Going into week 7 of the college football season there are 13 undefeated teams; 12 of them play this weekend. None play against each other, so it's possible that after Saturday the only undefeated team will be Oregon who is idle!
But that's not very likely. Most of the teams do take on decent competition, however, with five teams facing opponents that have 2 losses on the season. A couple face ranked opponents. On the other end of the spectrum, Boise State visits 1-5 San Jose State while LSU tackles I-AA McNeese State.
If the number of undefeated teams follows a steady progression down to two or so by the end of the regular season (which is normal for the last decade despite two years with 5 each), then about three teams should lose this week. Who will fall on Saturday?
Here are the week's 12 active undefeated teams, starting with the six who could lose:
- Battle for the Roses: #6 Ohio State (6-0) at #20 Wisconsin (5-1)
Vegas Line/Spread: Ohio State by 4
Strength Power Rating Pick: Ohio State (78.4%) 35-25
Yardage Analysis Score: Ohio State 28-16
Comments: This one is for the Roses—or at least it looked like it pre-season. We saw this as the key battle that might put Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. But the Badgers messed up against Michigan State, putting the Spartans in the mix (Ohio State and Michigan State don't play). Iowa controls their own destiny, too. But by our current projections this one is still the key game, and whoever wins should be in. Objectively the Badgers haven't been great this year and the Buckeyes are the better team. But Ohio State has its up games and its down games, and if they hit a "down" one Wisconsin could win at home. Let's make the Big Ten race interesting, shall we?
Final Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Ohio State 17
- SEC West Playoff: #11 Arkansas (4-1) at #7 Auburn (6-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: Auburn by 3 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: Auburn (56.9%) 27-25
Yardage Analysis Score: Arkansas 35-31
Comments: Auburn's been living on the edge since the second week of the season. They held off Mississippi State 17-14, then edged Clemson in overtime 27-24. The Tigers had to come back against South Carolina 35-27 and beat Kentucky with a last-second field goal. The odds of this team going undefeated are very slim, though in that sense they are looking like Ohio State's 2002 squad. This game is one of their toughest remaining, and I'm torn between the Tigers winning another close one at home or losing their perfect record. Arkansas needs to win this one to remain relevant in the SEC race, but psychology is probably in Auburn's favor.
Final Prediction: Auburn 28, Arkansas 27
- Big Ten Surprises: Illinois (3-2) at #13 Michigan State (6-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: Michigan State by 7
Strength Power Rating Pick: Michigan State (57.3%) 22-20
Yardage Analysis Score: Michigan State 24-21
Comments: Both these teams are surprises. Illinois dominated Penn State 33-13 last week and has only lost to two undefeated teams—Ohio State and Missouri. Meanwhile Michigan State is 6-0 and if they're not in the Big Ten driver's seat they're at least in the passenger seat; they don't play Ohio State so even going 8-0 in conference won't guarantee a Big Ten title. They'd still make the Rose Bowl, though, as an undefeated Ohio State would be in the national championship game. The Spartans really started playing well after the Notre Dame win and coach Mark Dantonio's heart attack. With the coach back and healthy, will their emotional edge let up? I think it's inevitable, particularly after the big Michigan win. It could happen at any time, but I'll give them at least one more week since they're playing at home.
Final Prediction: Michigan State 24, Illinois 20
- Big Twelve Shootout: #15 Oklahoma State (5-0) at Texas Tech (3-2)
Vegas Line/Spread: Texas Tech by 3 (over/under 69)
Strength Power Rating Pick: Oklahoma State (80.2%) 57-43
Yardage Analysis Score: Oklahoma State 51-38
Comments: All indications for this game are for a high score. Maybe not the 100 points the Strength Power rating foresees, or even the 89 that the yardage numbers signal, but this could look like Texas Tech's game against Baylor last weekend and the over/under seems low. As to who wins, that's a crapshoot. Interestingly the oddsmakers favor Texas Tech. They're at home but their defense hasn't been able to stop anyone this year, and Oklahoma State has a multi-dimensional offense with Brandon Weeden and Kendall Hunter.
Final Prediction: Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 34
- The Run vs. The Pass: #18 Nevada (6-0) at Hawaii (4-2)
Vegas Line/Spread: Nevada by 6 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: Nevada (67.0%) 47-37
Yardage Analysis Score: Nevada 55-45
Comments: Nevada is #2 in adjusted rushing yardage while Hawaii is #1 in passing yards. This one should be a shootout of a different kind, with one team running the ball. Hawaii just beat Fresno State and is always a tough road game. Nevada will have trouble with Hawaii's passing game but they can pass, too, if necessary so falling behind doesn't mean they are lost despite their run-oriented offense. The last time Nevada played in Hawaii they were crushed by SMU 45-10 as the Mustangs passed all over them and the Wolf Pack couldn't get their ground game moving. Vai Taua didn't play in that game, though, and Nevada's pass defense is better this year. Still, don't be surprised if you wake up Sunday morning and see that the Warriors pulled off the upset. Since I need to pick three upsets, this will be one of them, despite both projections calling for a 10 point Nevada win.
Final Prediction: Hawaii 42, Nevada 37
- Big Twelve Shootout #2: #19 Missouri (5-0) at Texas A&M (3-2)
Vegas Line/Spread: Missouri by 3 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: Texas A&M (49.44%) 27-24 OT
Yardage Analysis Score: Texas A&M 34-17
Comments: Missouri has quietly gone 5-0 now, the last win being a 26-0 shutout of Colorado. Their 23-13 win over Illinois is looking better each week, and their narrow escape against San Diego State isn't looking nearly as bad since the Aztecs are a respectable 3-2. But this isn't a team that's going to be undefeated all season. The Aggies have lost two in a row, first on the road to Oklahoma State and last week on a neutral field (Dallas Stadium) to Arkansas, both ranked teams. Now in their third straight game against current top 25 teams, they're in danger of seeing their season's potential disappear. By points analysis the game is a tossup, with Missouri winning 316 and Texas A&M 309 runs, but with the Aggies a 1/100th point favorite on average. Yardage-wise it's not close, as the Aggies should be scoring a lot more points based on the yardage they're getting. If they do that, they'll get a big win and Missouri will go home 5-1.
Final Prediction: Texas A&M 27, Missouri 21
And here are the six who are (probably) safe this week:
- Revenge Is Sweet: Texas (3-2) at #5 Nebraska (5-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: Nebraska by 10
Strength Power Rating Pick: Nebraska (84.2%) 32-12
Yardage Analysis Score: Nebraska 34-6
Comments: Pre-season we picked Texas to start 3-2, so all the hand-wringing about the Longhorns is misplaced. It should have been clear that they weren't going to be a top 5 team after losing a 4-year starting quarterback and their all-time leading receiver. After they lose to Nebraska they'll be 3-3 and the criticisms of Mack Brown will be amplified. The Longhorns should win out after that and finish 9-3. The magnitude of the loss to UCLA is the only troublesome thing in their year so far, but until they get that fourth loss I'm not going to call the season a disappointment. And if they manage to beat the Cornhuskers people will talk about how they've "righted the ship." I don't see that happening, as Nebraska has had this game in their crosshairs since the last second of the Big Twelve Championship in 2009.
Final Prediction: Nebraska 41, Texas 17
- Can the Sooners Have an Easy Game?: Iowa State (3-3) at #4 Oklahoma (5-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: Oklahoma by 22 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: Oklahoma (77.6%) 37-21
Yardage Analysis Score: Oklahoma 45-28
Comments: The spread is big for Oklahoma but do you believe it? Other than their 47-17 win over Florida State the Sooners have lived on the edge, always leading but always letting the other team stick close and continue to score. I can't believe that Iowa State, who scored 52 on Texas Tech, would fail to be another team that stays annoyingly close. Both projections call for a closer game than Vegas does, as does common sense. Those crafty oddsmakers usually know what they're talking about, so maybe this is finally a game where the Sooners can coast. But Iowa State has a history of being pesky against clearly better teams, and I see no exception this time.
Final Prediction: Oklahoma 33, Iowa State 23
- Most Disappointing MWC Matchup: BYU (2-4) at #3 TCU (6-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: TCU by 29 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: TCU (98.6%) 37-4
Yardage Analysis Score: TCU 38-6
Comments: BYU was supposed to be one of TCU's more impressive victims this year as the Horned Frogs attempted an against-the-odds run at a national title. The Cougars are anything but impressive this year at 2-4, so it's lucky for TCU that Air Force has picked up the ball in the Mountain West along with Utah. Almost a 30 point favorite, the Frogs have a lot to live up to. They've recorded two shutouts in a row and could make it three at home against BYU. Without Max Hall, Harvey Unga, and Dennis Pitta the Cougars are a shade of their former selves in a rebuilding year.
Final Prediction: TCU 38, BYU 13
- Somewhat Better MWC Matchup: #14 Utah (5-0) at Wyoming (2-4)
Vegas Line/Spread: Utah by 20 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: Utah (96.6%) 45-14
Yardage Analysis Score: Utah 45-14
Comments: Wyoming is a "comparison" team this year, as they have already played Texas (lost 34-7 on the road), Boise State (51-6 at home), Air Force (20-14 at home), and TCU (45-0 road). Now Utah gets to show where they belong in the pecking order, and both projections call for a 45-14 win. This game looked like a bit of a challenge for the Utes pre-season but the Cowboys haven't lived up to last year's bowl-winning breakthrough; though the 2-4 start was easily foreseen, they struggled even in their two wins over Southern Utah and Toledo. After this weekend and the next at BYU things should get much better and they could still be bowl eligible.
Final Prediction: Utah 45, Wyoming 14
- Worst WAC Game of the Week: #1 Boise State (5-0) at San Jose State (1-5)
Vegas Line/Spread: Boise State by 41
Strength Power Rating Pick: Boise State (100%) 44-4
Yardage Analysis Score: Boise State 48-6
Comments: This is perhaps the most lopsided matchup of the week. Even with Boise State's offense and defense both performing the worst they have this season, and the Spartans' units at their best, the Broncos would win. So the Strength Power Rating gives no chance of an upset, and its spread and the yardage numbers are in line with the oddsmakers' 41 points. Despite the fact that they can't lose this game, it's a no-win situation for the Broncos. Beating the spread by a little won't impress anyone, beating it by a lot will be dismissed as running up the score, and if the game is closer it will be seen as weakness. A shutout always looks good though, so that should be their goal.
Final Prediction: Boise State 45, San Jose State 3
- You Deserve A Break Today: McNeese State (2-3) at #8 LSU (6-0)
Vegas Line/Spread: LSU by 41 1/2
Strength Power Rating Pick: LSU (99.9%) 45-0
Yardage Analysis Score: LSU 27-0
Comments: I guess we were wrong; there is one more lopsided matchup than the Boise State game. LSU plays Division I-AA (FCS) McNeese State, and they're a 41 1/2 point favorite. After playing the hardest schedule of any undefeated team so far and escaping with their lives the last few weeks the Tigers deserve a break, and this game should be one. The Strength Power Rating splits McNeese's offensive and defensive performances for 25 possibilities, and with LSU's 36 it constructs 900 possible outcomes. McNeese State wins exactly 1 of those, so if there's a perfect storm it could be the upset of the century. Don't bet on it, though. Both projections have the Cowboys scoring 0 points, so it's just a matter of how much LSU puts on the board.
Final Prediction: LSU 35, McNeese State 0