The college football season is about to reach the halfway point. With each passing week, the margin for error for teams looking to climb the rankings continues to diminish. Any loss means a team will need help to get back in the championship mix.
Squads that already have a loss are in must-win mode. Since there are still so many undefeated teams, they just have to keep picking up victories and hope for chaos. Once the dust settles, perhaps a one-loss team is left standing.
While only time will tell how everything shakes out, there are key games on the Week 7 schedule that are going to help the process. Let's check out some of the top matchups on tap and make predictions for which teams will triumph.
No. 2 Oregon (5-0) at No. 16 Washington (4-1)
Now the real test begins for Oregon. After dominating opponents to the tune of nearly 60 points per game, the Ducks enter a four-game stretch where they will face three ranked opponents. It starts with a trip to face a Washington side that lost by only a field goal on the road against Stanford.
The two sides met last season under similar circumstances and Oregon rolled to a 31-point win. But that was at home and with Keith Price far from his best. With the senior quarterback enjoying a return to form, the Huskies are far more dangerous this time.
Oregon must get off to a quick start to take the crowd out of the game. If the fans can start sensing an upset before halftime, the task is going to become exponentially more difficult. The Ducks should be able to escape, but it likely won't be as easy as last season.
Prediction: Oregon 41, Washington 31
No. 25 Missouri (5-0) at No. 7 Georgia (4-1)
It's been a season of close calls for Georgia. Surviving in overtime against Tennessee exemplified that weekly struggle, but the Bulldogs have been able to keep their season alive by finding a way to win four straight after an opening loss to Clemson.
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Missouri serves as another tricky test, and it could be another game that goes right down to the wire. While the Tigers haven't been seriously tested yet, they are averaging more than 46 points per game thanks to a balanced attack led by James Franklin, Henry Josey and Dorial Green-Beckham.
It's not the greatest matchup for Georgia, which ranks 95th in the nation in scoring defense. So expect another back-and-forth battle that ultimately rests on the shoulder of Aaron Murray to keep the team in the top 10.
Prediction: Georgia 38, Missouri 35
No. 17 Florida (4-1) at No. 10 LSU (5-1)
With Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M hogging the spotlight for myriad reasons, Florida and LSU have been flying below the radar for a couple weeks. That will change when the SEC rivals meet and one of them picks up a huge victory.
When Florida lost Jeff Driskel to a season-ending leg injury, the onus was on Tyler Murphy to save the Gators from falling into a tailspin. He's gone above and beyond that, providing a boost to a Florida offense that was sluggish out the gate.
Now that he's settled in, the key for Florida is slowing down LSU's multidimensional backfield. The Tigers have four backs combining to produce at a very high level. Jeremy Hill, who leads the ground attack, is averaging more than seven yards per carry. The group gives LSU the edge at home.
Prediction: LSU 24, Florida 17