Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Every game in Week 7 is going to feel like the undercard before Saturday night’s main event: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama.
While Week 6 was jam-packed with high-caliber matchups, Week 7 doesn’t look as good on paper. The Georgia-Alabama game is the only ranked vs. ranked game of the weekend, but that doesn’t mean something unexpected won’t pop up during the afternoon.
For the last three weeks, at least one top-10 team has been upset by an unranked opponent. The potential to make it four straight weeks certainly exists on Saturday.
(Note: All times ET, point spreads/totals from BetMGM)
No. 14 BYU at Houston
Time: 9:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ESPN | Line: BYU -5 | Total: 63
We’ve got four weeknight games on tap this week, but the biggest is No. 14 BYU’s trip to Houston on Friday night. BYU is off to a hot 4-0 start, mainly against subpar competition. The Cougars outscored their first three opponents by a margin of 148-24 before a 27-20 win over UTSA last weekend. Along the way, the offense has been playing at a high level, averaging 556.8 yards per game. Zach Wilson has been a stud at quarterback. He has thrown for 1,241 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 81.2 percent of his passes. He also has six rushing TDs.
Houston finally made its 2020 debut last week in a 49-31 win over Tulane. UH had its first four season openers wiped from the schedule due to COVID-19 issues among its opponents. Dana Holgorsen’s team was definitely a little rusty. UH put up 476 yards of offense and limited the Green Wave to just 211 yards, but five turnovers kept Tulane in the game. Clayton Tune accounted for three of those turnovers, throwing two interceptions and fumbling on a sack. He threw for 311 yards, but he’ll need to tighten up the ball security against BYU.
Sam Cooper: BYU -5, Nick Bromberg: Houston +5
Kentucky at No. 18 Tennessee
Time: Noon | TV: SECN | Line: Tennessee -6 | Total: 45.5
Kentucky is 1-2 so far this season, but could be 3-0 had a few things turned out different. UK was a blown officiating call and a few self-inflicted mistakes away from a much closer outcome against Auburn. And against Ole Miss, the Wildcats were doomed by a celebration gone wrong and a shanked extra point in overtime. Last week, though, Kentucky turned in a strong effort — on defense, at least — in a 24-2 win over Mississippi State. The defense kept MSU off the scoreboard, scored a touchdown of its own and forced six turnovers, the offense mustered only 157 yards. The rushing attack that went for 408 yards against Ole Miss was limited to just 84 yards against MSU. Some adjustments will be in order if UK wants to upset Tennessee.
Tennessee had its eight-game winning streak come grinding to a halt on a big stage last week. The Vols led No. 3 Georgia 21-17 at halftime, only to see UGA storm back and win 44-21. Tennessee was dominated in the second half as its hyped offensive line was no match for the Georgia front, leaving QB Jarrett Guarantano under constant pressure. The result was three backbreaking second-half turnovers. Quickly turning the page and refocusing to play a tough team like Kentucky will be a significant test for the Vols.
Sam: Kentucky +6, Nick: Kentucky +6
Other noon games of note: No. 1 Clemson at Georgia Tech (ABC), Pittsburgh at No. 13 Miami (ACCN), No. 15 Auburn at South Carolina (ESPN)
UCF at Memphis
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: UCF -3.5 | Total: 75
Though these teams have fallen out of the Top 25 due to early season losses, they are still two of the top Group of Five programs in the country. UCF opened the season with convincing victories over Georgia Tech and East Carolina before dropping yet another game to Tulsa, a program the Knights have not defeated since 2014. UCF’s offense has been as explosive as ever, but the Knights have committed more penalties than any other team in the country, a total of 45.
On the other side is Memphis, a team that had a month in between its two games due to virus issues. The Tigers won their opener 37-24 over Arkansas State on Sept. 5 and then lost to SMU 30-27 on Oct. 3. Memphis fell behind big against SMU before storming back to tie the game at 27-27 late in the second half until SMU eventually won with a last-second field goal. It’s still very early on in the AAC schedule, but it’d be a surprise if these teams weren’t in the mix for a spot in the title game at the end of the year. This game could end up being the difference.
Sam: UCF -3.5, Nick: UCF -3.5
No. 11 Texas A&M at Mississippi State
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Texas A&M -6.5 | Total: 54.5
Texas A&M got its biggest win of the Jimbo Fisher era by upsetting No. 4 Florida last weekend. The Aggies were on the heels of a blowout loss at Alabama, but rebounded by beating the Gators 41-38 with a last-second field goal. Kellen Mond played excellently in the win, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah Spiller, with 174 yards and two TDs rushing, also had a big game. How will that carry over for the team’s trip to Starkville?
The first month of Mississippi State football under Mike Leach has been a wild ride. The Bulldogs set SEC passing records and pulled off a huge upset over LSU. Since then, the offense has played miserably. The Bulldogs had four turnovers in a home loss to Arkansas before last week’s debacle, a 24-2 loss to Kentucky. Leach’s Air Raid was shut out while his QBs combined to throw six interceptions. Leach said the team has practiced well, but needs to bring it on game day. Perhaps this is the game the Bulldogs offense can get things going again.
Sam: Texas A&M -6.5, Nick: MSU +6.5
Other afternoon games of note: Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame (NBC), Ole Miss at Arkansas (SECN)
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -6 | Total: 56.5
Here’s your most anticipated game of the year in college football so far in 2020. Georgia has been knocking at the door of a national championship in recent years, but Alabama has often been in its way. Alabama beat UGA in the national title game in the 2017 season and then edged UGA in the SEC title game the following year. UGA finds itself in the early pole position in the SEC East thanks to its win over Tennessee and Florida’s loss to Texas A&M, but this game is about more than SEC positioning. Georgia is after that top spot in the SEC, the one Alabama has held in most seasons in the Nick Saban era.
Georgia boasts one of the top defenses in the country while questions linger about how first-year starting QB Stetson Bennett will perform on the biggest stage. Alabama has questions of its own. The Tide, which will likely not have Saban on the sideline after his positive COVID-19 test, saw its defense was torched last week by Ole Miss to the tune of 48 points and 647 yards. It was still an Alabama win, but it’s not a style of football that the Tide is used to playing. The Alabama offense is obviously equipped to play in a shootout like that but the Georgia defense will provide much more resistance than Ole Miss’ porous unit.
Sam: Georgia +6, Nick: Georgia +6
Other night games of note: No. 5 North Carolina at Florida State (ABC), Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech (ACCN)
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 13-11, Nick: 13-11
Week 7’s best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 8-6)
Army at UTSA: Army is a seven-point favorite and is 3-2 against the spread this year. UTSA, meanwhile, has covered in its last two games. I’m going to stay away from the number and look at the total. Three of UTSA’s five games have hit the under this year and the Roadrunners have scored a total of 33 points in those last two games. Army games have hit the under four times this season and just one game has totaled more than 44 points. Pick: Under 49.5
Virginia at Wake Forest: Another game where I’m going to go with the trends here. Virginia’s three games so far this season have all hit the over while two of Wake’s three games have gone over. This is admittedly the highest total of any Virginia game so far this season, but I think Wake’s offense has enough to make it hit the over again. Pick: Over 61
Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech: The Hokies are big favorites and it’s hard to ignore Boston College in this situation. Boston College has covered in each of its three games it's been an underdog so far this season. Oh, each of its past three games have been decided by four points or less. This is an easy pick for me. Which means it’ll probably end up being wrong. Pick: Boston College +12.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 12-8)
No. 15 Auburn at South Carolina: Auburn’s defense is not as good as it has been in recent years, nor is South Carolina’s offense as bad as it was last year. Those factors, plus Auburn getting its ground game going last week, makes me like the over. This trend does, too. In South Carolina’s last seven games as a single-digit underdog vs. SEC opponents, the over is 6-1. Pick: Over 50.5
Kentucky at No. 18 Tennessee: Tennessee was blasted in the second half last week and will want to re-establish its physicality up front. Kentucky is nowhere near as talented as Georgia, but it is no pushover either. I expect this one to be pretty low scoring, much like other Kentucky games in a similar spot. In the nine games Kentucky has been a road underdog of fewer than a TD under Mark Stoops, the under is 8-1. Pick: Under 46.5
Kansas at West Virginia: The West Virginia offense has generated three plays of 20-plus yards in its two games against Big 12 competition. I expect WVU to get it going against Kansas for obvious reasons, but not enough that this turns into a super high-scoring game. Pick: Under 53
For other Week 7 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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