We actually did pretty good in week 7. As is tradition, let’s start with our recap of last week’s predictions:
Mitchell Evans torches USC for over 150 receiving yards – Big whiff here. Evans finished with two catches for 13 yards.
Bo Nix and Michael Penix combine to throw for over 900 yards – Not close on this one either. Nix and Penix combined for just over 600 passing yards.
Iowa and Wisconsin score a combined three touchdowns or less – Nailed it! They scored 21 points but only seven came via a touchdown.
Arkansas takes Alabama to the wire – Arkansas fell by just three points and had a chance to upset Alabama. I would call this another win.
Miami kneels the ball to win the game – You can’t kneel to win the game if you get blown out.
Let’s keep with our hot streak. I can’t say I’m super confident with my picks today but we’re trusting our gut.
UCF Gives Oklahoma a Scare – This pick is purely based on my gut. John Rhys Plumlee is coming back from a leg injury and is expected to start against Oklahoma. Timmy McClain has done a serviceable job in place of Plumlee, but he does not provide the dynamic threat with his legs like Plumlee does. This game is being played in Norman, Oklahoma, which should help Oklahoma avoid a significant upset. The spread has dropped two full points this week, down to 17 points in favor of Oklahoma. The Sooners are also coming off a bye week after defeating Texas in the Red River Rivalry. I expect Oklahoma to start slowly due to a potential hangover from the previous win and the additional week off. UCF will likely take this game into the fourth quarter before Oklahoma eventually pulls away. Dillon Gabriel and his team will have too much talent and should be able to put the game away, possibly even covering the spread over UCF.
Iowa Wins, Doesn’t score a touchdown – Is this even a bold prediction at this point? Deacon Hill threw for less than 50 yards, and Iowa still won the game. Iowa’s passing attack is less efficient than the service academies, which rarely ever throw the ball. Hill attempted just 14 passes last week, and it should be a similar number this weekend. Minnesota’s defense is not incredible by any means, but it is serviceable. They can prevent Hill from passing the ball downfield and also do enough in the run game to limit the Hawkeyes. Iowa consistently ranks as one of the worst offenses in the country year after year. The defense is the sole hope for Iowa to score a touchdown in this game, and it’s the only reason I am uncertain about this prediction. Iowa’s offense ranks 131st in passing, just ahead of Air Force and Navy (though behind Army). The Hawkeyes are averaging 20.9 points per game, including their tune-up games. Averaging 20.9 points per game ranks them 110th this season. I find it hard to envision Iowa scoring many points for the rest of the season.
Utah forces 4 Caleb Williams’ turnovers – Caleb Williams is coming off arguably his worst game of his college career, he has to have a bounce back game right? Wrong. Notre Dame dialed up pressure and was able to keep Williams from escaping the pocket to move downfield with his legs. It is the recipe for success to beating USC which is much easier said than done. Caleb Williams has struggled against top 25 defenses and also been unable to beat Utah. The Utes defeated USC twice last season and the blew out the Trojans in the PAC-12 Championship. Utah owns the fifth ranked scoring defense and also ranks ninth in total defense. The Utes defense should be able to force consistent pressure which will create mistakes from Williams. Utah’s defense has been nasty and tenacious all season and this trend should continue on Saturday. Kyle Whittingham’s team has force 10 turnovers in six games showing a knack for finding the ball. Look for them to force four more from Williams after getting creative with pressure.
Ohio State and Penn State combine for 2 special team’s touchdowns – I posted on twitter earlier this week how weird things tend to happen in this matchup. Ohio State and Penn State always find a way to keep us entertained and the games are always exciting. Ohio State has one of the worst special teams in the country is is prone to giving up big plays. Penn State made a huge special teams play in 2016 to block and kick and return it for a touchdown. Ohio State blocked a crucial punt in 2017 to set up the comeback. The defenses are not going to allow the teams to move between the 20s meaning special teams is going to become a major factor. Penn State has proven they can score touchdowns on special teams. The Nittany Lions are averaging over 12 yards per return on punts. A special teams play could be the difference when matching up two highly talented teams like Ohio State and Penn State. Look for this game to get weird and players who you would least expect to score to find the endzone.
Bo Nix throws for over 400 yards and four touchdowns – Oregon lost in a heartbreaker to Washington last week and now faces the other Washington program. Cam Ward and Washington State will travel to Eugene this weekend to face the Ducks. Oregon is not out of the College Football Playoff hunt or the Pac-12 race but they will need to play perfect the rest of the season. Their journey starts this weekend on the shoulders of Bo Nix. Nix is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in all of college as he set the record for most collegiate starts for a quarterback thanks the additional covid eligibility year. Washington State has one of the worst passing defenses in the country ranking 119th against the pass. Arizona’s Noah Fifita completed almost 80% of his passes while throwing for more than 340 yards on Washington State. Arizona does not have the skill players to match Oregon which should mean a heavy passing attack for the Ducks. Look for Bo Nix to make another case for him to remain in the Heisman discussion with a strong day against Washington State.