College Football Weekend: Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Jeff DillonCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2009

It all seemed to be set up perfectly.

The 2008 college football season saw an intense (and historic) heightening of the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry.

Texas beat its rival in their annual Red River Rivalry meeting, catapulting over the Sooners as the top contender for the Big 12 title and for a chance to play in the BCS championship game.

But, as fate would have it, Texas would go on to lose to Texas Tech, and Oklahoma would win all of its remaining games.

When the season ended, Texas and Oklahoma were tied. Despite every sane and rational-thinking person’s cry for Texas to be given the right to play for a Big 12 title against the Big 12 North champion, the BCS rankings instead decided the two teams’ fate instead.

Let’s just say the Sooners kind of came out on top. Oklahoma got the Big 12 title game and, after winning there, went on to play for the national championship against Florida.

Oh, and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford won the Heisman award, just beating out … you guessed it, Texas’ Colt McCoy.

So we all thought that a storybook season of revenge was on the plate for the Longhorns in 2009. A chance to beat OU (again). A chance to play for a Big 12 title. A chance for McCoy to win the Heisman. A chance, perhaps, for Texas to get its rightful shot at a BCS championship.

And all of those things are still possible, technically anyways. But yet the drama isn’t quite there anymore.

That’s because the Sooners sort of forgot to hold up their end of the bargain. OU lost its opener against BYU, then Bradford for several games with a shoulder injury, then lost another game to Miami.

Thus, the build-up for this year’s Red River Rivalry is somewhat … dulled. Sure, Texas will still want to exact vengeance on its rival. But let’s be honest: everyone expects the Longhorns to win. A victory on Saturday will produce nothing more than a yawn across the college football world.

A loss to the Sooners? Now that would garner some serious attention. Heck, Oklahoma would suddenly be the favorite to win the Big 12 again.

And that fact can only make the Longhorns even madder.

To Week 7 we go …

Five games you can’t miss:

No. 11 Iowa at Wisconsin (Sat. 12:00 EST, ESPN):

Wisconsin’s impressive start to the 2009 season was given a rude awakening last week, as the Badgers lost their first of the season at Ohio State. Still, the Badgers have been impressive, and this week affords them their first chance to win a high-profile game.

This one will likely come down to which quarterback takes better care of the ball. Both starters, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi and Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien (who threw two pick-sixes against the Buckeyes last week) have been inconsistent. I’ll give the slight edge to the home team, which is hungry for a marquee win.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Iowa 21

No. 22 South Carolina at No. 2 Alabama (Sat. 7:45 EST, ESPN):

South Carolina has to be one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. How about Stephen Garcia’s numbers (1,268 yards, 9 TD’s, 3 INT’s)? But they have yet to face a defense with the size and speed of Albama’s.

The Crimson Tide are in great position to get themselves to the SEC title game. They can’t afford a hiccup, especially at home, to a team like South Carolina. Expect Saban’s team to be extremely prepared for this one.

Prediction: Alabama 27, South Carolina 16

No. 4 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Georgia Tech (Sat. 6:00 EST, ESPN2):

If Virginia Tech really is the best one-loss team in the country, this game will tell us. At least it will give us a better idea about the Hokies’ defense. The Yellowjackets are averaging 426 total yards per game, which is tops in the ACC.

Georgia Tech’s defense is likely to struggle slowing down the Hokies, too. The Jackets have allowed 26.5 points per game so far this season. Against a team with a talent like Tyrod Taylor, that spells trouble.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, Georgia Tech 27

No. 6 USC at No. 25 Notre Dame (Sat. 3:30 EST, NBC):

Has there been a more important game for the Irish in recent history? This game, potentially, has so much on the line: Notre Dame’s season, Charlie Weis’ job, Jimmy Clausen’s Heisman candidacy, the national image of the Irish. …

There’s no question Notre Dame will do everything in its power to win this game, but the Irish also have all of the pressure on their shoulders. USC and its calm, cool quarterback Matt Barkley have been in this position before, and they’ve performed well (see: the Ohio State game).

Prediction: USC 24, Notre Dame 20

No. 20 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas (Sat. 12:00 EST, ABC):

Okay, here we go. Texas’ revenge campaign kicks off in Dallas against its bitter rival. Of course, the biggest question is how Sam Bradford’s aching shoulder will hold up. He looked okay last week versus Baylor. But “okay” is not going to cut it against the Longhorns.

Texas benefited last season from a huge game from Brian Orakpo. The Longhorns need another defensive player to step up in this year’s game to put pressure on Bradford early (Sergio Kindle? Where are you?) If they get that, this one could be over early.

Prediction: Texas 38, Oklahoma 21


Upset Special:

Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Iowa

(See above)


For your viewing pleasure:

Pittsburgh at Rutgers (Fri. 8:00 EST, ESPN): Pittsburgh 27, Rutgers 26

Northwestern at Michigan State (Sat. 12:00 EST, ESPN2): Michigan State 30, Northwestern 23

Cal at UCLA (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Cal 35, UCLA, 24

N.C. State at Boston College (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): BC 27, NC State 17

Texas Tech at No. 15 Nebraska (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Nebraska 31, Texas Tech 28

Minnesota at No. 14 Penn State (Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC): Penn State 23, Minnesota 10

Kentucky at Auburn (Sat. 7:30 EST, ESPN): Auburn 24, Kentucky 16

Missouri at No. 16 Oklahoma State (Sat. 9:15 EST, ESPN2): Okla. State 42, Missouri 30

No. 24 Utah at UNLV (Sat. 10:00 EST, The Mtn.): Utah 27, UNLV 23


Heisman Hunt:

Ndamukong Suh (DT – Nebraska)

In a year in which there is no clear favorite for the Heisman, it’s at least fun to consider the possibility of a defensive player winning college football’s greatest honor.

Sure, it hasn’t happened since 1997, but the race is much more open than in years past, and Suh’s performance thus far, leading the Big 12’s top-ranked scoring defense, deserves some attention. Suh will get a chance to display his dominance against a high-scoring offense this weekend (Texas Tech, Sat. 3:30 EST, ABC).


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