College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2018

College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game

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    Week 7 boasts a trio of matchups between ranked teams, but plenty of Top 25 schools are preparing for a challenging opponent.

    In addition those three games, six Top 25 programs are headed on the road for a conference tilt. Upsets are bound to happen and continue shaking up the college football season.

    Still, the focus will be on Georgia's trip to LSU, Washington's jaunt to Oregon and Wisconsin's visit to Michigan. Unless Georgia falls, the loser in each of those matchups will effectively be eliminated from the College Football Playoff chase.

    We've shared a prediction for every game that involves a Football Bowl Subdivision program and starts Thursday or later.


    Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.

Thursday and Friday Games

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    Texas Tech (3-2) at TCU (3-2), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Alan Bowman was hospitalized because of a collapsed lung, but Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury hopes the quarterback will be available. While Bowman can succeed opposite a sturdy TCU defense, we don't have as much faith in Tech's backups. The unknown is concerning.

    Prediction: TCU 27, Texas Tech 24


    Georgia Southern (4-1) at Texas State (1-4), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Remove the trip to Clemson, and Georgia Southern's Shai Werts-led option attack has at least 295 rushing yards in every game. Texas State, meanwhile, ranks 93rd nationally in yards allowed per carry. Georgia Southern should have no trouble on the road.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 38, Texas State 17


    No. 23 South Florida (5-0) at Tulsa (1-4), Friday, 7 p.m. ET

    Until the Golden Hurricane's defense (No. 92 in points allowed) can consistently stop an offense, Tulsa will struggle to compete with upper-tier teams. Undefeated USF fits that description, especially after it piled up 574 yards and 58 points in a victory at UMass.

    Prediction: South Florida 42, Tulsa 24


    Air Force (2-3) at San Diego State (4-1), Friday, 9 p.m. ET

    All season, San Diego State has surrendered a meager 309 rushing yards. Air Force will be the second opponent to crack 100, but the Aztecs are feisty. They'll extend their four-game winning streak if that continues, despite concerns about the offense's ability to sustain drives if it doesn't start with good field position.

    Prediction: San Diego State 24, Air Force 17


    Arizona (3-3) at Utah (3-2), Friday, 10 p.m. ET

    Two defensive touchdowns saved Arizona against Cal. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that's not a sustainable way to win. Quarterback Khalil Tate will need to assemble a season-best performance for Arizona to overcome Utah's ninth-ranked defense.

    Prediction: Utah 31, Arizona 23

Top Saturday Early Games

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    Minnesota (3-2) at No. 3 Ohio State (6-0), Noon ET

    After a tremendous 3-0 start, Minnesota's unproven roster is showing its youth. The Gophers have committed seven turnovers in the last two games. Unless they force Ohio State into a similar issue, this meeting won't be close.

    Prediction: Ohio State 48, Minnesota 21


    No. 14 Florida (5-1) at Vanderbilt (3-3), Noon ET

    In two conference games, the Commodores have converted only five of 26 third-down attempts. Over the last three weeks, Florida has surrendered a paltry 29.8 percent rate. Breaking those trends will be crucial for Vandy to compete, but the evidence isn't there to predict it.

    Prediction: Florida 27, Vanderbilt 16


    Tennessee (2-3) at No. 21 Auburn (4-2), Noon ET

    Auburn's offense is dealing with major concerns up front, but Tennessee offers a brief respite for the struggling unit. But the bigger mismatch is a UT scoring attack that hasn't cracked five yards per play against a power-conference foe, whereas Auburn's defense ranks 18th nationally in that category.

    Prediction: Auburn 38, Tennessee 17


    Iowa (4-1) at Indiana (4-2), Noon ET

    Indiana is feisty. Despite losing to Michigan State and Ohio State by a combined 37 points, the Hoosiers forced seven turnovers in those Big Ten clashes. This is an ill-timed contest for Iowa, which has had seven giveaways in the last three games.

    Prediction: Indiana 27, Iowa 24


    Oklahoma State (4-2) at Kansas State (2-4), Noon ET

    Despite the recent woes of Oklahoma State's defense, the Cowboys are an easy pick. This isn't a typical Kansas State team, so a trip to Manhattan doesn't appear as daunting as in past years. Kansas State rarely gives up explosive gains, but quarterback Taylor Cornelius can lead OSU to a methodical win.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Kansas State 23


    Duke (4-1) at Georgia Tech (3-3), 12:20 p.m. ET

    In consecutive weeks, a dynamic triple-option attack has propelled Georgia Tech to 60-plus points. The nation's No. 23 run defense better be ready. Though Duke has earned three of the last four victories in this series thanks to its offense, we're skeptical about quarterback Daniel Jones as he returns from a collarbone injury.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Duke 31


    Louisville (2-4) at Boston College (4-2), 12:30 p.m. ET

    If the Eagles get AJ Dillon back from an ankle setback, they should wallop Louisville. The Cardinals rank 107th nationally with 40 tackles for loss allowed and will likely labor to handle constant pressure. Boston College is 17th in TFL. If Dillon sits, it'll be a little closer, but still not competitive.

    Prediction: Boston College 41, Louisville 21


    Pitt (3-3) at No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0), 2:30 p.m. ET

    In the ACC stunner of Week 6, Pitt limited an uptempo Syracuse offense to a meager 4.2 yards per carry. However, repeating that effort against Notre Dame on the road will be challenging. The Irish should have no issues dispatching the Panthers.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 48, Pitt 20

Other Saturday Early Games

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    Nebraska (0-5) at Northwestern (2-3), Noon ET

    Northwestern is talented enough to be 4-1, but late-game collapses doomed the Wildcats in two contests. Despite Nebraska's winless mark, freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez is looking comfortable under center. While his comeback effort will fall short, the Cornhuskers should give NU trouble for 60 minutes.

    Prediction: Northwestern 29, Nebraska 24


    Rutgers (1-5) at Maryland (3-2), Noon ET

    A date with Rutgers is what Maryland needs to settle its offense. In two of the Terrapins' last three games, they've mustered 220 yards or fewer. Rutgers, on the other hand, has ceded 5.7 yards per rushing attempt this season. Maryland will run away with it.

    Prediction: Maryland 42, Rutgers 17


    Akron (2-2) at Buffalo (5-1), Noon ET

    Tyree Jackson started the year with 15 passing touchdowns in four games, but the quarterback's managed just two with 6.3 yards per attempt over Buffalo's last two outings. Akron has allowed only 6.3 yards per pass, so this potentially lopsided matchup probably won't end up that way.

    Prediction: Buffalo 37, Akron 27


    Toledo (3-2) at Eastern Michigan (2-4), Noon ET

    Toledo's defense is concerning, considering all FBS opponents have scored at least 36 points against the Rockets. Fortunately for them, Eastern Michigan has rarely shown that level of explosiveness. Toledo should win semi-comfortably, as long as quarterback Mitchell Guadagni returns from a concussion as hoped.

    Prediction: Toledo 34, Eastern Michigan 24


    UAB (4-1) at Rice (1-5), 1 p.m. ET

    The scales slant heavily toward UAB in this Conference USA tilt. The Blazers have posted 6.0 yards per play, whereas Rice's 7.1 yards allowed is the country's eighth-worst mark. It might not happen immediately, but UAB will steadily put away Rice.

    Prediction: UAB 38, Rice 14


    Southern Miss (2-2) at North Texas (5-1), 2 p.m. ET

    North Texas cruised to 4-0 with at least 44 points in every game, but drops have plagued the receiving corps over the last two weekends. If that problem persists, Southern Miss will be within striking distance. But the Golden Eagles' penchant for turnovers should give the Mean Green a little bigger margin for error.

    Prediction: North Texas 34, Southern Miss 24


    Troy (5-1) at Liberty (2-3), 2 p.m. ET

    Since a torn ACL has ended Kaleb Barker's season, Troy will roll with Sawyer Smith at quarterback. Libertywhich has surrendered 500-plus yards in four straight gamesshould provide a welcoming debut for Smith, though Troy's unspectacular pass defense (No. 94) will allow the Flames to score plenty, too.

    Prediction: Troy 45, Liberty 35


    Kent State (1-5) at Miami, Ohio (2-4), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Quarterback Gus Ragland's early struggles appear to be in Miami's past. That's not a pleasant sign for a Kent State defense that has ceded the nation's second-most yards per pass this season. Akron dual-threat QB Woody Barrett needs to have a masterful game.

    Prediction: Miami 41, Kent State 27


    Western Michigan (4-2) at Bowling Green (1-5), 3 p.m. ET

    Run defense? Bowling Green has no idea what that is. Through six weeks, opponents have scampered for 332.3 yards and 4.5 touchdowns per game against the Falcons. Western Michigan isn't reliant on its running game, but it'll surely be content to ride LeVante Bellamy and Jamauri Bogan to a painless road victory.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 47, Bowling Green 28


    Ball State (2-4) at Central Michigan (1-5), 3 p.m. ET

    Central Michigan continues to have a quarterback dilemma, and there's no realistic hope for a dramatic shift in performance this season. The Cardinals have an unspectacular offense, but it shouldn't take many points to outlast the Chippewas.

    Prediction: Ball State 23, Central Michigan 16

Top Saturday Afternoon Games

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    No. 2 Georgia (6-0) at No. 13 LSU (5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    The analysis never needs to change for LSU: The defense is great, but can quarterback Joe Burrow do enough? For the first time all season, in Week 6, that answer was no. Since the Georgia defense is ceding only 5.2 yards per pass attempt, the answer will probably be the same on Saturday.

    Prediction: Georgia 27, LSU 17


    No. 7 Washington (5-1) at No. 17 Oregon (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    As talented as Washington's secondary is, opposing quarterbacks have completed 64.4 percent of their attempts. Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert has two showings below 50 percent but three above 72. Get the former, and Oregon will stay close. Get the latter, and the Ducks will have no chance.

    Prediction: Washington 31, Oregon 26


    Michigan State (3-2) at No. 8 Penn State (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Running the ball against Michigan State is extremely tough. But while the secondary has nine interceptions, it's giving up a bunch of yards (No. 123 nationally). Three quarterbacks have topped 300 yards against the Spartans, and Trace McSorley should make it four during a Penn State win.

    Prediction: Penn State 34, Michigan State 24


    Baylor (4-2) at No. 9 Texas (5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last year, these programs combined for eight victories. Already, Baylor and Texas have totaled nine. The potential of an Oklahoma hangover is real, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger should control this contest by keeping the Longhorns in short-yardage situations and converting.

    Prediction: Texas 41, Baylor 21


    No. 10 Central Florida (5-0) at Memphis (4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    During the 2017 AAC Championship Game, the offenses combined for 1,479 yards and UCF beat Memphis 62-55. Although that sort of shootout is rare, it's not unrealistic this weekend. Both teams are averaging 46-plus points. But if the UCF defense contains running back Darrell Hendersonyou know, to merely 100 yardsthe Knights will remain unbeaten.

    Prediction: UCF 52, Memphis 41


    No. 22 Texas A&M (4-2) at South Carolina (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    A knee injury prevented South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley from playing last week, and in his place Michael Scarnecchia threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns against Missouri. However, Bentley is expected to return to the No. 1 role. South Carolina desperately needs a reliable quarterback to overcome Texas A&M's SEC-leading run defense.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 29, South Carolina 17

Other Saturday Afternoon Games

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    Purdue (2-3) at Illinois (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Boilermakers QB David Blough has thrived in three starts, throwing for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception. As long as he protects the football, Illinois won't be close. But the Illini have picked off 10 passes, so that's not necessarily a given.

    Prediction: Purdue 38, Illinois 27


    Ohio (3-2) at Northern Illinois (3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Neither team is easy to gauge. Ohio has a subpar defense but a dangerous yet inconsistent scoring attack. Northern Illinois' defense is excellent, but the Huskies struggle to move the ball. This really comes down to which Ohio offense shows up, and we can't trust the Bobcats despite their upside.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 24, Ohio 22


    Temple (3-3) at Navy (2-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Navy signal-caller Malcolm Perry hasn't matched his performance of late 2017. Against FBS opponents, the Midshipmen have only managed 319.8 yards per game. Throw in a below-average defense, and Navy hasn't offered much reason to pick against a consistent Temple team.

    Prediction: Temple 42, Navy 28


    Army (3-2) vs. San Jose State (0-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Can the Spartans hold up against a high-volume rushing attack? San Jose State has limited its opponents to only 3.8 yards per attempt yet hasn't defended more than 49 totes in a game. Army has four contests of 64-plus carries and should be able to wear down SJSU.

    Prediction: Army 27, San Jose State 24


    Western Kentucky (1-4) at Charlotte (2-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Quarterback roulette landed on Steven Duncan for Western Kentucky's most recent outing, a 20-17 loss to Marshall. Hopefully for the Hilltoppers, a week off will result in a more prepared Duncan. Otherwise, a likely defensive slog will favor a scuffling home team.

    Prediction: Charlotte 21, Western Kentucky 17


    Marshall (3-2) at Old Dominion (1-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Despite holding a 3-2 record, Marshall's offense has been no better than average all season. The saving grace in Week 7 could be Old Dominion's porous defense, but quarterback Blake LaRussa should be able to pick apart a Marshall secondary allowing 8.0 yards per pass against FBS competition.

    Prediction: Old Dominion 38, Marshall 34


    New Mexico (3-2) at Colorado State (2-4), 4 p.m. ET

    Remove the outliersFCS school Incarnate Word and Big Ten power Wisconsinand New Mexico has scored at least 42 points against all three comparable opponents. Colorado State, meanwhile, has allowed 38 points per game. The Lobos roll.

    Prediction: New Mexico 45, Colorado State 31


    UNLV (2-3) at Utah State (4-1), 4 p.m. ET

    Max Gilliam's first career start for UNLV was a dud, considering the offense trudged to 166 yards in a 50-14 loss. On the other side, Utah State is riding a four-game winning streak with 42-plus points in every one. This shouldn't be close.

    Prediction: Utah State 45, UNLV 16


    Alabama State (2-3) at South Alabama (1-5), 5 p.m. ET

    Fresh off a surprising five-overtime win against Alcorn State, Alabama State is seeking an FBS upset. The visitors really haven't shown a threatening offense this season, so we'll lean toward South Alabama. But this isn't a confident pick, given the Jaguars' struggles stopping anyone this season.

    Prediction: South Alabama 31, Alabama State 28


    New Mexico State (2-4) at Louisiana (2-3), 5 p.m. ET

    Against three non-SEC opponents, the versatile Louisiana rushing attack has averaged 293.3 yards. However, NMSU's run defense has been outstanding lately, and the spark freshman quarterback Josh Adkins has brought to the offense will continue against a vulnerable Lafayette secondary.

    Prediction: New Mexico State 41, Louisiana 33

Top Saturday Evening Games

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    Missouri (3-2) at No. 1 Alabama (6-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Tua Tagovailoa is good to go, right? Yes? OK, Alabama wins. Missouri's pass defense ranks 109th in yards allowed per attempt, whereas Tagovailoa leads the FBS with a stunning average of 14.8.

    Prediction: Alabama 52, Missouri 21


    No. 6 West Virginia (5-0) at Iowa State (2-3), 7 p.m. ET

    This is a dicey matchup for Will Grier and Co., especially since it's on the road. West Virginia probably won't have much success running on Iowa State, which is 19th nationally in yards allowed per carry. But if Grier rebounds from a four-turnover day and succeeds in the red zone, the Mountaineers will earn a tight win.

    Prediction: West Virginia 31, Iowa State 24


    No. 16 Miami (5-1) at Virginia (3-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Earlier in 2018, Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni ran for 47 yards on Miami. Even if that was a concession to contain talented receivers, it's a concern opposite Virginia's Bryce Perkins. As long as the 'Canes don't allow Perkins to match his dual-threat billingno matter which asset is containedthey'll hang on.

    Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia 26


    No. 15 Wisconsin (4-1) at No. 12 Michigan (5-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Michigan boasts the stingiest defense in the country (230.5 total yards allowed per game), and Wisconsin is consistently strong in the trenches. The key difference, though, is the Badgers have a banged-up secondary. The Wolverines will win if quarterback Shea Patterson leads three touchdown drives.

    Prediction: Michigan 24, Wisconsin 17

Other Saturday Evening Games

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    Louisiana-Monroe (2-4) at Coastal Carolina (3-2), 6 p.m. ET

    Will senior quarterback Kilton Anderson return from an ankle injury for Coastal Carolina? If he's healthy, the Chanticleers should cruise past Louisiana-Monroe. If not, the battle between two bottom-tier defenses will be much closerbut still a CCU win.

    Prediction: Coastal Carolina 38, UL Monroe 30


    Houston (4-1) at East Carolina (2-3), 7 p.m. ET

    East Carolina has done a decent job of preventing big plays this season, but the team is still susceptible to  short chunks. Houston is averaging 21.2 gains of 10-plus yards per gamewhich only trails Texas Techand should wear down the Pirates defense.

    Prediction: Houston 41, East Carolina 27


    Virginia Tech (3-2) at North Carolina (1-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Although the Hokies moved the ball well enough to defeat Notre Dame, their possessions constantly ended past midfield but short of scoring territory and resulted in defeat. Virginia Tech shouldn't meet as much resistance against UNC, the nation's No. 73 defense (5.56 yards allowed per play).

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 37, North Carolina 20


    UCLA (0-5) at Cal (3-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Head coach Chip Kelly's crew finally showed a bit of life despite losing to Washington, posting a season-high 6.5 yards per play. However, Cal has consistently played well defensively other than in an understandable loss to Oregon. Provided two turnovers don't result in touchdowns again, Cal will send UCLA to 0-6.

    Prediction: Cal 24, UCLA 16


    Louisiana Tech (3-2) at UTSA (3-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Louisiana Tech's offense disappeared in a loss to UAB, mustering a season-low 4.0 yards per snap and committing three turnovers. UTSA has been excellent over the last three weeks, so this won't be a breeze for the Bulldogs. Still, they should outlast an offense that hasn't recorded more than 300 yards in any game.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 27, UTSA 17


    Ole Miss (4-2) at Arkansas (1-5), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Alabama hung an otherworldly 21.8 yards per pass attempt on Arkansas. Ole Miss can't possibly repeat that number, right? Jordan Ta'amu should have a career-best game, considering the talent of the Rebels receivers. But their miserable defense will keep Arkansas in the contest.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 56, Arkansas 42


    Middle Tennessee (3-2) at Florida International (3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    The last two opponents failed to put away Middle Tennessee when they had a chance. Florida International, which has only seven turnovers in five games, shouldn't make the same mistake. Protecting the ball will be crucial for quarterback James Morgan.

    Prediction: FIU 31, Middle Tennessee 27

Top Saturday Night Games

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    Hawaii (6-1) at BYU (3-3), 10:15 p.m. ET

    The health of quarterback Cole McDonald will shape this outcome. He didn't suit up during Hawaii's win over Wyoming, and freshman Chevan Cordeiro mustered only 148 yards. McDonald sounds unlikely to play, so a mediocre BYU offense can take advantage.

    Prediction: BYU 20, Hawaii 16


    No. 19 Colorado (5-0) at USC (3-2), 10:30 p.m. ET

    The Trojans should be well-rested and well-prepared for Colorado. USC's run defense has thrived since a poor start, so the decisive question is whether the secondary can contain wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., who had four touchdowns (two receiving, two rushing) for the Buffaloes last week. That's high pressure for cornerback Iman Marshall, among others, but the Trojans can do it.

    Prediction: USC 27, Colorado 22


    Wyoming (2-4) at Fresno State (4-1), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Fresno State had a much quieter showing on offense than expected in Week 6 but continued its excellence on the other side of the ball. The nation's No. 13 defense should have little issue shutting down Wyoming and its 120th-ranked attack.

    Prediction: Fresno State 34, Wyoming 13


    Boise State (3-2) at Nevada (3-3), 10:30 p.m. ET

    San Diego State capitalized on quarterback Brett Rypien's miserable day and dispatched Boise State last week. However, Nevada has surrendered 7.8 yards per passing attempt with 14 touchdowns to three interceptions. The Broncos will return to their winning ways.

    Prediction: Boise State 38, Nevada 21