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  • Will Oklahoma get back on track against Texas? Will those hideous uniforms help Florida's cause against Texas A&M? Our experts make their predictions for Saturday's top matchups.
By The SI Staff
October 12, 2017

After this weekend, nearly every team will have played 50% of its regular season schedule, but there’s still one last first-half statement to make. Will Tennessee spare Butch Jones a midseason dismissal by taking care of business against South Carolina at home? Will Texas hand its bitter rival a second consecutive loss by pulling an upset in the Red River Rivalry? Can USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold assert their Pac-12 South supremacy with a tricky Utah team coming to town?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 7’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 58–18 (76.3%)
Molly Geary: 54–22 (71.1%)
Andy Staples: 54–22 (71.1%)
Eric Single: 51–25 (67.1%)
Bruce Feldman: 46–23 (66.7%)
Scooby Axson: 41–21 (66.1%)
Joan Niesen: 50–26 (65.8%)

South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, ESPN)

Chris Johnson picks Tennessee: A quarterback change (junior Quinten Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano in) could provide the spark the Volunteers need to get their season back on track after a bye week. With Tennessee fans still recovering from the psychological trauma caused by that 41–0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, this feels like a must-win for Butch Jones.​

Texas Tech at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPNU)

Scooby Axson picks West Virginia: Nothing has changed for Texas Tech, as the Raiders again sit among the national leaders in total offense. But West Virginia is battle-tested—both of their losses have come by seven points to top 25 foes. A shootout is expected, so the Mountaineers get the nod at home. ​

TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks TCU: If Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz is still banged up, the Wildcats could be fairly one-dimensional on offense. That’s bad news with TCU’s defense coming to Manhattan.​

Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Auburn: LSU got a much-needed win on the road last week, edging out Florida. That provided a nice jolt of confidence for a young team that had to play four freshmen O-linemen. The Tigers are stronger up front on defense than they’ve been at any point this season with Frank Herron returning and Arden Key seeming to have played his way into shape, but I still think LSU is too shorthanded in the passing game with Danny Etling to be able to knock off a talented Auburn team that is surging now that Jarrett Stidham has settled in, throwing five TDs and no picks in his last three games.​

Oklahoma vs. Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: The Sooners' loss to Iowa State was little more than a fluke—the kind of game that happens to every team in college football except maybe Alabama or Clemson—and although Texas has improved enough to make this one close, Oklahoma is still the far better team. ​

Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Hurricanes’ last-minute win over Florida State came at a price—running back Mark Walton was lost for the year, and standout receiver Ahmmon Richards has been limited this week in practice. The Yellow Jackets are a bad opponent to face when a team is still coming down off the emotional high of a win over a rival.

Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: Let by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who already has nine rushing TDs on the season, the Badgers win games on the ground rather than through the air. The Boilermakers have made huge strides under Jeff Brohm, but their 65th-ranked rush defense won’t be the one to stop Wisconsin.

Navy at Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Chris Johnson picks Memphis: Navy’s clock-eating running game may seem like the perfect antidote to Memphis’s high-powered offense, but the Midshipmen won’t be able to slow down the AAC’s top wide receiver–quarterback duo, Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller. This is the Tigers’ only remaining regular season game against a ranked opponent. Head coach Mike Norvell will have his guys ready.

Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Eric Single picks Texas A&M: Holding Alabama to 27 points might be more impressive than scoring 19 points on Alabama. Despite some garish early-season numbers, John Chavis’s defense still has some big-time playmakers on it. That unit should keep Florida searching for answers on offense.

Utah at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Andy Staples picks USC: The Utes may be able to slow USC’s run game, but they’ll need to force Sam Darnold to make mistakes to have a chance to keep pace with the Trojans.

Michigan State at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Bruce Feldman picks Minnesota: This feels like two teams heading in opposite directions—the Gophers coming in with consecutive losses to unranked opponents, Mark Dantonio’s young team riding high off a big road win over a rival. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing well and avoiding turnovers; he has thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks and also leads the team in rushing, but as improved as the Spartans are, my hunch is that inexperience catches up to them on the back end of a Big Ten road double.

Oregon at Stanford (11 p.m. ET, FS1)

Joan Niesen picks Stanford: Bryce Love is on a tear, and until that ceases to be the case, I'm picking Stanford. If the Cardinal can shut down Oregon’s passing game like it did Utah’s and keep up its excellent turnover margin, this is a very winnable game.

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