By Stewart Mandel
October 16, 2009
College Football Week 7
Friday, October 16
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) Pittsburgh (5-1) at Rutgers (4-1)
If you're wondering what happened to the Scarlet Knights after that opening-week embarrassment against Cincinnati, they've rolled off four straight wins ... against Howard, FIU, Maryland and Texas Southern. It's hard to tell whether they've really improved, but they're playing at home, in primetime, against a Panthers team coming off an emotional last-second win. Upset time.
Saturday, October 17
Noon ET (ABC) No. 3 Texas (5-0) vs. No. 20 Oklahoma (3-2)
The 'Horns have barely played anyone of note, but it's probably safe to assume their fourth-ranked defense is no fraud. Pass-rushers Sergio Kindle and Sam Acho will exploit Oklahoma's underwhelming offensive line. Sam Bradford will still be productive but won't have time to make downfield throws, whereas Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley figure to connect on some deep balls.
6 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 4 Virginia Tech (5-1) at No. 19 Georgia Tech (5-1)
Only a couple weeks ago, I figured this was a no-brainer Georgia Tech pick. But the Hokies' offense has really kicked into gear, averaging 429.3 yards in its past three games. The Yellow Jackets' defense, meanwhile, has been abysmal, ranking 82nd nationally at 385.2 yards allowed per game. Even if QB Josh Nesbitt causes the Hokies trouble, he's probably not going to get the help he needs.
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC) No. 6 USC (4-1) at No. 25 Notre Dame (4-1)
This year's Trojans lack the offensive firepower to put up their usual output against the Irish (an average of 40.6 points over the past seven meetings). They do, however, boast another fast, disruptive defense that figures to render Notre Dame one-dimensional. Irish QB Jimmy Clausen is playing phenomenally, but he can only do so much, whereas USC can wear down ND with its rushing attack.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 22 South Carolina (5-1) at No. 2 Alabama (6-0)
How big is the disparity in the SEC? South Carolina may well be the league's third-best team, yet the Crimson Tide are 17-point favorites. The Gamecocks have a heck of a defense, but they can only slow down 'Bama rushers Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson for so long. Nick Saban's defense, on the other hand, could have a field day with Steve Spurrier's 63rd-ranked offense.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Arkansas (3-2) at No. 1 Florida (5-0)
It's no secret this has all the makings of a "Trap Game" for Florida. But while the Gators' top-ranked defense may slip up a time or two and allow a couple big plays by QB Ryan Mallett, it figures to spend more of the day teeing off on him in the pocket. Florida's offense, meanwhile, won't play so close to the vest against Arkansas' vulnerable defense. Look for more option-type plays from Tim Tebow.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 11 Iowa (6-0) at Wisconsin (5-1)
These are two fairly evenly matched teams with an extremely even rivalry (the all-time record stands at 41-41-2). The two quarterbacks, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, are similarly talented. The difference-maker, however, could be the Badgers' star running back, John Clay (106.8 yards per game), who can grind out yards and help Wisconsin avoid costly turnovers.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Texas Tech (4-2) at No. 15 Nebraska (4-1)
The Huskers showed against Missouri they can slow down a high-octane offense with their ferocious front four. But it's still unrealistic to think they'll hold the Red Raiders to 12 points, which means Nebraska's offense will need to be more productive than it was against the Tigers. Look for a big game from running back Roy Helu Jr, which will also help keep Mike Leach's offense off the field.
7:30 p.m. ET (Versus) Stanford (4-2) at Arizona (3-2)
The Wildcats suffered a heart-wrenching defeat on the "Immaculate Interception" (or, according to 'Cats fans, "incompletion") last week at Washington. However, don't overlook the fact that 'Zona quarterback Nick Foles has been a revelation since taking over as starter, completing 73.6 percent of his passes for 638 yards his past two games. Stanford will slow him down slightly, but not enough.
9:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Missouri (4-1) at No. 16 Oklahoma State (4-1)
Upset Special: Both teams are dealing with adversity. How will the Tigers respond from last week's crushing loss to Nebraska? How good can the Cowboys be without stars Dez Bryant (suspended) and Kendall Hunter (injured)? The reality is, Oklahoma State's offense is still plenty powerful -- but its defense has been a liability. Look for Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert to exact revenge for last year's loss in Columbia.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Overall: 32-28

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