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Sport College football Week 7 primer: Heisman Watch, upset picks, predictions and more

18:55  11 october  2019
18:55  11 october  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Week 7 of the college football season could serve as the first Separation Saturday given there are four matchups between top-25 teams.

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No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Texas meet in the Red River Rivalry (noon, FOX) in a game with huge Big 12 implications. No. 24 Texas A&M hosts No. 1 Alabama (3:30 p.m., CBS) in the CBS afternoon slot. Primetime features another top-10 SEC showdown between No. 5 LSU and No. 7 Florida (8 p.m., ESPN). There also i s a Big Ten matchup between No. 10 Penn State and No. 17 Iowa (7:30 p.m., ABC). It's a loaded weekend.

Every week, Sporting News will survey the landscape looking for Heisman contenders, coaches on the spot, upset alerts and other trends. With that in mind, get ready for Week 7.

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WEEK 7 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

Heisman watch

Three quarterbacks in the FBS have a passer rating of more than 200 heading into Week 7, and they are the three quarterbacks at the top of the Heisman Trophy discussion.

Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (231.3) leads the way heading into his first Red River Rivalry matchup against Texas, and he's compiled 21 TDs through five games. If Hurts wants to join Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma, then this is the game to do put a signature on it.

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (225.1) is a close second, and he's been even better this season with a 23 TDs and no interceptions. If Alabama carves up Texas A&M on the road and Tagovailoa throws five or six TDs – which he's done in the last three games – then he can close the gap.

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Then there's LSU's Joe Burrow (216.2), who leads the nation's top-scoring offense (54.6) against a Florida defense that allows just 9.5 points per game. Burrow lit up Texas for 471 yards and four TDs with one interception on Sept. 7. If he does that against the Gators, then he would emerge as the front-runner.

These are the kind of games the Heisman voters remember most.

MORE: College football teams to bet on with confidence in Week 7

Coach on the spot

Clay Helton heads into the matchup against Notre Dame in an interesting spot. The Trojans are 3-2 despite starting three different quarterbacks, and either Kevon Slovis or Matt Fink will start against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday. The Trojans have lost the last two meetings to the Irish by 21 points per game and have not won at Notre Dame Stadium since 2011.

Does Helton have to win this game? Probably not. But if the Trojans get blasted here then lose to No. 13 Oregon and No. 18 Arizona State on the back half of the schedule, then the only drama left will be whether USC can get to six wins and make a bowl game.

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Would a bowl game be enough to save Helton's job? It's hard to say, but this is the biggest game left on the schedule; the one the booster and new athletic director (whoever that is) will keyed on most.

If it's three touchdowns or more, then Helton will be in big trouble.

BETTING PREVIEWS: LSU vs. Florida | Alabama vs. Texas A&M

Upset alert

Two ACC games to keep an eye on this weekend:

Virginia opened as a one-point underdog to Miami, and the line has jumped to 2.5 according to odds at Sportsbook Review. The Cavaliers were the preseason pick to win the ACC Coastal Division, and this is the game to prove it. We like the Cavaliers to win this game outright.

Wake Forest is 5-0, and the Demon Deacons are led by a super-efficient quarterback in Jamie Newman (14 TDs, three interceptions). The Cardinals, meanwhile, likely will start Malik Cunningham, who has worked out in Scott Satterfield's offense.

Both teams average more than 30 points per game, and the Deacons' defense has been a little bit better. It still feels like a shootout that the Cardinals can steal if they take it to the fourth quarter.

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BETTING PREVIEWS: Texas vs. Oklahoma | USC vs. Notre Dame

Over/under

Florida-LSU is the fourth top-10 showdown of the season. We had No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Texas in Week 2, No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 3 Georgia in Week 4 and No. 7 Auburn at No. 10 Florida last week.

With that, we ask two questions. How many more will we get? Will there be a top-five showdown in the regular season? Going strictly by this week's rankings the remaining top-10 games on the schedule would be No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State (Oct. 26), No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 7 Florida (Nov. 2), No. 5 LSU at No. 1 Alabama (Nov. 9) and No. 10 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State (Nov. 23).

The rankings might change to create more or less, but if the chalk holds one thing is clear.

Alabama-LSU looks like the game of the year.

Think about it …

If it's not Alabama-LSU, then it might be Ohio State-Penn State.

The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are the only two FBS schools that rank in the top five in scoring offense and scoring defense. Ohio State averages 49.3 points per game and allows 8.8 points per game. Penn State averages 47.0 points per game and allows 7.4 points per game.

The Buckeyes are on bye week, so the Nittany Lions get a chance to prove it at Iowa and Kinnick Stadium. Penn State needed a last-second TD pass from Trace McSorley to Juwan Johnson to win their last visit there in 2017, and that prime-time matchup will offer the nation a look at Sean Clifford. The Nittany Lions quarterback averages 331 passing yards with six TDs and two interceptions in Big Ten play.

With a win at Iowa, Penn State will be on your radar heading into the “Whiteout” against Michigan in Week 8.

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