College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game
Week 7 of the 2020 college football season could be a mostly uneventful one. Only 15 of the AP Top 25 teams are playing, and 13 of them are facing unranked foes.
The one exception to that rule will be a massive one, though, when No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia. Even if the rest of the slate is loaded with blowouts, that Saturday night battle is a guaranteed, must-watch game.
And let's be realistic: The other games won't be boring. No. 1 Clemson should destroy Georgia Tech. No. 4 Notre Dame may well do the same to Louisville. But every other ranked-against-unranked pairing has at least a little bit of upset potential.
It feels like it's going to be one of those weeks with half a dozen upsets that ends with people sarcastically asking if we actually need to rank 25 teams on Sunday.
B/R's predictions for each game are broken into three sections: AP Top 25 teams, best games of unranked teams and the rest of the slate.
AP Nos. 25-21
No. 25 USC (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Arizona State (Nov. 7)
No. 24 Minnesota (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Michigan (Oct. 24)
No. 23 Virginia Tech (2-1) vs. Boston College (3-1), 8 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech QB Hendon Hooker had some undisclosed, non-COVID-19 health issues to start the season. He finally got to play in the second half against North Carolina and picked up right where he left off last season, leading the Hokies to 31 points in 25 minutes. It wasn't enough for VT to get the win, but the Hokies feel like a much more dangerous team with him back.
Boston College games always seem to come down to the wire, though. The Eagles beat Texas State on a last-second field goal, missed a would-be game-tying two-point conversion in the final minute against North Carolina and defeated Pitt on a missed extra point in overtime. Let's see what fourth-quarter drama unfolds this week.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 24
No. 22 Kansas State (3-1) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Kansas (Oct. 24)
No. 21 Louisiana (3-0) vs. Coastal Carolina (3-0), 7:30 p.m. ET (Wednesday)
This game was originally scheduled to be played on Oct. 17. However, when Appalachian State had to postpone its Oct. 7 matchup with Louisiana for COVID-19 reasons, ULL and Coastal Carolina both had an open date for Week 6 and decided to move the game up to Oct. 10. But Hurricane Delta had other ideas and forced yet another rescheduling to Oct. 14.
Should be a fun Wednesday night clash in the Sun Belt, though, pitting the league's two remaining undefeated squads against one another. Coastal's offense has been great thus far to the tune of nine passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns. But this Ragin' Cajuns defense will be a much stiffer test than they have faced to date. ULL gets to keep a zero in the loss column.
Prediction: Louisiana 35, Coastal Carolina 27
AP Nos. 20-16
No. 20 Iowa State (3-1) IDLE
Next Game: at Oklahoma State (Oct. 24)
No. 19 Michigan (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: at Minnesota (Oct. 24)
No. 18 Tennessee (2-1) vs. Kentucky (1-2), Noon ET
Tennessee has won 17 consecutive home games against Kentucky dating back to the mid-1980s, and each of the last six meetings in Knoxville were wins by double digits for the Volunteers. Look for Tennessee to bounce back from a brutal second half against Georgia to keep that trend going. The Wildcats finally got into the win column with a great defensive effort against Mississippi State, but it's hard to trust that offense on the road against an above-average defense.
Prediction: Tennessee 27, Kentucky 14
No. 17 SMU (4-0) at Tulane (2-2), 6 p.m. ET (Friday)
Tulane has completed fewer than 50 percent of its passes in all four games this season, and it has allowed at least 299 passing yards and multiple passing touchdowns in three of four games played. That's a formula for disaster against Shane Buechele and an SMU offense averaging 44.0 points per game. The Green Wave won't be able to slow down the Mustangs, and they won't be able to move the ball well enough to make up for it.
Prediction: SMU 41, Tulane 27
No. 16 Wisconsin (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Illinois (Oct. 24)
AP Nos. 15-11
No. 15 Auburn (2-1) at South Carolina (1-2), Noon ET
After a combined total of 130 rushing yards in the first two games against Kentucky and Georgia, Auburn finally started feeding freshman running back Tank Bigsby and racked up 259 rushing yards in a narrow, controversial victory over Arkansas. That's a major development in advance of a matchup with a solid South Carolina front seven. The Tigers will need to maintain that multi-dimensional approach on offense in order to win this road game. But I like the Gamecocks in a mild upset.
Prediction: South Carolina 27, Auburn 24
No. 14 BYU (4-0) at Houston (1-0), 9:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
Houston needs to take much better care of the ball if it wants to pull off this upset. The Cougars turned the ball over five times in their season opener against Tulane, and it was their third five-turnover game in their last eight contests dating back to October 2019. Meanwhile, Houston's defense has only forced multiple turnovers in one of its last 12 games. BYU's Zach Wilson-led offense has been surgical, scoring multiple passing touchdowns and multiple rushing touchdowns in all four games.
Prediction: BYU 42, Houston 25
No. 13 Miami (3-1) vs. Pittsburgh (3-2), Noon ET
Pittsburgh's defense was awesome for the first three weeks, but it has allowed at least 330 passing yards and three passing touchdowns with no interceptions in each of its two recent losses. Not a great time to be drawing a D'Eriq King-led Miami offense looking to let out some frustrations from a rough night against Clemson. The Panthers will make this competitive, but the Hurricanes should prevail.
Prediction: Miami 31, Pittsburgh 23
No. 12 Oregon (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Stanford (Nov. 7)
No. 11 Texas A&M (2-1) at Mississippi State (1-2), 4 p.m. ET
Talk about two teams trending in opposite directions. Texas A&M went from helpless to move the ball against Vanderbilt to unstoppable against Florida in the span of two weeks. Meanwhile, Mississippi State went from 623 passing yards against LSU to two points and six interceptions against Kentucky on Saturday.
But I expect the Bulldogs to bounce back against an A&M defense that has allowed 90 points over the past two weeks, and I expect the Aggies to struggle a bit against a Bulldogs defense holding opponents to 286 total yards per game thus far. Turnovers will be the difference, though. Mississippi State has already coughed up the ball at least four times in each game, and Texas A&M will capitalize.
Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 28
AP Nos. 10-6
No. 10 Florida (2-1) vs. LSU (1-2), This game has been postponed until Dec. 12.
I'd like to welcome everyone to the "Florida's defense isn't good enough to win a title" bandwagon. I've been banging that drum since the first quarter of its first game against Ole Miss. But guess what? LSU's defense is even worse, and both of these quarterbacks can sling the ball all over the field. Alabama and Ole Miss combined for 111 points this past weekend, but this game could have even more scoring.
Prediction: Florida 56, LSU 49
No. 9 Penn State (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: at Indiana (Oct. 24)
No. 8 Cincinnati (3-0) at Tulsa (1-1), This game has been postponed.
Tulsa already ruined UCF's dream of an undefeated season. Could the Golden Hurricane also knock Cincinnati out of the early College Football Playoff conversation? That probably depends on how generous Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder is feeling. He threw three interceptions in their most recent game against South Florida, and Tulsa's cornerbacks are plenty good enough to make Ridder pay for any mistakes. But if he isn't handing out gifts, I doubt Tulsa's offense can score multiple times on Cincinnati's defense.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Tulsa 10
No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0) IDLE
"If we needed to play him (vs. Kansas), he could have played, and played really close to full speed." That's what Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy had to say (h/t to Nate Feken from KFOR in Oklahoma City) about starting quarterback Spencer Sanders in his recovery from a high-ankle sprain suffered on Sept. 19. The Cowboys were idle this past week and suddenly have a bye this week as well due to COVID-19 issues within Baylor's program. By the time they play again, Sanders should be back to 100 percent, and that offense will be almost unstoppable.
Next Game: vs. Iowa State (Oct. 24)
No. 6 Ohio State (0-0) IDLE
Next Game: vs. Nebraska (Oct. 24)
AP Nos. 5-1
No. 5 North Carolina (3-0) at Florida State (1-3), 7 p.m. ET
Like Oklahoma State, North Carolina's offense has come a long way in a short time since a rusty-looking start. The Tar Heels could barely move the ball for the first three quarters against Syracuse one month ago, but they annihilated Virginia Tech for 56 points this past weekend. Expect more of the same against a Florida State defense that has allowed at least 40 points and more than 500 total yards in back-to-back games against FBS opponents.
Prediction: North Carolina 52, Florida State 31
No. 4 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. Louisville (1-3), 2:30 p.m. ET
Remember in the preseason when we thought Louisville—which brought back all five of its top offensive weapons from a team that won eight games in 2019—might be one of the top challengers to Clemson? That was fun, wasn't it? The Cardinals are still respectable on offense, averaging 29.0 points and about 425 yards per game. However, they cannot stop much of anything on defense.
Enter: Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish—also in stark contrast to preseason expectations—might have the best rushing attack in the country. Just in the past two games against South Florida and Florida State, Kyren Williams and Co. have rushed for 634 yards and 10 touchdowns. Playing at home against Louisville's "defense," Notre Dame will run at will.
Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Louisville 24
No. 3 Georgia (3-0) at No. 2 Alabama (3-0), 8 p.m. ET
There are three obvious "Most Important Game of the 2020 College Football Regular Season" candidates: Ohio State at Penn State on Oct. 31, Clemson at Notre Dame on Nov. 7 and this massive clash between the SEC's only remaining undefeated teams.
Alabama is averaging 51.0 points per game and has only punted six times all season, while Georgia's defense has forced seven turnovers and allowed just three touchdowns through three games. Something's got to give. But the real battle here is Georgia QB Stetson Bennett against a Crimson Tide defense that has gotten worse by the week. Georgia can't completely shut down Alabama's offense, but the Bulldogs should be able to outscore the Crimson Tide, just like LSU (46-41) and Auburn (48-45) did last year.
Prediction: Georgia 42, Alabama 37
(Bonus Prediction: There will be a rematch in two months.)
No. 1 Clemson (4-0) at Georgia Tech (2-2), Noon ET
Georgia Tech quietly has a little something brewing in Geoff Collins' second year as head coach. The Rambling Wreck had one of the worst offenses in the nation last season, falling short of 400 total yards in all 12 games. But they have eclipsed 400 yards in each game thus far.
Of course, Miami was in the same boat before getting decimated by Clemson's defense on Saturday night. And Georgia Tech is substantially more turnover prone (12 through four games) than Miami had been (three in first three games). Like most Clemson games, this will likely get ugly in a hurry.
Prediction: Clemson 49, Georgia Tech 13
Best Unranked Clashes
Liberty (4-0) at Syracuse (1-3), Noon ET
Syracuse is easily one of the worst Power Five teams thus far this season. The Orange just allowed 645 yards at home in a 14-point loss to previously winless Duke. And aside from the occasional deep ball to Taj Harris, their offense hasn't been able to do anything, averaging just 254 yards of total offense per game—dead last in the nation. I don't believe Liberty is a legitimate 4-0 team, but I do think the Flames are good enough to avenge last year's 24-0 loss to Syracuse.
Prediction: Liberty 24, Syracuse 21
Army (4-1) at UTSA (3-2), 1:30 p.m. ET
UTSA isn't half bad, and Army just barely escaped with a 14-9 win over The Citadel this past weekend. This should be a close contest, but the Black Knights' triple-option will gradually overwhelm the Roadrunners defense.
Prediction: Army 27, UTSA 23
UCF (2-1) at Memphis (1-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Memphis moved the ball well in its Week 5 loss to SMU, but the Tigers allowed 473 passing yards and committed four turnovers. Put forth a repeat of that effort, and Memphis will get destroyed by Dillon Gabriel and the Knights. This should be a great back-and-forth affair, though. Probably the second-highest scoring game of the week behind LSU vs. Florida.
Prediction: UCF 45, Memphis 41
Ole Miss (1-2) at Arkansas (1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Arkansas already beat Mississippi State to snap a 20-game losing streak against SEC opponents. Could the Razorbacks finish off the sweep of the Magnolia State with a win over the high-octane Rebels? The Ole Miss defense has been downright awful, but the Hogs probably don't have enough weapons to take advantage.
Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Arkansas 31
Marshall (3-0) at Louisiana Tech (3-1), 6 p.m. ET
Louisiana Tech is 3-1, but it was smashed by BYU in that lone loss, and the three wins were against opponents going nowhere fast. Marshall is somewhere in between but much closer to BYU than Houston Baptist. The Brenden Knox-led rushing attack should carry the Thundering Herd to a fairly comfortable victory. And then, maybe, Marshall will be able to sneak back into the AP Top 25.
Prediction: Marshall 35, Louisiana Tech 22
The Rest of the Slate
Georgia State (1-1) at Arkansas State (2-2), 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Prediction: Arkansas State 42, Georgia State 38
Navy (2-2) at East Carolina (1-2), Noon ET
Prediction: Navy 34, East Carolina 30
South Florida (1-3) at Temple (0-1), Noon ET
Prediction: Temple 35, South Florida 17
Texas State (1-4) at South Alabama (1-2), Noon ET
Prediction: Texas State 30, South Alabama 27
Kansas (0-3) at West Virginia (2-1), Noon ET
Prediction: West Virginia 49, Kansas 23
Western Kentucky (1-3) at UAB (3-1), 1:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: UAB 35, Western Kentucky 10
Duke (1-4) at NC State (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: NC State 45, Duke 24
Virginia (1-2) at Wake Forest (1-2), 4 p.m. ET
Prediction: Virginia 28, Wake Forest 26
Massachusetts (0-0) at Georgia Southern (2-1), 4 p.m. ET
Prediction: Georgia Southern 38, Massachusetts 13
North Texas (1-3) at Middle Tennessee (1-4), 5 p.m. ET
Prediction: MTSU 27, North Texas 21
Eastern Kentucky (1-3) at Troy (2-1), 7 p.m. ET
Prediction: Troy 45, Eastern Kentucky 9
Southern Mississippi (1-3) at UTEP (3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: Southern Miss 26, UTEP 23
Florida International (0-2) at Charlotte (1-2), 8 p.m. ET
Prediction: Charlotte 32, FIU 18