College Football Picks Week 7: Predicting Games Between Ranked Opponents

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 9, 2013

COLUMBIA , MO - SEPTEMBER 8:  Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs hands the ball off to running back Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs during their game against the Missouri Tigers in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The 2013 college football season has provided no shortage of thrills to fans of every team and conference. From upsets of Top 25 teams to fourth-quarter comebacks that will long be remembered, there has been no shortage of awe-inspiring moments.

During Week 7 of the college football season, no games will offer as much potential for greatness as those between ranked opponents. The question is, how will those games transpire?

Let's find out.


No. 25 Missouri Tigers (5-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0 SEC)

September 8, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) hands off the ball to running back Todd Gurley (3) during the second half at Faurot Field. The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Missouri Tigers 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Dak
Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, Oct. 12

Time: Noon ET

TV: ESPN, Watch ESPN & ESPN Mobile App

Prediction: 44-38, Georgia

For the third consecutive week, the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs are on upset alert, as they face the No. 25 Missouri Tigers. After surviving two of the best games of the year, a 44-41 win over the No. 10 LSU Tigers and a 34-31 overtime victory over the Tennessee Volunteers, Georgia will look to move to 5-1.

Don't think for a second that Missouri isn't ready to pull out an upset.

The Tigers are 5-0 with dominant wins over the 3-2 Indiana Hoosiers and 3-3 Vanderbilt Commodores. The team may not have a signature victory just yet, but Missouri ranks eighth in the nation in scoring offense behind quarterback James Franklin's dual-threat abilities.

Thus far, Franklin has 1,407 passing yards and 13 touchdowns to three interceptions on a completion percentage of 67.9. Franklin is also one of four Tigers players with at least 275 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Throw in the fact that three separate receivers have at least 20 receptions, and Missouri has as balanced an offense as you'll find across the nation. Is is too soon to talk Heisman?

Franklin certainly has the numbers.

For Georgia, Aaron Murray is a Heisman Trophy candidate in his own right, throwing for 1,534 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions on 64.9 percent passing. Murray also has three rushing touchdowns and has led a number of fourth-quarter scoring drives in close games.

Admittedly, I didn't believe in Murray as a franchise quarterback in the NFL or as a true star at the collegiate level prior to this season. The numbers were impressive, but entering his fourth year as a starter, Murray hadn't been able to win the big games.

This year, he's taken his game to another level. Unfortunately, Murray will have to do that again against Missouri without his leading rusher.

Keith Marshall is also out after suffering a season-ending torn ACL against Tennessee, per ESPNU.

Missouri certainly has the look of a conference title contender, but so far they haven't played a great level of competition. Georgia, meanwhile, has wins over No. 10 LSU and the No. 14 South Carolina Gamecocks and lost by three points on the road to the No. 3 Clemson Tigers.

This will be a very good game, but playing at home, Georgia will win by a slim margin.


No. 17 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) at No. 10 LSU Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC)

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 06:  Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers is tackled by Jon Bostic #1 of the Florida Gators during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Date: Saturday, Oct. 12

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET


Prediction: 27-24, LSU

The No. 17 Florida Gators will travel to play No. 10 LSU in a meeting between one-loss SEC title contenders. Florida is tied with Georgia at 3-0 for first place in the SEC East, while LSU is half a game behind the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC West.

With Florida facing Georgia on Nov. 2 and LSU set to face Alabama on Nov. 9, it's safe to say that this is a high-stakes game.

Florida lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to injury, but Tyler Murphy has played significantly better football in his place. In his most recent start, Murphy was 16-of-22 for 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 30-10 win over Arkansas.

Murphy is also one of three Gators to run for at least two rushing touchdowns, with Matt Jones and Mack Brown being the others. Trey Burton, Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton have combined for 60 receptions to provide supporting fire, and Florida's offense is as dangerous as ever under Will Muschamp.

Florida is also ranked No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense, with freshman defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III leading the charge.

D.J. Durkin, the man who is responsible for that quote, is Florida's defensive coordinator.

LSU will give Hargreaves and Co. trouble with one of the most tremendously improved passing games in the country. Zach Mettenberger has 1,738 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions on 68.2-percent passing after completing 58.2 percent of his passes in 2012.

Jarvis Landry (42 receptions for 616 yards and seven touchdowns) and Odell Beckham (35 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns) form what is arguably the best receiving tandem in the country. Jeremy Hill has added 593 yards and nine rushing touchdowns to create unstoppable balance.

If you're still not sold, try the fact that Hill has rushed for at least one touchdown in every game he's played this season.

Both of these defenses will have their hands full.

The separating factor in this game will be the home-field advantage that LSU possesses in Death Valley. The Tigers have lost just one home game since Florida came to town and took one on Oct. 10, 2009.

Florida is a threat, but LSU will win a close one.


No. 2 Oregon Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 16 Washington Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 6: Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter of the game against the Washington Huskies on October 6, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 52-21. (P
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Date: Saturday, Oct. 12

Time: 4 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1

Prediction: 42-34, Oregon

In what may just be the game of the week, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks will go on the road to play an inspired No. 16 Washington Huskies team. Both squads have great-to-elite quarterbacks and each have explosive running games.

The national championship picture will be impacted when this offensive battle is all said and done.

Washington quarterback Keith Price currently has 1,394 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions on a completion percentage of 71.3. Against the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal, Price was 33-of-48 for 350 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a heartbreaking 31-28 loss.

If not Price, then the star of the team has been running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Bishop Sankey. He's topped 125 rushing yards in all but one game and has season totals of 732 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

It took an extraordinary effort and a controversial finish for Stanford to survive Washington's balanced attack.

Oregon could be in just as much trouble with the Huskies.

It won't be fun for Washington, as Oregon enters this game with the No. 2 scoring offense and the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation. Marcus Mariota has 14 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns to no interceptions, and Terrance Mitchell already has three interceptions.

As great as the defense has been, the story is about the offense, as five separate players have at least 150 rushing yards and four have at least four rushing touchdowns. Mariota is averaging 12.1 yards per rushing attempt, De'Anthony Thomas is at 8.0 and leading rusher Byron Marshall at 6.3.

Plain and simple, you just can't stop Oregon from putting up points.

Love them, hate them or feel indifferent, the Ducks are unbelievably consistent on offense.

Oregon will need to prove its merit as road warriors in this one, as Washington has the skill players and crowd to pull this upset off. After a close loss to Stanford last week, expect the Huskies to be even more motivated than normal.

In the end, however, Oregon's offense will be just too much, and Mariota will continue his Heisman campaign.