Packed with college football and NFL coverage, both!

 

Like our college football picks this week? Or last week? Hate the picks? Want to weigh in?  All feedback welcome! Find us on Twitter and let us know: 

 

Sam
Sam often picks with his heart rather than his head. Or he tries too hard to hedge the other way. Don't be afraid to fade his picks; it won't hurt his feelings.
@samuelwpearce
 
KAM
The voice of thefootballpod.com, KAM's so good that she's been known to pick both NFL and college games. She'll share her picks as long as you don't trash talk her Packers.
@kimberlymaley
 
Kevin
Need power picks and the power sweep, both? Then look no further than Kevin's picks. This Western Pennsylvania football product knows the game as well as anyone.
@kjcon71
 
Matt
Historically the best player in the Tipperary Hill Premier League, Matt's also excellent when it comes to picking college games. Just don't bother him when Iowa's playing!
@sportsapalooza