Everything you need to know for Week 7 of college football
We’re approaching that time of year where conference title pictures are beginning to come into focus and just one more loss has the potential to break a team’s season. Between conference rivalries, potential upsets and two top 10 matchups, there’s a lot to look forward to this week in college football.
With Week 7 just around the corner, here are seven things to know about this weekend’s action:
- Josh Dobbs will be under fire against Bama
It seems to be a weekly theme around here, but the Alabama pass rush should have a field day again this week as they face off against Tennessee. The Volunteers offensive line has struggled throughout the season, currently ranking 61st out of 65 Power-5 teams with a 75.9 pass blocking efficiency rating. Offensive tackles Brett Kendrick (70.5) and Chance Hall (52.8) in particular have not fared well, together accounting for 22 pressures allowed this season. Alabama boasts three of the best pass rushers in the nation in Tim Williams (85.9), Ryan Anderson (82.9) and Jonathan Allen (87.4). That trio alone has picked up 46 total QB pressures this season, with Williams averaging a pressure once every 4.12 pass rushes. Quarterback Josh Dobbs (67.5) was under pressure on 44 percent of his dropbacks last week against Texas A&M and could very easily see that number rise this weekend against the Crimson Tide.
- UCLA looks to rebound
UCLA’s season hasn’t gone quite as planned, having lost two of their last three games and sitting near the bottom of the Pac-12 South rankings after six weeks. Things don’t get much easier this weekend as the Bruins travel to play a Washington State team that just dismantled Stanford in their own house. Josh Rosen (72.3) has had an up-and-down year but will need to put up some points this week in order to keep pace with quarterback Luke Falk (77.1) and the high-powered Cougar passing attack. Falk ranks third nationally with his 80.8 adjusted completion percentage and has graded well throughout this season. UCLA defenders Eddie Vanderdoes (87.5) and Takkarist McKinley (83.1) will hope to disrupt Falk’s rhythm with their pass rush, but the Washington State quarterback has been pressured on just 14.7 percent of his dropbacks this year, the second-lowest rate in the nation. The Bruins offense has put up more than 24 points just twice all season, but they’ll likely need far more than that this weekend if they’re to bounce back with a win.
- Chad Kelly’s downfield attack may meet its match this week
Through six weeks of the season, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly (81.2) has been one of the best downfield passers in the nation. He’s been accurate on 55.9 percent of his attempts traveling 20 or more yards downfield for a total of 593 passing yards, both top 10 ranks among Power-5 quarterbacks. Those numbers may take a hit this week though, as Ole Miss travels to play Arkansas and an impressive Razorbacks secondary. Cornerback Ryan Pulley (80.8) and safety Santos Ramirez (80.0) have the top coverage grades on the team, and the Arkansas secondary as a unit has allowed just a 20 percent completion rate when challenged deep. Each team’s strength will be put to the test in this SEC matchup.
- Nebraska shouldn’t take the Hoosiers lightly
Undefeated Nebraska goes on the road to play a 3-2 Indiana team this weekend, but by no means should this be written off as an easy victory for the Cornhuskers. Indiana has proven to be a tough test this year, knocking off Michigan State a few weeks ago and making life far too difficult for the Buckeyes last weekend. The Hoosiers secondary held star QB J.T. Barrett to just 93 passing yards on the day and has two solid coverage corners in Rashard Fant and A’Shon Riggins, both of which have allowed a QB rating of less than 45.0 into their coverage this season. Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong (69.7) has been outstanding as a runner this season, but has had his struggles through the air with one of the lower adjusted completion percentages among Power-5 QBs at just 68.5 percent. If the Hoosiers can shut down the Nebraska ground game and force Armstrong to win with his arm, things may get interesting in Indiana this weekend.
- With Fournette out, Derrius Guice to carry the load for LSU
Leonard Fournette will be sitting out another game this weekend due to injury, his second missed game in a row and third so far this season. With their star runner sidelined once again, the Tigers will be turning to sophomore Derrius Guice (71.4) who has proven more than capable of handling the load. Guice had an impressive outing two weeks ago against Missouri, averaging 4.7 yards after contact per attempt and forcing five missed tackles on the day. He’s shown the ability to hit the big play as well, ranking second nationally this season with 66.3 percent of his yards coming on runs of 15 or yards or longer. With LSU playing host to Southern Miss on Saturday, Guice could be in for another big night.
- Can Ohio State offense produce against Wisconsin?
The Ohio State offense had a rough outing last weekend, at least to their standards. They still managed to put up 38 points against Indiana, but it was the first time they’ve been held under 40 points this season and there were definitely some struggles on that side of the ball. Those issues will need to get cleaned up in a hurry this week as they face Wisconsin and one of the top defenses in college football. Running back Curtis Samuel (77.8) had his lowest-graded game of the year last week and while QB J.T. Barrett (68.3) was effective as a runner against Indiana, he earned his lowest passing grade of the season. This weekend they face a stout Badgers front seven led by T.J. Watt (81.0) who ranks second among the nation’s edge defenders in run stop percentage and has been just as productive as a pass rusher. The Buckeyes have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country, but this week will surely be their biggest test yet.
- UNC and Miami face off in crucial ACC showdown
Both teams are coming off conference losses, but Miami and North Carolina are far from being out of the ACC race. This weekend’ matchup between the two teams offers them both a chance to rebound and establish themselves atop the Coastal division along with Virginia Tech. Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (74.8) will surely be looking to get back on track after a poor outing last week which was partly due to the Hokies defense and partly due to the terrible conditions in which the game was played. He’s been one of the nation’s top passers this season but will face a Miami defense that has the ninth-highest coverage grades according to our rankings. Miami QB Brad Kaaya (70.1) has been impressive this year as well, ranking 14th in deep ball accuracy percentage. He faces a tough challenge as well though, as UNC has a talented secondary led by cornerback M.J. Stewart (77.7). With everything that’s on the line in this one, this game will be well worth tuning into.