There are some very intriguing games on the slate in Week 7, including four clashes between ranked teams.
Below, our staff's writers and editors make their picks against the spread for Week 7, along with their best bet out of the games below.
Laken Litman: 38-31-3
Molly Geary: 36-33-1
Ross Dellenger: 35-34-3
Max Meyer: 35-34-3
Washington at Arizona (+6.5)
The Huskies just lost on the Farm, and the Wildcats have won four straight. QB Khalil Tate appears to have gotten back his swagger. This is a big one between teams from opposing Pac-12 divisions. Arizona is tied for the South lead, and UW can't afford another loss in what's expected to be a tight race in the North with Utah and Oregon. —Ross Dellenger
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas (+10.5)
This game will be closer than the betting line indicates. We know about Jalen Hurts. He’s the Heisman frontrunner, 31–2 as a starter, won a national championship with Alabama and is a better runner than he is a passer (but obviously, he’s very good at both, ranking among the top 25 rushers in the country and clocking in as the sixth-best passer in the nation). Texas is going to have trouble containing him no matter what he does.
But for all the hype surrounding another Oklahoma QB, Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger is a Heisman contender, too. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns passes to only two interceptions this season, is completing nearly 70% of his passes, ranks 13th nationally with 290 yards per game, and isn’t afraid to put the game on his shoulders when his team needs a win.
Defensively, neither team is winning any awards this season. The Sooners are better than they were last year under new coordinator Alex Grinch, while Texas’ secondary has been depleted by injuries. This game is going to come down to offense—just how the Big 12 likes it. Hurts and Ehlinger have opportunities for that signature “Heisman moment” with plenty of weapons at their disposal. Hurts leans on CeeDee Lamb, Charleston Rambo and Grand Calcaterra; while Ehlinger has Collin Johnson (who is expected to return after missing several games with a tweaked hamstring), Devin Duvernay and Roschon Johnson.
Texas won the Red River Showdown last regular season, but OU won the last meeting at the 2018 Big 12 Championship and booked itself a ticket to the College Football Playoff. This year, the No. 11 Longhorns are the underdog to the No. 6 Sooners and the winner will insert itself further into the CFP discussion. This is one of the best rivalries in sports and anything can happen. —Laken Litman
Washington State at No. 18 Arizona State: Over 59 Points
At first glance, I thought Arizona State’s 3-3-5 base defense would be ideal for neutralizing Washington State’s Air Raid. But the more I dug into ASU’s defense, the more concerned I became.
Arizona State’s defense is ranked 13th in S&P+, but this is a unit that feasted against an FCS team (Sacramento State) and offenses that rank 107th (Kent State) and 101st (Cal), but with Cal, the Sun Devils took advantage when starting QB Chase Garbers left the game due to injury (9.8 YPA vs. ASU) and backup QB Devon Modster came in (1.6 YPA vs. ASU).
ASU has also faced Michigan State (56th) and Colorado (eighth). The 10–7 win over Michigan State was misleading—MSU outgained ASU 5.5 yards per play to 4.2, and the Sun Devils were fortunate with three missed field goals and a Brian Lewerke lost fumble in ASU territory. Colorado, the one strong offense ASU has faced thus far, torched the Sun Devils in Tempe, winning 34–31 and racking up 6.8 yards per play (including 11.2 yards per attempt by quarterback Steven Montez). And that was with Colorado’s star wideout Laviska Shenault leaving in the middle of the game due to injury.
Arizona State has been strong at stopping the run and limiting big plays on the ground—allowing just 2.96 yards per carry (23rd in CFB) along with surrendering nine runs of 10 yards or more (tied for best mark in college football) and one run of 20 yards or more (tied for second). Defending opposing aerial attacks has been a different story, especially against competent quarterbacks. The Sun Devils have also given up a good amount of explosive plays through the air, as opponents have notched 19 plays of at least 20 yards (tied for 90th).
With Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense at Washington State, you know what you’re getting: A lot of passes and a lot of big gains. There are just two teams in the country that average 21 or more plays of at least 10 yards per game: Oklahoma and Washington State. If Garbers and Montez were shredding this secondary, good luck trying to contain Anthony Gordon, Max Borghi and Wazzu’s deep collection of receivers.
Washington State’s defense has been brutal of late. It allowed Utah to rack up 7.4 yards per play and UCLA picked up 8.8 YPP. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys is out, and now the Cougars are planning to simplify the defense with co-interim defensive coordinators Roc Bellantoni and Darcel McBath. For true freshman Jayden Daniels, it doesn’t get much better than facing an already struggling defense that is simplifying its scheme in front of your home fans.
The big key for Arizona State has been the improvement of its offensive line. Senior center Cohl Cabral missed the first couple of games due to injury, forcing true freshman Dohnovan West to replace him there. West was the only true freshman Week 1 starter at center in the entire country, and he was snapping to a true freshman quarterback. ASU’s offense struggled early on because its run blocking was poor and it let opposing rushers consistently pressure Daniels. Cabral returned at center and West was moved over to right guard, and ASU’s OL and offense has looked much better since then.
I absolutely think there’s value in the over here, and I’m expecting an afternoon shootout in the desert. And I wouldn’t fault you for taking Washington State moneyline, either. —Max Meyer
Washington State (+1) at No. 18 Arizona State
This line has moved in the Cougars direction after seeing the Sun Devils favored by as many as three points. Washington State's defense has struggled this year, and that's something the likes of Jayden Daniels and Eno Benjamin could exploit, but this comes down to me trusting the Wazzu offense more than ASU's. The Sun Devils are better at stopping the run than the pass, and have to attempt to slow the Air Raid and the nation's leading passer, Anthony Gordon.
It's fair to point to the Cougars' offensive struggles vs. Utah, also a team that is stronger defensively on the ground, but the Utes have been better at limiting big plays than Arizona State has. Utah has only given up 11 plays of 20 or more yards this season, tied for second-best in the country, while ASU ranks 39th with 20. And here's the big key: 19 of those 20 plays given up by the Sun Devils came through the air (which is tied for 90th nationally). The Wazzu offense, meanwhile, is 12th nationally with 36 plays of 20 or more yards, 32 of which came via the pass.
Washington State is coming off two tough losses (the wild UCLA comeback and a 38–13 loss to Utah), but has had two weeks of practice to stew over it without playing. The Cougars have not lost three straight since the end of the 2015 season and shouldn't be short on motivation; look for them to edge Arizona State in an afternoon battle in Tempe. —Molly Geary