On paper, college football's seventh week may just play out as the season's best. An astonishing six games in this weekend's lineup match ranked teams against one another. Five of these contents have serious conference championship implications, while the last could make or break USC (and transitively Ohio State)'s entire season.
For a second straight weekend, your gambling guru managed a 6-2 showing, bringing my two week season long total to 12-4 (an astonishing 75% percentage. BE ON THE LOOK SOON FOR MY COLD HARD PLATINUM LOCK OF THE WEEK!!). Lady luck's bound to spit on my face eventually, but even until then, remember to bet at your own discretion.
Thursday - #7 Cincinnati at #19 South Florida (+1.5) 7:30 p.m. - ESPN
Seriously, how many Thursday evening games have we profiled this year? The scheduling powers that be at the TWWL offer us another gem as Ohio's other BCS conference team takes on Jim Leavitt and fellow unbeaten South Florida. Rutgers/Cincy back in week one proved to be all hype and little substance, but this one has all the makings of a real slugfest. Despite the proclamations from bloggers and talking heads alike that "these Thursday night games ALWAYS lead to big upsets", USF's 43rd ranked offense won't have quite enough fire power to keep up with Cincinnati's 30th as the Bearcats stay a national title dark horse 34-28.
#22 Oklahoma vs. #3 Texas (-3) 12:00 p.m. - ABC
One of the weekend's marquee games and a rivalry game to boot, Oklahoma travels to the Texas State Fair to toe off with the #3 Longhorns (and slam some of these). While Colt McCoy's played at a relatively high level, in the estimations of many, the preseason Heisman candidate hasn't even been the best player on his own offense (see: Shipley, Jordan). Sam Bradford's second game back from injury will be a potential season saver, as an Oklahoma upset will get the Sooners back in line for a Big 12 Championship Game berth. As this week's spread has shrunk from 4 to 3.5 to 3, so has my pessimism about the Horns. Despite high expectations going into the year, Texas goes down to the nation's best 2-loss team 35-31.
#6 USC at #25 Notre Dame (+11) 3:30 p.m. - NBC
This game has an unusually un-USC v. Notre Dame feel going into it compared to other recent years' matchups. Despite a stout D, USC's offense seems on the precipice of getting a freshman moment from Matt Barkley at a moment's notice. Notre Dame has flashes of brilliance, but a suspect D has left every game the Irish have played since the Michigan one a close call. While every bit of common sense would tell you that the Trojan would be tight going into this one, somebody forgot to let Pete Carroll and co. know they should be. With this game potentially serving as a potential play-on for Charlie Weis' future in South Bend, I'll say the final is closer than the spread would indicate, but the result still with USC leaving victorious 31-27.
#4 Virginia Tech at #17 Georgia Tech (+3) 6:00 p.m. - ESPN2
After punting zero times last weekend, Paul Johnson's Wramblin' Wreck host buzz team du jour Va Tech. Tyrod Taylor, who suddenly's giving every Terrelle Pryor doubter hope for the future, will have to keep the turnovers to a minimum. Despite a defense with little prospects of stopping anyone, GT's offense is capable of putting points on the board virtually every time they possess the ball. While we've seen all too closely what the flexbone attack can do to even the most skilled of defensive lines, if anyone can slow Jonathan Dwyer and Josh Nesbitt, it's this Hokie D. Bud Foster's blitzes prove too much as Virginia Tech takes this one 37-27.
#21 South Carolina at #1 Alabama (-17) 7:45 p.m. - ESPN
This one's a rather difficult contest to get a read on. While on one hand this one has every bit the potential to be another LSU/Florida, the Georgia-South Carolina possibilities loom as well. Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram give Alabama a versatile running attack with Julio Jones somewhat not living up to lofty expectations this season, while South Carolina keeps riding Stephen Garcia's groove train. Alabama should continue their unbeaten streak, though OBC proves more than game for the challenge falling short in one of those closer-than-the-score-indicates 27-13 showings.
Big Ten Games
#9 Iowa at Wisconsin (+1) 12:00 p.m. - ESPN or ESPN2 (Regional)
Despite this weekend's slate being rather loaded, this weekend's Big Ten group doesn't exactly take the cake for its strength in numbers. Iowa/Wisconsin could prove to be the best of the bunch, with many Vegas books making Bucky Badger as many as three point favorites. Coming off a second huge, emotional night win on the season, the Hawkeyes may prove just ripe for the picking. Wisconsin brings to the table a viable offense, and if anything, a rather stout ability to kill massive amounts of time. The over/under on this one is 48 (Hint: take the under). Even with Wisconsin looking like a trendy upset pick, Iowa holds off the Badgers in Madison 17-13.
Northwestern at Michigan State (-13.5) 12:00 p.m. - ESPN or ESPN 2 (Regional)
In years past, this one could've served a potential track meet. However, with both of these clubs not living up to expectations, this game will likely only be caught by those at the most lavish of sports bars. Mike Kafka hasn't exactly metamorphosized into the dual threat some thought he would, while Sparty themselves have struggled to find consistency under center from Kirk Cousins. With the Spartans' Glenn Winston season ending injury mucking up the MSU running back rotation, look for Northwestern to cover but Sparty escape 34-31.
Minnesota at #15 Penn State (-14.5) 3:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN (Regional)
Funny what one monumental let down game can do for you. Going into the season, Penn State was a trendy Big Ten championship pick, and at times in the first several weeks looked every bit capable on improving upon last season's 11-2 showing. After going down at home against the Hawkeyes, most have simply written the Nittany Lions off. However, should this group ever get healthy and in rhythm, very few teams in the country will be able to stop them. Minnesota's once vaunted passing attack's also failed to meet expectations, to say the least. Last weekend Adam Weber looked positively pedestrian going just 5/9 for 74 yards, 0 TDs, and a whopping 2 INTs. It's hard to think the Weber to Decker combo gets back in rhythm against the PSU D, and despite a daunting spread, Penn State takes it 31-14.