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HomeSportsCollege football Week 7: Picks and preview

College football Week 7: Picks and preview

There’s a new No. 1 team in the country, and an interesting potential College Football Playoff scenario already playing out. That should make for a fun Week 7.

Here’s our previews and predictions (point spreads courtesy of DraftKings and current at the time of publication, but subject to change) for this week’s games featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25 and other intriguing matchups.

All times Eastern. Statistics in parenthesis are from 2021 unless noted.


1 of 22

California (1-4, 0-2 in Pac-12) at No. 9 Oregon (4-1, 1-1 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Friday, ESPN

Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks have had some time to get over that 31-24 loss at Stanford on Oct. 2. Back in action, they’ll try for a seventh straight home victory over Cal, which has dropped four consecutive contests on the road. Oregon has committed 19 penalties in its last two games, That lack of discipline proved costly against Stanford, and if it continues, things could get hairy for the Ducks going forward.

Prediction: Oregon (-13 1/2)


2 of 22

No. 24 San Diego State (5-0, 1-0 in Mountain West) at San Jose State (3-3, 1-1 in Mountain West), 10:30 a.m., Friday, CBS Sports Network

Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State last started 6-0 in 2017. However, its seven-game winning streak over San Jose State ended with a 28-17 loss last season. Greg Bell has rushed for 520 yards and five touchdowns for the Aztecs this season and ran for 109 with a score against the Spartans in 2020. San Jose State’s three defeats have come by an average of 20.3 points while totaling 24 points. The Aztecs are giving up 16.6 points per contest.

Prediction: San Diego State (+ 9 1/2)


3 of 22

Auburn (4-2, 1-1 in SEC) at No. 17 Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 in SEC), Noon, Saturday, CBS

Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports

After starting 4-0, the feel-good story of Arkansas’ Razorbacks has hit the snag. They fell 37-0 at new No. 1 Georgia on Oct. 2 and last weekend lost a barn-burner 52-51 to then-No. 17 Ole Miss. Things likely don’t get any easier against Auburn, which is coming off a 34-10 loss to Georgia, but already won at LSU this season and takes a five-game winning streak against the Hogs into this matchup.

Prediction: Auburn (+3 1/2)


4 of 22

UCF (3-2, 1-1 in AAC) at No. 3 Cincinnati (5-0, 1-0 in AAC), Noon, Saturday, ABC

Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports

Things appear to be falling into place for Cincinnati  and its chances of reaching the College Football Playoff. Desmond Ridder (1,304 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, two interceptions) is nicely guiding an offense that averages 41.0 points, while the defense is giving up 12.2 points and forced 14 turnovers over its last four games. UCF’s status as American Athletic Conference power has slipped of late, but the Knights dropped their last two against the Bearcats by just three points each.

Prediction: Cincinnati (-20 1/2)


5 of 22

No. 10 Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 in Big Ten) at Indiana (2-3, 0-2 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, FS1

Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports

Kenneth Walker III (903 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) gets a lot of pub, but receivers Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor (combined 46 receptions, 982 yards, 11 TDs) and quarterback Payton Thorne (1,576 yards, 14 TDs, two interceptions) are a major reason Michigan State averages 36.7 points. Indiana, meanwhile, has yielded an average of 31.0 points while losing two of its last three. The  uncertain status of quarterback Michael Penix Jr., also doesn’t seem to bode well for the Hoosiers, which have dropped four of the last five to the Spartans at home.

Prediction: Michigan State (-4 1/2)


6 of 22

No. 20 Florida (4-2, 2-2 in SEC) at LSU (3-3, 1-2 in SEC), Noon, Saturday, ESPN

Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

Florida might be ranked, but its chances of winning an SEC division title don’t look good. The Gators are a solid favorite this weekend but have dropped two in a row and eight of the last 11 meetings with LSU. The Tigers are banged up and looking to avoid a third straight defeat after being routed 42-12 at then-No. 16 Kentucky. The brand-name optics of this rivalry are still there, but, at the moment, these are two middling programs within the current realm of the SEC.

Prediction: Florida (-10 1/2)


7 of 22

No. 21 Texas A&M (4-2, 1-2 in SEC) at Missouri (3-3, 0-2 in SEC), Noon, Saturday, SEC Network

Thomas Shea/USA TODAY Sports

After knocking off previously-No. 1-ranked Alabama in dramatic fashion last weekend, are the Aggies walking into a trap game at Mizzou? Yes, this will be Texas A&M’s first true road game of the 2021 campaign, and the squad has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball. However, Missouri is 0-3 against Power Five schools this season and allowed an average of 46.0 points over its last three games.

Prediction: Texas A&M (-8 1/2)


8 of 22

No. 12 Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0 in Big 12) at No. 25 Texas (4-2, 2-1 in Big 12), Noon, Saturday, Fox

Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have quietly worked their way to the edge of the top 10 in The AP rankings. How? With a defense that’s giving up 18.6 points per game. Oklahoma State also knows how to win the close ones, since its five games have been decided by a combined 34 points. It’s lost the last two meetings with Texas by a combined 13 points. The Longhorns, though, must find a way to rebound from blowing a 21-point lead to rival Oklahoma last weekend. Texas’ Casey Thompson might not be 100 percent (thumb injury), but should be ready to build on his 388-yard, five-touchdown pass game against the Sooners.

Prediction: Texas (-5)


9 of 22

No. 19 BYU (5-1) at Baylor (5-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Rob Gray/USA TODAY Sports

This should be a fun non-conference matchup and a serious test for BYU to bounce back from just its second defeat in 18 games — versus Boise State. Baylor, meanwhile, is coming off a 25-point home victory over a solid West Virginia team. This is the first time these programs have met since 1984. The Cougars last faced a Big 12 opponent in 2016, when it lost 35-32 to West Virginia.

Prediction: Baylor (-6 1/2)


10 of 22

No. 11 Kentucky (6-0, 4-0 in SEC) at No. 1 Georgia (6-0, 4-0 in SEC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS

John Reed/USA TODAY Sports


11 of 22

Purdue (3-2, 1-1 in Big Ten) at No. 2 Iowa (6-0, 3-0 in Big Ten), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC

Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

The Hawkeyes are in a position to win a Big Ten title and reach the College Football Playoff because of a defense that averages 13.0 points and has forced 20 turnovers. That could spell doom for Purdue, which has lost two of three and scored just 13 points in each of those contests. The Boilermakers, who also turned the ball over twice in each of those three games, are 0-27 on the road against ranked opponents since winning at then-No. 14 Wisconsin on Oct. 18, 2003.

Prediction: Iowa (-11 1/2)


12 of 22

No. 5 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 in SEC) at Mississippi State (3-2, 1-1 in SEC), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since November 2007, Alabama must bounce back from losing to an unranked opponent. The Tide, especially defensively, looked shell-shocked at times during last weekend’s 41-38 loss at Texas A&M. This week will tell much about Alabama’s mettle, as it hits the road again against Mississippi State, which is back in action after winning 26-22 at Texas A&M on Oct. 2. Of course, Alabama has won 13 straight in this series.

Prediction: Alabama (-17 1/2)


13 of 22

No. 22 North Carolina State (4-1, 1-0 in ACC) at Boston College (4-1, 0-1 in ACC), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network

Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports

Riding a three-game winning streak, N.C. State is playing its first ACC game since upsetting then-No. 9 Clemson on Sept. 25. This is also the Wolfpack’s first league game on the road, where their lone 2021 defeat came at Mississippi State. Quarterback Devin Leary has thrown nine of his 12 touchdowns over the last three games — without an interception. B.C. is also returning to the field for the first time since Oct. 2, when it lost by six to then-No. 25 Clemson.

Prediction: Boston College (+3)


14 of 22

TCU (3-2, 1-1 in Big 12) at No. 4 Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0 in Big 12), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Sooners are in a position to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff at the moment after that remarkable comeback against Texas last weekend. However, the talk at the moment is about Oklahoma’s quarterback situation. Red River Rivalry hero Caleb Williams (15-of-24, 211 yards, two TDs versus Texas last weekend) is reportedly taking snaps with the first team , while former Heisman Trophy favorite Spencer Rattler and his future with the school appears to be in limbo. All that said, the Sooners still seem in good shape to record an eighth straight win over TCU.

Prediction: Oklahoma (-13 1/2)


15 of 22

No. 13 Mississippi (4-1, 1-1 in SEC) at Tennessee (4-2, 2-1 in SEC), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network

Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports

Former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin brings an Ole Miss squad into Knoxville that averages 46.2 points. However, the Rebels have given up 93 points in their last two games. The latter could be an issue against the Volunteers, who have totaled 107 points while beating Missouri and South Carolina in their last two games. Mississippi will also be trying to halt a seven-game road slide versus Tennessee, where it hasn’t played since 2010.

Prediction: Tennessee (+3)


16 of 22

No. 18 Arizona State (5-1, 3-0 in Pac-12) at Utah (3-2, 2-0 in Pac-12), 10 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State won at then-No. 20 UCLA and topped a pesky Stanford squad at home during its current three-game winning streak. However, things should only get tougher at Utah, where the Sun Devils have lost two of their last three visits. Arizona State boasts four players averaging at least 5.5 rushing yards per carry (on at least 31 attempts) and totaling three or more touchdowns. Utah, meanwhile, held Washington State and USC to 162 total rushing yards in winning its last two contests.

Prediction: Utah (+1)


17 of 22

Clemson (3-2, 2-1 in ACC) at Syracuse (3-3, 0-2 in ACC), 7 p.m., Friday, ESPN


For the first time since November 2014, Clemson will take the field not ranked in The AP’s Top 25. For some Tigers, that’s tough to take. However, the focus for banged-up Clemson is recording a fourth consecutive victory over Syracuse. Clemson’s biggest issue is still an offense that’s been held to fewer than 20 points three times already this season. The Tigers, though, have yielded just 61 points and their two defeats — versus Georgia and North Carolina State — came by a combined 13 points.

Prediction: Syracuse (+14)


18 of 22

Nebraska (3-4, 1-3 in Big Ten) at Minnesota (3-2, 1-1 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, ESPN2

Dylan Widger/USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska’s four losses this season have come by a combined 21 points. Following a last-second home defeat to Michigan, the Cornhuskers try to avoid going 0-4 on the road this season. They’ve dropped two straight at Minnesota, which has lost its top-two running backs Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts to season-ending injuries. The good news for the Gophers, though, is that they’ve allowed 27 points over their last three contests.

Prediction: Minnesota (+3 1/5)


19 of 22

Miami, Fla. (2-3, 0-1 in ACC) at North Carolina (3-3, 2-3 in ACC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network

Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

The case can certainly be made that these are the two biggest disappointments in the ACC — if not the country — this season. With quarterback D’Eriq King done for the season with a shoulder injury , Miami faces the challenge of its first true 2021 road game. North Carolina, meanwhile, is coming off a 10-point home loss to lowly Florida State and continues to battle with inconsistency across the board. Entering the week, no quarterback has been sacked more than the Tar Heels’ Sam Howell (23).

Prediction: North Carolina (-7)


20 of 22

Pittsburgh (4-1, 1-0 in ACC) at Virginia Tech (3-2, 1-0 in ACC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

This is a matchup of the top two teams in the ACC Coastal Division, at least in terms of the current standings. Pitt’s only loss came at home to Western Michigan by three, and it’s already won at Tennessee and Georgia Tech. The Panthers, though, have lost their last two trips to Virginia Tech, which is coming off a rough 32-29 home defeat to then-No. 14 Notre Dame. The Hokies, however, have won seven of their last nine ACC home games,

Prediction: Virginia Tech (+5)


21 of 22

Iowa State (3-2, 1-1 in Big 12) at Kansas State (3-2, 0-2 in Big 12), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2

Brian Powers/USA TODAY Sports

With each team coming off an open week, both should be well-rested and prepared for this league contest. Breece Hall is starting to find his form for the Cyclones, rushing for 413 yards and six touchdowns in the last three games after gaining 138 with two scores in his first two 2021 contests. He ran for 135 and two touchdowns during Iowa State’s 45-0 home rout of K-State last season. The Wildcats are looking to avoid a third straight defeat, but have won seven in a row 14 of 15 over Iowa State at home.

Prediction: Iowa State (-6 1/2)


22 of 22

UCLA (4-2, 2-1 in Pac-12) at Washington (2-3, 1-1 in Pac-12), 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Fox

Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

The story here is Washington’s current status. A season-opening home loss to Montana of the FCS, 21-point rout at the hands of Michigan, and 27-24 defeat at Oregon State. The Huskies, who also struggled to beat Cal, now face a UCLA squad that’s looking to open 3-0 on the road in the Pac-12. The Bruins have dropped the last two meetings in this series, but the programs have not met since 2018.

Prediction: UCLA (+1 1/2)

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.


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