Weekends in college football don’t get much better than what we just experienced in Week 7. From Salt Lake City to Fort Worth to Knoxville, we saw three incredible games with high stakes and great results and phenomenal after scenes. It’s going to be hard to top that this week, but watch your couch anyway, because you never know when an exciting week might come your way.
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Kansas at Baylor (-7.5)
The maneuvering in the messy middle of the Big 12 continues as the Power 5’s most even league continues its weekly ups and downs. The Bears host the Jayhawks and are trying to leave a taste of an error-filled loss to West Virginia in the rearview mirror. Kansas has now lost two in a row since its hot start and is looking to be on the bright side of the win/loss book once again.
Duel to follow: Both quarterbacks face injury report. No one is 100% at this point in the season, but the health of Kansas’s Jalon Daniels and Baylor’s Blake Shapen is a big story throughout the week as they both try to fight back. Daniels has a sore shoulder and Shapen is working his way through the concussion protocol. Both teams are different without their core players, though Kansas has shown it can still score plenty of points with backup Jason Bean behind the wheel.
Syracuse at Clemson (-13.5)
It’s been a dream season so far for Syracuse, which started 6-0 for the first time since the 1980s. Now they go to Clemson, an opponent that, for a time, Orange under Dino Babers actually handled quite well, beating the Tigers at home in 2017 and pushing them to the limit in Death Valley in 2018. Clemson is back where they are. used to be: the driver’s seat in the ACC, but the Oranges are upset once again.
Duel to follow: Clemson’s pass rush against Syracuse’s offensive line. The Orange allow opponents to sack QB Garrett Schrader at a slightly higher rate than you’d like. They’ll have to keep it up, because the Tigers’ defense is no one to fall for behind the chains.
Cincinnati (-3.5) at SMU
The Bearcats struggled with USF in their last outing and will be looking to put that performance behind them. Cincy continues to win after a Week 1 loss against Arkansas, but a look at his opponents shows a schedule full of teams that aren’t very good. SMU isn’t anybody’s playoff pick, but it will be the best team the Bearcats have faced since Week 1 by a wide margin.
Duel to follow: Cincinnati’s offense against the third down. The positive is that the Bearcats don’t really face the third very much from a raw shooting perspective. The negative is that when they are in third place, things usually do not go too well, with a conversion rate more or less average at the national level. Staying out of those high-leverage lows could be key to beating SMU.
Ole Miss at LSU (-2), 3:30 p.m.
With a varied and unique running attack, Ole Miss is an absolute bear to stop. Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans not only provide a tough-to-stop backfield tandem, but when quarterback Jaxon Dart gets involved, this team has a running game that’s as good as any in the country, particularly in the way which interferes with the mathematics of defense. how the QB gets involved. They use drift and multiple pulls and moves to confuse the eyes of defenses, and if the Tigers aren’t ready for it, they can have a long day.
Duel to follow: LSU’s offensive line vs. Ole Miss’s defensive line. Quarterback Jayden Daniels remains one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the country, and the Ole Miss defense isn’t the much-maligned unit it has been in the past.
Texas (-6.5) at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m.
It was a good start for The Pokes, but the last two games have seemed rocky for OSU. Texas and Quinn Ewers come in looking like they’re ready to score some points. Iowa State controlled the Horns last week and arguably should have won that game, but Texas was able to get him out, which is more than can be said for the program in the recent past.
Duel to follow: Oklahoma State’s defense against the explosive play. The Cowboys rank 88th in the country in passing plays allowed over 20 yards, and among the 56 teams that have only played six games, OSU ranks 49th. In step with Texas, with Ewers having a serious predilection for the ball deep. Be aware.
UCLA at Oregon (-6), 3:30 p.m.
Welcome to the Chip Bowl. Chip Kelly returns to the place where he first became famous since he came to UCLA. He brings a team of seasoned Bruins that is packed with experience. They should be ready to handle the atmosphere at Autzen Stadium, as quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is playing easily the best football of his career thus far with a talented trio of receivers. This game was electric last year at the Rose Bowl and hopefully this year’s version is up to the task.
Duel to follow: Bo Nix vs. Bo Nix. The Ducks need a good Bo in this game of the enigmatic signal caller. The Bruins are too solid and too consistent on offense. If Nix is delivering the ball, then Oregon could have a quick run.
Memphis at Tulane (-7), 3:30 p.m.
Don’t look now, but Tulane is 6-1 and ranked. Head coach Willie Fritz has been consistent in a place that needed just that. However, the Green Wave is winning with an efficient defense this year, limiting the big plays and complementing an offense that doesn’t exactly produce fireworks.
Duel to follow: Tulane vs turnovers. The Tigers aren’t very good defensively, and even that is backed up by 13 take-offs and a +7 margin overall. If you don’t give Memphis the ball, they look even worse than they really are.
Purdue in Wisconsin (-2.5). 3:30 pm
The Boilermakers are quietly putting together an impressive season with two losses apiece by one possession. Wisconsin is just trying to hang on right now with Jim Leonhard as interim coach and a program dealing with some transfers and significant flow.
Duel to follow: Jim Leonhard vs. Jeff Brohm. Two interesting schematic minds face off in this game. But this isn’t exactly the suffocating defense of yesteryear in Madison, and the Badgers don’t have the firepower on offense to keep up if Purdue steps up.
Boise State in the Air Force (-2.5), 7 p.m.
OKAY, someone he’s going to have to win every Mountain West division. Boise has an early record of 3-0 and the Air Force has pulled away from what appeared to be one of the best teams in the G5 to start the season. These aren’t the Broncos of old, but they’re still pretty formidable defensively.
Duel to follow: Boise State’s passing offense against the Air Force defense. It’s been nothing short of hard work for the Broncos to do just about anything through the air. There are only 10 worst passing games in FBS from a yards per game perspective and eight worst from a yards per attempt perspective. Their defense is excellent, but if Air Force is able to get ahead and Boise has to chase them down, you shouldn’t like their chances.
Kansas State at TCU (-3.5), 8 p.m.
It’s not exactly the matchup we thought we might have twice this season when all is said and done, because both teams are in the top of the Big 12 and could meet again in the conference title game. The Horned Frogs are an undefeated surprise, but here they sit intact after a serious scare against Oklahoma State at home last weekend. Kansas State has managed to get the best out of quarterback Adrian Martinez, which is a credit to the coaching staff in Manhattan. They’ll need him to be at the peak of his powers in what could end up being a shootout against a big TCU offense.
Duel to follow: Quentin Johnston against everyone. The talented wide receiver is having great success so far this season. Sometimes the offense is as simple as give that guy the ball and see what happens and Johnston has proven over the past two weeks that if you do exactly that, he’ll deliver. The long-armed white is exceptional with the ball in his hands.