College Football Predictions Week 7: Undefeated Teams That Will Rise in Rankings
An amalgamation of circumstances, premier programs on bye weeks and level of competition will allow certain college football teams to remain undefeated through Week 7 and rise in the rankings.
There has not been a change to the top five of the AP poll since Week 3, so the picture is due for a shakeup. The No. 5 Stanford Cardinal have a chance to leapfrog an idle Ohio State with a win at Utah on Saturday.
A couple of other teams without a blemish on their record aren't in the national championship picture, but will pull off victories of their own to become more featured in the conversation.
Below is a breakdown of why Stanford will beat a difficult Utah team on the road and a look at two other teams to watch for that are lurking a bit under the radar.
Note: Statistics are courtesy of NCAA.com.
No. 5 Stanford Cardinal
One could look at the Utes' pedestrian 3-2 record and not be impressed, but it would be foolish to dismiss their chances of pulling off the upset at home.
Utah's only two losses were by one possession each. A lot of the blame shifts to quarterbacks because of the importance placed on the position. In the case of Travis Wilson, it is justified.
Which team will win the Pac-12?
Wilson chucked six interceptions in a seven-point loss to UCLA in last week's Thursday night showcase. Before that, he threw three picks in losing a 51-48 overtime contest to Oregon State.
This is the toughest defense Wilson will have faced, with a physical front seven capable of shutting him down as a runner and passer by generating pressure.
Stanford only allows opponents to convert 32.9 percent of third downs, and the Utes convert only 31.3 percent of the time themselves. That's a recipe for disaster.
The Cardinal will know better than to look past this game ahead of their own clash with the Bruins next week, and will take care of business on the road by stalling Utah's offense and gutting it out at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Prediction: Stanford wins 27-13; moves to No. 4 in AP poll
No. 11 UCLA Bruins
Thanks to the play of sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, UCLA has the fifth-highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 48 points per contest.
Hundley will face the 121st-ranked defense of the California Bears at home on Saturday, which should only allow the Bruins to inflate their incredible point total.
The signal-caller is averaging nearly nine yards per attempt and has nine touchdown passes in five games to go with 242 yards rushing and three other scores. His Heisman stock isn't sky-high, but this is the type of matchup where he could put up the monster numbers necessary to gain some traction.
All that should stop UCLA from exceeding its average in points is for head coach Jim Mora to pull the starters, which should happen by the time the Bruins march up and down the field to pay dirt a number of times.
As admirably well as freshman Bears QB Jared Goff has played with such a horrendous defense supporting him, he has no chance of keeping Cal within striking distance in this Pac-12 showdown.
Look for the Bruins to catch more attention by hanging a big number on the scoreboard and enjoying a bump into the top 10 for the first time this year.
Prediction: UCLA wins 65-21; moves to No. 10 in AP poll
No. 18 Michigan Wolverines
Another potential-filled, dual-threat dynamo quarterbacks the Wolverines: Devin Gardner.
The junior is in the starting slot for the first time in his career, and as explosive as he is, Gardner has had his shortcomings.
Turnovers have made some of the Wolverines' games closer than they should have been, and the QB has been to blame for most of them.
However, Gardner cleaned up his act after throwing five interceptions in his previous two games by not giving the ball away in a 42-13 blowout of Minnesota last week. If he can take care of the ball, Michigan will be hard for anyone to beat.
Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess is also emerging into a star, as he caught seven passes for 151 yards and a touchdown against the Golden Gophers.
A road trip to Penn State looms this week.
Happy Valley is always a tough place to play, but a stout Wolverines defense will limit and confuse true freshman Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg enough for Michigan to pull out a second consecutive Big Ten win.
Prediction: Michigan wins 34-17; moves to No. 16 in AP poll
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