Bleacher Report's Expert College Football Predictions for Week 7

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2016

Bleacher Report's Expert College Football Predictions for Week 7

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    Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
    Ohio State QB J.T. BarrettScott Halleran/Getty Images

    Week 7 of the college football season will provide more tests for the big boys, as second-ranked Ohio State will visit No. 8 Wisconsin on Saturday night, top-ranked Alabama will head to Rocky Top to take on ninth-ranked Tennessee and No. 12 Ole Miss will head to Fayetteville to take on No. 22 Arkansas.

    Who will emerge from Week 7 with momentum?

    Bleacher Report experts Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee, Chris Walsh, Greg Couch and Michael Felder break down the biggest games of the week in this edition of expert picks.

Will Tennessee Break Its Losing Streak to Alabama?

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    Alabama QB Jalen Hurts
    Alabama QB Jalen HurtsWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    It just doesn't feel like the time, although given some of the end-game absurdity and resiliency—even in a loss—I still don't feel great doubting Tennessee. With that being said, the Vols' loss to Texas A&M most certainly took a physical and emotional toll. The team is still beat-up. This grind has been amazing. While the offense should be able to find success against an Alabama defense that was vulnerable last week, it won't be enough. Nick Saban's team isn't perfect yet, but he will put his abundance of talent to good use.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    Nope, which is a contradiction of my preseason prediction that the Vols would knock off the Crimson Tide. With cornerback Cameron Sutton and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin out, running back Jalen Hurd's status up in the air and enough Vols banged-up to fill the training room, it's impossible to trust them heading into a matchup against the most talented team in college football.

    That said, it's also impossible to write off the #VooDooVols based on three straight three-score comebacks that resulted in either wins or overtime. Bama's defensive front will lead the charge, quarterback Jalen Hurts will play smart and the Crimson Tide will earn—and I mean earn—a tough road win.

        

    Chris Walsh

    They say timing is everything, and Alabama appears to be catching the beat-up Volunteers at the right moment. Tennessee started last week's Texas A&M game missing five starters and had four more join them on the sideline. More than that, though, the Vols looked emotionally spent after losing in double overtime, while Alabama isn't happy with the way it played at Arkansas and will be looking for improvement across the board. The Tide win.

        

    Greg Couch

    This is really tempting to me. The problem is you pick Tennessee to win, and then it falls way behind like it does every week. And you can't do that against Alabama with that incredible defense. But I'm not a big believer in luck and I feel the Vols' comebacks have been more guts-related. The game is in Tennessee, and Alabama's offense has to mess one up, doesn't it? What the heck: Vols win by miracle.

        

    Michael Felder

    Nope. I like this Tennessee team. Alabama isn't an unstoppable juggernaut. However, Tennessee won't make enough "extra" plays to pull this game out. Not speaking to late-game heroics for the Vols—more speaking to converting third downs early to allow them to score and play a game into the 30s and put pressure on the Tide. Tennessee has to win this one knocking on the door of 40 points, and after a tough, emotional loss to A&M—plus all the mounting injuries—I don't think the Vols can get there.

Can Wisconsin Beat Ohio State?

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    Wisconsin RB Corey Clement
    Wisconsin RB Corey ClementBobby Ellis/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    Actually, yes. Indiana outlined a formula. It didn't work, but that doesn't mean it can't or won't here. The problem is you must have a really solid defense to execute it, which the Badgers have. If Wisconsin can limit what quarterback J.T. Barrett does through the air, it has a shot.

    That's not the greatest concern when it comes to this upset bid. How the Badgers can possibly generate enough points to win is where I begin to have my doubts. But if Wisconsin can ugly up the game enough, perhaps it can take Indiana's first-half efforts and do one better.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    No, because Ohio State's offense is too good and will force Wisconsin out of its comfort zone. Running back Mike Weber has been awesome for the Buckeyes, Curtis Samuel is ultra-versatile and Barrett has proved to be the multidimensional threat he was in 2014 prior to his injury. The Buckeyes offense will come out hot and force Wisconsin to throw its way out of a hole, which will allow the Buckeyes secondary to have a field day.

        

    Chris Walsh

    The Badgers are coming off a bye week after losing to Michigan 14-7, so this is the make-or-break game for them. Ohio State had some problems with Indiana, but the Buckeyes appear to be the better team and will find a way to get the win.

        

    Greg Couch

    Yes, Wisconsin is going to win. It's going to be fun to see the Badgers' O-line go against Ohio State's D-line, if the TV cameras will point away from the ball for a few seconds. But at this point, we just have to face facts that the Badgers are for real. Ohio State seems so much more relaxed this year than last year, though. This will be close.

        

    Michael Felder

    No. Indiana did a good job slowing down an Ohio State attack that didn't force the issue until the second half. Against Wisconsin, I expect Urban Meyer's team to come out throwing haymakers early—both to remind people how explosive the Buckeyes are on offense and to make Wisconsin's limited offense have to respond to a bevy of explosive plays. Too many playmakers on the offense for the Badgers to stop them all.

Will Arkansas Rebound vs. Ole Miss?

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    Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle
    Arkansas TE Jeremy SprinkleWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    No. The bye came at a wonderful time for Ole Miss. Arkansas, which just touched gloves against Alabama, just had the opposite of a bye. Ole Miss, in terms of overall talent, is probably one of the 10 best teams in the country. While Chad Kelly suddenly has a bit of controversy once again after hopping onto the field at a high school game last week, this shouldn't impact the Rebels one bit. Arkansas can score. So can Ole Miss. This game might be five hours and a great deal of fun. Ole Miss wins an odd one.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    No, Ole Miss will dominate the Hogs. Head coach Bret Bielema doesn't have the same kind of offensive line he's had in the past, and the Rebels defensive line, led by tackle Breeland Speaks and end Marquis Haynes, will light up quarterback Austin Allen early and often. On the other side, Arkansas' secondary has given up nine passing plays of 30 or more yards, according to CFBStats.com, which means Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly and the talented group of receivers will have a lot of fun Saturday night.

        

    Chris Walsh

    The Rebels have been hearing about Hunter Henry's lateral—a term that doesn't adequately describe what he did on the play—to convert a 4th-and-25 in overtime for a whole year. Having the rematch at home will help the Razorbacks, but Ole Miss will be looking for some payback for the game that might have cost it the 2015 division title. Rebels win.

        

    Greg Couch

    Nope. Turns out Ole Miss is really good. Those early blown leads didn't crush the Rebels mentally but instead pointed out their problems. Now we're just a couple of weeks away from the Ole Miss-Auburn game in the "We Weren't So Bad After All Bowl."

        

    Michael Felder

    No. Ole Miss may well be the second-best team in the entire SEC who farted away its College Football Playoff shot by not closing the door on the Tide. After the Chad Kelly incident, Ole Miss, as has been the case with this team for a couple of years, finds its sanctuary from drama between the white lines and picks up another win for Hugh Freeze. Far from a knock on Arkansas, this Ole Miss team can really get going offensively, and that's going to be tough for the Hogs.

Which ACC Coastal Contender Will Make the Biggest Statement?

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    Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans
    Virginia Tech QB Jerod EvansMichael Shroyer/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    Virginia Tech will handle Syracuse, although I am not quite sure that would qualify as a statement. Instead, I'll go with Miami. Yes, that loss to Florida State was bad. There is no other word for it. Brad Kaaya has to play better, and I believe he will. But what impressed me in that game is how good the pieces have gotten around him. Look for Miami's ground game to really get moving against North Carolina and the 'Canes to rally nicely in an important spot.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    I'm going to go with Miami because I love the fight that team showed against Florida State. While it's easy to say Miami blew a chance against a "down" Seminoles team, I came away from last week's game thinking both are "for real" rather than either being "down." I like Virginia Tech, too, but Miami will make a statement Saturday against North Carolina with a stellar defense and efficient offense that works well off play action.

        

    Chris Walsh

    It'll be Virginia Tech by default. For some reason, the Hokies aren't getting the attention they deserve, and they'll have a chance to improve to 3-0 in conference play with a victory over Syracuse. Miami has the chance to come back strong against North Carolina, but it'll struggle against an inspired Tar Heels team.

        

    Greg Couch

    No one. Not until Oct. 20, Virginia Tech-Miami in a Thursday night game. As long as the Cubs don't clinch a spot in the World Series that night, it should get some national attention, not just regional. If North Carolina beats Miami this week, then the Coastal won't make any statements until next year.

        

    Michael Felder

    It will have to be North Carolina or Miami, since beating Syracuse isn't exactly going to qualify as a statement win for Virginia Tech. ‎Miami just lost a heartbreaker to Florida State, while North Carolina got crushed by Virginia Tech. Hurricanes get the Tar Heels at home, and the "almost overtime" loss fuels them to rebound more than "getting totally punished in the rain" does for the Tar Heels.

Will Stanford or Notre Dame Get Back on the Right Track?

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    Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
    Stanford RB Christian McCaffreyOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    Late Saturday night, when I looked at the upcoming schedule, I realized this game was happening. I made the joke that both should go to a movie or cosmic bowling instead, which I stand by. Both teams are a mess, and I don't believe either will be repaired this season—not to the level of expectations they began with.

    I do believe, however, that Notre Dame finds a way to muster up a victory here. Christian McCaffrey is injured, the Stanford offense has problems, and the road trip is not going to help any. Notre Dame struggled mightily in a hurricane. That's not to say it wouldn't struggle otherwise, but let's paint the appropriate circumstances. The Irish get a win at home here, although I am not sure what any of it will mean.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    Does either have to? Like, can we petition to bring back the tie in college football? No? OK, then I'll have to pick Notre Dame. I never really bought in to Stanford as the class of the Pac-12 North, and its upside isn't as high as Notre Dame's—which I did pick to go to the College Football Playoff (gasp). Notre Dame will win—perhaps on a stupid bounce, one-point safety or a missed extra point returned the other way—to get an ugly victory.

        

    Chris Walsh

    A couple of weeks ago, this looked like a marquee matchup. Not so much any more. Stanford was embarrassed during blowout losses to Washington and Washington State and looks like a beat-up team. Notre Dame is a train wreck, but at least its games have been close. Look for the Fighting Irish to win on a weird bounce.

        

    Greg Couch

    Stanford's offensive line can't hold off anyone's push, and Notre Dame's defensive line can't push. Take Notre Dame and hold your nose in what could be a mess of a game.

        

    Michael Felder

    One of them has to win this weekend, I guess. Combining for six losses, two-thirds of which belong to Notre Dame heading into Week 7, doesn't leave a lot of room for there to be a right track. Entering the year, the track was the playoff. Both teams have seen that dream derailed.

    If you're Stanford, the right track is to stay near the top of the Pac-12 to try to get to a major bowl if Washington finishes 13-0. For Notre Dame, realistically, securing a bowl berth is the goal—which is a far cry from the track the Irish expected to ride in 2016.

    I'll take Stanford. At times in 2016, its defense has shown the ability to stop someone. For Notre Dame, even though Stanford is mostly McCaffrey and some guys, it hasn't been able to stop "just guys" all season long.

Can Any Underdog Spring an Upset?

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    Indiana QB Richard Lagow
    Indiana QB Richard LagowJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    Last week, I attempted to call Boston College over Clemson. That did not go well. This week, I don't see that deep upset pick that will undoubtedly fail. I will say Nebraska better be careful against Indiana, which is playing some of its best football in a long time. It wouldn't be a dramatic upset to see the Hoosiers pull this off, especially considering how well that defense is playing right now.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    Washington State is getting a little love in the desert, as the line has moved from two to as high as five in some places over UCLA, according to Odds Shark. I'll take those points, but I won't need them because UCLA will win the game outright. While I like Cougars quarterback Luke Falk, I like Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen even more. Plus, I'm a firm fan of Team Chaos, and Washington State taking a loss one week after dominating Stanford seems like a perfect place for Team Chaos to show up this weekend.

        

    Chris Walsh

    At this point, I'm about ready to pick every underdog in the Pac-12 for the rest of the season except for the team playing Washington (which this week is no one as the Huskies have a bye). But that's too easy. Indiana did well enough against Ohio State last week to make me think the Hoosiers might be able to pull off an upset at home against Nebraska. Another game to keep an eye on is Pittsburgh at Virginia.

        

    Greg Couch

    Already got Alabama and Ohio State losing. What more do you want? The question is whether to take Tulsa over Houston or Indiana over Nebraska. Let's go with the Hoosiers. They keep putting up a good fight that no one notices, and while Nebraska is good, it isn't Top 10 good.

        

    Michael Felder

    Texas Tech. It gets West Virginia at home, and it has an offense that puts pressure on opponents. The Mountaineers are still undefeated, but Kliff Kingsbury's going to play the same game he's played all year: throw it a lot, score a bunch and hope good things happen with Patrick Mahomes II. A couple of big plays, and the Red Raiders could have a nice win in Lubbock.

Is This It for Charlie Strong Against Iowa State?

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    Texas head coach Charlie Strong
    Texas head coach Charlie StrongJackson Laizure/Getty Images

    Adam Kramer

    This won't be the game that serves as the tipping point. One, because I believe Texas beats Iowa State. And two, there are still many losable games on the schedule to come. If the Longhorns do lose this game, however, a tough situation will grow worse.

    I still don't feel Texas will make a move in-season—partly because there isn't an Ed Orgeron waiting on the roster to lead, and partly because it has basically said as such. This one will likely go until the very end. Strong has earned the full year. What happens next, we'll have to see. But Texas doesn't fall this week.

        

    Barrett Sallee

    No, because "it" already happened when Strong proved his defense isn't fixable in the loss to Oklahoma. Sure, the Longhorns will probably beat Iowa State because the Cyclones struggle to move the football. Even if Strong loses, Texas won't make a move midseason anymore. The powers that be in Austin know Texas is the biggest fish in the pond this offseason if it's in the coaching market, no matter how large that pond gets. The Iowa State game will have nothing to do with their decision.

        

    Chris Walsh

    Texas boosters are so unpredictable, there's no way to know for sure, but this is the kind of statistic that drives them crazy: At 2-3, the Longhorns must win four of their final seven regular-season games to play in a bowl. Look for Texas to be flat but pull out the win. Strong watchers may want to circle the in-state games coming up against Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU.

        

    Greg Couch

    Absolutely not. No one in Texas gives bonus points for beating Iowa State. It was over long ago for Strong. In fact, it was over the day he was hired. This was a setup from the start, as Texas' top donors never wanted him. Rule: Don't go against the wishes of those boys. They have been looking for the chance to re-establish their muscle. Even if the Longhorns win out, Strong is gone.

        

    Michael Felder

    They're not going to lose this game, so Strong will still have a job Sunday when we all wake up. But the way the Longhorns let Dede Westbrook and Samaje Perine go buck wild on them Saturday proves Strong doesn't have some magic defensive elixir. This team has a lot of improving to do, but pulling out a win over the Cyclones will at least get a little goodwill as it figures out how to find defensive success.

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