Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
We’ve got another great weekend of games in college football.
Week 7 has some really intriguing weeknight games, particularly West Virginia vs. Houston (Dana Holgorsen’s old school vs. his current school) and Deion Sanders and Colorado hosting Stanford on Friday night.
From there, Saturday’s slate features four ranked vs. ranked matchups, including a massive showdown between No. 8 Oregon and No. 7 Washington in the Pac-12. There are also quite a few ranked teams on upset watch.
We’ve passed the midseason mark, so these games are gaining importance by the week. We could look back at Week 7 as a turning point in the season for several teams.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 8 Oregon at No. 7 Washington
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UW -3 | Total: 67.5
The two best teams in the Pac-12 will square off Saturday in Seattle in a game with major conference championship and College Football Playoff implications. Both Washington and Oregon are 5-0 and will be well-rested coming off bye weeks. And both teams have been dominant this season.
Washington is led by QB Michael Penix Jr. and an excellent trio of receivers — Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan. Penix is throwing for 399.8 yards per game, a mark that leads the nation by more than 60 yards. He also leads the nation in yards per attempt (11.2) as the Huskies continue to attack defenses vertically.
Oregon has an explosive offense of its own, averaging 51.6 points per game behind QB Bo Nix. The Ducks rely more on a quick passing game compared to UW’s downfield attack, but they have been incredibly efficient. Nix is completing 80.4% of his throws, which leads the country. And don’t be surprised if Nix’s legs are a major factor in the outcome of this game. That’s a facet of the offense that Oregon has not unlocked yet this season.
Nick Bromberg: Oregon +3, Sam Cooper: Oregon +3
Texas A&M at No. 19 Tennessee
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: UT -3 | Total: 54.5
We’re going to learn a lot about Tennessee (4-1, 1-1 SEC) in the next few weeks. After a 2-0 start, the Vols lost on the road to Florida and then had lopsided home wins over UTSA and South Carolina. Following a bye week, Tennessee is back at home to start a three-game stretch that could define its season. The Vols will host a reeling Texas A&M squad before going on the road to face No. 11 Alabama and No. 24 Kentucky. If the Vols want to have a chance to compete for the SEC title, they need to be ready to roll on Saturday and try to carry that on the road to Tuscaloosa.
On the other side, Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1 SEC) is coming off a disappointing home loss to Alabama and now will play its first true road game since the Sept. 9 loss at Miami. Since then, the Aggies took care of business at home vs. UL Monroe and Auburn before beating Arkansas in a neutral site game. But last week’s loss to Alabama felt like a missed opportunity and now the Aggies have to try to bounce back in a difficult road environment. If A&M wants to contend for the SEC West crown this is basically a must-win before going into the bye week.
Nick: Tennessee -3, Sam: Tennessee -3
No. 10 USC at No. 21 Notre Dame
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBC | Line: ND -3 | Total: 60.5
Notre Dame’s playoff hopes were dashed last weekend with a 33-20 loss at Louisville. It was the third consecutive primetime game against an undefeated opponent for the Irish, and this week will be the fourth in four weeks. In the second half vs. Louisville, Notre Dame, now 5-2, looked completely gassed. Louisville overwhelmed the Irish in the trenches on both sides of the ball and quarterback Sam Hartman threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. It was a rough night. With USC visiting South Bend, how will Marcus Freeman’s team respond?
USC, meanwhile, needed three overtimes to get past Arizona and stay undefeated. It was the third-straight close call for the Trojans against teams from the bottom half of the Pac-12. USC had just a seven-point fourth quarter lead at Arizona State and then nearly blew a huge lead in a 48-41 win at Colorado. And then against Arizona, USC fell behind 17-0, came back to take the lead and then blew a chance to win the game as time expired by botching a field goal. The Trojans eventually got the win, but it was another uneven performance from a team that continues to struggle mightily on defense. How will the Trojans fare on the road in South Bend?
Nick: USC +3, Sam: USC +3
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UNC -3.5 | Total: 57.5
Miami is coming off a horrific loss to Georgia Tech. You’ve almost certainly seen it by now. The Hurricanes had a 20-17 lead in the final minute and needed one kneel down to run out the rest of the clock. Instead, Mario Cristobal and his coaches called a running play that resulted in a fumble. From there, GT promptly hit two big passes and scored the winning TD with a second remaining. Had Miami won the game, this would be a matchup of two undefeated teams. Instead, the Hurricanes have to try to rebound from that gut-wrenching loss and get their season back on track.
That won’t be easy for Miami with the way North Carolina has been playing. The Tar Heels improved to 5-0 by blasting Syracuse 40-7 last weekend. In the win, Drake Maye threw for 442 yards, ran for 55 yards and had four total touchdowns. Maye is playing at an All-American level once again, and the much-maligned UNC defense looks much improved compared to last season when it was a major liability. This is a big opportunity for the Tar Heels as they look to stay undefeated and heavily in the mix for a berth in the ACC title game. UNC also wants to prove it should be in the CFP conversation as the season progresses.
Nick: UNC -3.5, Sam: Miami +3.5
No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Oregon State
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: OSU -3.5 | Total: 54.5
This is a big game in the Pac-12 race. USC, Oregon and Washington are all undefeated. USC doesn’t play a conference game this weekend, but either the Ducks or Huskies will end Saturday with a loss. Both Oregon State (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) and UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) have one conference loss, so the winner of this game will be in a much better position in the pursuit of a Pac-12 title game spot.
Oregon State opened conference play with a loss at Washington State but has since responded with wins over Utah and Cal. The Beavers have an excellent running game but will be put to the test by a UCLA defense that allowed only 216 yards and forced four turnovers in the win over WSU last weekend. It was a big win for the Bruins, who fell at Utah in their Pac-12 opener. During Chip Kelly’s tenure, UCLA has always been known for its offense. But these Bruins have been awfully impressive on defense.
Nick: UCLA +3.5, Sam: Oregon State -3.5
Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 11-20-1, Sam: 19-12-1
Week 7 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 6-12)
No. 14 Louisville (-7.5) at Pitt: The Panthers made a quarterback change over the bye week, benching Phil Jurkovec. Christian Veilleux takes over as the starter and while his stats over 27 pass attempts aren’t great this season, I’m banking on a new QB bounce. Louisville should win this game, but Pitt scores enough for this to go over. Pick: Over 44.5
Auburn at No. 22 LSU (-11.5): LSU’s defense got the stops it needed in the second half against Missouri and I think that carries over into Week 7. I’m not sold on Auburn’s offense; the Tigers have scored 44 points over three games against Power Five opponents. Jayden Daniels has a big game and the visiting Tigers can’t keep up. Pick: LSU -11.5
Kansas State at Texas Tech (-1.5): The Wildcats were horrendous in their Week 6 loss to Oklahoma State and should be due for a rebound. Texas Tech looked great against Baylor, but that may be more about the Bears than the Red Raiders. TTU RB Tahj Brooks has rushed for over 100 yards in four consecutive games but I think KSU slows him down enough to get a win. Pick: Kansas State +1.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 10-8)
Tulane (-4.5) at Memphis: Memphis is a team I’ve tried to selectively fade over the past few seasons. I thought this spread would be closer to a full seven points, so I think we’re getting Tulane at a discount based on Memphis keeping it close with Missouri and then beating a subpar Boise State team. Pick: Tulane -4.5
Michigan State at Rutgers (-5.5): Coming off a bye, I think Michigan State can run on the Rutgers defense and limit the Rutgers running game. It’s obviously been a rough year for MSU, but the Spartans can win this game outright. I’ll gladly take these points. Pick: Michigan State +5.5
No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Oregon State (-3.5): Oregon State is really tough to beat at home, but I don’t want to lay the points with a run-based team against this UCLA defense. Instead, I’m on the under. The Beavers struggled on defense last week but are going to make things difficult on Dante Moore, UCLA’s freshman QB. Pick: Under 54.5