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NCAAF: Games to Watch - Week 7

NCAAF: Games to Watch - Week 7

Games to Watch - Week 7
October 9, 2008

Oklahoma vs. Texas from Dallas (ABC, 12:00 p.m.)

The Red River Shootout takes center stage from the Lone Star State when top-ranked Oklahoma squares off against No. 5 Texas. The quarterback battle between the Sooners' Sam Bradford (73%, 1,665 yards, 18 TDs) and the Longhorns' Colt McCoy (1,280 yards, 16 TDs) is arguably the best of the season. OU (49.6 PPG) and Texas (47.2 PPG) have both been able to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis. The Longhorns' defense (11.4 PPG) has only given up five touchdowns in five games and new coordinator Will Muschamp believes he can slow down the Sooners no-huddle offense. Oklahoma's defense shouldn't be overlooked either, considering the unit has given up 49 of its 69 points in the second half when the games were already decided. The winner of this game will not only have the inside track to the Big 12 title game, but perhaps the national championship. And it could very well decide the Heisman Trophy award too if Bradford or McCoy have a stellar performance. 

Gambling Notes
Texas owns an all-time record of 57-40-5 against Oklahoma, with Saturday's battle being the 103rd meeting. The Sooners stopped the Longhorns 28-21 last year, as Bradford tossed three touchdown passes. The seven-point win for OU was the smallest margin of victory in the last 10 encounters. Gamblers should be torn in this matchup, considering Texas (5-0 ATS) and Oklahoma (4-0 ATS) have both been perfect at the ticket counter this year. The total on this game is hovering around 56 points, which might be considered low considering the juggernauts on the field. However, the 'under' has gone 3-1 in the last four meetings from Dallas. One factor you can't handicap is turnovers but the winner of this battle has captured nine victories in the last 10 meetings. 

LSU at Florida (CBS, 8:00 p.m.)

It doesn't happen often but this SEC showdown pits the national champions from the two previous seasons against one another when No. 11 Florida hosts fourth-ranked LSU from The Swamp. A raucous crowd is expected in Gainesville, which means we'll find out how good the Tigers redshirt freshman QB Jarrett Lee is in his first start. Surprisingly, LSU is ranked first in the SEC in total offense (427 YPG) and second in points per game (35.5) behind Florida (36 PPG). The Tigers are known for their defense but the unit has been banged up and allowed 21 and 24 points in their last two battles. Fortunately, the team had a week to prepare for a super-fast Florida attack that stopped Arkansas 38-7 on the road last Saturday. QB Tim Tebow has been called out once again by opponents and is hoping to redeem himself for the first time since the team fell to Ole Miss 31-30 on Sept. 27. The Gators' defense has forced 12 turnovers and racked up 13 sacks in the first five games. The unit might not have as many opportunities this Saturday since most would expect LSU to hand off the ball to RB Charles Scott (535 yards, 6 TDs) all day. If the Gators win, they're right back in the BCS race. Things don't get easier for Les Miles and LSU, with battles against South Carolina and Georgia looming. 

Gambling Notes
Florida leads the all-time series 28-23-3 against LSU. Last year, the Tigers extended the home winning streak in this head-to-head series to three with a 28-24 victory over Florida. In case you forgot, LSU converted all five of its fourth-down conversions against the Gators and closed the game with a 14-0 run in the final quarter. For our purposes, the Gators have covered all three games during this stretch. The scoreboard hasn't been lit up in the last four, which has helped the 'under' go 3-1. Last year's 52 combined points helped the 'over' cash for the first time in the last six games. In the last 10 meetings, the 'under' stands at 8-2. Florida is 2-1 both SU and ATS at home this year, while LSU has only played one road game, defeating Auburn 26-21 on Sept. 20 in a wild finish. 

Penn State at Wisconsin (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)

Penn State faces its second straight road test with a trip to Madison against a Wisconsin squad that is hoping not to fall to 0-3 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions' offense is ranked first is easily the most explosive in the conference, even though it was held in check last week's triumph against Purdue, 20-6. PSU also owns the Big Ten's best total defense but that's largely due to facing one-dimensional attacks. It's been difficult to stop PSU's juggernaut largely because of the balance of QB Darryl Clark (9 TDs) and RB Evan Royster (8 TDs) The Badgers are five points away from being undefeated as well, but the defense hasn't been able to make key stops and the offense has no passing game (56%, 4 INTs). Last Saturday's 20-17 loss to Ohio State at home snapped a 17-game winning streak in Madison for the Badgers. Wisconsin's ground game (210 YPG) of P.J. Hill and John Clay should get a lot of carries against the untested Lions' defense. Back-to-back road games within conference play are always tough but a victory for PSU should definitely push the school into the top five. 

Gambling Notes
The home team has won and covered the last four meetings between Wisconsin and Penn State, and all four have been decided by double digits as well. Penn State has scored a total of six points in its last two trips to Camp Randall. The 'under' is on a 4-0 run during this recent stretch. PSU is 2-0 both SU and ATS on the road this year while Wisconsin is 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS at home. The Badgers are 2-1 both SU and ATS in their last three spots as a home underdog. Wisconsin hasn't dropped back-to-back games at home since 2002, when they suffered three in a row, including a 34-31 setback to PSU. 

Oklahoma State at Missouri (ESPN, 8:00 p.m.)

If you're looking to watch a potential shootout on Saturday, then turn your attention to the Big 12 when the Tigers (53.4 PPG) and Cowboys (52.6 PPG) meet in a Big 12 shootout under the lights. Whenever Missouri steps on the field, all eyes are on QB Chase Daniel (76%, 1,665 yards, 15 TDs) but the running game dropped 201 yards in an impressive 52-17 road victory over Nebraska last Saturday. If the Tigers want to stay near the top of the rankings, they'll need their defense (376 YPG) to step up, which is ranked 84th in the country. That unit will be tested Saturday against an Oklahoma State offense that is ranked second (315 YPG) nationally in rushing yards. Three playmakers for the Cowboys include QB Zach Robinson (1,035 yards, 10 TDs), RB Kendall Hunter (147 YPG, 8 TDs) and WR Dez Bryant (550 yards, 9 TDs), who has the ability to out jump any opponent. This matchup could come down to who has the ball last and that would favor the Cowboys, since they're 10th nationally in time of possession (32:47). 

Gambling Notes
The two schools haven't met since 2005, when Missouri stopped OSU 38-31 as a 5 ½-point road underdog. The Tigers have won five of the last six, but these games have been tight. Five of the six margins have been decided by seven points or less and fans have been treated to three overtime tilts to boot. Oklahoma State has covered all four of its lined games and is 1-0 ATS on the road with a 39-13 victory over Washington State in Week 1. Missouri has gone 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in Columbia this year. The total on this matchup has been hovering around 79 points, which is the highest number of the season. Missouri and OSU have both watched the 'over' go 3-1 this year. 

Other Games to Watch

Michigan St at Nortwestern
The Wildcats have a chance to go 6-0 for the first time since 1962 but they'll get tested against a red-hot Michigan State team that has rolled off five straight wins after losing its Week 1 opener to Cal. These two schools played an overtime thriller last year and have been known to light up the scoreboard, but this year's matchup has all the signs of a Big Ten slugfest. 

Notre Dame at North Carolina
It's hard to tell if either team is legit or if they've just been the benefit of good bounces. Notre Dame (14) and North Carolina (13) have both had a knack of creating turnovers. The Irish are 0-1 both SU and ATS in their only road trip this year and the books are handing them a touchdown against the Tar Heels on Saturday. 

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State
The Commodores continue to be the surprise of the SEC and the nation, catapulting all the way up to No. 13 in the rankings by creating turnovers and protecting the ball. Last week's 14-13 win over Auburn improved their SU and ATS ledger to 5-0. It's easy playing the role of the underdog but what happens when you're a chalk. We'll find out this weekend against a rested Mississippi State squad. 

Arizona at Stanford
If the Wildcats didn't lose to New Mexico in Week 3, you'd definitely be hearing more about Mike Stoops and the troops from Tucson. After this tough road test against Stanford the 'Cats host California and then travel to Southern California in what could be a very intriguing game with QB Willie Tuitama leading the charge.

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