College Football Picks Week 7: Predicting Winners for Marquee Matchups
The No. 15 Texas Longhorns won't get a break after dropping their first game of the 2012 season. The Red River Rivalry with the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners will be rekindled in an important conference matchup on Saturday.
Neither of these teams can afford to drop another conference game. Both of them have stumbled in conference already this season. A second loss could land them a full two games behind West Virginia and Kansas State in the standings.
That would virtually shut the door on any shot at playing in a BCS bowl game.
Texas must find a way to play better on defense if they want to avoid a second conference loss. They could get a pass for allowing 48 points to Geno Smith and West Virginia, but that marked the third game in a row the Longhorns allowed 30 or more points.
They have a very potent offense led by sophomore QB David Ash, but they can't continue to try to outgun every opponent. That won't get the job done against the Sooners.
The Oklahoma defense has been good all year. They have only allowed 16 points per game this season. This is a unit that can contain the Longhorns—at least well enough to win this game. Even in the Sooners loss to Collin Klein and Kansas State, the defense showed up.
Holding that Wildcats offense to just 24 points is a solid performance considering they average 43 points per game.
Oklahoma is a more balanced team on both sides of the ball. As long as Landry Jones continues to be careful with the football, the Sooners will win. He's thrown only two interceptions in 147 pass attempts this season. Defense and Jones' efficiency will be the difference.
My prediction is: Sooners 29, Longhorns 20
Here are my predictions for the other major games on the college football schedule in Week 7:
No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame
The success of the Cardinal running game will dictate the results here. Everything Stanford does offensively is set up by Stepfan Taylor and the ground game.
They will be running into one of the best defenses in the country—at least statistically. Teams have had some success running the ball against Notre Dame, though. The Irish have allowed two teams to rush for 100 yards this season, but they have forced turnovers when they have needed to.
Notre Dame simply keep teams out of the end zone. It's difficult to lose when you're holding teams to 7.8 points per game. The Irish have overcome their own turnovers and penalties to reach 5-0, but the Cardinal will be a formidable challenge.
Their ball control offense will test the Irish defense, and it will force them to execute on the other side of the ball. They have been averaging 154 yards per game, and Taylor is coming off a 142-yard performance against Arizona.
This will be the Irish's biggest challenge thus far, but in South Bend Notre Dame will be too much.
Look for this to be a low-scoring, closely contested game, but the Irish will win 17-10.
No. 3 South Carolina at No. 9 LSU
If the Gamecocks win this game they deserve to leapfrog Oregon in the polls. The Ducks are 6-0, and they don't play again until Thursday, but a Gamecocks win in Baton Rouge would be huge.
It would be a huge statement coming off their 35-7 rout of Georgia. With a win over LSU on the road, their resume would be more impressive.
LSU has struggled to score points lately, and that trend figures to continue in this one.
The Gamecocks' defense has been nasty all year. They have allowed only 10.5 points per game, and their schedule hasn't been filled with cream puffs. That average includes games against Georgia and Missouri.
JaDaveon Clowney has made himself a force as a pass-rusher. He has 6.5 sacks already this season, and the sophomore looks to be getting better by the game. He will lead the charge against an LSU team that has sandwiched a win over Towson with two stinker offensive performances.
They barely defeated Auburn in Week 4 by the score of 12-10. On Saturday, the Tigers were handed their only loss of the season as they fell to Florida 14-6. Scoring 16 points in two games will rarely get you by, thus they fell from No. 4 to No. 9 after the loss.
Their free-fall will continue as the Gamecocks will send the Tigers to a two-game skid. It will be another defensive battle, but in the end the Gamecocks have more playmakers on offense, and that will be the difference in this one.
My prediction is a 17-9 win for South Carolina.
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