College Football

College Football Predictions Week 7: Projecting Scores for Top Title Contenders

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks to throw a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the game at Scott Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 9, 2013

The top two teams in college football will be on the road in Week 7's action, but one team is in graver danger of an upset than the other.

Head coach Nick Saban's No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide should have little trouble disposing of unranked Kentucky in Lexington, but the No. 2 Oregon Ducks will have their hands full with the 16th-ranked Washington Huskies.

Oregon has not faced such a formidable opponent all season, and how the Ducks respond will be among the biggest storylines of the weekend.

Then there are the Clemson Tigers, who have disposed of their last two opponents in dominant fashion after an upset scare at North Carolina State. Dabo Swinney's bunch takes on Boston College in Death Valley.

Let's take a closer look at these conference showdowns for each top national championship contender and cap them off with score predictions for each.

 

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Kentucky Wildcats

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 05:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide calls to his offense against the Georgia State Panthers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There is no foreseeable reason the Tide shouldn't keep rolling in a game in which Topbet has them as the 28-point favorites.

This is a continuation of Alabama's relatively easy stretch of the schedule despite the fact that it's within the SEC. Since beating Texas A&M on the road, the Tide have not been tested.

Kentucky is just 1-4 on the season, with an offense that ranks 99th and scores just 23 points per game.

To be fair, though, its last three opponents have been Louisville, Florida and South Carolina, respectively, the latter of whom the Wildcats only lost to 35-28.

Barring a miraculous game from Kentucky dual-threat quarterback Jalen Whitlow, though, this should be another easy victory for Alabama.

Prediction: Alabama 41, Kentucky 10

 

No. 2 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 16 Washington Huskies

Oct 5, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) prepares to throw a pass against the Stanford Cardinal in the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

While Heisman Trophy hopeful QB Marcus Mariota will get a majority of the attention for Oregon, it is Huskies signal-caller Keith Price who is worth closer examination.

Price threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns against a stout Stanford defense on the road last week and comes back to Husky Stadium eager to build off of that stellar showing.

The Washington defense will have to adjust to a far different style of offense with Oregon's up-tempo attack, but part of that can be neutralized by Price's play and the physical running of Bishop Sankey, who leads the nation with 732 rushing yards.

Even against the likes of the Cardinal's front seven, Sankey was able to scamper for 125 yards and two touchdowns, including this impressive 15-yard score:

Look for Washington to establish the tone in the trenches up front and try to keep the ball away from the Ducks and Mariota—and to do it with relative success.

Given the light nature of Oregon's schedule to date, Mariota will be in for a test against the No. 23 pass defense of the Huskies. Despite being the Heisman race leader, per ESPN.com's list, he hasn't completed 60 percent of his passes even though he's had huge throwing lanes and lackluster opposition.

This could be a week where Mariota crashes, and this game has upset written all over it.

Prediction: Washington 34, Oregon 31

 

Boston College Eagles vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers

CLEMSON, SC - AUGUST 31:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers and teammate Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tiger celebrates after a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during their game at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Sammy Watkins has always had top-tier talent but was overshadowed by eventual NFL first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins last season.

That's no longer the case, as Watkins has come into his own in 2013 as Clemson's go-to receiver. In the past two games combined, he's accumulated 10 catches for 239 yards and two touchdowns.

The Eagles have the nation's 75th-ranked pass defense, per NCAA.com, and will have a mighty difficult time accounting for Watkins on Saturday.

It's hard to dismiss Boston College outright because the team did play Florida State tough in a 48-34 loss, but it also lost 35-7 to USC the previous game.

Whichever Eagles team shows up, there won't be much of a difference. Tigers QB Tajh Boyd will fortify his Heisman campaign with a virtuoso performance and lead his team to a commanding win—possibly vaulting Clemson to second in the polls if Oregon is upset.

Prediction: Clemson 49, Boston College 27

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