2023 NCAAF: Week 7 Preview

October 12, 2023

Weekly reminder – do not take betting advice from K. Becks.

Once again Around The Corn was horrible at prognosticating the weekend results, going 1-4 straight up and ATS last Saturday.

Great games all around, yes, but difficult to predict.

As with any upcoming weekend, the possibility of better results looks bright, but as we creep towards mid-October, things only get more difficult as every team in the country has enough film on each other to keep things interesting.

Before we take a look at what is happening during Week 7, let’s rewind the headlines from the previous weekend.

3 Things We Learned in Week 6

The country needs a Red River Rivalry rematch in December

What. A. Game. The final pre-scheduled Red River Rivalry in the Big 12 did not disappoint from a neutral perspective and has left us all wanting more. Dillon Gabriel’s late game heroics were a throwback to what he was able to accomplish while at Central Florida, and it was nice to see him finally shine on the big stage in an Oklahoma uniform.

Despite the loss, Texas still looks like a CFP contender and likely would split the wins with Oklahoma if this year’s squads played each other ten times. While we won’t get that, is it too much to ask for a Round 2 in the Big 12 title game?

The Pac-12 cannibalization is underway

Washington State took down Oregon State. Utah took down UCLA. Oregon State tool down Utah. UCLA took down Washington State. And the list will go on.

The Pac-12 looks like the strongest conference in the country this season, but once again its balance is resulting in unbeaten teams being knocked off one by one. By default, there will be another victim at the end of Week 7 when Oregon and Washington finish. In the past this has taken the conference completely out of CFP contention, though the conference looks too good to be left out entirely this year. We can only hope, at least – it would be a shame if the Conference of Champions goes out with a whimper, considering how this season has started for the league.

Forget what was written about Georgia prior to Week 6

OK, so we may have jumped the gun a bit on questioning Georgia’s dominance this season. The Bulldogs put that to bed for the time being, destroying a Kentucky team that had looked quite impressive just one week earlier.

Like his mentor, Kirby Smart has a knack for getting the best out of his players when he really needs it. No unit is struggling uncharacteristically, and Carson Beck has settled well into his role as orchestrator of an offensive machine. Georgia is fine, and it will still take a monumental effort to end the country’s longest active winning streak.

5 Games You Need to Watch This Weekend

#8 Oregon at #7 Washington (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – ABC)

One of the most played rivalries in the history of college football, Oregon and Washington have met up 114 previous times and yet edition No. 115 will be the first time that both programs are ranked in the top ten of the AP poll when facing each other. Both offenses have been prolific this season and are led by early Heisman Trophy candidates (Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr.).

While offense should certainly play its part in this game, defense and turnovers could make the biggest difference. Oregon has turned the ball over just once this season compared with Washington’s five, and the Ducks’ defense is oft forgotten as one of the best in the West thanks to the offense. Few teams have the defensive prowess to slow down Washington’s offense enough to beat the Huskies; Oregon is one of them.

My Pick: 41-37 Oregon (covers +3 spread)

Wyoming at Air Force (Saturday, 7 PM ET – CBS Sports Network)

Sadly, this game won’t be accessible on television to many, but if you still have a traditional cable package then CBSSN should be available to you. Air Force not being ranked in the Top 25, as well as not receiving the accolades that the other service academies would receive if they started 5-0, are both criminal offenses. The Falcons boast the nation’s top rush offense (fairly predictable) and the nation’s second ranked rush defense (surprising).

Wyoming has quietly beaten a Big 12 opponent (Texas Tech), a previously ranked Fresno State squad and held its own against Texas in Austin for a half. Quarterback Andrew Peasley is a gamer and can hurt you with both his legs and arm. While Air Force will look to take the wind out of Wyoming’s offense attack simply by keeping the ball away, Peasley is the type of leader that simply wills his team to victory. Expect this one to come down to the wire.

My Pick: 31-28 Air Force (does not cover -10.5 spread)

#10 Southern Cal at #21 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET – NBC/Peacock)

The Fighting Irish were exposed on the ground for a second straight week, allowing over 180 yards rushing to a Louisville team that was able to do what Duke nearly accomplished seven days earlier in beating Notre Dame. While this nearly assures that Marcus Freeman’s team will not be playing in the CFP this season, the more immediate issue is that Southern Cal’s rushing attack has accounted for nearly 43 percent of the team’s total touchdowns (40) this season.

The Trojans have had trouble stopping just about any team with a halfway capable offense, and in the last two weeks alone have allowed over 1,000 yards in total to the opposition. This isn’t good, but what’s worse is that the opposition (Arizona and Colorado) didn’t play much defense, either. If the Fighting Irish can shore up the issues stopping the run, seemingly quite possible given the personnel, then Notre Dame can upend a Southern Cal team that has been flirting with defeat for the past half month.

My Pick: 33-28 Notre Dame (covers -2.5 spread)

#25 Miami (FL) at #12 North Carolina (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET – ABC)

This game should be a battle of unbeatens, but Miami’s highly questionable play-calling late in last weekend’s game against Georgia Tech spoiled that. The Hurricanes reward for the possible blunder of the season? A date with North Carolina, the only other team in the ACC averaging over 500 yards of offense per contest.

The showdown between Drake Maye and Tyler Van Dyke should be a fun one, though Miami has been dangerous on the ground this season and may opt to take the ball out of Maye’s hands by controlling the clock. Arguably, Miami’s best chance of winning this game is if Maye is pedestrian and the Hurricanes are able to utilize its stable of running backs often in order to produce points. So far this season, North Carolina has not been held to under 30 passing attempts in a single game.

My Pick: 35-30 North Carolina (covers -3.5 spread)

#18 UCLA at #15 Oregon State (Saturday, 8 PM ET – FOX)

The Bruins got the job done against Washington State last weekend, but it was ugly. Six total turnovers in the game, four by Washington State, allowed UCLA to win a game it probably would not have had the Cougars played more cleanly. Given UCLA’s opportunistic defense, it would not be surprising to see Oregon State employ a conservative gameplan offensively, limiting DJ Uiagalelei’s chances of committing costly turnovers.

As good as Dante Moore may end up being at UCLA, his performances in the Bruins’ biggest games this season have been a reminder that he is still a true freshman. Oregon State has already shown what it can do against young quarterbacks (see: Utah), and while Moore is a more capable passer, he is still prone to mistakes. If the Beavers rattle the young signal-caller, they could roll.

My Pick: 24-14 Oregon State (covers -3.5 spread)

5 Games to Keep an Eye On This Weekend

Tulane at Memphis (Friday, 7 PM ET – ESPN)

The new-look AAC has struggled as a whole so far this season, but both of these teams have pretty much lived up to expectations. The winner of this game takes control of first place in the conference.

Texas A&M at #19 Tennessee (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – CBS)

The SEC’s top ranked rush defense (Texas A&M) will try to slow down the conference’s top ranked rush offense (Tennessee), one week after the Aggies held Alabama to just 23 yards on the ground.

#14 Louisville at Pittsburgh (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET – CW Network)

The Panthers are overdue to score a home upset over a ranked opponent. That kind of thing is how Pat Narduzzi seems to retain his job, after all.

Missouri at #24 Kentucky (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET – SEC Network)

Both of these teams will look to bounce back from disappointing losses against SEC bluebloods the previous weekend. The winner is probably in the Top 25 on Sunday; the loser slips back towards national irrelevance.

North Carolina State at #17 Duke (Saturday, 8 PM ET – ACC Network)

The status of Riley Leonard is still up in the air, but Duke’s defense should still keep the Blue Devils competitive even if the shifty quarterback is unable to play.

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