College Football Week 7 Preview
Undefeated teams try to keep rolling, while one-loss schools try to stay in conference-title hunts. Here's a preview of the most interesting college football games of Week 7:
Saturday, October 14
Can Texas Tech Keep Rolling?
(24) Texas Tech at West Virginia | Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.V.; 12 p.m. (ET) on ESPNU
Texas Tech (4–1, 1–1 Big 12) is ranked for the first time since late 2013. The Red Raiders have used a more balanced offense this season, often running the ball as effectively as passing it. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury needs that to continue on Saturday against Big 12 foe West Virginia (3–2, 1–1), a team whose two losses were to high-ranked teams Virginia Tech and TCU -- by identical 31–24 scores.
The Texas Tech defense must contain Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier. He and WVU receiver David Sills V are easily the best talent the Red Raiders have faced this season. If Kingsbury & Co. can win this game, they'll deserve a boost in the rankings.
Will Miami or Georgia Tech Win a Key ACC Battle?
Georgia Tech at (11) Miami | Hard Rock Stadium, Miami; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
It still seems early for a game to have conference title implications, but Georgia Tech (3–1, 2–0 ACC) and Miami (4–0, 2–0) are tied atop the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division standings. The winner of this Saturday's game has a direct path to the conference title game and, perhaps, a date with Clemson. One of these teams will take a big step forward on Saturday; the other will backslide.
The Hurricanes will need to win without star running back Mark Walton, who is out for the season after suffering an ankle injury in last week's win over Florida State. Travis Homer will replace Walton and hope to gash the Yellow Jackets defense. Tech has only one loss, a heartbreaking 42–41 double-overtime defeat to Tennessee. Expect quarterback TaQuon Marshall to lead the charge on Saturday. Miami head coach Mark Richt is 14–2 against the Yellow Jackets in his career.
Oklahoma Needs to Win the Red River Showdown
(12) Oklahoma at Texas | Cotton Bowl, Dallas; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Longtime rivals Texas (3–2, 2–0 Big 12) and No. 12 Oklahoma (4–1, 1–1) hold their annual meeting at the Cotton Bowl this Saturday. The wacky new fried food available at the nearby Texas State Fair isn't the only thing new to this rivalry: both head coaches -- Lincoln Riley of the Sooners and Tom Herman of the Longhorns -- will be coaching in the game for the first time. That hasn't happened since 1947 (Texas' Blair Cherry and Oklahoma's Bud Wilkinson).
While both teams want to win, the Sooners and Baker Mayfield need to show that their upset loss to Iowa State last week was a hiccup in a great season. They'll have to beat the Longhorns, who have played very well since a season-opening loss to Maryland and an overtime loss to USC. If Oklahoma can't contain Texas quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger, the Sooners will be in danger of falling out of the AP rankings.
USC & Utah Try to Take Away Each Other's Pac-12 Title Hopes
Utah at (13) USC | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles; 8 p.m. (ET) at ABC
Both No. 13 USC (5–1, 3–1 Pac 12) and unranked Utah (4–1, 1–1) can put up points; they average 35.5 and 32 points per game, respectively. However, it's their ball-hawking defenses that make both of these teams such a tough opponent. The Trojans have 15 turnovers, while the Utes have 14.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown nine interceptions already this season. If that total increases, the Trojans might be in trouble. Conversely, whether it's Troy Williams, who quarterbacked Utah in last week's loss to Stanford, or Tyler Huntley, who was injured at Arizona a few weeks ago, the Utes need to take care of the football to win.
Will San Diego State Go Undefeated?
Boise State at (19) San Diego State | SDCCU Stadium, San Diego; 10:30 p.m. (ET) on
Led by the NCAA's second-leading rusher, Rashaad Penny, No. 19 San Diego State (6–0, 2–0 Mountain West) has become a dark-horse contender in the college football playoff chase. Boise State (3–2, 1–0), which forced eighth-ranked Washington State to triple-overtime before losing, is the last good team standing between the Aztecs and a potentially undefeated regular season.
Over the past 15 years, the Broncos have become the team that Power 5 conferences want to avoid. Boise State needs the quarterback duo of Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart to create pressure on the San Diego State defense -- and make the Aztecs offense try to keep up without Penny and the ground game. If the Broncos can't control tempo, SDSU should march on to perfection, creating a tough choice for pollsters in December.