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Week 7 College Football Picks: Bama-UT, Penn State-Michigan + more (presented by Betfred Sportsbook)

Credit: Michigan Athletics

It's Wednesday and you know what that means - it's time to make some college football picks, and boy, oh boy what a weekend do we have coming for ya!

Alabama-Tennessee. Penn State-Michigan. USC-Utah. Even the bad games like LSU-Florida are excellent.

So buckle up and get ready, and here's the good news: These picks are getting hot as we enter the mid-way point of the season. We're coming off back-to-back winning weeks, and last week, we were legit three points from going 6-1, with Kansas not covering by half a point and the Mississippi State over/under missing by a point.

So we're rolling and with it, it's time to get to the Week 7 picks, on what is the best Saturday slate so far!

As always, the picks are presented by our partners at Betfred Sportsbook - remember, you can bet $50 on any game in the Betfred Sportsbook, and automatically get $250 in free bets. Take advantage of that offer here.

Also, make sure you're subscribed to the College Football Betting Show - which I truly believe provides the best analysis of college football betting anywhere on the 'net.

Now, to the picks.

No. 10 Penn State (+7) at No. 7 Michigan: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX

This is going to sound super strange to say, but we're now past the midway point of the season, and I'm still not totally sure what to make of either of these teams.

Michigan is 6-0, but struggled with the best team on their schedule (Maryland) and was sloppy last week at Indiana, before pulling away late. Meanwhile, I think we all like Penn State. But how much of our perception of them is due to the fact that they destroyed an Auburn team that we now realize is flat out terrible?

They're fair questions, but at the end of the day, I think we're going to learn one important question about Michigan this week: How good is JJ McCarthy? So far in his three starts, the Wolverines have largely relied on a physical run game and limited McCarthy's opportunities to make mistakes. To his credit he hasn't made many mistakes, but he does still get a little sloppy at times, trying to extend plays that simply aren't there.

Which is why I kind of worry about the Wolverines in this game: What Penn State does well is in direct conflict with what Michigan wants to do. The Nittany Lions have by far the best run defense that Michigan has seen all season long, as they currently rank No. 5 in the country in that category. They are also in the Top 15 in turnover margin, with eight interceptions in five games. That's bad news, as McCarthy has, at times gotten a little careless with the ball.

Finally, I'm just not sure how big the gap between these teams and programs really are.

Remember, as bad as you think Penn State was last year with a 7-5 record, four of those losses came by four points or less. One of those was a loss against Michigan, in a game where they had the lead until there under four minutes left in the game.

I like Penn State to keep it close here and potentially win outright.

Auburn (+8.5 - first half) at No. 9 Ole Miss: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

With a bye looming for Auburn after this game, this is increasingly looking like Bryan Harsin's last stand. It also comes against the coach that Auburn fans clearly want (even if I don't think they have much of a chance to get him), in a game that has been a graveyard for Auburn coaches.

In a crazy stat dug up this week, Auburn is 13-3 in its history in Oxford. The only three times they've lost? The coach was eventually fired.

While I do think that stat eventually goes four-for-four, I also think that the Tigers put up a fight, at least for a half.

One, as good as Ole Miss is - and they're excellent - they haven't exactly set the world on fire the last few games. They barely held on against a Kentucky team that missed two field goals and had two turnovers late in a game they could've won, and last week trailed Vanderbilt at halftime.

Now, they're playing an Auburn team that they know isn't good, in an 11 a.m. local time kick-off, right before a huge two-game stretch for the program (at LSU, at Texas A&M). Auburn, also to its credit (I guess?) is generally a first half team, as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Missouri and a 17-0 lead against LSU in the last three weeks.

Ole Miss wins.

But I'll take the Tigers in the first half to trail something like 14-10 at halftime.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 7 Tennessee (+7.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Forgive me for having the exact same analysis that everyone has on this game, but this one to me is one of the easiest games to predict. If Bryce Young plays and is something close to 100 percent, the edge goes to Alabama. If Bryce Young doesn't play, or isn't close to 100 percent, it's not only advantage Tennessee, they can win outright.

At this moment in time right now we don't know what Bryce Young's status is, but let's just think about this logically. Based on the information we have, there are basically three possible outcomes when it comes to Bryce Young's health.

  1. Bryce Young could play and be at 100 percent

  2. Bryce Young could play and be less than 100 percent

  3. Bryce Young doesn't play

Well, based on the information we have, what makes anyone think that it's No. 1, and that Bryce Young is close to 100 percent? Nick Saban said earlier in the week that Young has practiced but has been limited. While I don't claim to be a shoulder injury expert, it seems unlikely to me that he could be limited in practice on Tuesday and then be 100 percent on Saturday.

By the way, even if he is 100 percent on Saturday, are we sure Nick Saban would let him loose? One, he has to think about protecting his player's present and future. Two, he's got to think about protecting his team's future. Alabama can afford to lose this game and still play for a title. They can't afford to lose Bryce Young for the season.

Well, we saw what Alabama's offense looked like last week without Bryce Young (including four turnovers), and while it would be improved with a limited Bryce Young, it would be well less than 100 percent.

Therefore, I'm going to roll with Tennessee here.

On top of all the stuff I just said about Young above, the Vols are a legitimately awesome football team. They (obviously) lead college football in total offense and historically, Hendon Hooker is the exact type of quarterback Nick Saban has struggled against.

He can make plays out of the pocket. He can make plays with his feet. He can make plays off-script.

The crowd in Neyland Stadium is going to be electric, and I'm rolling with Tennessee to cover.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they win outright.

BEST BET: LSU (+2.5) at Florida: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

By the law of transitive property, this one has to be advantage Florida, right? I mean, it was just a few weeks ago that the Gators went into Neyland Stadium and nearly pulled off an upset against the Tennessee Vols, and two weeks later, LSU hosted that same Tennessee team and got destroyed.

Go, Gators, do ya feel me?

Sorry, I really don't see it. If anything, I actually think the wrong team is favored here.

The truth with Florida is, that while you can point to them playing Tennessee down to the wire a few weeks ago, the bottom line is that the Gators got an out-of-body performance from Anthony Richardson in that game.

Against Tennessee, Richardson threw for 453 yards and two touchdowns in the near upset.

Just one problem, in his other four games against FBS teams (Utah, Kentucky, South Florida and Missouri) he has thrown for 489 yards, with one touchdown and five interceptions.

There is literally no piece of evidence right now that makes us think that Richardson is the quarterback we saw against Tennessee.

As for LSU, as bad as last week was, a couple thoughts.

One, they basically gifted Tennessee 10 points, if you factor in the opening kick-off muff and Brian Kelly's weird play-calling late in the half. I'm not saying it needs to be excused, but a 30-17 loss in that game feels much different than a 40-17 loss instead.

Add in the fact that LSU was without one of its top offensive linemen - Will Campbell, who is back this week - and I give advantage to the Tigers.

LSU covers and wins outright.

No. 16 Mississippi State (-4) at No. 22 Kentucky: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

A few thoughts, and a few thoughts only here.

One, I think we have to use the same corollary above that we used for Bryce Young for Will Levis here. Yes, Levis has practiced this week and it seems like he'll play, But he also had a foot injury so bad that it cost him a game last week. Meaning that even if he plays, I find it hard to believe he'll be anything close to 100 percent.

And well, we saw what Kentucky looks like without Will Levis. You don't need me to tell you, but it wasn't pretty.

At the same time, I tried to tell you in the preseason that Mississippi State is a damn good team - and to their credit they've done nothing so far to prove me wrong. As things stand, the Bulldogs currently sit at 5-1, with their only loss coming in a game against LSU where they led going into the fourth quarter. Meaning, they're basically a bad quarter away from being 6-0, and the five wins they do have are all in blowout fashion.

In an SEC where we've just anointed Tennessee or Ole Miss the third best team behind Alabama and Georgia, Mississippi State should probably be in that conversation as well.

Bulldogs roll here.

No. 5 Clemson (-3.5) at Florida State: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

This line feels fishy to me, and maybe I'm a total square, but I do like Clemson here.

First with the Tigers, is there a more under-discussed team in the sport right now than Dabo Swinney's club? Seriously, think about all the things that were said about them in the preseason: That DJ wasn't the right QB. That Dabo's refusal to hit the portal would burn them. That they were over as an elite program.

Yet here we are in mid-October and they're 6-0 with a solid group of wins headlined by victories at Wake Forest and against NC State at home.

Still, really more than anything, the reason I like the Tigers here is because, well, styles make fights - and my goodness, I think they might maul Florida State here. The Tigers - and I don't think people fully appreciate this - currently have the No. 2 run defense in all of college football, and have allowed each of its last two opponents (NC State and Boston College) under 40 yards rushing total, in each of those games.

That's right, they've held their last two opponents under a total 80 combined rushing yards.

That's insane.

Well, Florida State is much more a running team with Jordan Travis than they are a passing team - which plays right into the Tigers hands.

Dabo's squad picks up another win to improve to 7-0.

No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah (-3.5): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX

Finally, let's wrap with the other big game of the day, and yet another team that I think we're going to learn about. The USC Trojans. Lincoln Riley's club is 6-0 and outside a narrow victory at Oregon State, are relatively untested.

We'll get back to them in a second, but let's start with Utah, because I do think there has been a misperception going on about the Utes this week. When they lost to UCLA last Saturday, I saw a lot of people just say "Oh, well, this proves they were overrated all off-season long."

Did anyone actually watch the game? Utah isn't overrated - UCLA might just be that good.

Which brings us to Saturday, and I do worry that what the Trojans want to do, runs into direct conflict with what Utah does well.

Obviously, USC doesn't yet have the guys in the trenches to compete at the highest levels of the sport; this is something we've been talking about with them since the summer time. So far, the Trojans have been effective running the ball (you could argue Travis Dye has been as important as Caleb Williams) and are relying on an insane 14-1 turnover margin.

Well, Utah is also among the nation's best in turnover margin and are seemingly physical enough in the trenches to slow down the Trojans rush attack.

Remember also, in USC's two road games so far, they narrowly lost to Oregon State and played-a-closer than the final score game indicated against Stanford which basically gifted them 10 points.

I'm rolling with the Utes here.

A reminder: The picks are brought to you by Betfred Sportsbook. New users can get $250 when they bet $50 on any game this weekend - good in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa only


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