/B/R Experts Answer Biggest CFB Questions for Week 7

B/R Experts Answer Biggest CFB Questions for Week 7

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    Texas QB Sam Ehlinger

    Texas QB Sam EhlingerRay Thompson/Associated Press

    Much of the past month has been spent lamenting a lack of marquee college football showdowns, but it turns out they’ve just been stockpiled into a Week 7 slate that could turn this entire season on its head.

    Six of the Top 11 teams in the AP poll will face a ranked opponent, five of which will do so away from home. Even the four Top 10 teams facing unranked opponents at homeNo. 2 Clemson vs. Florida State, No. 3 Georgia vs. South Carolina, No. 8 Wisconsin vs. Michigan State and No. 9 Notre Dame vs. USCaren’t exactly in a position to sleepwalk their way to victory.

    It’s a “separate the wheat from the chaff” type of Saturday, and our college football experts are extremely here for it.

    To help you figure out what to expect, David Kenyon, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton joined forces to offer predictions on the hottest questions, such as:

  • Will Oklahoma or Texas pick up the latest victory in one of college football’s greatest rivalries?
  • Does LSU or Florida surge further into the playoff picture with a win over the other?
  • Which underdog pulls off the biggest upset of the week?
  • And will Michigan State or Wisconsin manage to score multiple touchdowns against each other?

Our experts are on the case.

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    Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts

    Oklahoma QB Jalen HurtsCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    We’re about to learn exactly how much Oklahoma’s defense has improved. Although the schedule hasn’t been difficult, only Houston has put up more than 20 points against the Sooners. That’s not to suggest this defense is suddenly elite, but OU hardly held anyone under 20 points last season. I’m taking the Sooners, mostly because Texas has an injury-filled secondary, but also because of that improved OU defense.

           

    Kerry Miller

    I am reasonably confident Oklahoma is going to score at least 45 points. This offense is averaging a preposterous 10 yards per snap, and Texas is hardly a brick wall on defense. The unknown is how much damage quarterback Sam Ehlinger will be able to do when the Longhorns have the ball. He was phenomenal in last year’s game, scoring five times en route to the 48-45 upset. But I believe the Sooners have improved just enough on defense to win a 51-35 game.

           

    Brad Shepard

    I cannot believe how much the Longhorns are poking the bear this week. I know these two loathed rivals split two games a year ago, but the Horns had a difficult time slowing down LSU and the Tigers’ vaunted offense. That’s going to happen again this week with Jalen Hurts and the Sooners. There are just too many weapons, and OU can beat you with the run or the pass. I like the Sooners in a shootout, 45-37.

            

    Ian Wharton

    Texas was my preseason pick to win this battle due to my optimism that the Longhorns defense would be looking good by now. That hasn’t happened though, as the Longhorns rank 126th in passing yards allowed per game. That’s not good enough to force Hurts into disadvantageous situations. Thus, Oklahoma will win by two scores.

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    LSU QB Joe Burrow

    LSU QB Joe BurrowGerald Herbert/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    LSU takes this contest in Baton Rouge. The spread (13.5 points) has drifted a touch higher than expected, but my initial thought was a double-digit margin. Florida is the first undeniably great defense the new LSU scoring attack has faced, and a cold stretch is possible. But, man, I cannot trust Florida’s offense against this defense in that environment. Maybe the Gators will make me look foolish, but I’ll be late to the party.

           

    Kerry Miller

    LSU will win by multiple touchdowns, it will vault to No. 2 in next week’s AP poll, and quarterback Joe Burrow is going to make a serious push to supplant Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa as the Heisman favorite. As great as Burrow has been thus far this season, he has done his damage against mediocre or terrible defenses. Putting on a show against the Gators—who completely shut him down in last year’s upset and are leading the nation in interceptions—will serve as notice that this quarterback can win a national championship.

           

    Brad Shepard

    The Gators have stunned me at every turn this year. There’s no question Dan Mullen is one of the top handful of coaches in all of FBS who always seems to get the most out of his players. It’s truly remarkable what they’ve done and just how soundly they walloped Auburn a week ago. Still, it’s hard for me to pick the Gators in Death Valley at night. This may be the most exciting game of the year so far, but I’m going with the Tigers by one score. UF fans should be happy about me picking against their team, too: All they’ve done is made me look dumb.

            

    Ian Wharton

    I’m all aboard the Joe Burrow train until proven wrong. He’s provided such a massive improvement in this offense that the Tigers are arguably the best team in the nation. Florida will make him work more than any opponent yet, but LSU’s firepower with Burrow and receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. is too much for the Gators to overcome.

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    Penn State QB Sean Clifford

    Penn State QB Sean CliffordBarry Reeger/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    Yes, but with less drama necessary than in 2017, when Penn State scored a game-winning touchdown as time expired. Michigan offered a clear reminder in Week 6 of how limited Iowa’s offense can be. And this year, Penn State’s defense is even better than Michigan’s unit. While the Nittany Lions probably won’t score much, Iowa might only reach 10 points anyway.

           

    Kerry Miller

    Everyone freaked out a little bit when Penn State struggled in a 17-10 victory over Pittsburgh, but the Nittany Lions have annihilated Maryland and Purdue by a combined score of 94-7 over the past two weeks. Their average margin of victory on the season is just under 40 points. Quarterback Sean Clifford and Co. have emerged as a force to be reckoned with, and that will become clear to more people when Penn State wins this road game by a three-possession margin.

           

    Brad Shepard

    Yes. Right now, I think the Nittany Lions are the second-best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and slightly ahead of Wisconsin. While Iowa’s defense is as good as anyone’s and can make things difficult on PSUor any offense, for that matterI don’t think they can score enough points to hang with the Nittany Lions. While I don’t think Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley will have anywhere near the career-worst performance he experienced against Michigan, he won’t be able to do enough to upset Penn State.

            

    Ian Wharton

    Yes. I thought Iowa would win last week, but I overestimated their offensive potential. Clifford is better than Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson, and the Nittany Lions have a much healthier run game than Michigan does. Expect another close game that’s not nearly as ugly to watch as Iowa-Michigan was, but Penn State will still emerge as the clearly better team.

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    Alabama LB Shane Lee

    Alabama LB Shane LeeMarvin Gentry/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    There’s always next year, Texas A&M. A second SEC West loss (and third overall) is effectively the end of anything meaningful in 2019. Could the Aggies spoil the party for Georgia or LSU in late November? Maybe. But with Florida-Georgia and Alabama-LSU taking place earlier that month, the SEC division races should be decided. Since the Aggies only use a handful of seniors, the rest of the season is critical for the overall roster’s development.

           

    Kerry Miller

    Alabama’s front seven still has a lot of work to do. The Crimson Tide will win comfortably, but if this defense—which was gutted by injuries to Dylan Moses, Joshua McMillon and LaBryan Ray—allows Texas A&M to do anything on the ground, it’s going to be a major story. Both Clemson and Auburn held the Aggies below 60 rushing yards with no touchdowns. Even Arkansas limited A&M to 90 yards two weeks ago. But A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller will do enough on the ground to spark some panic.

           

    Brad Shepard

    No matter how pedestrian the Crimson Tide’s defense is, it’ll almost never actually matter because Alabama’s offense is so darn good. Tua Tagovailoa is the Heisman front-runner right now, and the Aggies will provide little resistance. The biggest takeaway will be further proof this is the best collection of offensive talent we’ve seen in college football in many years.

            

    Ian Wharton

    Alabama’s defense is vulnerable, even if it won’t matter in this game. Mond is the right kind of high-upside athletic quarterback who can keep Alabama off-balance. He needs to play better than he did against Clemson to expose the Tide’s defense, but he’ll have the chances. The young talent on the Tide’s front seven hasn’t been as devastating as in years prior, leaving more holes for offenses to find chunk gains. Those get exposed more often in this game.

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    Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards

    Arizona State head coach Herm EdwardsMatt York/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    Though I’m only officially picking one (Temple over No. 23 Memphis), each of No. 20 Virginia (at Miami), No. 19 Wake Forest (vs. Louisville) and No. 18 Arizona State (vs. Washington State) has a challenging game. I think Virginia survives because of Miami’s inability to make crucial fourth-quarter stops, and both Wake Forest and Arizona State will find a way at home. But I’ll be monitoring those closely.

           

    Kerry Miller

    The Top 16 will hold their own, but there will be three losses by teams in the Nos. 18-23 range. No. 18 Arizona State is an obvious pick, considering at least one ranked Pac-12 team has lost every week this season. One of the ACC teams—either No. 20 Virginia or No. 19 Wake Forest—will go down. And I can see No. 22 Baylor losing to Texas Tech or No. 23 Memphis losing at Temple.

           

    Brad Shepard

    I’ll go with three. USC gets quarterback Kedon Slovis back this week, and while I have been impressed with No. 9 Notre Dame so far this season, I like the Trojans in one of the biggest upsets of the year. I also think two of the unbeatens are going down. I’m amazed head coach Scott Satterfield has Louisville playing this well, and I think the Cardinals upset Wake Forest. While we’re at it, look for Texas Tech to follow its upset of Oklahoma State with a close win over No. 22 Baylor.

            

    Ian Wharton

    I think Washington State will pull off the upset against No. 18 Arizona State. Baylor will hold off Texas Tech, and Memphis will outlast Temple, but those are two other games that’ll be worth watching as potential spoilers. There’s not a Top 15 team that looks like a probable upset victim, though.

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    West Virginia QB Austin Kendall

    West Virginia QB Austin KendallRay Thompson/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    As a card-carrying member of Team Chaos, I enjoy not making a bold enough pick on this question. The eye-popping results are why college football is so great. That’s the precursor to me taking Northern Illinois, which is merely a 6.5-point underdog at Ohio. NIU can capitalize on Ohio’s ineffective run D and mediocre pass defense.

           

    Kerry Miller

    Give me West Virginia +10 at home against Iowa State. The Mountaineers just put up a decent fight against Texas and might’ve won that game if Austin Kendall hadn’t thrown some horrific interceptions. Iowa State’s secondary isn’t anywhere near as good as Texas’, and I don’t feel the Cyclones have done enough this season to warrant being favored by double digits on the road against a team with a winning record.

           

    Brad Shepard

    I’ve already talked about them. Texas Tech (+10.5 at Baylor) and USC (+11.0 at Notre Dame) are right around the same, and I like both to win outright. I believe in what head coach Matt Wells is doing with the Red Raiders, and I think that Trojans line is way too high with Slovis coming back. Part of me believes in Oregon State beating Utah as 14.5-point dogs at home, but I can’t fully endorse that one.

            

    Ian Wharton

    West Virginia over Iowa State. The Mountaineers are 10-point underdogs, but their offense has the playmaking to overcome what is a very unique defense from head coach Matt Campbell and the Cyclones. West Virginia sticking with Austin Kendall is the right move, and he proves it this week. 

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    South Carolina RB Tavien Feaster

    South Carolina RB Tavien FeasterSean Rayford/Associated Press

    David Kenyon

    All good things must come to an end at some point, right? South Carolina’s rushing stats are extremely inflated after wrecking Charleston Southern for 493 yards and eight touchdowns, but that doesn’t mean the Gamecocks are ineffective on the ground, either. Georgia gives up one inconsequential rushing score.

           

    Kerry Miller

    South Carolina’s rushing numbers are skewed by that game against Charleston Southern. Against “real” opponents, the Gamecocks have averaged four yards per carry, and they looked awful against Missouri. So, no, I don’t think they run one in against a defense that has held its last four opponents to a combined total of 182 rushing yards and 14 first downs via the run.

           

    Brad Shepard

    Yes. South Carolina has played one of the most brutal schedules in the nation, and it continues this weekend against the Bulldogs. Coach Will Muschamp‘s team has just a tiny chance to win, but the Gamecocks are going to have some scoring chances with quarterback Ryan Hilinski, especially if they attack the middle of the field. Look for SC to get a short scoring run in there somewhere.

            

    Ian Wharton

    Yes. It may come in garbage time, but the Gamecocks have one of the better rushing attacks in the nation for a reason. They have two talented backs in Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle and creative misdirection plays to open up space outside of the tackles. It’ll pay off eventually as they wear down the Bulldogs’ front seven.

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    Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor (23) and QB Jack Coan (17)

    Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor (23) and QB Jack Coan (17)Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    David Kenyon

    Over. Feels kinda strange to say that, but Ohio State ran all over Michigan State last weekend. Turning that around within a week would be mighty impressive. I think Wisconsin jumps out to an early lead, but MSU does a better job finishing drives this week and scores a late touchdown to lift the total above 40.5.

           

    Kerry Miller

    Ohio State had its way with Michigan State’s front seven last Saturday, but a lot of that had to do with the mobility of Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields. Even with all-world talent Jonathan Taylor in the backfield, I suspect Wisconsin is going to have much more difficulty running the ball against the Spartans, given its complete lack of a scrambling threat in quarterback Jack Coan. And I can’t imagine Michigan State scoring more than twice against Wisconsin’s elite defense. So give me the under in what should be a 21-10 type of rock fight.

           

    Brad Shepard

    Under. Big time. I love these types of games, and these are the two best defenses in the defense-happy Big Ten. It’s going to be both brutal and beautiful at the same time. I’m taking the Badgers in a 23-9 barn burner.

            

    Ian Wharton

    Over. The Spartans fumbled away a few opportunities against Ohio State, and Wisconsin has enough offense behind Jonathan Taylor to reach 20 on its own. A cleaner performance from Michigan State will go a long way in this contest. I expect a 27-24 type of game.

           

    Unless otherwise noted, odds via Caesars Sportsbook.