Picks for the biggest Week 7 games
Wes Huber previews and offers up picks for Saturday's biggest matchups.
Picks for the biggest Week 7 games
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan
Line: Michigan -8.5
The fact that the Spartans have tumbled from No. 2 to No. 7 without losing — and the Wolverines are still on the outside-looking-in of the top ten — will tell you all you need to know about the merit of the current ranking system. Quite simply, we could very well be looking at a pair of top-five teams. The difference between the two outside of a significant edge to Connor Cook at QB is the Wolverines have only surrendered five total TDs all season and are at the top at defending third-down attempts. This presents a significant problem for a Michigan State offense with substantial offensive line issues, and the 56th-best scoring offense in the FBS.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Michigan State 21.
No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M
Line: Alabama -4.0
Finding Florida at much less than 100 percent against LSU, ‘Bama at A&M will be the game to watch from the SEC on Saturday. The most obvious payout opportunity is an over/under that will undoubtedly fall. Both teams average north of 34 points per game and have the ability to score in a variety of ways.
The Aggies would have a difficult time on the ground against the nearly impenetrable Crimson Tide defense, but their specialty is through the air — and that, as it just so happens, is Alabama’s weakness. Tide QB Jake Coker has found success with the emergence of freshman phenom WR Calvin Ridley, and RB Derrick Henry is one of the best in the game. A shootout is likely.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Texas A&M 41.
Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State
Line: OSU -17.0
While these teams may have an 11-1 combined record, a large number of respected opinions feel neither of these programs are threats to secure a playoff berth. The Buckeyes are 44-3 since Urban Meyer became its head coach, including a nation-high 18 straight victories. Penn State brings the tenth-ranked total defense into Columbus and QB Christian Hackenberg seems to have taken a tiny step towards living up to lofty scouting expectations with his positive performances over his last two games.
The difference in this game will boil down to the skills of Ezekiel Elliott and the previous exploitation of a Nittany Lions run defense in Week 5 via Army. Not only did Penn State allow the Black Knights to accumulate 300 rushing yards, they did so at a 6.1 yard per attempt clip. With Zeke hitting his stride with per game rushing averages of 190 yards, 118 yards after contact, and 2.5 TDs over the last two games, Penn State will suffer its second defeat of the season.
That said, as long as the offense can generate 20-plus points, the Carl Nassib and Austin Johnson-anchored defensive line will hold strong within the 17-point spread, and present an opportunity for earnings.
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Penn State 23.
No. 4 Utah at Arizona State
Line: Utah -7.0
Utah continued the mastery of its 2015 schedule with a hard-earned victory over California, although, in the process, revealing some telling flaws. The Utes defense is solid, but they actually rank 66th in total defense due to surrendering 392.0 yards per game. Many predicted the Sun Devils would be a major player in 2015, but quickly fell out of favor after losing to Texas A&M and USC.
The opportunity arises when you consider the Arizona State offense is firing on all cylinders after nearly doubling-down in a defeat over UCLA, and it is only a matter of time before Utah will be required to rely on the arm of Travis Wilson to secure a win. Utah has been the 96th-best team at defending third-down attempts, providing the Sun Devils with a path to success, and returning the program to immediate prominence.
Prediction: Arizona State 30, Utah 24.
No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU
Line: LSU -9.5
Two major factors can be attributed to the Gators return to the top and Florida had one of those plucked from under their nose when QB Will Grier was suspended for a calendar year. LSU has been nothing short of spectacular, but a Gator squad with Grier at the helm would have provided the Tigers with a challenge they’ve yet to face. Alas, that is no longer the case, and LSU has only been allotted 9.5 points, most likely out of respect for the tremendous job of HC Jim McElwain. Without Grier, the Gators are a mirror image of the 2014-version, albeit with improved coaching, but with significant deficiencies in reaching the endzone.
Prediction: LSU 33, Florida 20
Louisville at No. 11 Florida State
Line: Florida State -7.0
While FSU QB Everett Golson has been a great addition, RB Dalvin Cook holds the keys to the potential success of the Seminoles season. Playing in Tallahassee with Cook healthy and racking up 200-yard games, Louisville has little-to-no chance of keeping this game within seven points. Take advantage.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Louisville 17.
No. 13 Ole Miss at Memphis
Line: Ole Miss -10.5
A Week 5 loss to Florida dropped the Rebels from the predicted playoff picture, presenting an undefeated Tigers program with an opponent packing significant weapons, and nothing to lose. Memphis QB Paxton Lynch has done nothing short of a spectacular balancing act utilizing his offense to counter the 103rd-ranked total defense, but that will come to an end in Week 7. The Rebels will secure a decisive victory, but the combination of scoring averages between Ole Miss (46.8 points per game) and Memphis (47.8) will ensure an exceeded O/U.
Prediction: Ole Miss 47, Memphis 31.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
Line: South Carolina -2.5
It’s strange how perception directly dictates the landscape of college football. Some teams possess the wins without meeting expectations, others are light in the win-column while exceeding predictions, and yet both fall short of respect. Vanderbilt fits the latter and, despite facing a dismal Gamecock team, are still predicted to suffer a defeat. Based on PFF standards, South Carolina hasn’t only been bad, their offense and defense have performed below FCS standards. The Vanderbilt defense ranks in the top-25 and the offense will play well enough to outscore a forgettable South Carolina team.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, South Carolina 19.
Oregon at Washington
Line: Washington -2.5
Many were shocked that the Huskies defeated USC in Week 6, but the Chris Peterson-coached Washington program will eventually prove its worth. The X-factor to Washington’s success has been a bend-but-don’t-break defense that has allowed only 15.0 points per game. Oregon is still scrambling at quarterback and will look to move the ball on the legs of RB Royce Freeman. Considering the Huskies have only allowed 3.06 yards per rushing attempt, Washington will be more than ready to live up to the reasoning behind pushing Oregon to an underdog, and take another major step toward gaining national recognition.
Prediction: Washington 30, Oregon 26.
Akron at Bowling Green
Line: Bowling Green -11.5
Week 7’s selected matchups will conclude with an under-the-radar opportunity to score earnings in opposition to the belief that Bowling Green’s juggernaut offense will overmatch an average Akron squad. While the Falcons will most definitely rack up the points, QB Matt Johnson will furnish another 400-yard passing game, but … Akron QB Thomas Woodson will prove to be far more than the oddsmakers predicted. From Weeks 3-5, after taking over as the starter, Woodson, you may be shocked to discover, grades out as the eighth-best QB in the entire nation. In addition, Zips RB Conor Hundley can be found as number two among backs over the same time period. The expectation is not that Akron will win, only that a Falcon’s defense will continue the trend of surrendering 36.3 points per game, and HC Terry Bowden’s Akron attack will keep the point difference under ten.
Prediction: Bowling Green 40, Akron 36.
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Wes Huber | Analyst
Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.