While Week 7 of the college football season doesn't have the number of compelling matchups that Week 6 boasted, there are nonetheless some excellent games and intriguing storylines to discuss.
From the Red River Shootout to another huge SEC clash, BCS implications abound this week. Meanwhile, it's another week to find out if anyone will challenge that touchdown machine in West Virginia in the Heisman race.
Let's go through a few of the biggest storylines of the week before taking a closer look at this week's biggest games.
Will Geno Smith continue his season for the ages? Can Louisville stay ahead of Rutgers and Cincinnati in the suddenly-relevant Big East by beating Pittsburgh? Who will win the Red River Shootout? Can South Carolina survive another brutal SEC showdown, this time against an LSU team recovering from a loss to Florida?
Take a deep breath. Let's continue...
Can Notre Dame continue its magical run against Stanford? Ditto for Oregon State against BYU? Will Florida State rebound against Boston College or continue licking its wounds after losing to NC State? Will Ohio State continue to be the Big Ten's only relevant team with a win over Indiana? How will TCU fare without starting quarterback Casey Pachall for the duration of the season?
I don't know the answers. But I can't wait to watch and find out.
No. 15 Texas vs. No. 13 Oklahoma
When: Saturday, October 13 at 12 p.m. ET
Analysis: Oklahoma's offensive balance could be trouble for this Texas defense. If Texas stacks the box, Landry Jones can beat this team down the field. If Texas tries to shut down the passing game, Oklahoma should be able to run the ball at will on a Texas defense that is allowing 182.4 yards per game on the ground.
Texas has an electric offense, however, averaging 477.4 yards and 46.8 points per game. Both of these teams have pretty good defenses, so I don't think things will get too out of hand, but expect a fun, down-to-the-wire contest in the Red River Shootout.
Prediction: Oklahoma wins, 35-31.
No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame
When: Saturday, October 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Analysis: Can Notre Dame's surprising ascension to BCS relevance continue against Stanford?
With that defense, it's hard to bet against them. The Fighting Irish haven't given up a touchdown in three games and have only allowed three on the season, period.
Still, Stanford seems like the type of team that can give them trouble. The Cardinal are tough against the run and will play the sort of disciplined football that won't allow Notre Dame to run away with the turnover differential.
But they won't be able to do enough offensively to bet the Irish in South Bend. The magical run continues for Notre Dame.
Prediction: Notre Dame wins, 21-17.
No. 3 South Carolina at No. 9 LSU
When: Saturday, October 13 at 8 p.m. ET
Analysis: If this was in South Carolina, I would pick the Gamecocks without thinking twice. But trying to win a game of this magnitude in LSU's home, well, that's another thing altogether. That home field advantage is enough that South Carolina is actually laying 2.5 points in this one (via Bet Online).
But LSU is stagnant on offense, and South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the country. Holding a very good Georgia team to just seven points is no small task.
Here's what it boils down to—I'll take Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore over any players on LSU's offense this season. The Gamecocks make it back-to-back wins.
Prediction: South Carolina wins, 14-6.
No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 23 Louisiana Tech
When: Saturday, October 13 at 9 p.m. ET
Analysis: When it comes to clashes in styles, it doesn't get much better than one of the highest-scoring offenses against one of the country's stingiest defenses.
Louisiana Tech is scoring 53.2 points per week, while Texas A&M is allowing just 14.8. Where Louisiana Tech may be in trouble is that Texas A&M has also been excellent offensively, scoring 44.6 points per game and accumulating 516.8 yards per week.
It's that balance on both sides of the ball that will do Louisiana Tech in.
Prediction: Texas A&M wins, 45-30.
TCU at Baylor
When: Saturday, October 13 at 7 p.m. ET
Analysis: Losing quarterback Casey Pachall for the season, because he's entering rehab and has disenrolled from TCU after an October 4 arrest for intoxicated driving, is a major blow for TCU. They felt the loss in last week's loss to Iowa State.
Still, Baylor's defense can't stop anyone, so this game could quickly evolve into a back-and-forth shootout despite TCU's defense that has allowed just 13.2 points per game. If that's the case, don't expect Baylor to lose.
Prediction: Baylor wins, 42-31.
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