College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game
Can J.T. Barrett lead Ohio State to another blowout win?Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
On paper, Week 7 of the 2017 college football season looks like one of the least interesting slates in recent history. There aren’t any games pitting AP Top 25 teams against one another, and most of the ranked teams are favored to win by at least one touchdown, if not two or three.
But we all know better. It’s usually the “should be quiet” weeks that end up producing the most chaos.
Which of the 22 ranked teams in action will add another tally to their win total? And who will win the other 36 games taking place this weekend?
We’ve got predictions for all of the Week 7 action. The games are ordered based on kickoff time and broken into buckets to highlight the ones you’re not going to want to miss.
Week 6 Results: 45-13 outright; 37-20-1 against the spread
Kelly BryantSteve Helber/Associated Press
Texas State (1-5) at Louisiana (2-3), 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Last Meeting: Louisiana beat Texas State 27-3 last October
There have been some outstanding Thursday night matchups over the past month, highlighted by last week’s showdown between Louisville and North Carolina State. This one…not so much. Texas State ranks 124th nationally in total offense per game (300.7 yards) while Louisiana is tied for 125th in total defense (506.6 yards). We’ll take the movable object by a slim margin over the stoppable force.
Prediction: Louisiana 31, Texas State 26
No. 2 Clemson (6-0) at Syracuse (3-3), 7 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Clemson beat Syracuse 54-0 last November
In four meetings since Syracuse joined the ACC, Clemson has outgained the Orange by a total of 968 yards. The Tigers were at least plus-200 in each game with at least 13 more first downs, and this might be Dabo Swinney’s best team yet. Keep an eye on Kelly Bryant’s left ankle, though. He injured it midway through the third quarter against Wake Forest, and Clemson’s offense isn’t nearly as prolific if he’s less of a dual threat.
Prediction: Clemson 34, Syracuse 14
No. 8 Washington State (6-0) at California (3-3), 10:30 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Washington State beat California 56-21 last November
To the surprise of no one, Washington State has one of the best passing attacks in the country, averaging 392 yards per game with 22 touchdowns against just four interceptions. What is a surprise is how well the Cougars have done defending the pass. Opposing teams are averaging 146.3 passing yards per game against them, which is the sixth-lowest mark in the nation. Now that California has lost three straight and is looking more like the team everyone was expecting it to be, this one could get ugly.
Prediction: Washington State 48, California 13
This did not publish until after South Alabama’s 19-8 win over Troy Wednesday night, so there’s no prediction for that game. Had that game been picked, though, I would’ve had Troy winning by at least three touchdowns. I claimed the W for last week’s #FunBelt game, so it’s only fair to take the L for this one.
Top Saturday Early Games
Bradley ChubbDon Juan Moore/Getty Images
No. 20 North Carolina State (5-1) at Pittsburgh (2-4), noon ET
Last Meeting: North Carolina State beat Pittsburgh 38-31 in 2009
A Week 1 nail-biter of a loss against South Carolina is the only thing standing between North Carolina State and perfection, and wins over Florida State and Louisville have helped propel the Wolfpack into the polls. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has barely shown up in the past month, allowing at least 480 yards from scrimmage in three of its last four games.
Prediction: North Carolina State 45, Pittsburgh 23
No. 6 TCU (5-0) at Kansas State (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Kansas State beat TCU 30-6 last December
West Virginia’s Will Grier runs a little bit, but TCU has yet to face a true dual-threat QB like Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz or Alex Delton. Doing so for the first time on the road against a preseason Top 25 team desperate to prove it still belongs among the Big 12 contenders could be a problem. Although, if Kansas State’s defense plays as poorly as it did in last week’s loss to Texas, TCU’s offense could run away with this one.
Prediction: TCU 34, Kansas State 30
No. 24 Texas Tech (4-1) at West Virginia (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: West Virginia beat Texas Tech 48-17 last October
In Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and these two teams, the Big 12 has four of the country’s top seven offenses in terms of total yards per game. If it seems like we’re expecting at least one 85-point Big 12 game per week, it’s because we are. And this week, it’s the Red Raiders against the Mountaineers, as both also rank outside the top 100 in total defense. West Virginia is more two-dimensional on offense and has done a much better job of defending the pass than Texas Tech has. Factor in that this is a home game for the Mountaineers and they should be able to pull off the upset that isn’t actually an upset.
Prediction: West Virginia 48, Texas Tech 38
South Carolina (4-2) at Tennessee (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: South Carolina beat Tennessee 24-21 last October
South Carolina’s offense continues to struggle since losing Deebo Samuel to a broken leg Sept. 16. The Gamecocks did put up serious points in last week’s 48-22 win over Arkansas, but nearly half of those came on defensive touchdowns. In particular, their rushing offense (97.0 YPG) has been a problem, and they’re about to face a defense allowing just 129.2 passing yards per game. Take out the 63-yard Hail Mary by Florida and Tennessee would rank No. 1 in passing yards allowed. However, the Volunteers are a mess on offense, too, so this game may well be a slow race to 14 points.
Prediction: Tennessee 21, South Carolina 10
Florida State (1-3) at Duke (4-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Florida State beat Duke 45-7 in the 2013 ACC Championship
At the time, Duke’s 4-0 start—including wins by double-digit margins against Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina—seemed impressive. In retrospect, not one of those three teams is any good. And Duke’s attempts to move the ball on offense the past two weeks have been painful to watch. Meanwhile, Florida State’s defense has held three straight opponents below 3.0 yards per carry.
This should be the most interesting game ever played between these two programs, though. Per Winsipedia, Florida State has an all-time record of 17-0 against Duke, and not one of those games was decided by a margin of fewer than 19 points.
Prediction: Florida State 27, Duke 16
No. 17 Michigan (4-1) at Indiana (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Michigan beat Indiana 20-10 last November
Wilton Speight is likely out for the season with three broken vertebrae, and John O’Korn just threw three interceptions in a home loss to Michigan State. Things could unravel in a hurry for the Wolverines if they don’t get back on the right track at quarterback. Good thing they’re facing an opponent they have beaten 21 consecutive times and one that did not look great against either Ohio State or Penn State.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Indiana 20
Boston College (2-4) at Louisville (4-2), 12:20 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Louisville beat Boston College 52-7 last November
In Weeks 2-4, Wake Forest’s John Wolford, Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush and Clemson’s Kelly Bryant rushed for a combined 405 yards and seven touchdowns against Boston College. All three of those players are quarterbacks, and the Eagles’ Week 7 opponent features arguably the best dual-threat QB since Michael Vick. Always expect Lamar Jackson to do something incredible, but get ready to watch him really go berserk in this one. After all, he did account for seven touchdowns against BC last year.
Prediction: Louisville 56, Boston College 17
Other Saturday Early Games
Joel LanningBrett Deering/Getty Images
Kansas (1-4) at Iowa State (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Iowa State beat Kansas 31-24 last November
Iowa State has won three or fewer games in four consecutive seasons, but that streak will end this week. The Cyclones had been quietly respectable through their first four contests, but the monumental road upset over Oklahoma was anything but under the radar. And now they get a home game against a Kansas defense that has allowed at least 42 points and 7.0 yards per play in each of its last four games.
Prediction: Iowa State 41, Kansas 21
Connecticut (1-4) at Temple (3-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Temple beat Connecticut 21-0 last November
Speaking of horrendous defenses, Connecticut just gave up 70 points in a loss to Memphis and is allowing an average of 607.8 yards and 49.5 points against FBS opponents. Temple is far from elite on offense, but it did just put up 523 yards and 34 points in a road win over East Carolina. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs will put up points for the Huskies, but, per usual, it won’t be enough.
Prediction: Temple 38, Connecticut 27
Rutgers (1-4) at Illinois (2-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Illinois beat Rutgers 24-7 last October
Five of the six Big Ten games being played this week fall somewhere on the watchable spectrum between “moderately intriguing” and “can’t afford to miss.” This is not one of those five games. Rutgers and Illinois are ranked 122nd and 123rd, respectively, in total offense—and that’s including Rutgers’ amassing more than 31 percent of its yards for the season in a 65-0 win over Morgan State. Take out that FCS blowout and these teams have combined to commit 19 turnovers while scoring just 23 touchdowns. If your eyes hurt after watching this one, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Prediction: Rutgers 17, Illinois 13
BYU (1-5) at Mississippi State (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: BYU beat Mississippi State 28-21 last October
Compared to BYU, Rutgers and Illinois have potent offenses. The Cougars are averaging just 10.0 points and 231.2 yards per game against FBS opponents. Auburn and Georgia crushed Mississippi State in its last two games, but the Bulldogs should bounce back nicely.
Prediction: Mississippi State 31, BYU 10
Eastern Michigan (2-3) at Army (4-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Army beat Eastern Michigan 58-36 in 2015
Quite the contrast in styles here. Army ranks third in the nation with 372.7 rushing yards per game, and Eastern Michigan ranks dead last at 74.2. But the Eagles aren’t exactly making up for it with a strong passing attack, as they’re averaging 276.8 yards through the air with six TDs and six interceptions. They have yet to score more than 24 points in a game this season, and that won’t cut it against the Black Knights.
Prediction: Army 35, Eastern Michigan 21
UNLV (2-3) at Air Force (1-4), 2 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Air Force beat UNLV 48-21 in 2014
Both UNLV and Air Force love to run the ball as much as possible, but stopping the opposing team from doing so has been a major problem. UNLV allowed more than 300 rushing yards against both Howard and San Diego State, while Air Force has ceded 363 and 471 rushing yards in its last two games against New Mexico and Navy. This may well come down to who has the ball last.
Prediction: Air Force 38, UNLV 31
Old Dominion (2-3) at Marshall (4-1), 2:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Old Dominion beat Marshall 38-14 last November
After opening the season with wins over Albany and Massachusetts, Old Dominion has been slaughtered in its last three games, losing each one by at least a 30-point margin. Meanwhile, Marshall is looking like the team to beat in Conference USA. It has been more than a month since the Thundering Herd allowed a point in the first half of a game.
Prediction: Marshall 37, Old Dominion 14
Cream of the Saturday Midafternoon Crop
Kerryon JohnsonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images
No. 10 Auburn (5-1) at LSU (4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Auburn beat LSU 18-13 last September
There have been a lot of “Bryce Love vs. entire teams” comparisons made lately, but try this on for size: Kerryon Johnson has more rushing touchdowns (11) in his last three games than 75 FBS teams have this entire season. The man has been a wrecking ball, and now he gets to face an LSU defense that has allowed at least 194 rushing yards in three of its last four games. Do the Tigers from the bayou have enough offense to compete with that?
Prediction: Auburn 28, LSU 16
Purdue (3-2) at No. 7 Wisconsin (5-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Wisconsin beat Purdue 49-20 last November
After several consecutive years of ineptitude, Purdue has been a tough out this season. The Boilermakers held a fourth-quarter lead in Week 1 against Louisville and were much closer to upsetting Michigan than the 28-10 final would have you believe. They won each of their other three games by at least a two-touchdown margin. They aren’t going to go on the road and upset Wisconsin, but their rushing defense is at least respectable enough to keep this thing interesting for three quarters.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 20
Georgia Tech (3-1) at No. 11 Miami, Florida (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Miami beat Georgia Tech 35-21 last October
Georgia Tech has been running at will this season, averaging just a shade under 400 yards per game. But Miami has held its four opponents to one total rushing touchdown and less than 4.0 yards per carry. Something has got to give, and even with Miami RB Mark Walton needing season-ending surgery, it seems smarter to trust the team that has won consecutive road games over Duke and Florida State rather than the one that has had the luxury of playing at home against Jacksonville State, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Prediction: Miami 30, Georgia Tech 24
No. 12 Oklahoma (4-1) vs. Texas (3-2) in Dallas, 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Oklahoma beat Texas 45-40 last October
This is a battle between teams that were on the wrong end of two of the most shocking upsets of the season—Texas lost its season opener to Maryland and Oklahoma was knocked off by Iowa State last Saturday. The Sooners darn near messed around and lost their previous game against Baylor, too, as their secondary has become a major red flag. But in what could be a shootout between a true freshman QB in Sam Ehlinger and one of the most efficient QBs in the history of the sport, we’ve got to go with Baker Mayfield.
Prediction: Oklahoma 43, Texas 34
Baylor (0-5) at No. 14 Oklahoma State (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Baylor beat Oklahoma State 35-24 last September
Baylor will eventually win a game, but it won’t be this one. The Bears defense has only recorded one interception this season, and it allowed Mayfield to average 14.9 yards per pass attempt a few weeks ago. Taking that unit on the road to face a Mason Rudolph-led offense that’s averaging 46.8 points per game won’t be pretty.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 52, Baylor 27
Solid Saturday Midafternoon Matchups
Zach AbeyRob Carr/Getty Images
Virginia (4-1) at North Carolina (1-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: North Carolina beat Virginia 35-14 last October
Virginia’s surprising road win over Boise State on Sept. 22 was no fluke. Kurt Benkert has been solid at QB behind an offensive line that is drastically better than a season ago, and this Cavaliers defense is allowing just 324.0 yards per game—compared to 446.6 last year. Factor in BYU’s 1-5 record, and Bronco Mendenhall looks like an absolute genius for leaving the Cougars for the Cavaliers. Against the train wreck that is North Carolina, Virginia should improve to 5-1 for the first time since 2007.
Prediction: Virginia 31, North Carolina 13
Vanderbilt (3-3) at Ole Miss (2-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Vanderbilt beat Ole Miss 38-17 last November
We often find games between teams heading in opposite directions, but both of these squads are in free-fall mode. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are a combined 0-6 since starting undefeated at a combined 5-0, and they have lost those games by a combined margin of 279-80. More than half of that 199-point differential is courtesy of Alabama (122 points), but the fact remains that neither team has looked good lately. But at least Vanderbilt is still fighting for a bowl invite and has finally reached the end of a brutal Kansas State-Alabama-Florida-Georgia gauntlet. Look for the Commodores to rebound, possibly starting a five-game winning streak.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 28, Ole Miss 23
Northwestern (2-3) at Maryland (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: First meeting between these programs
For both of these teams, the offense has looked terrible against opponents vying for New Year’s Six bowls. Northwestern was shut down by Wisconsin and Penn State, while Maryland couldn’t do anything against Ohio State or UCF. But Duke held the Wildcats below 200 yards, and Northwestern hasn’t shown us much of anything against teams with more than one win this season. At least the Terrapins brought their A-game against decent opponents such as Texas and Minnesota, making them the team more likely to show up for this one.
Prediction: Maryland 30, Northwestern 16
No. 25 Navy (5-0) at Memphis (4-1), 3:45 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Navy beat Memphis 42-28 last October
In a week devoid of ranked vs. ranked matchups, this might be the most intriguing game. Both Navy and Memphis have shown they can score in bunches—though Memphis does so with a quick-strike pass attack, while Navy just grinds you to death with its triple-option assault. The Midshipmen have allowed at least 280 passing yards in three of five games, and the Tigers gave up 350 rushing yards to UCF two weeks ago. Expect to see a lot of points put on the board with home-field advantage resulting in a narrow win for Memphis.
Prediction: Memphis 41, Navy 38
Colorado (3-3) at Oregon State (1-5), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Colorado beat Oregon State 47-6 last October
The only thing making this somewhat interesting is getting to see what Oregon State looks like in its first game without head coach Gary Anderson. The Beavers have given up at least 32 points in every contest this season and have lost four straight by at least a four-touchdown margin. It would be something if that defense suddenly buckles down against QB Steven Montez and running back Phillip Lindsay.
Prediction: Colorado 38, Oregon State 20
Other Saturday Midafternoon Games
Jarvion FranklinDuane Burleson/Getty Images
Akron (3-3) at Western Michigan (4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Western Michigan beat Akron 41-0 last October
Fresh off a 71-68, seven-overtime win over Buffalo, Western Michigan may be considered by some to be either riding high from that victory or showing fatigue because of it. But there’s no evidence to support either claim. Dating back to the start of the 2012 season, my research shows there were previously seven games that lasted at least four overtimes. The winners went 3-4 the following week while the losers went 4-3. Nothing to see there.
So, setting aside the theatrics of last Saturday, Western Michigan has typically been the better of these two teams this season, particularly in terms of rushing offense. And if there is any momentum to be had from recent weeks, it’s that the Broncos have won four straight games, averaging 53.0 points per contest.
Prediction: Western Michigan 35, Akron 23
Miami, Ohio (2-4), at Kent State (1-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Miami beat Kent State 18-14 last October
To put it lightly, Miami’s defense has been struggling, allowing more than 500 total yards in each of its last two games. But facing Kent State should help cure that problem. In five contests against FBS opponents, the Golden Flashes have averaged 220.8 yards and have scored a grand total of 22 points—while allowing 445.6 yards and 170 total points on defense. If the RedHawks can’t win this one, they might as well pack it in and try to avoid major injuries for the rest of the season.
Prediction: Miami 37, Kent State 10
Northern Illinois (3-2) at Buffalo (3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Northern Illinois beat Buffalo 44-7 last October
Prior to Drew Anderson’s throwing for 597 yards in the aforementioned marathon against Western Michigan, Buffalo wasn’t even averaging 200 passing yards per game. And now the Bulls have to face a Northern Illinois pass defense with more than twice as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns allowed (four) and one that is in the top three in the nation in both yards allowed per attempt (4.9) and QB rating allowed (89.81). Oh, and good luck establishing the run against the Huskies. They rank third in the country at 2.49 yards allowed per rush attempt.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 27, Buffalo 19
Ohio (4-2) at Bowling Green (1-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Ohio beat Bowling Green 30-24 last October
Bowling Green got off the schneid last week, but only because Miami, Ohio, managed to give away the most unforgivable fumble of the season. The Falcons still have a dreadful defense and have no business even competing with what is probably the second-best team in the MAC.
Prediction: Ohio 51, Bowling Green 17
Toledo (4-1) at Central Michigan (3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Toledo beat Central Michigan 31-17 last October
Toledo leads the MAC in total offense (501.2 yards per game) by a country mile and has only committed four turnovers all season. Central Michigan gives up a ton of yards (415.7) and relies heavily upon its turnover-forcing defense (17 in six games) to keep it in games. Unless the Rockets unexpectedly cough up the ball more times in one game than they have all year, they should cruise to victory.
Prediction: Toledo 45, Central Michigan 27
Houston (4-1) at Tulsa (1-5), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Houston beat Tulsa 38-31 last October
Tulsa’s defense is a travesty. The Golden Hurricane gave up 653 yards and 62 points last week to Tulane, and that somehow improved their nation-worst yards allowed per play rate from 8.23 to 8.16. Houston has a middle-of-the-pack offense, but the Cougars might end up looking like the 2000 St. Louis Rams on this turf.
Prediction: Houston 52, Tulsa 31
Charlotte (0-6) at Western Kentucky (3-2), 4:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: First meeting between these programs
Western Kentucky’s offense has taken a massive step backward. After averaging 47.0 passing touchdowns over the past three seasons, the Hilltoppers have thrown for just two scores through five games. They were expected to fall off after losing Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris, but goodness gracious. Yet, they’re 3-2 and almost certain to improve to 4-2 against a Charlotte offense averaging 9.2 points per game against FBS opponents.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 29, Charlotte 6
Wyoming (3-2) at Utah State (3-3), 4:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Wyoming beat Utah State 52-28 last November
Speaking of passing attacks that aren’t nearly what they used to be, it’s hard to believe Wyoming’s Josh Allen has only thrown six touchdowns this season. The way all the draft scouts were talking him up this summer, you’d think he’d be neck-and-neck with Josh Rosen for the national lead in passing yards per game. But half of those touchdowns came in his most recent contest, so maybe he’s starting to piece things together.
Prediction: Wyoming 27, Utah State 23
Appalachian State (3-2) at Idaho (2-3), 5 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Appalachian State beat Idaho 37-19 last October
At long last, Appalachian State’s Jalin Moore sprang to life in last week’s win over New Mexico State. The veteran back rushed for 1,402 yards last season, but he had been held to 34.0 yards per game through the first month of this campaign. After his 241 yards and two touchdowns against the Aggies, though, this offense is starting to fire on all cylinders.
Prediction: Appalachian State 32, Idaho 20
Georgia State (2-2) at Louisiana-Monroe (3-2), 5 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Louisiana-Monroe beat Georgia State 37-23 last November
At 39.6 points per game, Louisiana-Monroe is the highest-scoring team in the Sun Belt. And at 16.3 points per game, Georgia State is one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country. Averaging 2.59 yards per carry tends to have that effect. The Warhawks ought to run all over the Panthers.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 44, Georgia State 18
Cream of the Saturday Evening Crop
Minkah FitzpatrickJoe Robbins/Getty Images
Arkansas (2-3) at No. 1 Alabama (6-0), 7:15 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Alabama beat Arkansas 49-30 last October
After annihilating Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined margin of 125-3, Alabama was just plain mortal in a 27-19 win over Texas A&M. That’s bad news for Arkansas. Dating back to December 2015, Alabama has given up at least 14 points nine times. In the first game following the previous eight, the Crimson Tide allowed 3.75 points per game, including four shutouts. And it’s not like the Razorbacks looked great in a 48-22 loss to South Carolina last week.
Prediction: Alabama 48, Arkansas 6
No. 9 Ohio State (5-1) at Nebraska (3-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Ohio State beat Nebraska 62-3 last November
Last year, Ohio State beat Maryland and Nebraska in back-to-back weeks by identical scores of 62-3. As luck would have it, the Buckeyes again get the Terrapins and Cornhuskers in consecutive weeks—albeit in the reverse order this time. J.T. Barrett and Co. smashed Maryland 62-14 last week. Considering they have scored at least 54 in three straight weeks and have an average margin of victory of 42.0 points per game since the loss to Oklahoma, there’s no good reason not to expect a similar result.
Prediction: Ohio State 62, Nebraska 14
Utah (4-1) at No. 13 USC (5-1), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Utah beat USC 31-27 last September
Utah started the season 4-0 and put up strong defensive numbers—particularly against the run. But the Utes faced three dreadful opponents to start the campaign to pad those stats and haven’t been anywhere near as impressive in the past two games against Arizona and Stanford. That rude awakening will continue this week on the road against USC, as this defense won’t get enough penetration to take advantage of a depleted Trojans offensive line.
Prediction: USC 35, Utah 21
No. 21 Michigan State (4-1) at Minnesota (3-2), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Michigan State beat Minnesota 14-3 in 2013
Save for taking a bit of a beating from Notre Dame (five touchdowns), Michigan State’s defense has been sensational. The Spartans have given up a total of five touchdowns in the other four games. Three of those came on punt or fumble returns, and a fourth came on a drive that Michigan started at the MSU 33. And Minnesota’s offense has been just OK for the past three games. This one should be interesting because Michigan State’s offense hasn’t been great, either, but the Golden Gophers will need at least one touchdown on defense or special teams to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Michigan State 23, Minnesota 13
Solid Saturday Evening Matchups
McKenzie MiltonMichael Reaves/Getty Images
Texas A&M (4-2) at Florida (3-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Florida beat Texas A&M 20-17 in 2012
The winner of this game is going to be regarded as the fourth-best team in the SEC. Good for that team, but that is not a ringing endorsement for the strength of this conference’s depth. Both Florida and Texas A&M have played in more than their fair shares of fluky, could-have-gone-either-way games this season, which makes this feel like the coin flip of the week. Aggies QB Kellen Mond has been solid for the past several weeks, but the same cannot be said for anyone the Gators have put behind center.
Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Florida 21
East Carolina (1-5) at No. 22 UCF (4-0), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: UCF beat East Carolina 47-29 last October
This isn’t going to be an entertaining game, as ECU and UCF are at opposite ends of the national spectrum. However, the Knights have won each of their first four games by a margin of at least 27 points, and there’s a good chance they’ll extend that streak. They’re beating up teams the way you need to if you want to get noticed by the College Football Playoff selection committee. It’s still way too early to start thinking like that, but if they smoke ECU this week and Navy next week, you better believe that’ll be the No. 1 topic of conversation around college football’s national water cooler.
Prediction: UCF 62, East Carolina 17
Missouri (1-4) at No. 4 Georgia (6-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Georgia beat Missouri 28-27 last September
Like the ECU-UCF game, this one should be all sorts of ugly. Georgia has outscored its three SEC opponents 117-17, and Missouri has one of the worst defenses in the country. But, again, this could be a bit interesting from a forward-thinking, CFP perspective. If in seven weeks’ time we’re arguing about Georgia as a second playoff candidate for the SEC, it better not have a too-close-for-comfort win over Missouri on its resume.
Prediction: Georgia 51, Missouri 19
Cincinnati (2-4) at No. 18 South Florida (5-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: South Florida beat Cincinnati 45-20 last October
Lather, rinse, repeat. South Florida has been on fire lately, and Cincinnati can’t stop anyone. Unless things go horribly awry, this will be USF’s sixth consecutive win by at least a 14-point margin. And if the Bulls have thoughts of getting to 12-0 with season-ending wins at UCF and against Navy in the AAC championship game, style points against these lackluster opponents will matter to the selection committee.
Prediction: South Florida 60, Cincinnati 20
UCLA (3-2) at Arizona (3-2), 9 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: UCLA beat Arizona 45-24 last October
In case you stopped paying attention to Josh Rosen after he threw a couple of back-breaking interceptions in a Week 3 loss to Memphis, here’s your heads up that #ChosenRosen is on pace for 5,551 passing yards this season—provided UCLA becomes bowl-eligible and plays in a 13th game. No player in the past five years has thrown for even 5,100 yards, and 5,551 would put him at No. 5 on the all-time list. Considering Arizona has allowed at least 200 passing yards in every game this season, you have to like Rosen’s chances of torching the Wildcats secondary. Whether the Bruins defense will be able to protect the points he scores could be another story.
Prediction: UCLA 41, Arizona 38
Other Saturday Evening Games
Johnathan BrantleyBrett Deering/Getty Images
New Mexico State (2-4) at Georgia Southern (0-4), 6 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Georgia Southern beat New Mexico State 22-19 last October
Georgia Southern’s triple-option offense has woken up a little in the past three games, but the Eagles have been outscored 158-61 this season, including a loss to FCS school New Hampshire. Meanwhile, New Mexico State has averaged better than 350 passing yards per game and has yet to be held below 24 points. You probably could have guessed from the records that this won’t be a pretty game, but it’s one NMSU should win.
Prediction: New Mexico State 31, Georgia Southern 24
Middle Tennessee (3-3) at UAB (3-2), 6:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Middle Tennessee beat UAB 34-22 in 2014
If UAB isn’t the feel-good story of the year, I don’t know what is. Everyone who did a preseason ranking of all 130 FBS teams had the Blazers somewhere in the bottom five, as their football program was just reinstated after a two-year hiatus. Early wins over Alabama A&M and Coastal Carolina weren’t all that impressive, but they nearly won at North Texas and did beat Louisiana Tech to get to 3-2. A win over Middle Tennessee here would give UAB great odds of securing a bowl invite no one was projecting. Given the way MTSU has been playing without quarterback Brent Stockstill (sternum, collarbone) and receiver Richie James (ankle) for the past several weeks, why not?
Prediction: UAB 27, MTSU 24
Coastal Carolina (1-4) at Arkansas State (2-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: First meeting between these programs
Coastal Carolina’s record isn’t as good as UAB’s, but the Chanticleers haven’t been too shabby in their FBS transition, either, falling by just a one-possession margin in three of their four losses. Scoring defense has been their problem, as they have allowed at least 27 points in all five games. That’s going to be a problem against Arkansas State (37.0 PPG). Look for Red Wolves QB Justice Hansen to put up big numbers.
Prediction: Arkansas State 45, Coastal Carolina 28
UT San Antonio (3-1) at North Texas (3-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: UT San Antonio beat North Texas 31-17 last October
If you enjoy watching competent, off-the-beaten-path teams put up a lot of points, this is the game for you. North Texas and UTSA rank top-two in Conference USA in points per game, each averaging better than 210 rushing yards and 265 passing yards per contest. UTSA has been solid on defense, though, as evidenced by the season-opening 17-10 road win over Baylor. The Roadrunners rank fifth in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (143.8), and that figures to be the difference.
Prediction: UTSA 44, North Texas 35
UTEP (0-6) at Southern Mississippi (3-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Southern Mississippi beat UTEP 34-7 last September
Despite almost beating Western Kentucky last week, UTEP is the worst team in the country. The Miners have allowed more than twice as many yards on defense (2,791) as they have gained on offense (1,390). Southern Miss probably isn’t a top-50 team, but the Golden Eagles are plenty good enough to stomp UTEP.
Prediction: Southern Miss 40, UTEP 16
Tulane (3-2) at Florida International (3-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: First meeting between these programs
As mentioned last week, Florida International is not a good three-win team, as it edged out Alcorn State, Rice and Charlotte to pick up those victories. There’s a chance the Golden Panthers get to six wins—they do still have home games against Old Dominion and Massachusetts, after all—but they aren’t about to beat a Tulane team that just mollywhopped Tulsa 62-28.
Prediction: Tulane 38, FIU 13
Saturday Night Games
Jake BrowningElaine Thompson/Associated Press
New Mexico (3-2) at Fresno State (3-2), 10 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Fresno State beat New Mexico 35-24 in 2014
Fresno State is undefeated against teams not currently in the AP Top Five, as the Bulldogs’ two losses have come at No. 1 Alabama and at No. 5 Washington. But the three teams they’ve beaten are 1-6 San Jose State, 1-5 Nevada and 0-5 FCS school Incarnate Word. So, are these guys good or not? We might find out in this game against a New Mexico team that has rushed for at least 175 yards in every game and at least 338 yards in each of its past two contests.
Prediction: New Mexico 35, Fresno State 24
Nevada (1-5) at Colorado State (4-2), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Nevada beat Colorado State 28-23 in 2015 Arizona Bowl
Nevada scored its first win of the season last week against Hawaii, but let’s not go projecting that to be the start of some big winning streak or anything silly. The Wolf Pack are moving the ball reasonably well on offense, but they can’t stop anyone on defense. And with Colorado State averaging better than 500 yards of total offense per game, this won’t end well.
Prediction: Colorado State 54, Nevada 21
Boise State (3-2) at No. 19 San Diego State (6-0), 10:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Boise State beat San Diego State 38-29 in 2014
San Diego State has won the Mountain West title in each of the past two seasons, but is the changing of the guard official until the Aztecs go through Boise State? (The Broncos didn’t face SDSU either year.) In both yards allowed per game and per carry, Boise State has the best rush defense in the Mountain West and figures to be the biggest hurdle standing between Rashaad Penny and a Heisman-worthy campaign for an undefeated team. But SDSU has a stout defense, too. When in doubt, go with the home team or the best player. In this case, both favor San Diego State.
Prediction: San Diego State 24, Boise State 23
No. 5 Washington (6-0) at Arizona State (2-3), 10:45 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Washington beat Arizona State 44-18 last November
On the one hand, Arizona State has given up at least 30 points in every game this season and appears to have no business slowing down a Washington offense averaging 43.0 points. On the other hand, Arizona State has scored at least 20 points in every game and four of its five opponents (San Diego State, Texas Tech, Oregon and Stanford) are better than every team Washington has faced this season. And while the Sun Devils are below .500, they were right there in all three losses.
I don’t quite have the guts to predict the upset, but this has the makings of a close game that Huskies head coach Chris Petersen will hope the selection committee members on the East Coast aren’t watching.
Prediction: Washington 38, Arizona State 31
Oregon (4-2) at No. 23 Stanford (4-2), 11 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Stanford beat Oregon 52-27 last November
Oregon ranks sixth in the nation in yards allowed per carry (2.73) and has held all six of its opponents to 142 rushing yards or fewer. Stanford’s Bryce Love is averaging 10.5 yards per carry and has not been held below 152 rushing yards yet this season. But even if the Ducks are the team that bottles up Love, true freshman QB Braxton Burmeister may be their undoing. He struggled mightily last week against Washington State and could get into trouble against a Stanford defense averaging 1.5 interceptions per game.
Prediction: Stanford 34, Oregon 25
San Jose State (1-6) at Hawai’i (2-4), 11:59 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Hawaii beat San Jose State 34-17 last October
Here’s a fun fact to round this out: San Jose State ranks 124th in the nation in both scoring offense (15.0) and scoring defense (42.0). And that’s counting a 34-13 win over FCS school Cal Poly. Get rid of that game and the numbers change to 11.8 and 46.8, respectively. Hawaii isn’t that much better on defense, but at least the Rainbow Warriors can score on occasion.
Prediction: Hawaii 35, San Jose State 19
Kerry Miller covers college football and college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.