2016 Week 7 NCAAF Weekend Preview

October 13, 2016

Although Matt and I tied overall with our predictions, it was not a pretty weekend for either of us.

The notion that Week 6 would be more difficult to correctly predict than the week before it, which featured three Top 10 matchups, became a reality as soon as the first set of games last Saturday had concluded.

Neither one of finished above .500 last week, taking two games apiece. Now the overall standings look like this for the season:

K. Becks: 20-9

Guests: 14-16

This week will mark the first time that I can remember that I won’t see a single college football game on a fall Saturday. Instead, I’ll be in England, drinking warm beer and watching that sport they refer to as futbol but that we know is actually just a form of footsie that some bloke cleverly threw a ball into the mix. Just kidding. Clearly, from the content of this blog over the past year, I actually like soccer.

Anyway, my buddy Jared will be joining as guest prognosticator this week and giving analysis that will rival mine in length. I leave for my trip tomorrow afternoon and I haven’t packed all of my stuff yet.

Here’s a look at the top five games you should watch this weekend as well as five more to keep an eye on, because I won’t get to do so.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#20 West Virginia at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Dana Holgorsen’s squad is back in the Top 25 mix, climbing up into contention with the other dark horse Playoff candidates by way of holding the top spot in the Big 12 at the moment. However, the Mountaineers must go on the road this weekend for the first time all season to play a Red Raiders squad that is as unpredictable as the wind.

If West Virginia can stop the Patrick Mahomes Train, it has a chance to win this game. Mahomes has been the sole consistent piece to the Texas Tech jigsaw puzzle, leading the country in passing yards per game and sitting third in the country in passing touchdowns. The Mountaineers are third in the Big 12 in pass defense, but that’s essentially saying they’re the prettiest pig. I’ll trust Holgorsen’s team when they show me they can win outside of Morgantown. It doesn’t happen here.

My Pick: 41-33 Texas Tech

Jared’s Take: West Virginia

Obviously any team that Geno Smith used to play for is legendary. Doing as well has he has in the NFL can only mean that his predecessor will light it up against anyone. Especially since Johnny Manziel has cursed any and all Texas teams.

#1 Alabama at #9 Tennessee (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Those that believe the Volunteers staying put at No. 9 despite losing an overtime game to then No. 8 Texas A&M is a direct result of the so-called SEC bias have their heads in the sand. This is all about the TV ratings, as this is one of two games between two Top 10 teams and the only one outside of ABC’s network of channels. That being said, Tennessee’s fairy dust is gone and most people are aware that the Vols aren’t the No. 9 team in the country.

Yes, Butch Jones’s team is returning to Knoxville, but how much did home field advantage help them against Appalachian State and Ohio? I took a chance on the Crimson Tide last weekend and paid the price for it. I have made a vow not to be fooled by any single team more than once this season. Alabama will roll and the Volunteers will drop a healthy helping of spots on Sunday afternoon.

My Pick: 34-21 Alabama

Jared’s Take: Alabama

As most may know I have a bold national championship of Tennessee versus Washington. This will come true, of course. But even after taking the “L” last week, Tennessee will still take another one to Alabama this week. Nick Saban may be a stone cold coach that most people (especially in Ohio) don’t like, but he will be getting the win this week.

#10 Nebraska at Indiana (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Cornhuskers have snuck up on people, finding a way into the Top 10 and somehow managing to fly under the radar of nearly every national analyst up to this point. Perhaps they were waiting for a game like this, however, when an unproven team like Nebraska must go on the road to play a team like Indiana, which can score points in a heartbeat and already has a victory on the resume that turned heads this season.

Before you skewer Nebraska, however, look a little deeper into that head-turning win for the Hoosiers. It came against Michigan State, in an overtime game. The Spartans are now under .500 and have lost three straight. Yes, the Indiana loss very well may have been the breaking point for Mark Dantonio’s team, but the expectations were grossly high for a squad that lost so much from the year prior. While I had pegged Nebraska as a potential sleeper in the Big Ten before the year began, Indiana still hasn’t done much to impress me. I’ll take the undefeated team for 500, Alex.

My Pick: 30-24 Nebraska

Jared’s Take: Indiana

After playing as well as they did against OSU, it only makes sense that they would come back this week and pull out the “W”. With the fantastic passing offense they have and their great pass defense (watch what they did against OSU), how can they now pull out a hard fought win against a good Nebraska team?

#12 Mississippi at #22 Arkansas (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

If you’re a fan of the high scoring games, this is bound to be your Game of the Week. Both teams have done quite well moving the football this season, especially through the air, where the Rebels and Razorbacks rank second and third in the SEC, respectively. The loser of this game is essentially (perhaps mathematically) eliminated in the SEC West race, an unenviable position to be in this early in the conference season.

When you consider that both teams play similarly on offense and neither one have a particularly strong defensive unit, evaluating this game through the lens of each team’s loss to Alabama actually makes sense. While Ole Miss was dominating the Crimson Tide in the first half and simply fell apart in the latter half, Arkansas was playing catch-up from the beginning. I’ll take the more experienced quarterback, even on the road, to beat a team that really doesn’t appear to be first tier in the SEC this season despite having the talent to be.

My Pick: 45-35 Mississippi

Jared’s Take: Mississippi

In all fairness and honesty I know absolutely nothing about both of these teams. I have done zero research. Yet my courageous mind somehow says that Mississippi pulls this off against a decently rated Arkansas team.  Bret Bielema stands no chance.

#2 Ohio State at Wisconsin (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The week’s marquee matchup, naturally, will start at 2 AM England time, meaning that I will likely not catch a single snap of this game. However, for those that do, be advised that this one is unlikely to play out similarly to the Michigan-Wisconsin clash that took place a couple of weekends ago.

While the Badgers may be the most dangerous opponent left on Ohio State’s schedule (yea, I said it, Wolverines), Wisconsin will need to find an offensive burst from somewhere in order to actually win this game. Ohio State has looked every bit the No. 2 team in the nation, not only defensively but offensively when things are clicking. The Buckeyes won’t be held to under 20 points in this game, so Wisconsin’s offense must be prepared not only to dictate the pace of the game, but also finish drives with points instead of punts. Otherwise, it will be business as usual for Urban Meyer’s squad. While I do think the Buckeyes struggle at times in this one, it won’t be enough to result in a loss.

My Pick: 30-21 Ohio State

Jared’s Take: OHIO STATE BABY!!!!

No chance Wisconsin can even put a dent in OSU. After not doing so well against Indiana, OSU is ready to take on anyone they can. Even J.J. Watt’s little brother can’t stop J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Call me a homer, but this is basically a warm up game before the khaki wearing Jim Harbaughs.

5 Games to Flip To

#24 Western Michigan at Akron (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

It’s been quite a season for teams nicknamed the Broncos outside of Power 5 conferences. Western Michigan and Boise State are both in the Top 25 and the more Eastern situated Broncos have a chance to dispatch of the MAC East Division’s top team on the road, which would be a nice belt to wear.

North Carolina at #16 Miami (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

North Carolina was stifled by a solid defense last weekend and now faces another good one this weekend, only this time on the road. The Hurricanes may suffer from the hangover effect after last weekend’s heart-breaking loss to rival Florida State, however.

Southern Mississippi at LSU (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

No, this isn’t a typo. The Golden Eagles have already taken on an SEC team on the road and won. Granted, it was Kentucky, but Southern Miss has the offense to give LSU trouble.

Stanford at Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

Who would have guessed that neither one of these teams would be ranked by mid-October? Although no longer a game with any bearing on the Playoff picture, this one will still be an exciting matchup.

UCLA at Washington State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

You just have to throw up your hands at the Cougars. Lose to an FCS squad to start the season and then beat Stanford by 26 in October? Mike Leach is a wild card, for more than one reason.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Jared did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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