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Week 7 Pickoff: Oregon-Washington, Florida-LSU; more

Photo: Jackson Laizure/Getty Images

Quarterback Blake Bell and Oklahoma have outscored Texas 118-38 in the programs' last two meetings.

Can Oregon beat upset-minded Washington? Will Oklahoma continue its recent dominance in the Red River Rivalry? Can Florida keep pace with LSU in a key SEC clash?

My picks for all of this week's top games are below. For more Week 7 walk-up coverage, check out the Mailbag, Andy Staples' Walkthrough, Pete Thamel's look at the Texas athletic department and Ben Glicksman's story on Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum's ACL recovery.

Thursday, Oct. 10
 
7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Rutgers (4-1) at No. 8 Louisville (5-0)
At No. 54 in Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Rutgers is the second-highest ranked team Louisville will face this season, behind only No. 31 UCF. Quarterback Gary Nova is talented enough to pose problems for the Cardinals' largely untested D. But that's nothing compared to the damage Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (16 touchdowns, one interception) will inflict on Rutgers' 66th-ranked pass efficiency defense.
 
10:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1) Arizona (3-1) at USC (3-2)
It's Ed Orgeron's USC head-coaching debut, and expect the former defensive line coach to be up in his guys' grills as they prepare to slow down Ka'Deem Carey (143.7 yards per game) and the Wildcats' rushing attack. Yet Arizona is too one-dimensional to pull off what rival Arizona State did in Lane Kiffin's final game. The return of tailback Silas Redd should help spark the Trojans' improving offense.
 
Saturday, Oct. 12
 
Noon ET (ABC) No. 12 Oklahoma (5-0) vs. Texas (3-2) in Dallas
Rarely will you see a rivalry game where one team's fan base (Texas) has already conceded not just defeat, but a presumed blowout. But Oklahoma's offense is not as high-powered as the ones that put up 50-plus points on Mack Brown's previous teams. The Sooners will stick largely to the ground, where Texas' defense has thus far been inept, and pressure 'Horns quarterback Case McCoy.
 
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 25 Missouri (5-0) at No. 7 Georgia (4-1)
The Bulldogs' rash of injuries screams potential upset. If the game were in Columbia, it might be a no-brainer. But while Georgia may be stripped of its top backs and receivers, quarterback Aaron Murray, fullback Quayvon Hicks and tight end Arthur Lynch are capable of wearing down Mizzou's 53rd-ranked D (5.36 yards per play). The Dawgs can finish drives with powerful kicker Marshall Morgan.
 
Noon ET (ESPNU) Pittsburgh (3-1) at No. 24 Virginia Tech (5-1)
Pitt quarterback Tom Savage and talented wideouts Devin Street (111.2 yards per game) and Tyler Boyd (106.2) form a potent passing attack. Unfortunately, the Panthers will face a loaded Hokies' defense that has thus far silenced opposing passers (48.5 completion percentage, 13 interceptions). Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas has completed 71.7 percent of his attempts the past two games.
 
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) No. 19 Northwestern (4-1) at Wisconsin (3-2)
Northwestern may be best team in the Big Ten's Legends Division, but it opens conference play against the two best teams from the Leaders. Coming off a heartbreaking home loss against Ohio State in which tailback Carlos Hyde overpowered the Wildcats in the second half, Pat Fitzgerald's team will struggle to contain the Badgers' powerful rushing attack (300.6 yards per game).
 
3:30 ET (CBS) No. 17 Florida (4-1) at No. 10 LSU (5-1)
Amazing but true stat: Florida has held 12 straight SEC opponents to 20 points or fewer. LSU is currently averaging more than twice that amount (45.5). It will be interesting to see whether Les Miles and Cam Cameron allow quarterback Zach Mettenberger (289.7 yards per game) to keep airing it out against such a punishing D. Either way, Florida doesn't have the firepower to pull this one out on the road.
 
3:30 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 15 Baylor (4-0) at Kansas State (2-3)
The Barnum & Bailey Circus ... er, the Baylor offense will take its show on the road for the first time this year, and in doing so, will face its first opposing defense ranked in the top 80 nationally. K-State checks in at No. 37 (5.1 yards per play). Maybe this means the Bears don't get off to their typical 28-points-in-the-first-quarter start, but the Wildcats' limited offense won't stay in the game for long.
 
5 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 18 Michigan (5-0) at Penn State (3-2)
Michigan will play just its second road game, and the first one, at UConn, was a near-disaster. So it's reasonable to wonder whether quarterback Devin Gardner will turn the ball over too many times in always-raucous Beaver Stadium. But the Nittany Lions, coming off a 44-24 loss at Indiana, just don't have the pieces outside of receiver Allen Robinson. All Penn State can do is keep it interesting.
 
6 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network) No. 5 Stanford (5-0) at Utah (3-2)
The Utes are going to pull off a Pac-12 upset at some point. They came close against both Oregon State and UCLA. But the Cardinal don't fit the mold. Their stout front seven, led by defensive end Ben Gardner and linebacker Trent Murphy, won't allow Utah quarterback Travis Wilson to have a big game. Stanford's Kevin Hogan will take shots downfield against the Utes' 74th-ranked pass defense.
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 9 Texas A&M (4-1) at Ole Miss (3-2)
The Rebels' season has taken the wrong trajectory, and facing Johnny Manziel and A&M coming off a bye week hardly seems the recipe for regaining momentum. Granted, the Aggies' young defense has struggled (No. 112 nationally) and will likely give up its share of points, but Manziel, Mike Evans, Ben Malena and the gang should move the ball at will as they have all season.
 
*UPSET SPECIAL*
 
4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1) No. 2 Oregon (5-0) at No. 16 Washington (4-1)
The Huskies are for real. They showed that at Stanford. Now battle-tested and returning home, they face an Oregon squad that's yet to play a four-quarter game. Washington's third-ranked defense (3.9 yards per play) won't shut down Ducks star Marcus Mariota, but it'll force some three-and-outs. Keith Price (71.3 completion percentage) and Bishop Sankey (146.4 yards) will do their part in a track meet.
 
Record Last Week: 9-3               Record This Season: 51-15
 

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