Nation’s new No. 1, Georgia, hosts Kentucky, and Texas looks to bounce back | Games to watch
The Bulldogs are No. 1 during a season for the first time since 1982 and have the nation's best defense. Meanwhile, the Longhorns seek to recover from a brutal loss last week to Oklahoma.
Week 7 of the college football season features a pair of games involving ranked teams, including the debut of Georgia in its first week as the nation’s No. 1 team.
No. 12 Oklahoma State (plus-4) at No. 25 Texas, noon, Fox29
The Longhorns (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) were shredded on defense in the second half last week against Oklahoma, blowing an 18-point halftime lead. They rank 106th in the nation in total defense. Offensively they managed just 10 points after halftime and had trouble finding lanes for Bijan Robinson, who enters Saturday as the No. 3 rusher in FBS with 789 yards.
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The Cowboys (5-0, 2-0), looking to defeat a third consecutive ranked team for the first time in program history, have been strong at the defensive end, standing 13th in rushing defense (91.0 yards per game) and 18th in total defense (305.2 yards per game). Quarterback Spencer Sanders must avoid turnovers; he threw three interceptions two weeks ago against Baylor. Jaylen Warren has averaged 135 rushing yards the last three weeks.
PREDICTION: Texas 31, Oklahoma State 24
No. 11 Kentucky (plus-22 ½) at No. 1 Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS3
The Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC) are home for their first week at No. 1 during the season since 1982. Their defense has been epic, having allowed just two touchdowns in six games and leading the nation in points allowed (5.5), pass defense (137.0), and total defense (201.2). They have recorded an SEC-high 22 sacks and average 3.6 yards allowed per play.
The Wildcats (6-0, 4-0), led by quarterback Will Levis, a Penn State transfer, are one of the SEC’s best on the ground. They average 214.2 yards per game behind Chris Rodriguez Jr., the SEC’s top rusher at 128 yards per game. Levis accounted for five touchdowns last week against LSU – three passing, two rushing.
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Stetson Bennett started the last three games as Georgia’s quarterback for the injured JT Daniels and is likely to stay in that role.
One side note: The last time a No. 1 team lost in back-to-back weeks came in 2012, Alabama and Oregon.
PREDICTION: Georgia 34, Kentucky 13
Pittsburgh (minus-5) at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
It’s a lopsided schedule in the ACC. Some teams have played as many as five conference games, but here we have the Panthers (4-1, 1-0 ACC) and the Hokies (3-2, 1-0) tied for the lead in the Coastal Division with just one contest under their belts.
Pitt quietly has taken over the national scoring lead, averaging 52.4 points per game. Fifth-year senior Kenny Pickett has blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in FBS. He ranks second in FBS in passing efficiency, completing 72% of his passes for 1,731 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing just one interception.
The Hokies will not have linebacker and defensive signal-caller Dax Hollifield for the first half after he was ejected from last week’s Notre Dame game for targeting.
PREDICTION: Pitt 44, Virginia Tech 31
No. 5 Alabama (minus-16 ½) at Mississippi State, 7 p.m., ESPN
The Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC) get to start some new winning streaks, but their first crack at it will be on the road against the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1), a team that did something ‘Bama didn’t do – defeat Texas A&M.
Two strong quarterbacks will be at the controls. The Tide’s Bryce Young has thrown for 1,734 yards and 20 touchdowns. MSU’s Will Rogers is second in the nation with a 75.7% completion percentage and directs the nation’s fifth-leading passing offense at 372.4 yards per game.
Alabama’s loss last week has opened up the SEC West, with four teams now having one loss each in conference play.
PREDICTION: Alabama 41, Mississippi State 24
TCU (plus-13 ½) at No. 4 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m., 6ABC
The Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) now own the nation’s longest active winning streak at 14, but they haven’t done it the easy way. They have five wins this season by seven points or fewer, and last week they had to rally from an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat Texas.
The big question for Oklahoma is who will start at quarterback. Coach Lincoln Riley hasn’t said whether he’ll go with veteran Spencer Rattler or freshman Caleb Williams, who came off the bench last week and sparked his team’s rally.
For the Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1), Kendre Miller rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns last week in a win over Texas Tech. He’ll test an Oklahoma defense that has limited five of its opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 38, TCU 21
Arizona State (pick) at Utah, 10 p.m., ESPN
Under coach Herman Edwards, the Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0) lead the Pac-12 in a number of defensive categories, including points allowed (16.2 per game), total defense (299.0 yards per game), sacks (21.0), and tackles for losses (43.0).
The Utes (3-2, 2-0) have come back from a 1-2 start with the help of quarterback Cameron Rising, who is 2-0 as a starter and has accounted for 502 yards of total offense and four TDs in wins over Washington State and Southern California.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 24, Utah 21