College Football's Jam-Packed Week 7 Slate All but Guaranteed to Shake Things Up

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystOctober 8, 2019

Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts
Oklahoma QB Jalen HurtsSue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Have you ever gone on one of those river rapids rides at an amusement park?

Maybe it's called something different where you're from, but you get buckled into a big inner tube and ride through a man-made course with waterfalls, geysers and all sorts of contraptions guaranteed to get you soaked. And at the beginning of the line, the park has the audacity to place a sign that reads, "You may get wet on this ride."

Well, there may be some significant developments during Week 7 of college football.

If we're being honest, the first six weeks of the 2019 season have been...uneventful. The only team in the preseason AP Top 10 to suffer a loss to a team that wasn't in the preseason AP Top 10 was Michigan (road loss to Wisconsin).

Aside from Pac-12 teams taking turns beating each other up and UCF coming back to earth after back-to-back undefeated seasons, not much has changed since late August. Comparing the preseason AP Top 16 to the current poll, the only in-out swaps have been Texas A&M and Washington dropping out and Boise State and Wisconsin moving in.

In each of the previous two seasons, there were five such differences from Week 1 to Week 7. And in each of the three years before that, there were seven changes to the Top 16.

Wherefore art thou, chaos?

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Fear not, my upset-craving brethren and sistren, for Week 7 is coming to shake things up.

There are four AP Top 10 teams playing away from home against ranked opponents. There are also three annual rivalry games pitting current AP Top 10 teams against foes that are at least competent enough to make things interesting. Factor in the impending rock fight between Michigan State and Wisconsin and the potential barn burner between Hawaii and Boise State, and you've got a recipe for a full day of entertainment.

Here's a handy blueprint of the day to help prevent you from incurring whiplash while trying to keep up with it all.

The fireworks will begin early with the Red River Rivalry.


No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas [in Dallas] (noon ET on Fox)

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger
Texas QB Sam EhlingerRay Thompson/Associated Press

Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners will wage war with Sam Ehlinger and the Texas Longhorns in Dallas. The Sooners rank second in the nation in scoring offense at 53.4 points per game, while the Longhorns are averaging 41.8 points and scored at least 36 in each contest thus far.

When these teams squared off last October, it was a 48-45 classic that ESPN's David Hale, SB Nation's Bill Connelly and Sports Illustrated's Scooby Axson each ranked as one of the eight best games of the 2018 season. It was the fifth consecutive regular-season meeting between these rivals decided by seven points or fewer, and there's a good chance that streak will extend to six this weekend.

Defense is the big unknown here. Can Texaswhich has allowed at least 460 total yards and 30 points in each of its three games against Power Five opponentspossibly slow down this runaway freight train named Oklahoma? And have the Sooners actually made substantial improvements on defense, or have they just benefited from a feather-soft schedule to this point?

It should be a high-scoring nail-biter, fraught with postgame narratives about College Football Playoff implications and the NFL-readiness of both Hurts and Ehlinger.

Noon games you'll want on alternate screens: South Carolina at No. 3 Georgia (ESPN); No. 23 Memphis at Temple (ESPN2)


No. 1 Alabama at No. 24 Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. ET on CBS)

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
Alabama QB Tua TagovailoaKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This probably won't be a competitive game, as has been the case with most of Alabama's contests in the past decade.

Texas A&M scored three points in the first three quarters of its loss to Clemson and did the same against Auburn two weeks later. The last time we saw the Aggies, they were out-gained by SEC West basement dweller Arkansas and had to rally in the fourth quarter to eke out that victory.

Meanwhile, Alabama has put up at least 42 points in every game and looks every bit as unbeatable as it did for the entire 2018 regular season.

However, anything is possible when a ranked team goes on the road to face another ranked team, right? And while Texas A&M has had more than its fair share of struggles on offense, that Aggies defense has been doggone good. They have held every opponentincluding then-No. 1 Clemson and No. 8 Auburnbelow 400 total yards, and no one has put up more than 28 points against them to date.

Even if they don't upset the Crimson Tide, the Aggies could at least keep things interesting into the second half by dialing up some looks on defense that Tua Tagovailoa hasn't had to deal with yet this year.

Alternatively, Alabama might beat the pants off its first viable challenger, reasserting itself as the team to beat while Clemson tries to erase the nation's memory of that close call against North Carolina. Either way, this game should do a lot to frame our perception of the Crimson Tide heading into the second half of the season.

Mid-afternoon games you'll want on alternate screens: Florida State at No. 2 Clemson (ABC); Michigan State at No. 8 Wisconsin (BTN)


No. 7 Florida at No. 5 LSU (8 p.m. ET on ESPN)

LSU QB Joe Burrow
LSU QB Joe BurrowGerald Herbert/Associated Press

Some will try to convince you that this game doesn't matter in the grand scheme of the College Football Playoff; that win or lose, LSU still needs to beat Alabama and Florida still needs to beat Georgia in order to win their respective divisions and reach the SEC championship.

Don't go worrying about any of that in mid-October, though, because it will impair your ability to enjoy what should be an exhilarating chess match between one of the best offenses and one of the best defenses.

Joe Burrow and the Tigers have been unstoppable, averaging more than 400 passing yards and more than 570 total yards per game. They are leading the nation in scoring at 54.6 points per game. But this is where we find out just how great LSU's offense is, because this Gators defense is unlike anything the Tigers have faced thus far.

Florida is leading the nation in interceptions with 12 of them. Florida is also two sacks shy of ranking No. 1 in that category, boasting 26 QB takedowns. Opponents are averaging just 9.5 points and 276.3 yards per game against the Gators. And Auburn looked helpless trying to move the ball against Florida for most of last week's marquee showdown.

Can Florida QB Kyle Trask handle the pressure of playing in the Bayou? Will LSU be able to establish its mediocre run game against a front seven that has held each of its six opponents below 3.7 yards per carry?

LSU is favored by double digits, but this one could go either way. The winner is going to pick up its second AP Top 10 victory of the season and will have a strong case for first-place votes in next week's poll. But even the loser will still control its own destiny.

Evening games you'll want on alternate screens: No. 10 Penn State at No. 17 Iowa (ABC); USC at No. 9 Notre Dame (NBC)

If you still have an appetite for more at the end of the night, all three late gamesHawaii at No. 14 Boise State, Wyoming at San Diego State and Washington at Arizonaare battles between likely bowl teams that each already has at least four wins.

Hope you've spent the past six weeks knocking out chores on the "honey-do" list, because this is going to be the perfect Saturday for spending 14 hours on the couch doing 12 oz. curls and remote-control calisthenics.


Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames. Odds via Caesars unless otherwise noted.


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