Alabama 42, Auburn 14

Trent Richardson and No. 2 Alabama have convinced Nick Saban that they’re worthy of competing for college football’s top prize. They’ll have to wait a while before for the final decision is rendered.

The Pressure Gauge: Washington, Washington State Face Crucial Second Half

The Pac-12’s last two unbeaten teams lost on Saturday, Washington to Arizona State and Washington State to Cal. For a state that’s not always considered a hotbed of college football, Washington had (and still has) a lot riding on this college football season as it fields two of the three best teams in the Pac-12. Last weekend’s losses loom big in the state’s—and the Pac 12’s—bid to get a team into the playoff for the second straight year (Washington was selected in 2016), but all hope isn’t lost yet. A one-loss Pac-12 team could still make the field of four, and Washington State has already beaten USC, the only other team in the conference that’s realistically vying for a playoff bid.

The Huskies won’t face the Trojans this season, but that’s about the only break in their upcoming schedule, which includes a bye this week and then UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington State. UCLA is the only one of those five teams that doesn’t have a winning record, and going into Week 8 it sits at .500 with a quarterback who has the potential to disrupt any game. Meanwhile, Washington State’s schedule is only a tiny bit better; it faces Colorado, Arizona, Stanford and Utah before that season-ending rivalry game with the Huskies. There’s a lot on the line in the season’s second half, and even though things seem pretty hopeless right now after each team scored only once last week—the Cougars mustered a field goal, the Huskies a fourth-quarter touchdown—both have the chance to make up ground and put Week 7 behind them. The sooner the better, though; each needs as many blowouts or comfortable margins of victory as it can muster. The Huskies will need to use their bye week wisely and try not to wallow in their offensive woes, and the Cougars, 11-point favorites against Colorado, need quarterback Luke Falk to put up as many points as he can.

Falk has already passed for 2,286 yards this season, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. Even last week against Cal, he put up some decent numbers, passing for 286 yards. The issue? Interceptions. Falk threw five of them last Saturday after racking up just two in his previous six games. The Cougars have to hope last week was the exception to the rule, and if it is, they should be back on track shortly, last week chalked up to nothing more than the most bizarre of aberrations.

Other players and teams other pressure this weekend...

Sam Ehlinger

Texas’s freshman quarterback was a delight to watch on Saturday. It isn’t often that an opposing quarterback outshines Baker Mayfield, but against Oklahoma, Ehlinger at least rivaled his opponent for the spotlight. He was good enough, throwing for 278 yards and rushing for 110, that Oklahoma’s players and coaches raved about his performance after the game—which I know is easier after a win, but still. This kid looks like he’s for real. That’s exciting for Texas fans, and also a ton of pressure for Ehlinger. One of the country’s most rabid fan bases now pins its hopes on him, and with Texas out of contention in the Big 12 (barring some apocalyptic results from other teams going forward), a lot will be made of his development and every move. In the meantime, he goes up against the Big 12’s second-highest ranked team on Saturday, Oklahoma State.

The unbeaten Group of Five teams

And then there were two. USF and UCF are now the only unbeaten Group of Five programs after San Diego State and Navy lost last weekend. Ranked No. 16, USF plays at Tulane Saturday night, and No. 20 UCF is at Navy that afternoon. Both teams are favored, but as we get into the second half of the season, every game counts more and more as these two teams make bids for New Year’s Six bowl berths—and keep the slimmest of playoff hopes alive. (That’s not going to happen, but still, dare to dream.) Tulane has played well in flashes this year, but UCF has the trickier opponent: a good Navy team that was ranked before its loss last week to Memphis. Still, UCF, despite its lower ranking, has to me a more impressive resume than USF in terms of opponents thus far, which bodes well for what it can do against Navy. Working against it: The Knights have never faced the Midshipmen and their confounding triple-option attack.

Both teams, despite worse strengths of schedule than the average Power 5 team, do have margins of victory working in their favor as well. USF is winning by an average of more than 20 points per game, UCF by 25. With resumes like that—controlling what they can control by beating up on a lesser schedule—these teams deserve consideration for big-time bowls if they keep up their current clip.

Wisconsin

The Badgers may be the undefeated team we’re talking the least about. At 6–0, they haven’t played a particularly grueling schedule, but they’re also a very, very good team. They’re less surprising than TCU as a playoff contender, but it’s still a bit of a wait-and-see game with the Badgers, who don’t play a truly challenging opponent until they get Michigan at home on Nov. 18. That all sounds great, right? What pressure? Well, the way I look at it, Paul Chryst’s team has a ton of time to kill before it gets to a high-level opponent, which could lead to a level of auto-pilot. It probably won’t—Wisconsin is always a disciplined program—but anticipation is never fun.

Brian Kelly

Notre Dame, now all the way up to No. 13 in this week’s AP Poll, gets USC at home this weekend. It’ll be the biggest test so far in 2017 for a team that had few expectations going into the season, and though the pressure extends to the whole roster, Kelly seemed like a natural candidate for this list. Why? Because every time the Irish falter, it seems like someone is calling for his head. Beating USC on Saturday would be huge, for the 5–1 Irish’s lingering playoff hopes and to do away with any speculation that Notre Dame isn’t back after its 4–8 season a week ago. Plus, the Trojans are just an appetizer for the Irish, whose schedule doesn’t get much better down the line. Next week, it gears up for NC State, and Stanford, Miami and Navy all lurk.

LSU

This season has been a rollercoaster for the Tigers. Every time you count them out, they win. Every time you decide they might be good, they lose. Ed Orgeron and company are ranked again this week—No. 24 in the AP Poll—after they beat Auburn last Saturday in a tight game. Sure, the Tigers bid farewell to any playoff hopes weeks ago, but they still have the power to set a better tone in Orgeron’s first season. Plus, we’ve reached the point where any more inconsistency might make most people write them off entirely. Lose to Ole Miss on Saturday, and that very well could be the case. Win, and Alabama looms as another chance for LSU to prove itself.

Clemson Slides on National Title Odds, Alabama Still the Clear Favorite

The Clemson Tigers had an 11–0 straight up and 7–4 against the spread run snapped last Friday with a 27–24 loss to the Syracuse Orange. The Tigers have seen their odds to win the national championship drop as a result of that stunning upset.

Clemson is now going off at +900 to win the national championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. With a strong resume up to this point, the Tigers likely still control their own destiny and could still earn a playoff spot if they win out. After their bye this week, the Tigers will face a tough three-game stretch of Georgia Tech, at North Carolina State and Florida State with no margin for error.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are now far and away the top team to beat going off at -110 to win the title. In addition to being the most dominant team in college football, the Crimson Tide also hold a huge advantage with their 7–0 SU record. Even a November slip-up against LSU or Auburn probably wouldn't be enough to keep Alabama out of the playoff at this point.

Could the Big Ten send more than one team into the playoff this season? Ohio State (+500 to win the championship), Penn State (+1000) and Wisconsin (+2000) have all looked like legitimate contenders to this point. There is still plenty of time left in the regular season for things to sort themselves out, but outside of the SEC sending both Alabama and Georgia (+1000) into the playoff, this is the only other conference in such a position.

Despite a 6–0 SU and 4–2 ATS record this season, the TCU Horned Frogs still aren't getting much respect as a legitimate title contender going off at +2800. Oklahoma (+2500) and Oklahoma State (+2500) are both still in the running for the Big 12 title, and with the new Big 12 Championship Game instituted this year it would seem that a one-loss Big 12 champion should have a strong case to be a playoff team.

Other longshot contenders include USC (+2800), Miami (+2800), Michigan (+3300), Notre Dame (+3300) and NC State (+3300). USC and Notre Dame clash this Saturday, with the winner set to jump up on the futures board and the loser likely to virtually fall off of it.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Midseason Crystal Ball: Alabama Is Making the Playoff. But Who Else Will?

Just before the 2017 season kicked off, SI’s writers and editors turned in predictions that balanced a healthy amount of respect for the trendy favorites with some bold guesses about this year’s best teams. Fast-forward eight weeks, and Alabama has drained the drama from our midseason projections. All seven staffers polled have the Crimson Tide winning their second national title in three years, and although there’s some variance within our playoff fields, none of us seem to have really left the door open for debate on who the best team in college football is.

Read on for our Midseason Crystal Ball, featuring predictions for each New Year’s Six matchup and our explanations for sending the trophy back to Tuscaloosa.

College Football Playoff

New Year's Six Bowl Matchups

Why We All Picked Alabama to Win It All

Andy Staples: As the season has gone on, I keep asking which team is the most complete. Who can pressure the quarterback, cover receivers and generate explosive plays on offense? Alabama and Penn State feel like the most complete teams so far, and Alabama feels more complete than Penn State.

Bruce Feldman: Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban for a national title is a pretty tasty matchup. This time I think the Tide will do a better job against the Buckeyes’ run game than they did against Ezekiel Elliott in the semifinal three years ago. Ohio State has an interesting path to the title game, including a huge game two weeks from now against Penn State. Expect the Nittany Lions to get past Michigan, but the back end of their double is tricky: The Buckeyes will be out for revenge in Columbus coming off a bye week. Despite being down from where the conference was in recent years, the SEC will be the first league to get two teams into the final four after Georgia runs the table in the regular season before falling to Alabama in the SEC title game. Meanwhile, both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 get snubbed as the latter’s new title game ends up costing it a playoff spot.

Joan Niesen: I’m going all SEC now in my national title game, a decision I’m sure I’ll come to regret when Georgia loses to Florida or South Carolina. (This is one of those instances where I love everything I see on the field from the Bulldogs but can’t quite wrap my head around why I’m not fully on board.) Before the season, I had Penn State in Georgia’s place, but watching Ohio State’s offense lately, I think the Buckeyes will get in over the Nittany Lions—but I don’t think they’ll get past Georgia, which I’ve subbed in for a USC team that hasn’t lived up to my expectations. I’ve still got Alabama winning it all, though, because I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary yet.

Chris Johnson: This was an easy pick before the season, and it’s an easy pick now. The Crimson Tide have not played a close game yet. That may change when they face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Iron Bowl, followed by a likely matchup with Georgia in the SEC title game, but it’s not clear either of those teams are on Alabama’s level yet. We’ve grown accustomed to the Crimson Tide thrashing their conference competition during Saban’s tenure, but their 2017 season has been atypically devoid of drama. If this team has a fatal flaw, no opponent has exposed it yet. It seems doubtful that Gus Malzahn or Kirby Smart will.

Eric Single: Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State came so close to midseason that it seems to have thrown many people off the Sooners’ scent, but to me Baker Mayfield is the only individual player with half a chance of throwing Alabama off its game the way other recent superstar quarterbacks have in toppling the Tide. But even if that defense survives a brutal Big 12 home stretch, it doesn’t look like it will have enough to contain Jalen Hurts and Damien Harris.

Molly Geary: Until the Crimson Tide give us any reason to doubt their status as the favorite, their dominant performance so far this season will speak for itself. It’s true that Alabama doesn’t have a win over anyone in the current Top 25, but let’s not forget that it was dominating Florida State even before the Seminoles’ season was turned on its head by the injury to quarterback Deondre Francois.

Scooby Axson: Only one team in the nation is close to being a complete outfit. Although Alabama can use its running game to beat up on most teams, it hasn’t yet been forced to win by throwing the ball. My other three projected semifinalists have quarterbacks that have the potential to give Alabama fits, but their defenses, especially Oklahoma’s, would be challenged to slow down the Tide. Alabama’s redemption tour has no other ending but the school’s fifth championship in the last nine seasons.

Midseason Crystal Ball: Alabama Is Making the Playoff. But Who Else Will?

Just before the 2017 season kicked off, SI’s writers and editors turned in predictions that balanced a healthy amount of respect for the trendy favorites with some bold guesses about this year’s best teams. Fast-forward eight weeks, and Alabama has drained the drama from our midseason projections. All seven staffers polled have the Crimson Tide winning their second national title in three years, and although there’s some variance within our playoff fields, none of us seem to have really left the door open for debate on who the best team in college football is.

Read on for our Midseason Crystal Ball, featuring predictions for each New Year’s Six matchup and our explanations for sending the trophy back to Tuscaloosa.

College Football Playoff

New Year's Six Bowl Matchups

Why We All Picked Alabama to Win It All

Andy Staples: As the season has gone on, I keep asking which team is the most complete. Who can pressure the quarterback, cover receivers and generate explosive plays on offense? Alabama and Penn State feel like the most complete teams so far, and Alabama feels more complete than Penn State.

Bruce Feldman: Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban for a national title is a pretty tasty matchup. This time I think the Tide will do a better job against the Buckeyes’ run game than they did against Ezekiel Elliott in the semifinal three years ago. Ohio State has an interesting path to the title game, including a huge game two weeks from now against Penn State. Expect the Nittany Lions to get past Michigan, but the back end of their double is tricky: The Buckeyes will be out for revenge in Columbus coming off a bye week. Despite being down from where the conference was in recent years, the SEC will be the first league to get two teams into the final four after Georgia runs the table in the regular season before falling to Alabama in the SEC title game. Meanwhile, both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 get snubbed as the latter’s new title game ends up costing it a playoff spot.

Joan Niesen: I’m going all SEC now in my national title game, a decision I’m sure I’ll come to regret when Georgia loses to Florida or South Carolina. (This is one of those instances where I love everything I see on the field from the Bulldogs but can’t quite wrap my head around why I’m not fully on board.) Before the season, I had Penn State in Georgia’s place, but watching Ohio State’s offense lately, I think the Buckeyes will get in over the Nittany Lions—but I don’t think they’ll get past Georgia, which I’ve subbed in for a USC team that hasn’t lived up to my expectations. I’ve still got Alabama winning it all, though, because I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary yet.

Chris Johnson: This was an easy pick before the season, and it’s an easy pick now. The Crimson Tide have not played a close game yet. That may change when they face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Iron Bowl, followed by a likely matchup with Georgia in the SEC title game, but it’s not clear either of those teams are on Alabama’s level yet. We’ve grown accustomed to the Crimson Tide thrashing their conference competition during Saban’s tenure, but their 2017 season has been atypically devoid of drama. If this team has a fatal flaw, no opponent has exposed it yet. It seems doubtful that Gus Malzahn or Kirby Smart will.

Eric Single: Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State came so close to midseason that it seems to have thrown many people off the Sooners’ scent, but to me Baker Mayfield is the only individual player with half a chance of throwing Alabama off its game the way other recent superstar quarterbacks have in toppling the Tide. But even if that defense survives a brutal Big 12 home stretch, it doesn’t look like it will have enough to contain Jalen Hurts and Damien Harris.

Molly Geary: Until the Crimson Tide give us any reason to doubt their status as the favorite, their dominant performance so far this season will speak for itself. It’s true that Alabama doesn’t have a win over anyone in the current Top 25, but let’s not forget that it was dominating Florida State even before the Seminoles’ season was turned on its head by the injury to quarterback Deondre Francois.

Scooby Axson: Only one team in the nation is close to being a complete outfit. Although Alabama can use its running game to beat up on most teams, it hasn’t yet been forced to win by throwing the ball. My other three projected semifinalists have quarterbacks that have the potential to give Alabama fits, but their defenses, especially Oklahoma’s, would be challenged to slow down the Tide. Alabama’s redemption tour has no other ending but the school’s fifth championship in the last nine seasons.

Midseason Crystal Ball: Alabama Is Making the Playoff. But Who Else Will?

Just before the 2017 season kicked off, SI’s writers and editors turned in predictions that balanced a healthy amount of respect for the trendy favorites with some bold guesses about this year’s best teams. Fast-forward eight weeks, and Alabama has drained the drama from our midseason projections. All seven staffers polled have the Crimson Tide winning their second national title in three years, and although there’s some variance within our playoff fields, none of us seem to have really left the door open for debate on who the best team in college football is.

Read on for our Midseason Crystal Ball, featuring predictions for each New Year’s Six matchup and our explanations for sending the trophy back to Tuscaloosa.

College Football Playoff

New Year's Six Bowl Matchups

Why We All Picked Alabama to Win It All

Andy Staples: As the season has gone on, I keep asking which team is the most complete. Who can pressure the quarterback, cover receivers and generate explosive plays on offense? Alabama and Penn State feel like the most complete teams so far, and Alabama feels more complete than Penn State.

Bruce Feldman: Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban for a national title is a pretty tasty matchup. This time I think the Tide will do a better job against the Buckeyes’ run game than they did against Ezekiel Elliott in the semifinal three years ago. Ohio State has an interesting path to the title game, including a huge game two weeks from now against Penn State. Expect the Nittany Lions to get past Michigan, but the back end of their double is tricky: The Buckeyes will be out for revenge in Columbus coming off a bye week. Despite being down from where the conference was in recent years, the SEC will be the first league to get two teams into the final four after Georgia runs the table in the regular season before falling to Alabama in the SEC title game. Meanwhile, both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 get snubbed as the latter’s new title game ends up costing it a playoff spot.

Joan Niesen: I’m going all SEC now in my national title game, a decision I’m sure I’ll come to regret when Georgia loses to Florida or South Carolina. (This is one of those instances where I love everything I see on the field from the Bulldogs but can’t quite wrap my head around why I’m not fully on board.) Before the season, I had Penn State in Georgia’s place, but watching Ohio State’s offense lately, I think the Buckeyes will get in over the Nittany Lions—but I don’t think they’ll get past Georgia, which I’ve subbed in for a USC team that hasn’t lived up to my expectations. I’ve still got Alabama winning it all, though, because I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary yet.

Chris Johnson: This was an easy pick before the season, and it’s an easy pick now. The Crimson Tide have not played a close game yet. That may change when they face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Iron Bowl, followed by a likely matchup with Georgia in the SEC title game, but it’s not clear either of those teams are on Alabama’s level yet. We’ve grown accustomed to the Crimson Tide thrashing their conference competition during Saban’s tenure, but their 2017 season has been atypically devoid of drama. If this team has a fatal flaw, no opponent has exposed it yet. It seems doubtful that Gus Malzahn or Kirby Smart will.

Eric Single: Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State came so close to midseason that it seems to have thrown many people off the Sooners’ scent, but to me Baker Mayfield is the only individual player with half a chance of throwing Alabama off its game the way other recent superstar quarterbacks have in toppling the Tide. But even if that defense survives a brutal Big 12 home stretch, it doesn’t look like it will have enough to contain Jalen Hurts and Damien Harris.

Molly Geary: Until the Crimson Tide give us any reason to doubt their status as the favorite, their dominant performance so far this season will speak for itself. It’s true that Alabama doesn’t have a win over anyone in the current Top 25, but let’s not forget that it was dominating Florida State even before the Seminoles’ season was turned on its head by the injury to quarterback Deondre Francois.

Scooby Axson: Only one team in the nation is close to being a complete outfit. Although Alabama can use its running game to beat up on most teams, it hasn’t yet been forced to win by throwing the ball. My other three projected semifinalists have quarterbacks that have the potential to give Alabama fits, but their defenses, especially Oklahoma’s, would be challenged to slow down the Tide. Alabama’s redemption tour has no other ending but the school’s fifth championship in the last nine seasons.

Midseason Awards: The Best and Worst of College Football's First Half

We’re at the midway point of the season, and the first seven weeks have been as chaotic as we’ve come to expect from college football, the sport that never disappoints. We have seen the return of some old powerhouse programs, as Miami, Georgia and Penn State remain among the eight undefeated teams, and we witnessed the chaos of twin Friday the 13th stunners when Syracuse took down Clemson and Cal blasted Washington State, two Fridays after the Cougars knocked off USC. The closest thing you get to predictable in college football is Alabama. Everything else requires a double take. Mississippi State crushes LSU, then turns around and gets blown out by Georgia and Auburn; LSU barely escapes Syracuse and loses to Troy, only to defeat Florida in The Swamp and rally past Auburn after falling behind 20–0. Surprised? Just wait till the second half of the season when the real craziness kicks in.

Below, we hand out some awards both conventional and unconventional, recognizing the most memorable performances of the season’s first half.

Best player: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

Just ask anyone who watched the Iowa game. Barkley leads the nation in all-purpose yards at 217 per game—five more than Christian McCaffrey’s average that led the country a season ago.

2. Stanford RB Bryce Love. He’s averaging a hefty 10.3 yards per carry and gaining nearly 29 yards per game more than the nation’s No. 2 rusher, Navy quarterback Zach Abey.

3. Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. The best player on the country’s best team, Fitzpatrick does everything for Nick Saban’s defense. He’s second on the Tide defense with 4.5 tackles for loss, and he also has an interception, a blocked kick and four pass breakups.

Best Group of Five Heisman candidate: San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny

Now that NCAA all-time rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey has moved on to the NFL, Penny has proven to be a lot more than just a great return man for the Aztecs. He’s averaging 168 yards from scrimmage per game.

2. Navy QB Zach Abey. The Middies are 5–1 and Abey trails only Love for the national lead in rushing at the helm of Navy’s option offense. He has also thrown five TDs.

3. Western Michigan KR/DB Darius Phillips. The MAC special teams player of the year in 2016 is working his magic again, averaging 36 yards per kick return with two touchdowns. On defense, he has three tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble and five pass breakups.

Biggest Flop: Oregon State

The Beavers weren’t supposed to win the Pac-12, but they were’t supposed to be this bad, either. Head coach Gary Andersen bailed after an abysmal start that began with a blowout loss at Colorado State, a close win over FCS Portland State four straight losses by no fewer than 28 points.

2. Florida State. The Seminoles dropped from the preseason top five to a hard-fought 2–3 with the nation’s No. 109 offense in yards per game as Jimbo Fisher tries to pick up the pieces once quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season in Week 1.

3. The Wyoming offense. Senior quarterback Josh Allen had been the talk of the offseason and entered the fall with plenty of NFL draft hype. He’s athletic and has a cannon for an arm, but he’s still very raw, and the departure of three skill guys from last year’s team who are now on NFL rosters have hurt the Cowboys, who sit 126th in yards per game. Allen has a modest 7–4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has thrown three picks and no TDs in his two games against FBS teams with winning records.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith

Smith came to Dekalb as a running back but was moved to defense and had two tackles for loss last season. This year, he’s been a six-foot, 225-pound terror, leading the nation in TFLs with 14.5 in just five games.

2. TCU. Gary Patterson’s team is the Big 12’s lone unbeaten, with two wins over ranked opponents including an impressive win at Oklahoma State after the Cowboys whipped the Horned Frogs last year.

3. UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. An unheralded Hawaiian quarterback prospect has blossomed into a star under the direction of Knights coach Scott Frost. Sound familiar? Frost was a Chip Kelly assistant for the Marcus Mariota years at Oregon. Now he has the Knights sizzling, averaging 50.6 points per game. Milton has a 15–2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and only Baker Mayfield has a higher QB rating.

Best Freshman: Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor

Taylor, who was once a Rutgers commit before ultimately choosing the Badgers, ranks No. 3 in the country with 164.3 rushing yards per game.

2. Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson. He opened the year with a flourish, running for 101 yards and passing for 235 in a win over West Virginia. On the season he’s completing 65.6% of his passes with an impressive 13–4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

3. Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins. When Mike Weber’s hamstring injury provided him an early opportunity, Dobbins emerged as a star. He’s second in the Big Ten behind Taylor in total rushing yards, averaging 7.8 per carry and 8.3 on first downs.

Biggest Mystery: What happened to BYU?

The 1–6 Cougars are anemic on offense and have been blown out by at least 16 points in five of their six losses, only one of which came against a team now ranked in the Top 25 (Wisconsin rolled to a 40–6 win in Provo).

2. Will the reinstatement of a conference championship game really help the Big 12 now that both Oklahoma teams have a loss already?

3. Why do Maryland quarterbacks keep getting injured?

Weirdest story: ESPN vs. Chris Petersen

This went off the rails in a hurry after the Washington coach lamented the harm late-night kickoffs did to his team’s national exposure, then got ripped on College GameDay and during one of the Huskies’ games for filling his non-conference schedule with cupcakes.

2. The disappearance of quarterbacks from the Heisman race. USC’s Sam Darnold has nine interceptions and five fumbles, UCLA’s Josh Rosen still tries to do too much and Lamar Jackson’s Louisville team has two losses by 14 points or more already.

3. Gary Andersen walking away from Oregon State, leaving his buyout of just under $13 million on the table.

Best Coordinator: Don Brown, Michigan

The Wolverines returned one starter from last year's defense and still lead the nation.

2. Mel Tucker, Georgia. The Bulldogs’ defense is No. 3 in yards allowed and hasn’t yielded more than 312 yards in a game—and they’ve faced three teams that have been ranked at some point.

T–3. Sonny Cumbie, TCU. For the past three seasons, Cumbie shared the offensive coordinator role with Doug Meacham, who is now at Kansas. The one-voice method is working well for senior quarterback Kenny Hill this year, and the Horned Frogs’ 56.7% conversion rate on third downs leads the nation. Cumbie’s play-calling and feel for working in trick plays has been sharp, as evidenced by the two gadget plays TCU pulled off to beat a good West Virginia team in Week 6.

T–3. Alex Grinch, Washington State. The Cougars’ two-deep is filled with two- and three-star recruits, but Grinch has still fielded the No. 10 defense in the nation and shut down USC two weeks after losing the quarterback of the unit, linebacker Peyton Pelluer, for the year.

Best Coordinator, New Hire Division: Jedd Fisch, UCLA

Fisch has lifted the Bruins’ offense to eighth nationally in yards per game after it finished 91st last season. In addition, they’ve improved to No. 24 in third-down offense after ranking No. 103 in 2016.

2. Tim DeRuyter, Cal. His defense has 20 takeaways in seven games—two more than it had all of last year—and two more sacks (20) than last season’s total as well. The Bears have also gone from 122nd to 52nd in yards per play allowed.

T–3. Jake Spavital, West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen handed the offensive playcalling reins over to his protegé who came over from Cal, and it has paid off: West Virginia is No. 5 in total offense (up from No. 17 in 2016), gashing people with its Justin Crawford–led run game and hitting big plays downfield in the passing game.

T–3. Jim Leavitt, Oregon. He turned a dreadful defense at Colorado into a formidable one, and he’s pulled the same trick early on in Eugene. The Ducks rank 28th in yards per play allowed, up from 115th last season.

Best coaching job: Gary Patterson, TCU

There’s one unbeaten in the Big 12 and it’s the Horned Frogs who handled Oklahoma State in Stillwater and found enough ways to beat West Virginia.

2. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State. He took over a team that won one game last year and has them 4–2—and those two losses came against Alabama and Washington. Tedford’s specialty is offense, and he has lifted the Bulldogs from 125th to 45th in scoring offense.

3. Kirby Smart, Georgia. His defense is nasty, and the Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat when they were forced to turn to true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm in the season opener.

Best coaching job, New Hire Division: Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

2. Jeff Brohm, Purdue. He has wasted little time exciting a fan base that had been stuck with a lot of bad football in recent years. The Boilermakers are 3–3, and they led Michigan in the third quarter and had Louisville on the ropes in Week 1.

3. Willie Taggart, Oregon. The Ducks are extremely young and pretty banged up, but they’re 4–3 and have already matched last season’s win total, looking like a much more physical and energetic operation.

Best coaching job, Hot Seat Division: Dave Doeren, NC State

After a season-opening loss to South Carolina that seemed to spike an entire summer’s worth of enthusiasm, the Wolfpack have won five in a row, knocking off both Louisville and FSU.

2. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are much improved on defense, and their offense still gives opponents nightmares even after losing star quarterback Pat Mahomes to the NFL. Kingsbury briefly got Tech back in the Top 25 for the first time since 2013.

3. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame. He shook up his staff and made some very shrewd hires, including defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Despite breaking in a new quarterback in Brandon Wimbush, the Irish are just a narrow loss to top-five from being undefeated.

Upset of the Year: Syracuse 27, Clemson 24

Dino Babers has made the Orange interesting again. Last Friday his team came in as 24-point underdogs and stopped the defending champs’ 12-game winning streak away from Death Valley, outgaining the Tigers 440–317. That put an abrupt stop to the talk that a third straight Clemson-Alabama matchup in the national title game was a veritable lock.

2. Iowa State 38, Oklahoma 31. The Cyclones had to rely on one quarterback making his first college start in Kyle Kempt and another who had switched to starting middle linebacker in Joel Lanning to take down the Sooners, who entered as 31-point favorites.

3. Cal 37, Washington State 3. Defeating a top-10 team was one thing, but leaving a Mike Leach team in the dust by 34 points was another.

Worst Play: Third-and-93

On its way to a blowout loss to Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech started in the red zone and ended with the most hopeless third-and-goal situation you’ll see, thanks to a bad snap that sailed past quarterback J’Mar Smith, then was booted and batted backwards before Louisiana Tech recovered at its own seven-yard line.

2. Georgia Tech’s failed two-point conversion attempt that sealed an overtime loss to Tennessee. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said it should’ve been an easy walk-in score, but it fell apart because one of his guys blew an assignment.

3. Kansas’s cut blocks. The Jayhawks lost to Ohio on an afternoon low-lighted by a play in which the entire Kansas O-line attempted a cut block and failed to keep the Bobcats from swarming quarterback Peyton Bender for an easy sack.

SEC Making the Case to Be the Playoff Era's First Two-Bid Conference

While the Pac-12 and ACC were thrown into a state of upheaval by the upsets that felled four top-10 teams last weekend, the SEC merely took a glancing blow. Auburn’s loss to LSU casts a little more doubt on its ability to knock Alabama off its perch atop the SEC West on the final Saturday of the regular season (the victorious Tigers’ Nov. 11 trip to Tuscaloosa had already largely been written off), but it seems clear now that the Crimson Tide’s only true obstacle on their way to a fourth consecutive College Football Playoff is Georgia, which could take a matching 12–0 record into the SEC title game. If that game comes down to the final minute, the committee would be hard-pressed to leave the loser out of the playoff.

The SEC’s middle and bottom tiers might be weaker than usual, but that shouldn’t take away from what Georgia and Alabama have done to their competition so far in league play, reaching a combined 8–0 record by a total score of 363–76. If the ACC and Pac-12 continue to cannibalize their leading contenders while the Bulldogs and Tide continue to cruise, we could see a two-bid league for the first time in playoff history.

Below, the latest look at the projected (but far from official) matchups for all 39 bowl games leading up to the College Football Playoff national championship in Atlanta on Jan. 8.

Saturday, Dec. 16

R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans (1 p.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt vs. C-USA
Louisiana-Monroe vs. UAB

AutoNation Cure Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (2:30 p.m., CBSSN)
AAC vs. Sun Belt
Temple vs. Georgia State

Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas (3:30 p.m., ABC)
?MWC vs. Pac-12
Colorado State vs. Oregon

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
C-USA vs. MWC
UTSA vs. Wyoming

Raycom Media Camelia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. (8 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Akron vs. Troy

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Boca Raton Bowl, Boca Raton, Fla. (7 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. C-USA
Tulane vs. Western Kentucky

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Frisco Bowl, Frisco, Texas (8 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. C-USA/MAC/MWC/BYU
Houston vs. North Texas

Thursday, Dec. 21

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla. (8 p.m., ESPN)
C-USA vs. AAC
Marshall vs. South Florida

Friday, Dec. 22

Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
C-USA vs. MAC
Florida Atlantic vs. Northern Illinois

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise (4 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. MWC
Ohio vs. Boise State

Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, Ala. (12 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. SEC
Memphis vs. Tennessee

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas (3:30 p.m., ESPN)
Army vs. C-USA
Army vs. Southern Miss

Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala. (7 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Toledo vs. Appalachian State

Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. MWC
SMU vs. San Diego State

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Big Ten
Kansas State vs. Nebraska

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten
Duke vs. Western Michigan

Cactus Bowl, Phoenix (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Texas Tech vs. Utah

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. SEC
Boston College vs. Mississippi State

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten
Syracuse vs. Purdue

Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif. (8 p.m., FOX)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Northwestern vs. Washington

Texas Bowl, Houston (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Texas vs. Texas A&M

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, Md. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. AAC
Wake Forest vs. Navy

Camping World Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big 12
Georgia Tech vs. Oklahoma State

Valero Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Pac-12 vs. Big 12
Washington State vs. West Virginia

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, San Diego (9 p.m., FS1)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Michigan vs. Stanford

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C. (1 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. SEC
Virginia vs. South Carolina

Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas (2 p.m., CBS)
ACC vs. Pac-12
Florida State vs. Arizona

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn. (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
Vanderbilt vs. Iowa

Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Ariz. (5:30 p.m., CBSSN)
Sun Belt vs. MWC
Arkansas State vs. Fresno State

Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
Florida vs. Virginia Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn. (12:30 p.m., ABC)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Iowa State vs. LSU

Monday, Jan. 1, 2018

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN2)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (1 p.m., ABC)
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten
Auburn vs. NC State

New Year's Six Bowls

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas (Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. (Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Ohio State vs. USC

Capital One Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame
Clemson vs. Wisconsin

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Atlanta (Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-Large
Miami (FL) vs. UCF

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, Pasadena, Calif. (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Penn State vs. Georgia

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Alabama vs. TCU

College Football Playoff National Championship, Atlanta (Jan. 8, 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinal winner vs. CFP semifinal winner

3-Year-Old Accidentally Drowns in Grease Pit Outside Ice Cream Shop: Coroner

A little girl died over the weekend outside an Alabama ice cream shop when she drowned in a grease trap. Sadie Grace Andrews died while playing with her siblings near Bruster's Real Ice Cream in Auburn. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris reportedly said Sadie stepped onto the lid of the grease trap, which apparently wasn't locked or secured, and fell in. InsideEdition.com's Leigh Scheps (https://twitter.com/LeighTVReporter) has more.

3-Year-Old Accidentally Drowns in Grease Pit Outside Ice Cream Shop: Coroner

A little girl died over the weekend outside an Alabama ice cream shop when she drowned in a grease trap. Sadie Grace Andrews died while playing with her siblings near Bruster's Real Ice Cream in Auburn. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris reportedly said Sadie stepped onto the lid of the grease trap, which apparently wasn't locked or secured, and fell in. InsideEdition.com's Leigh Scheps (https://twitter.com/LeighTVReporter) has more.

3-Year-Old Accidentally Drowns in Grease Pit Outside Ice Cream Shop: Coroner

A little girl died over the weekend outside an Alabama ice cream shop when she drowned in a grease trap. Sadie Grace Andrews died while playing with her siblings near Bruster's Real Ice Cream in Auburn. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris reportedly said Sadie stepped onto the lid of the grease trap, which apparently wasn't locked or secured, and fell in. InsideEdition.com's Leigh Scheps (https://twitter.com/LeighTVReporter) has more.

3-Year-Old Accidentally Drowns in Grease Pit Outside Ice Cream Shop: Coroner

A little girl died over the weekend outside an Alabama ice cream shop when she drowned in a grease trap. Sadie Grace Andrews died while playing with her siblings near Bruster's Real Ice Cream in Auburn. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris reportedly said Sadie stepped onto the lid of the grease trap, which apparently wasn't locked or secured, and fell in. InsideEdition.com's Leigh Scheps (https://twitter.com/LeighTVReporter) has more.

Week 8 Power Rankings: Contenders to Pretenders? Making Sense of the Weekend's Wreckage

After a crazy weekend that saw four top-10 teams lose, the conference and playoff picture got a little clearer for the eight unbeatens and 19 one-loss teams still left in the FBS.

Lining up the four top teams that lost next to each other, it appears some will have a tougher time getting back in the playoff mix than others.

Clemson: The Tigers found out in the second half on Friday night in Syracuse that if quarterback Kelly Bryant misses extended time with a concussion, they could be on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrive. There is plenty of time and quality opponents left on the schedule for Clemson to right the ship.

Auburn: The Tigers’ chances of winning any title took a hit with their ninth straight loss in Death Valley, bringing LSU back into the SEC West race. The threat to archrival Alabama has not materialized, as transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham has been inconsistent throwing the ball.

Washington: The Huskies' loss to Arizona State was simply mind-blowing. The Sun Devils had allowed quarterbacks to find open receivers all season, but on Saturday night they held Jake Browning to just 139 yards. The Huskies' schedule down the stretch (Stanford, Utah, Washington State) won’t do them any favors.

Washington State: Perhaps the most fraudulent top-10 ranking heading into this week belonged to the Cougars, who decided to have Christmas in October by giving the ball away seven times in a 37–3 loss to Cal. This kind of blowout could derail the rest of the season, so it’s on Mike Leach to get his team to bounce back ahead of a home stretch packed with tough road games.

Now, on to this week’s Top 25:

1. Alabama (7–0, 4–0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Arkansas, 41–9
Next week: vs. Tennessee

Alabama’s dominance of Arkansas probably started during the pregame warmups, but it officially began with the Tide’s first play from scrimmage, when Damien Harris ran 75 yards for a touchdown. It was business as usual after that for Bama, which ran for 308 yards and put Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s job further in jeopardy.

2. Penn State (6–0, 3–0 Big 10)

Previous ranking: 3
Last week: Off
Next week: vs. Michigan

The week off comes at a great time for the Nittany Lions, whose two biggest games await next in division rivals Michigan and Ohio State. Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley could put some distance between him and the rest of field with two big games.

3. Georgia (7–0, 4–0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 4
This week: Beat Missouri, 53–28
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)

Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm helped out his loaded stable of running backs with 326 yards passing, and the Bulldogs woke up after a slow start to cruise to an easy victory at the expense of Missouri’s woeful defense. It was an atypical defensive performance for the Bulldogs, who allowed 28 points—their first time giving up 20 or more this season—and did not sack Tigers quarterback Drew Lock. Pressuring the quarterback has been that unit’s relative weakness: Georgia sits in a three-way tie for last in the SEC with just 10 sacks so far.

4. Ohio State (6­–1, 4–0 Big Ten)

Previous ranking: 6
This week: Beat Nebraska, 56–14
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. Penn State

J.T. Barrett threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns, and J.K. Dobbins added 106 of his team’s 276 rushing yards as Ohio State continue to torment the bottom tier of the Big Ten with another blowout victory. After scoring eight touchdowns in Lincoln, it seems the Buckeyes’ struggles on offense are a distant memory. Ohio State gets a week off before the Big Ten game of the year against Penn State.

5. TCU (6–0, 3–0 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Kansas State, 26–6
Next game: vs. Kansas

Kansas State’s offense, or lack thereof, was on full display without starting quarterback Jesse Ertz, as TCU held its hosts to 216 yards, 70 yards rushing and a 2-of-15 mark on third down in Manhattan. Kenny Hill threw for 297 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground. TCU can add to its Big 12 lead next week when it hosts Kansas, which has lost 42 straight on the road but has given the Horned Frogs trouble of late.

6. Wisconsin (6–0, 3–0 Big 10)

Previous ranking: 9
This week: Beat Purdue, 17–9
Next week: vs. Maryland

Jonathan Taylor continued his impressive freshman campaign, running for 219 yards to ensure Wisconsin stayed on track to have the Big Ten West wrapped up by early next month. The Badgers held the ball for nearly 40 minutes and limited Purdue to 221 yards. They own a two-game lead in the Big Ten West, and their next three conference opponents have one conference win between them.

7. Oklahoma (5–1, 2–1 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 10
This week: Beat Texas, 29–24
Next week: at Kansas State

Oklahoma has a problem on its hands: Not only do the Sooners give up big plays in the passing game, they also can’t seem to hold on to substantial leads, having blown double-digit advantages in each of their last three games. This week, they lost a 20-point lead over Texas and failed to score at least 30 points for the first time in 15 games, but the nation’s top offense by yards per play rolled up 518 against the Longhorns to keep playoff hopes alive in Norman.

8. Clemson (6–1, 4–1 ACC)

Previous ranking: 2
This week: Lost to Syracuse, 27–24
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. Georgia Tech

While Clemson is not out of the national championship or ACC title picture by any stretch, it was surprising to see the defense give up big plays and the Tigers take 11 penalties in an upset loss to Syracuse. The Orange had six plays of over 20 yards and contained the Clemson offense after quarterback Kelly Bryant went down with a concussion late in the first half. How badly Bryant has been banged up at midseason has to be a cause for concern moving forward.

9. Miami (FL) (5–0, 3–0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 13
This week: Beat Georgia Tech, 25–24
Next week: vs. Syracuse

For the second straight week, Miami needed a last-minute play to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Malik Rosier led the Hurricanes on a 15-play, 85-yard drive in the game’s final 2:26, capped off by an incredible catch by Darrell Langham off a tipped pass on fourth down that led to Michael Badgley’s 24-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. The Hurricanes held Georgia Tech to 225 yards rushing, 170 yards below the Jackets’ season average.

10. Oklahoma State (4–1, 1–1 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 14
Last week: Beat Baylor, 59–16
Next week: at Texas

Oklahoma State had a school-record 747 yards of total offense in an absolute destruction of winless Baylor, which had won three straight against the Cowboys. The Mason Rudolph–to–James Washington connection deserved its personal own highlight reel, as Rudolph passed for 459 yards and three touchdowns and Washington finished with six catches for 235 yards, with a receiving and rushing touchdown.

11. USC (6–1, 4–1 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 11
This week: Beat Utah, 28–27
Next week: at Notre Dame

USC needed a failed two-point conversion to sneak past Utah, but the Trojans know there is no room for error to keep their playoff hopes alive. Sam Darnold went 27 of 50 for 358 yards and three touchdowns but again had trouble holding on to the ball, losing three fumbles. Running back Ronald Jones had 111 yards and a touchdown for USC, which plays three of its next four games on the road.

12. Virginia Tech (5–1, 1–1 ACC)

Previous ranking: 16
This week: Off
Next week: vs. North Carolina

Virginia Tech were ruled out of the ACC title conversation after a convincing loss to Clemson, but Tigers don’t look to be invincible anymore. Of course, the Hokies need to win out to make their way to Charlotte for a potential rematch.

13. South Florida (6–0, 3–0 AAC)

Previous ranking: 17
Last week: Beat Cincinnati, 33–3
Next week: at Tulane

South Florida’s 23rd straight game with more than 30 points led to its 11th straight win—the nation’s longest winning streak. Quinton? Flowers had 264 total yards to lead the Bulls’ balanced attack, and the defense spent most of the night in the Cincinnati backfield, recording eight tackles for loss.

14. Michigan (5–1, 2–1 Big 10)

Previous ranking: 15
This week: Beat Indiana, 27–20 (OT)
Next week: at Penn State

Not sure what to make of Michigan after it blew a 10-point lead to Indiana in the final four minutes before surviving in overtime. If all else fails, the Wolverines can keep handing the ball to Karan Higdon, who ran for 200 yards and scored twice, including the game-winner. Quarterback John O’Korn had just 58 yards on 20 pass attempts, which is not going to cut it if the Wolverines want to realize their Big Ten title hopes.

15. Washington (6–1, 3–1 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 5
This week: Lost to Arizona State, 13–7
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. UCLA

Maybe there was a reason that most of the East Coast preferred not to stay up late to watch Washington. The Huskies turned in an uninspired performance against an Arizona State team that couldn’t stop anyone before this weekend, allowing 30 or more points in 11 straight games. Now the Huskies must get their act together just to have a chance in the Pac-12 North, as games against Stanford and Washington State still lie ahead.

16. North Carolina State (6–1, 4–0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 19
This week: Beat Pittsburgh, 35–17
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. Notre Dame.

The Wolfpack find themselves atop the Atlantic Division, but winning out to secure their spot in the ACC title game will be no easy task. Nyheim Hines saved the day with an 83-yard TD run and a 92-yard punt return touchdown. Ryan Finley has gone 313 passes without an interception, and NC State is on its longest winning streak in 15 years.

17. Notre Dame (5–1)

Previous ranking: 20
This week: Off
Next game: vs. USC

A rash of upsets this past week has the Irish sitting pretty in the playoff picture. With the difficulty of their upcoming schedule, they have a chance to make a statement. Up next is USC, which has split its last eight meetings with Notre Dame.

18. Stanford (5–2, 4–1 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 22
This week: Beat Oregon, 49–7
Next week: vs. Oregon State

Bryce Love had only one carry in the second half before being sidelined by a minor injury, but he still finished with 147 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Heisman candidate should have an even bigger day next week if he’s healthy enough to go against Oregon State, which gives up 200 yards a game on the groung and has surrendered 18 rushing touchdowns so far this season. Keller Chryst had an efficient game, throwing for 181 yards and three scores for Stanford, which has won four straight.

19. Washington State (6–1, 3–1 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 8
This week: Lost to California, 37–3
Next week: vs. Colorado

Everything that could go wrong for Washington State did go wrong as it was thumped in its attempt to prove it belongs amongst the Pac-12 elites. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk was picked off five times, lost a fumble and was sacked nine times, and Cal cashed in on those mistakes all night, scoring a win over a top-10 foe for the first time in 14 seasons.

20. Central Florida (5–0, 3–0 AAC)

Previous ranking: 23
This week: Beat East Carolina, 63–21
Next week: at Navy

Central Florida’s blowout of East Carolina helped it keep pace with South Florida in the AAC and padded the numbers of the Knights’ nation-leading scoring offense. Possibly the best quarterback you have never heard of, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, had 324 yards passing and two touchdown passes and also ran for another score.

21. Auburn (5–2, 3­–1 SEC)

Previous ranking: 13
This week: Lost to LSU, 27–23
Next week: at Arkansas

Blowing nearly three-touchdown leads seemed to be the theme of Saturday, as Auburn let an offensively challenged LSU team back in the game and ultimately didn’t make the plays that the homestanding Tigers did. Jarrett Stidham completed only nine of his 26 passes for 165 yards, and Kerryon Johnson provided the other half of the offense by running for 156 yards on 31 carries.

22. West Virginia (4­–2, 2–1 Big 12)

Previous ranking: ­—
This week: Beat Texas Tech, 46–35
Next week: at Baylor

Will Grier threw for 352 yards and five touchdown passes to lead the Mountaineers back from an 18-point deficit. West Virginia scored the game’s final 29 points after the defense withstood an initial flurry from Texas Tech’s explosive offense. Grier basically had to complete the comeback himself, as conference rushing leader Justin Crawford was held to 47 yards, but the Red Raiders helped him out by missing three field goals and committing 16 penalties.

23. Memphis (5–1, 2–1 AAC)

Previous ranking: —
This week: Beat Navy, 30–27
Next week: at Houston

Riley Ferguson had 279 yards and three touchdowns and the defense used five Navy turnovers to hand the Midshipmen their first loss and throw a wrench in the AAC West standings. Ferguson has been on fire lately, throwing 13 touchdowns in his last four games.

24. Texas A&M (5–2, 3–1 SEC)

Previous ranking: —
This week: Beat Florida, 19–17
Next week: Off; next game Oct. 28 vs. Mississippi State

Left for dead just a couple of weeks ago, the Aggies have bounced back in a big way, winning four of their last five games. Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond did just enough in the victory, completing only eight of his 24 passes for 180 yards but added 52 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Aggies only had 263 yards of offense, but they put themselves back in major bowl contention with the victory.

25. Michigan State (5–1, 3–0 Big 10)

Previous ranking: —
This week: Beat Minnesota, 30–27
Next week: vs. Illinois

Michigan State running back L.J. Scott ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns in his return from injury, and the Spartans nearly squandered a 17-point lead before holding on against Minnesota. Madre London added 74 yards on the ground for the Spartans, who beat the Gophers for the fifth straight time. The Spartans already have two more wins than their 2016 total.

Out: San Diego State, Texas Tech, Navy, Utah. Maybe next week: LSU, Virginia, Marshall. By conference: Big Ten (5), Big 12 (4), SEC (4), ACC (4), Pac-12 (4), AAC (3), Independent (1).

Heat Check: Where Does Every Coach Under Fire Stand at Midseason?

The coaching carousel started spinning last week when Oregon State’s Gary Andersen quit and released the school from all contractual obligations, but so far no coach has left a job unwillingly. That likely will change soon, though. Two games this past weekend all but sealed the fate of two hot-seat coaches. Meanwhile, three others notched wins that might help them avoid that buyout life.

Today, we’ll conduct a Hot Seat Heat Check to determine exactly where each of the Power Five’s on-the-bubble coaches stand at midseason.

This Is Fine

These coaches probably aren’t coming back at their current schools, and the last game made the situation even worse.

Mike Riley, Nebraska

The Cornhuskers looked listless and unprepared in their 56–14 loss to Ohio State. If Riley and his assistants can’t motivate their team to at least make an effort, Nebraska needs to move on. Riley’s firing wasn’t a fait accompli when athletic director Shawn Eichorst was fired last month, but it sure feels like one now. Riley probably could have bought himself another year with competitive performances against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Huskers got clobbered in the second half by the Badgers and blown off the field by the Buckeyes.

Now that Washington State’s Bill Moos has been hired to replace Eichorst, the talk around Nebraska has shifted to Riley’s replacement. Former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost looks to be the most prized mid-major coach this offseason after turning around Central Florida quickly. Frost seems like an obvious choice for Nebraska, but he’s likely to get interest from multiple schools. Wouldn’t Frost jump at the chance to return to his alma mater? Maybe. Maybe not. As Oregon’s offensive coordinator, Frost turned down head coaching jobs and waited until he could find one at a good program in a recruit-rich area. Nebraska is not a recruit-rich area. Still, Big Red has big pull for alums. The other name bound to pop up is Mike Leach, the coach Moos hired at Washington State. Moos, chancellor Ronnie Green and president Hank Bounds first have to decide if they want to fire Riley, though.

The huge swaths of empty seats during Saturday’s second half suggest the fans have already made that decision for the trio. Once they officially do the deed, expect Moos to go after what Nebraska needs—a superior talent evaluator and recruiter with an offensive system that can make Nebraska different and less reliant on raw talent. As different as Frost and Leach are, each fits that profile. But expect Moos to also look beyond the obvious names.

Butch Jones, Tennessee

A 41–0 home loss to Georgia in a must-win game was bad enough. A 15–9 home loss to South Carolina in a must-win game—coming off a bye week, no less, is unforgivable. The Volunteers don’t need to make a change this week with a trip to Alabama on the schedule, but this team’s offensive struggles suggest more losses besides the obvious one on Saturday are forthcoming. It feels like it’s only a matter of time.

Not quite there, but headed that way

These coaches haven’t passed the point of no return, but they need to turn things around soon.

Jim Mora, UCLA

The Bruins’ defense got shredded by Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate on Saturday to the tune of 230 rushing yards and 148 passing yards. What is likely quarterback Josh Rosen’s final season at UCLA is being wasted. Bruins AD Dan Guerrero does not like to spend money, and Mora’s buyout is $11 million. But Guerrero will have to consider possible lost donations if the football product remains bad, and this job could draw some attractive candidates. If UCLA doesn’t improve, Guerrero might decide to open his wallet.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

A reporter in Arkansas actually read Bielema’s contract last week and discovered that Bielema’s buyout is far less—$10.2 million less, to be exact—than previously believed. This changes the math considerably for a program that has lost seven of its last 10 games. Razorbacks AD Jeff Long loves Bielema and will support him for as long as he can, but Arkansas has to win a few down the stretch.

Steve Addazio, Boston College

Another win like the Eagles’ 45–42 win at Louisville on Saturday, and Addazio might move to the section below this one.

Playing their way into staying

These coaches seemed like locks to get fired when the season began. Now, they’re making a case to get another year.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Sumlin’s AD went on national television in May and basically said the coach would be fired if he didn’t improve the Aggies’ record. After a season-opening collapse at UCLA, that seemed impossible. But Texas A&M has improved as freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has grown more comfortable. Giving Alabama the toughest challenge it has faced all season didn’t result in a win, but it did boost a young team’s confidence. A road win this past Saturday at Florida wasn’t perfect, but the defense stuffed the Gators when it had to and Mond got the Aggies close enough for three Daniel LaCamera field goals in the fourth quarter. Because of the history here, an 8–4 record might still get Sumlin fired. But 9–3 looks quite realistic, and that might keep Sumlin in College Station.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

As Sumlin will attest, the right quarterback can make all the difference. Rodriguez didn’t start Khalil Tate out of preseason camp, and then a shoulder injury further delayed Tate’s ascension. But once the Wildcats unleashed Tate against Colorado after an injury to Brandon Dawkins, they looked like a completely different team. Tate has rushed for 557 yards in his past two games. He also has completed 21 of 26 passes for 302 yards because defenses are too terrified of what he’ll do on the ground to adequately cover receivers. If this keeps up, Rodriguez will be safe.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

The first sign that the Sun Devils hadn’t completely given up on Graham was a win against Oregon on Sept. 23. But the real eye-opener came Saturday when Arizona State beat Washington 13–7 after giving up at least 30 points in 11 consecutive games. If the defense is truly better, Graham has a chance. If the Washington win was an anomaly, Graham still might not return.

It’s still early, but yikes

These coaches are both in year two at schools that don’t expect to be football powerhouses, but their performances have been abysmal. Still, it’s unclear whether their schools would pull the plug so soon.

Lovie Smith, Illinois

Hiring a fired NFL head coach always was a 50-50 proposition. Either the coach would embrace the challenge, recruit hard and use an Xs-and-Os acumen honed at the highest level to upset teams with more talent, or the coach would realize how difficult this job is and decide to simply draw a paycheck and put an uninspiring team on the field each week. Judging by the results, Smith has chosen the latter. He is 5–13 since taking over the Illini last year. Saturday, Illinois played Big Ten East doormat Rutgers in a game that might have been the only chance at a conference win for either program. Rutgers won, 35–24.

Barry Odom, Missouri

After getting crushed by Auburn on Sept. 23, Odom ranted about a turnaround that has yet to materialize. Missouri kept it close in a loss at Kentucky, but so had Eastern Michigan a week earlier. The Tigers put up a fight for a quarter and a half at Georgia on Saturday before getting blown off the field. Missouri should beat Idaho on Saturday. After that, the Tigers will continue seeking their first SEC win.

We hear what you want, but you may not get it

These coaches have lost healthy chunks of their fan bases, but previous accomplishments plus the price of changing coaches should give them another chance unless their teams completely collapse down the stretch.

Jim McElwain, Florida

The rank-and-file section of the Florida fan base has completely checked out on McElwain after realizing this is basically the same team as the post-Will Grier suspension 2015 squad and last year’s team—only without the good luck those teams had. This staff’s inability to select or develop quarterbacks has turned each game into an episode of Groundhog Day, but McElwain’s two SEC East titles combined with the cost of his buyout ($12.5 million) should get him another year as long as the Gators don’t lose every remaining game.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

No Auburn coach is truly safe unless he’s holding the national title trophy as confetti falls. Malzahn, who was an offensive coordinator at Auburn before he was the Tigers’ head coach, knew that when he took the job. Malzahn’s problem now is that he’s an offensive genius who keeps getting encouraged to do less with the offense. Auburn’s offensive predictability probably cost the Tigers a win Saturday, when they shot to a 20–0 lead and then collapsed in a 27–23 loss at LSU. During that game, Auburn ran on 17 consecutive first downs and refused to adjust after LSU began bringing a safety into the box to combat tailback Kerryon Johnson in the Wildcat formation. Malzahn is not as safe as McElwain for a few reasons. First, he works at Auburn. Second, the future employment of the AD who hired him is in doubt. Still, he should be able to hang on by winning the games he’s supposed to win and putting up a fight against Alabama. Failing that, things could get interesting on the Plains.

Bruce Feldman's top 10 teams | Heisman Watch: Who's chasing Barkley?

A Random Ranking

On a day that I’m glad I don’t have to produce a college football top 25 anymore, I’ve decided on a much easier ranking: seasons of The Wire.

1. Season Three (Hamsterdam forever!)
2. Season Four
3. Season One
4. Season Five
5. Season Two

Projected Playoff

1. Alabama

Crimson Tide players ignored all the rat poison arrayed before them and annihilated Arkansas 41–9. Now they’ll face a Tennessee team that’s just waiting for the inevitable after losing to South Carolina despite coming off a bye week (again).

2. Georgia

I realize the odds of this exact order happening are small, but given the results so far, the Bulldogs deserve this spot at the moment. But allow me to spin a scenario—which almost certainly won’t happen—that might make it possible: Alabama beats previously undefeated Georgia by a field goal in triple overtime in the SEC title game. Penn State and TCU go undefeated. Notre Dame, a team Georgia beat in South Bend, goes 11–1 and barely misses the playoff.

3. Penn State

The Nittany Lions will rise or fall on this list at some point in the next three weeks. They face Michigan on Saturday in State College. Then they’re at Ohio State and at Michigan State. Get through that and there’s a case to be made for No. 1. A loss would knock the Nittany Lions out, but possibly only temporarily if they can play their way back into the Big Ten title race.

4. TCU

The Horned Frogs rolled along with a 26–6 win at Kansas State that was delayed and then later interrupted by nasty storms. They face Kansas on Saturday in a game that will run on Fox opposite the USC–Notre Dame game on NBC and the Michigan–Penn State game on ABC. Why? Recent history. They have won the past three meetings, but the margins of victory have been slim. In 2014, TCU won 34–30. In 2015, TCU won 23–17. Last year, TCU won 24–23. If lowly Kansas is within a possession of knocking off one of college football’s few remaining undefeated teams, the thinking goes, the viewers will flock to Fox.

Big Ugly of the Week

Junior defensive tackle Renell Wren didn’t start Saturday for Arizona State, but he made a huge impact on the Sun Devils’ 13–7 upset of Washington as his role in the rotation increased. In the first half, he trucked an offensive lineman and sacked Jake Browning, forcing a fumble. In the second half, Wren drew a holding penalty that wiped a Washington touchdown off the board. (Wren would have blown up the play in the backfield if he hadn’t been held.) He’s misidentified in the video below, but that is Wren on the aforementioned strip-sack.

Three And Out

1. Stanford tailback Bryce Love is even faster than we realized. Check out this footage from the Cardinal’s 49–7 win against Oregon. In this game, Love carried 17 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns before going out early in the third quarter with an ankle injury. (It isn’t likely to cause him to miss much time.)

Oh, wait. That’s not him. He’s faster.

2. Of course I’m going to show you the speech Syracuse coach Dino Babers gave his players after they shocked Clemson on Friday night.

3. Les Miles returned to LSU’s Tiger Stadium on Saturday to be honored alongside his 2007 national title team. CBS reporter Allie LaForce brought snacks.

For Your Ears

Co-host Patrick Meagher and I discuss all the upsets on a weekend that didn’t look nearly as interesting on paper. We also examine which hot-seat coaches might yet save their jobs.

What’s Eating Andy?

Remind me to never, ever give Boston College tailback A.J. Dillon a reason to stiffarm me.

What’s Andy Eating?

Other than John Candy, poutine might be Canada’s finest export. We cover our fries in melted cheese and think we’re decadent. Our neighbors to the north cover them in brown gravy and cheese curds. Among shareable appetizers, poutine’s only real competition is queso fundido.

Fortunately for our taste buds and unfortunately for our arteries, we’ve finally embraced poutine stateside. It’s available in its classic form at restaurants across the country. Meanwhile, some places have offered their own twist. When I went to Louisville last season to write aboot—sorry, that’s the poutine talking—Lamar Jackson, I stumbled upon a place called Four Pegs that used sausage milk gravy instead of brown gravy in its poutine. The result was sublime.

The folks at Four Pegs weren’t alone. On the other side of the country, the cooks at Curry Up Now decided to use another beloved regional sauce as the dressing for their poutine. As the name—if you read this space often, you know I’m a sucker for restaurant puns—suggests, Curry Up Now serves Indian food. The twist is the Indian food comes in a North American package. This Bay Area mini-chain made its bones stuffing chicken tikka masala into burritos. Though its origins are disputed, chicken tikka masala as we know it was developed by cooks of Indian and Bangladeshi origin in the United Kingdom. Chicken tikka is a popular Indian dish; the masala sauce was added to satisfy palates in the British Isles. In the Curry Up Now burrito, the curry-heavy sauce adds a kick and a touch of sweetness, making an otherwise ubiquitous dish something special.

As good as the tikka masala is in the burrito, it’s even better atop Curry Up Now’s Sexy Fries. They begin with a base of sweet potato waffle fries. Chick-fil-A, the nation’s leading purveyor of waffle fries, tested a sweet potato version in some markets but opted against taking them nationwide. After tasting the sweet potato waffle fries at Curry Up Now’s Palo Alto location, I am certain this was a massive failure on Chick-fil-A’s part. Curry Up Now’s sweet potato waffle fries are better than Chick-fil-A’s regular waffle fries, and Chick-fil-A’s waffles are my favorite fast food french fries. Now imagine these wide, substantial, crisp-but-not-too-crispy fries carrying chunks of chicken or lamb covered in spicy, sweet masala sauce and cheese. I ordered the lamb version, and the richer meat provided added more heft to an already decadent dish.

The burrito was excellent, but I probably didn’t need to order it. The Sexy Fries were all I could think about for days.

Heat Check: Where Does Every Coach Under Fire Stand at Midseason?

The coaching carousel started spinning last week when Oregon State’s Gary Andersen quit and released the school from all contractual obligations, but so far no coach has left a job unwillingly. That likely will change soon, though. Two games this past weekend all but sealed the fate of two hot-seat coaches. Meanwhile, three others notched wins that might help them avoid that buyout life.

Today, we’ll conduct a Hot Seat Heat Check to determine exactly where each of the Power Five’s on-the-bubble coaches stand at midseason.

This Is Fine

These coaches probably aren’t coming back at their current schools, and the last game made the situation even worse.

Mike Riley, Nebraska

The Cornhuskers looked listless and unprepared in their 56–14 loss to Ohio State. If Riley and his assistants can’t motivate their team to at least make an effort, Nebraska needs to move on. Riley’s firing wasn’t a fait accompli when athletic director Shawn Eichorst was fired last month, but it sure feels like one now. Riley probably could have bought himself another year with competitive performances against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Huskers got clobbered in the second half by the Badgers and blown off the field by the Buckeyes.

Now that Washington State’s Bill Moos has been hired to replace Eichorst, the talk around Nebraska has shifted to Riley’s replacement. Former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost looks to be the most prized mid-major coach this offseason after turning around Central Florida quickly. Frost seems like an obvious choice for Nebraska, but he’s likely to get interest from multiple schools. Wouldn’t Frost jump at the chance to return to his alma mater? Maybe. Maybe not. As Oregon’s offensive coordinator, Frost turned down head coaching jobs and waited until he could find one at a good program in a recruit-rich area. Nebraska is not a recruit-rich area. Still, Big Red has big pull for alums. The other name bound to pop up is Mike Leach, the coach Moos hired at Washington State. Moos, chancellor Ronnie Green and president Hank Bounds first have to decide if they want to fire Riley, though.

The huge swaths of empty seats during Saturday’s second half suggest the fans have already made that decision for the trio. Once they officially do the deed, expect Moos to go after what Nebraska needs—a superior talent evaluator and recruiter with an offensive system that can make Nebraska different and less reliant on raw talent. As different as Frost and Leach are, each fits that profile. But expect Moos to also look beyond the obvious names.

Butch Jones, Tennessee

A 41–0 home loss to Georgia in a must-win game was bad enough. A 15–9 home loss to South Carolina in a must-win game—coming off a bye week, no less, is unforgivable. The Volunteers don’t need to make a change this week with a trip to Alabama on the schedule, but this team’s offensive struggles suggest more losses besides the obvious one on Saturday are forthcoming. It feels like it’s only a matter of time.

Not quite there, but headed that way

These coaches haven’t passed the point of no return, but they need to turn things around soon.

Jim Mora, UCLA

The Bruins’ defense got shredded by Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate on Saturday to the tune of 230 rushing yards and 148 passing yards. What is likely quarterback Josh Rosen’s final season at UCLA is being wasted. Bruins AD Dan Guerrero does not like to spend money, and Mora’s buyout is $11 million. But Guerrero will have to consider possible lost donations if the football product remains bad, and this job could draw some attractive candidates. If UCLA doesn’t improve, Guerrero might decide to open his wallet.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

A reporter in Arkansas actually read Bielema’s contract last week and discovered that Bielema’s buyout is far less—$10.2 million less, to be exact—than previously believed. This changes the math considerably for a program that has lost seven of its last 10 games. Razorbacks AD Jeff Long loves Bielema and will support him for as long as he can, but Arkansas has to win a few down the stretch.

Steve Addazio, Boston College

Another win like the Eagles’ 45–42 win at Louisville on Saturday, and Addazio might move to the section below this one.

Playing their way into staying

These coaches seemed like locks to get fired when the season began. Now, they’re making a case to get another year.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Sumlin’s AD went on national television in May and basically said the coach would be fired if he didn’t improve the Aggies’ record. After a season-opening collapse at UCLA, that seemed impossible. But Texas A&M has improved as freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has grown more comfortable. Giving Alabama the toughest challenge it has faced all season didn’t result in a win, but it did boost a young team’s confidence. A road win this past Saturday at Florida wasn’t perfect, but the defense stuffed the Gators when it had to and Mond got the Aggies close enough for three Daniel LaCamera field goals in the fourth quarter. Because of the history here, an 8–4 record might still get Sumlin fired. But 9–3 looks quite realistic, and that might keep Sumlin in College Station.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

As Sumlin will attest, the right quarterback can make all the difference. Rodriguez didn’t start Khalil Tate out of preseason camp, and then a shoulder injury further delayed Tate’s ascension. But once the Wildcats unleashed Tate against Colorado after an injury to Brandon Dawkins, they looked like a completely different team. Tate has rushed for 557 yards in his past two games. He also has completed 21 of 26 passes for 302 yards because defenses are too terrified of what he’ll do on the ground to adequately cover receivers. If this keeps up, Rodriguez will be safe.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

The first sign that the Sun Devils hadn’t completely given up on Graham was a win against Oregon on Sept. 23. But the real eye-opener came Saturday when Arizona State beat Washington 13–7 after giving up at least 30 points in 11 consecutive games. If the defense is truly better, Graham has a chance. If the Washington win was an anomaly, Graham still might not return.

It’s still early, but yikes

These coaches are both in year two at schools that don’t expect to be football powerhouses, but their performances have been abysmal. Still, it’s unclear whether their schools would pull the plug so soon.

Lovie Smith, Illinois

Hiring a fired NFL head coach always was a 50-50 proposition. Either the coach would embrace the challenge, recruit hard and use an Xs-and-Os acumen honed at the highest level to upset teams with more talent, or the coach would realize how difficult this job is and decide to simply draw a paycheck and put an uninspiring team on the field each week. Judging by the results, Smith has chosen the latter. He is 5–13 since taking over the Illini last year. Saturday, Illinois played Big Ten East doormat Rutgers in a game that might have been the only chance at a conference win for either program. Rutgers won, 35–24.

Barry Odom, Missouri

After getting crushed by Auburn on Sept. 23, Odom ranted about a turnaround that has yet to materialize. Missouri kept it close in a loss at Kentucky, but so had Eastern Michigan a week earlier. The Tigers put up a fight for a quarter and a half at Georgia on Saturday before getting blown off the field. Missouri should beat Idaho on Saturday. After that, the Tigers will continue seeking their first SEC win.

We hear what you want, but you may not get it

These coaches have lost healthy chunks of their fan bases, but previous accomplishments plus the price of changing coaches should give them another chance unless their teams completely collapse down the stretch.

Jim McElwain, Florida

The rank-and-file section of the Florida fan base has completely checked out on McElwain after realizing this is basically the same team as the post-Will Grier suspension 2015 squad and last year’s team—only without the good luck those teams had. This staff’s inability to select or develop quarterbacks has turned each game into an episode of Groundhog Day, but McElwain’s two SEC East titles combined with the cost of his buyout ($12.5 million) should get him another year as long as the Gators don’t lose every remaining game.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

No Auburn coach is truly safe unless he’s holding the national title trophy as confetti falls. Malzahn, who was an offensive coordinator at Auburn before he was the Tigers’ head coach, knew that when he took the job. Malzahn’s problem now is that he’s an offensive genius who keeps getting encouraged to do less with the offense. Auburn’s offensive predictability probably cost the Tigers a win Saturday, when they shot to a 20–0 lead and then collapsed in a 27–23 loss at LSU. During that game, Auburn ran on 17 consecutive first downs and refused to adjust after LSU began bringing a safety into the box to combat tailback Kerryon Johnson in the Wildcat formation. Malzahn is not as safe as McElwain for a few reasons. First, he works at Auburn. Second, the future employment of the AD who hired him is in doubt. Still, he should be able to hang on by winning the games he’s supposed to win and putting up a fight against Alabama. Failing that, things could get interesting on the Plains.

Bruce Feldman's top 10 teams | Heisman Watch: Who's chasing Barkley?

A Random Ranking

On a day that I’m glad I don’t have to produce a college football top 25 anymore, I’ve decided on a much easier ranking: seasons of The Wire.

1. Season Three (Hamsterdam forever!)
2. Season Four
3. Season One
4. Season Five
5. Season Two

Projected Playoff

1. Alabama

Crimson Tide players ignored all the rat poison arrayed before them and annihilated Arkansas 41–9. Now they’ll face a Tennessee team that’s just waiting for the inevitable after losing to South Carolina despite coming off a bye week (again).

2. Georgia

I realize the odds of this exact order happening are small, but given the results so far, the Bulldogs deserve this spot at the moment. But allow me to spin a scenario—which almost certainly won’t happen—that might make it possible: Alabama beats previously undefeated Georgia by a field goal in triple overtime in the SEC title game. Penn State and TCU go undefeated. Notre Dame, a team Georgia beat in South Bend, goes 11–1 and barely misses the playoff.

3. Penn State

The Nittany Lions will rise or fall on this list at some point in the next three weeks. They face Michigan on Saturday in State College. Then they’re at Ohio State and at Michigan State. Get through that and there’s a case to be made for No. 1. A loss would knock the Nittany Lions out, but possibly only temporarily if they can play their way back into the Big Ten title race.

4. TCU

The Horned Frogs rolled along with a 26–6 win at Kansas State that was delayed and then later interrupted by nasty storms. They face Kansas on Saturday in a game that will run on Fox opposite the USC–Notre Dame game on NBC and the Michigan–Penn State game on ABC. Why? Recent history. They have won the past three meetings, but the margins of victory have been slim. In 2014, TCU won 34–30. In 2015, TCU won 23–17. Last year, TCU won 24–23. If lowly Kansas is within a possession of knocking off one of college football’s few remaining undefeated teams, the thinking goes, the viewers will flock to Fox.

Big Ugly of the Week

Junior defensive tackle Renell Wren didn’t start Saturday for Arizona State, but he made a huge impact on the Sun Devils’ 13–7 upset of Washington as his role in the rotation increased. In the first half, he trucked an offensive lineman and sacked Jake Browning, forcing a fumble. In the second half, Wren drew a holding penalty that wiped a Washington touchdown off the board. (Wren would have blown up the play in the backfield if he hadn’t been held.) He’s misidentified in the video below, but that is Wren on the aforementioned strip-sack.

Three And Out

1. Stanford tailback Bryce Love is even faster than we realized. Check out this footage from the Cardinal’s 49–7 win against Oregon. In this game, Love carried 17 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns before going out early in the third quarter with an ankle injury. (It isn’t likely to cause him to miss much time.)

Oh, wait. That’s not him. He’s faster.

2. Of course I’m going to show you the speech Syracuse coach Dino Babers gave his players after they shocked Clemson on Friday night.

3. Les Miles returned to LSU’s Tiger Stadium on Saturday to be honored alongside his 2007 national title team. CBS reporter Allie LaForce brought snacks.

For Your Ears

Co-host Patrick Meagher and I discuss all the upsets on a weekend that didn’t look nearly as interesting on paper. We also examine which hot-seat coaches might yet save their jobs.

What’s Eating Andy?

Remind me to never, ever give Boston College tailback A.J. Dillon a reason to stiffarm me.

What’s Andy Eating?

Other than John Candy, poutine might be Canada’s finest export. We cover our fries in melted cheese and think we’re decadent. Our neighbors to the north cover them in brown gravy and cheese curds. Among shareable appetizers, poutine’s only real competition is queso fundido.

Fortunately for our taste buds and unfortunately for our arteries, we’ve finally embraced poutine stateside. It’s available in its classic form at restaurants across the country. Meanwhile, some places have offered their own twist. When I went to Louisville last season to write aboot—sorry, that’s the poutine talking—Lamar Jackson, I stumbled upon a place called Four Pegs that used sausage milk gravy instead of brown gravy in its poutine. The result was sublime.

The folks at Four Pegs weren’t alone. On the other side of the country, the cooks at Curry Up Now decided to use another beloved regional sauce as the dressing for their poutine. As the name—if you read this space often, you know I’m a sucker for restaurant puns—suggests, Curry Up Now serves Indian food. The twist is the Indian food comes in a North American package. This Bay Area mini-chain made its bones stuffing chicken tikka masala into burritos. Though its origins are disputed, chicken tikka masala as we know it was developed by cooks of Indian and Bangladeshi origin in the United Kingdom. Chicken tikka is a popular Indian dish; the masala sauce was added to satisfy palates in the British Isles. In the Curry Up Now burrito, the curry-heavy sauce adds a kick and a touch of sweetness, making an otherwise ubiquitous dish something special.

As good as the tikka masala is in the burrito, it’s even better atop Curry Up Now’s Sexy Fries. They begin with a base of sweet potato waffle fries. Chick-fil-A, the nation’s leading purveyor of waffle fries, tested a sweet potato version in some markets but opted against taking them nationwide. After tasting the sweet potato waffle fries at Curry Up Now’s Palo Alto location, I am certain this was a massive failure on Chick-fil-A’s part. Curry Up Now’s sweet potato waffle fries are better than Chick-fil-A’s regular waffle fries, and Chick-fil-A’s waffles are my favorite fast food french fries. Now imagine these wide, substantial, crisp-but-not-too-crispy fries carrying chunks of chicken or lamb covered in spicy, sweet masala sauce and cheese. I ordered the lamb version, and the richer meat provided added more heft to an already decadent dish.

The burrito was excellent, but I probably didn’t need to order it. The Sexy Fries were all I could think about for days.

Heat Check: Where Does Every Coach Under Fire Stand at Midseason?

The coaching carousel started spinning last week when Oregon State’s Gary Andersen quit and released the school from all contractual obligations, but so far no coach has left a job unwillingly. That likely will change soon, though. Two games this past weekend all but sealed the fate of two hot-seat coaches. Meanwhile, three others notched wins that might help them avoid that buyout life.

Today, we’ll conduct a Hot Seat Heat Check to determine exactly where each of the Power Five’s on-the-bubble coaches stand at midseason.

This Is Fine

These coaches probably aren’t coming back at their current schools, and the last game made the situation even worse.

Mike Riley, Nebraska

The Cornhuskers looked listless and unprepared in their 56–14 loss to Ohio State. If Riley and his assistants can’t motivate their team to at least make an effort, Nebraska needs to move on. Riley’s firing wasn’t a fait accompli when athletic director Shawn Eichorst was fired last month, but it sure feels like one now. Riley probably could have bought himself another year with competitive performances against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Huskers got clobbered in the second half by the Badgers and blown off the field by the Buckeyes.

Now that Washington State’s Bill Moos has been hired to replace Eichorst, the talk around Nebraska has shifted to Riley’s replacement. Former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost looks to be the most prized mid-major coach this offseason after turning around Central Florida quickly. Frost seems like an obvious choice for Nebraska, but he’s likely to get interest from multiple schools. Wouldn’t Frost jump at the chance to return to his alma mater? Maybe. Maybe not. As Oregon’s offensive coordinator, Frost turned down head coaching jobs and waited until he could find one at a good program in a recruit-rich area. Nebraska is not a recruit-rich area. Still, Big Red has big pull for alums. The other name bound to pop up is Mike Leach, the coach Moos hired at Washington State. Moos, chancellor Ronnie Green and president Hank Bounds first have to decide if they want to fire Riley, though.

The huge swaths of empty seats during Saturday’s second half suggest the fans have already made that decision for the trio. Once they officially do the deed, expect Moos to go after what Nebraska needs—a superior talent evaluator and recruiter with an offensive system that can make Nebraska different and less reliant on raw talent. As different as Frost and Leach are, each fits that profile. But expect Moos to also look beyond the obvious names.

Butch Jones, Tennessee

A 41–0 home loss to Georgia in a must-win game was bad enough. A 15–9 home loss to South Carolina in a must-win game—coming off a bye week, no less, is unforgivable. The Volunteers don’t need to make a change this week with a trip to Alabama on the schedule, but this team’s offensive struggles suggest more losses besides the obvious one on Saturday are forthcoming. It feels like it’s only a matter of time.

Not quite there, but headed that way

These coaches haven’t passed the point of no return, but they need to turn things around soon.

Jim Mora, UCLA

The Bruins’ defense got shredded by Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate on Saturday to the tune of 230 rushing yards and 148 passing yards. What is likely quarterback Josh Rosen’s final season at UCLA is being wasted. Bruins AD Dan Guerrero does not like to spend money, and Mora’s buyout is $11 million. But Guerrero will have to consider possible lost donations if the football product remains bad, and this job could draw some attractive candidates. If UCLA doesn’t improve, Guerrero might decide to open his wallet.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

A reporter in Arkansas actually read Bielema’s contract last week and discovered that Bielema’s buyout is far less—$10.2 million less, to be exact—than previously believed. This changes the math considerably for a program that has lost seven of its last 10 games. Razorbacks AD Jeff Long loves Bielema and will support him for as long as he can, but Arkansas has to win a few down the stretch.

Steve Addazio, Boston College

Another win like the Eagles’ 45–42 win at Louisville on Saturday, and Addazio might move to the section below this one.

Playing their way into staying

These coaches seemed like locks to get fired when the season began. Now, they’re making a case to get another year.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Sumlin’s AD went on national television in May and basically said the coach would be fired if he didn’t improve the Aggies’ record. After a season-opening collapse at UCLA, that seemed impossible. But Texas A&M has improved as freshman quarterback Kellen Mond has grown more comfortable. Giving Alabama the toughest challenge it has faced all season didn’t result in a win, but it did boost a young team’s confidence. A road win this past Saturday at Florida wasn’t perfect, but the defense stuffed the Gators when it had to and Mond got the Aggies close enough for three Daniel LaCamera field goals in the fourth quarter. Because of the history here, an 8–4 record might still get Sumlin fired. But 9–3 looks quite realistic, and that might keep Sumlin in College Station.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

As Sumlin will attest, the right quarterback can make all the difference. Rodriguez didn’t start Khalil Tate out of preseason camp, and then a shoulder injury further delayed Tate’s ascension. But once the Wildcats unleashed Tate against Colorado after an injury to Brandon Dawkins, they looked like a completely different team. Tate has rushed for 557 yards in his past two games. He also has completed 21 of 26 passes for 302 yards because defenses are too terrified of what he’ll do on the ground to adequately cover receivers. If this keeps up, Rodriguez will be safe.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

The first sign that the Sun Devils hadn’t completely given up on Graham was a win against Oregon on Sept. 23. But the real eye-opener came Saturday when Arizona State beat Washington 13–7 after giving up at least 30 points in 11 consecutive games. If the defense is truly better, Graham has a chance. If the Washington win was an anomaly, Graham still might not return.

It’s still early, but yikes

These coaches are both in year two at schools that don’t expect to be football powerhouses, but their performances have been abysmal. Still, it’s unclear whether their schools would pull the plug so soon.

Lovie Smith, Illinois

Hiring a fired NFL head coach always was a 50-50 proposition. Either the coach would embrace the challenge, recruit hard and use an Xs-and-Os acumen honed at the highest level to upset teams with more talent, or the coach would realize how difficult this job is and decide to simply draw a paycheck and put an uninspiring team on the field each week. Judging by the results, Smith has chosen the latter. He is 5–13 since taking over the Illini last year. Saturday, Illinois played Big Ten East doormat Rutgers in a game that might have been the only chance at a conference win for either program. Rutgers won, 35–24.

Barry Odom, Missouri

After getting crushed by Auburn on Sept. 23, Odom ranted about a turnaround that has yet to materialize. Missouri kept it close in a loss at Kentucky, but so had Eastern Michigan a week earlier. The Tigers put up a fight for a quarter and a half at Georgia on Saturday before getting blown off the field. Missouri should beat Idaho on Saturday. After that, the Tigers will continue seeking their first SEC win.

We hear what you want, but you may not get it

These coaches have lost healthy chunks of their fan bases, but previous accomplishments plus the price of changing coaches should give them another chance unless their teams completely collapse down the stretch.

Jim McElwain, Florida

The rank-and-file section of the Florida fan base has completely checked out on McElwain after realizing this is basically the same team as the post-Will Grier suspension 2015 squad and last year’s team—only without the good luck those teams had. This staff’s inability to select or develop quarterbacks has turned each game into an episode of Groundhog Day, but McElwain’s two SEC East titles combined with the cost of his buyout ($12.5 million) should get him another year as long as the Gators don’t lose every remaining game.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

No Auburn coach is truly safe unless he’s holding the national title trophy as confetti falls. Malzahn, who was an offensive coordinator at Auburn before he was the Tigers’ head coach, knew that when he took the job. Malzahn’s problem now is that he’s an offensive genius who keeps getting encouraged to do less with the offense. Auburn’s offensive predictability probably cost the Tigers a win Saturday, when they shot to a 20–0 lead and then collapsed in a 27–23 loss at LSU. During that game, Auburn ran on 17 consecutive first downs and refused to adjust after LSU began bringing a safety into the box to combat tailback Kerryon Johnson in the Wildcat formation. Malzahn is not as safe as McElwain for a few reasons. First, he works at Auburn. Second, the future employment of the AD who hired him is in doubt. Still, he should be able to hang on by winning the games he’s supposed to win and putting up a fight against Alabama. Failing that, things could get interesting on the Plains.

Bruce Feldman's top 10 teams | Heisman Watch: Who's chasing Barkley?

A Random Ranking

On a day that I’m glad I don’t have to produce a college football top 25 anymore, I’ve decided on a much easier ranking: seasons of The Wire.

1. Season Three (Hamsterdam forever!)
2. Season Four
3. Season One
4. Season Five
5. Season Two

Projected Playoff

1. Alabama

Crimson Tide players ignored all the rat poison arrayed before them and annihilated Arkansas 41–9. Now they’ll face a Tennessee team that’s just waiting for the inevitable after losing to South Carolina despite coming off a bye week (again).

2. Georgia

I realize the odds of this exact order happening are small, but given the results so far, the Bulldogs deserve this spot at the moment. But allow me to spin a scenario—which almost certainly won’t happen—that might make it possible: Alabama beats previously undefeated Georgia by a field goal in triple overtime in the SEC title game. Penn State and TCU go undefeated. Notre Dame, a team Georgia beat in South Bend, goes 11–1 and barely misses the playoff.

3. Penn State

The Nittany Lions will rise or fall on this list at some point in the next three weeks. They face Michigan on Saturday in State College. Then they’re at Ohio State and at Michigan State. Get through that and there’s a case to be made for No. 1. A loss would knock the Nittany Lions out, but possibly only temporarily if they can play their way back into the Big Ten title race.

4. TCU

The Horned Frogs rolled along with a 26–6 win at Kansas State that was delayed and then later interrupted by nasty storms. They face Kansas on Saturday in a game that will run on Fox opposite the USC–Notre Dame game on NBC and the Michigan–Penn State game on ABC. Why? Recent history. They have won the past three meetings, but the margins of victory have been slim. In 2014, TCU won 34–30. In 2015, TCU won 23–17. Last year, TCU won 24–23. If lowly Kansas is within a possession of knocking off one of college football’s few remaining undefeated teams, the thinking goes, the viewers will flock to Fox.

Big Ugly of the Week

Junior defensive tackle Renell Wren didn’t start Saturday for Arizona State, but he made a huge impact on the Sun Devils’ 13–7 upset of Washington as his role in the rotation increased. In the first half, he trucked an offensive lineman and sacked Jake Browning, forcing a fumble. In the second half, Wren drew a holding penalty that wiped a Washington touchdown off the board. (Wren would have blown up the play in the backfield if he hadn’t been held.) He’s misidentified in the video below, but that is Wren on the aforementioned strip-sack.

Three And Out

1. Stanford tailback Bryce Love is even faster than we realized. Check out this footage from the Cardinal’s 49–7 win against Oregon. In this game, Love carried 17 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns before going out early in the third quarter with an ankle injury. (It isn’t likely to cause him to miss much time.)

Oh, wait. That’s not him. He’s faster.

2. Of course I’m going to show you the speech Syracuse coach Dino Babers gave his players after they shocked Clemson on Friday night.

3. Les Miles returned to LSU’s Tiger Stadium on Saturday to be honored alongside his 2007 national title team. CBS reporter Allie LaForce brought snacks.

For Your Ears

Co-host Patrick Meagher and I discuss all the upsets on a weekend that didn’t look nearly as interesting on paper. We also examine which hot-seat coaches might yet save their jobs.

What’s Eating Andy?

Remind me to never, ever give Boston College tailback A.J. Dillon a reason to stiffarm me.

What’s Andy Eating?

Other than John Candy, poutine might be Canada’s finest export. We cover our fries in melted cheese and think we’re decadent. Our neighbors to the north cover them in brown gravy and cheese curds. Among shareable appetizers, poutine’s only real competition is queso fundido.

Fortunately for our taste buds and unfortunately for our arteries, we’ve finally embraced poutine stateside. It’s available in its classic form at restaurants across the country. Meanwhile, some places have offered their own twist. When I went to Louisville last season to write aboot—sorry, that’s the poutine talking—Lamar Jackson, I stumbled upon a place called Four Pegs that used sausage milk gravy instead of brown gravy in its poutine. The result was sublime.

The folks at Four Pegs weren’t alone. On the other side of the country, the cooks at Curry Up Now decided to use another beloved regional sauce as the dressing for their poutine. As the name—if you read this space often, you know I’m a sucker for restaurant puns—suggests, Curry Up Now serves Indian food. The twist is the Indian food comes in a North American package. This Bay Area mini-chain made its bones stuffing chicken tikka masala into burritos. Though its origins are disputed, chicken tikka masala as we know it was developed by cooks of Indian and Bangladeshi origin in the United Kingdom. Chicken tikka is a popular Indian dish; the masala sauce was added to satisfy palates in the British Isles. In the Curry Up Now burrito, the curry-heavy sauce adds a kick and a touch of sweetness, making an otherwise ubiquitous dish something special.

As good as the tikka masala is in the burrito, it’s even better atop Curry Up Now’s Sexy Fries. They begin with a base of sweet potato waffle fries. Chick-fil-A, the nation’s leading purveyor of waffle fries, tested a sweet potato version in some markets but opted against taking them nationwide. After tasting the sweet potato waffle fries at Curry Up Now’s Palo Alto location, I am certain this was a massive failure on Chick-fil-A’s part. Curry Up Now’s sweet potato waffle fries are better than Chick-fil-A’s regular waffle fries, and Chick-fil-A’s waffles are my favorite fast food french fries. Now imagine these wide, substantial, crisp-but-not-too-crispy fries carrying chunks of chicken or lamb covered in spicy, sweet masala sauce and cheese. I ordered the lamb version, and the richer meat provided added more heft to an already decadent dish.

The burrito was excellent, but I probably didn’t need to order it. The Sexy Fries were all I could think about for days.

AP Top 25: Big Shakeup in Poll After Four Top 10 Teams Lose

There is quite a shakeup in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 college football poll after four top 10 teams lost.

Alabama is still No. 1, with Penn State moving up to No. 2 after a week off.

The Nittany Lions play Michigan on Saturday.

Georgia is No. 3, followed by TCU and Wisconsin

Washington who lost to Arizona State fell to No. 12, Auburn’s loss to LSU dropped them down to No. 21

Clemson’s upset defeat to Syracuse has the Tigers at No. 7, after a couple of weeks at No. 2.

Washington State was blown out on the road 37–3 by California and fell seven spots to 15th.

Here is the rest of the AP Top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Penn State
3. Georgia
4. TCU
5. Wisconsin
6. Ohio State
7. Clemson
8. Miami (FL)
9. Oklahoma
10. Oklahoma State
11. USC
12. Washington
13. Notre Dame
14. Virginia Tech
15. Washington State
16. South Florida
16. NC State
18. Michigan State
19. Michigan
20. UCF
21. Auburn
22. Stanford
23. West Virginia
24. LSU
25. Memphis

Week 7's Top 10: Multiple Major Upsets Bring a Plethora of Changes

A wild Friday the 13th took down Clemson and Washington State, as massive underdogs Syracuse and Cal stepped up and set the tone for a weekend of upheaval in which four AP top-10 teams lost. Once again, it’s Alabama and everyone else. No one feels right at No. 2, leaving us all to sort out one-loss teams as we’ve reached a new stage of the season. Here's how this week’s Top 10 looks behind the Tide.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban’s squad hammered another SEC foe, blasting Arkansas 41–9, the fifth time in seven games Alabama has held an opponent to single-digits. Junior RB Damien Harris surpassed the 100-yard mark for the third time in the past four games, cruising for 125 yards on just nine carries. Alabama has now outscored its opponents 100–9 in the first quarter and 169–26 in the first half this season.

2. Penn State: The Nittany Lions haven’t had a brutal slate thus far and had this week off, but things are about to get rough with games against Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State up next. Penn State has a loaded offense and an impressive defense, but we’re about to find out much more about it in the next few weeks.

3. Georgia: The Bulldogs struggled some with lowly Missouri before blowing the game open on the way to a 53–28 win, as coordinator Jim Chaney’s offense piled up almost 700 yards. Georgia is the class of the SEC East.

4. TCU: It was a looong day for the Horned Frogs at Kansas State: They endured one three-hour lightning delay and another one that lasted almost an hour before leaving with a 26–6 win. Kenny Hill was solid and Gary Patterson’s defense was stingy, limiting the Wildcats to 216 yards and a 2-for-15 mark on third down. TCU has two very good wins on its resume in Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

5. Wisconsin: The Badgers rode their standout freshman Jonathan Taylor to bulldoze Purdue, 17–9, going 9-for-14 on third down and surrendering only three second-half points. On the season, Wisconsin's defense has allowed just 17 total points in the second half and scored 18 points itself after the half.

6. Clemson: Friday night’s upset loss at Syracuse after the Orange battered QB Kelly Bryant was a stunner, but don’t write off the Tigers. However, two of their three wins over ranked opponents don’t look quite as impressive after this week, as both Auburn and Louisville lost to unranked opponents.

7. Oklahoma: Texas gave the Sooners all it could handle, but Baker Mayfield rallied them to a bounce-back victory after last week’s loss in Norman to Iowa State. The Sooners still have one of the season’s most impressive wins, Week 2’s thumping of Ohio State in Columbus.

8. Ohio State: Urban Meyer’s team is rampaging through the soft part of its schedule. Ohio State crunched Nebraska 56–14 on Saturday. Since losing to OU, the Buckeyes have averaged over 53 points per game.

9. Miami: Another week, another close shave for the Canes, but they remain unbeaten with a 25–24 win at home against Georgia Tech. We’ll find out much more about this young team in the second half of the season: They get an improving Syracuse next and then face consecutive games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in November.

10. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys put up 59 points for the third time this season, whipping Baylor 59–16. Their lone loss was to a good TCU team, but their most impressive win was at a Texas Tech team that is about to fall out of the top 25.

How to Watch Arkansas vs. Alabama Online: Live Stream, TV Channel, Broadcast Info

After Alabama struggled to put away Texas A&M last week, a renewed focused from Nick Saban and the Tide could spell doom for visiting Arkansas.

Before beating the Aggies 29–17 last week, Alabama had scorched its previous two opponents 125–3.

Arkansas lost 48-22 at South Carolina in which its running game was non–existent and the problems were compounded by turning the ball over four times.

Alabama has beaten Arkansas nine straight times.

How to watch

Game time: Saturday, Oct. 14, 7:15 p.m. ET

TV channel: ESPN

Live stream: The game can be watched online using WatchESPN.

Next Three Games:

Alabama: vs. Tennessee (10/21), vs. LSU (11/4), at Mississippi State (11/11)

Arkansas: vs. Auburn (10/21), at Mississippi (10/28), vs. Coastal Carolina (11/4)

How to Watch Texas A&M vs. Florida: Live Stream, TV Channel, Time

Texas A&M will face Florida in Gainesville, Florida in a primetime matchup Saturday night, the first meeting between the two since 2012.

The Aggies (4-2) are coming off a 27-19 loss to No. 1 Alabama. Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond was 19-for-29 with 237 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Gators (3-2) are coming off a 17-16 Homecoming loss to LSU. A missed field goal was the deciding factor in the game for the Gators. Florida will wear green gator themed jerseys that have caused a bit of a social media frenzy.

In the team's 2012 matchup, the Gators beat the Aggies 20-17 in the Aggies first contest as a member of the SEC.

How to Watch

Time: 7 p.m. EST

TV channel: ESPN2

Live stream: Watch online with Fubo TV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.

Next Three Games

Texas A&M: vs. Mississippi State (10/28), vs. Auburn (11/04), vs. New Mexico (11/11)

Florida: vs. Georgia (10/28), at Missouri (11/04), at South Carolina (11/11)

How to Watch Auburn vs. LSU: Live Stream, TV Channel, Time

LSU hosts Auburn on Saturday for their annual meeting.

Auburn's last three wins have all come in convincing fashion and pushed its record to 5-1. The No. 10 Tigers only loss this season came at No. 2 Clemson in a 14-6 contest. Last week against Ole Miss was the first time this year a team scored more than 14 points against Auburn, but 13 of the Rebels' 23 points came in the fourth quarter. The Tigers cruised to a 44-23 win.

LSU is back at home for the first time since losing to Troy 24-21 on homecoming. Last week, LSU went on the road to knock off then-No. 21 Florida in a 17-16 game. The Tigers will probably lean heavily on their rushing game to crack the Auburn defense. Running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams have combined for 717 yards and 10 touchdowns this year.

Last season, Auburn escaped with a victory in a nailbiting 18-13 contest.

How to Watch

Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV channel: CBS

Live stream: Watch the game on Fubo TV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.

Next Three Games

LSU: at Ole Miss (10/21), at No. 1 Alabama (11/4), vs. Arkansas (11/11)

Auburn: at Arkansas (10/21), at Texas A&M (11/4), vs. No. 4 Georgia (11/11)

No. 1 Alabama hosts Arkansas after closer-than-expected game

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema joins his team on the field before an NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Things don't get any easier in the near future for the Razorbacks, who face No. 1 Alabama this week and No. 10 Auburn next. Despite the tough road ahead, coach Bielema is doing his best to remain hopeful about both his and the team's future. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)

Vanderbilt, Ole Miss each try to shake3-game losing streaks

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, Mississippi head coach Matt Luke talks with players during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Auburn, Ala. Mississippis two-game swing through the state of Alabama was largely a disaster. But an encouraging second half during last weekends otherwise forgettable 44-23 loss to Auburn has given the Rebels hope going into a stretch of three consecutive home games beginning with Vanderbilt on Saturday. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning, File)

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Week 7 College Football Picks: Oklahoma or Texas? Auburn or LSU?

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.?

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ?

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.?

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.?

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ?

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

Georgia, Alabama, Auburn reminding SEC that defense matters

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2017, file photo, Georgia defenders David Marshall (51), Natrez Patrick (6), Dominick Sanders (24), Lorenzo Carter (7) and Davin Bellamy (17) gang tackle Tennessee running back John Kelly at the line of scrimmage for no gain during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Knoxville, Tenn. The one thing Alabama, Georgia and Auburn do well week in and week out, is play defense. Their defensive squads are among the best in the country, and it has them poised to make a run at the College Football Playoffs. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Georgia, Alabama, Auburn reminding SEC that defense matters

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2017, file photo, Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) tackles Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Atlanta. The one thing Alabama, Georgia and Auburn do well week in and week out, is play defense. Their defensive squads are among the best in the country, and it has them poised to make a run at the College Football Playoffs. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Georgia, Alabama, Auburn reminding SEC that defense matters

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, Auburn defensive backs Daniel Thomas (24) and Nick Ruffin (19) attempt to tackle Mississippi wide receiver A.J. Brown (1) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala. The one thing Alabama, Georgia and Auburn do well week in and week out, is play defense. Their defensive squads are among the best in the country, and it has them poised to make a run at the College Football Playoffs.(AP Photo/Thomas Graning, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2017, file photo, Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) tackles Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Atlanta. The one thing Alabama, Georgia and Auburn do well week in and week out, is play defense. Their defensive squads are among the best in the country, and it has them poised to make a run at the College Football Playoffs. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)