The SEC is the best conference in college football and this week they face off against the ACC. It’s a battle between two of the top teams in the country, but it’s also a race to see who can be crowned king of college football.
College football week 7 2021 is the upcoming week of college football games. The matchups include Florida State vs Miami, Alabama vs LSU, and Ohio State vs Michigan. Read more in detail here: college football week 7 2021.
7:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Texas A&M jumped into the gap and reminded the college football world that there is only one definite certainty at the midway of 2021: Alabama and Georgia are two unstoppable forces on a collision course for the SEC title game and the College Football Playoff.
We’ve seen it in the sheer number of shocks across the board, as well as a top 10 that looks nothing like it did at the start of the season. Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State, all traditional playoff contenders, have already lost one game, and we’re only six weeks into the season.
Last weekend’s performance by Texas A&M will go down in history as the most unexpected. Under Jimbo Fisher, Alabama has defeated the Aggies by an average of 23 points in three prior games. Texas A&M entered the game with a struggling backup quarterback and a nearly ten-player injury list. Nonetheless, the Aggies prevailed.
“Sometimes it comes down to this: You have to,” Fisher told ESPN when asked how things came together for his squad last week. ‘How did you accomplish that?’ someone inquires. I’m not sure; I simply felt compelled to. It’s incredible how easily you can place yourself in that position. We’ll have to do it again this week against Missouri. Now the question is, can you manage success?
“It’s exciting to be the underdog. However, you never want to be the underdog. Being second, third, or fourth place is enough for an underdog. We must understand that they are not upsets. Only we have the ability to be upset. We need to alter that attitude and mindset, and now is the time to teach our players on how to do so.”
Despite the difficulties in defeats to Arkansas and Mississippi State, Fisher said he saw flashes from quarterback Zach Calzada, adding that sometimes players simply need to mature once they are placed in game circumstances. However, everyone, even coaches, has had to cope with the volatility across the board.
“You have younger players, people in the transfer portal, guys moving about, and not as many guys who are acquainted with circumstances or how teams operate; this might be the reason. But the winner will be the one who can figure it out and bring things back to normal “Fisher said.
Other conferences have also been affected by the turmoil. Now that Clemson has fallen, the ACC is totally open. The Big Ten looks to be up for grabs as well, with unbeaten Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State, as well as one-loss Ohio State and Penn State, still in the mix. The Pac-12 is no exception, being as unpredictable as ever. All of this makes Stanford coach David Shaw sit up and take attention. This is nothing new to him or his other Pac-12 coaches. Shaw has welcomed the shift, considering how many have grown weary of the same teams at the top of the sport.
“I’m glad there’s parity in college football; I believe it adds to the excitement,” Shaw remarked. “Because you never know who will win week to week. There are no certainties in sports, and every league is competitive right now. There are upsets every week, and you know the top 25 is turned upside down every week. This makes it more enjoyable for all those involved.”
Fisher chuckled when asked whether he had any predictions for how the season would end.
He replied, “I wish I did.” “I’d get a better night’s sleep.” Andrea Adelson’s remark
No. 11 Kentucky takes on No. 1 Georgia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Kentucky’s defense will not be the focus of attention building up to the game against No. 1 Georgia, but make no mistake: it is a force to be reckoned with. It’s why the Wildcats are 6-0 for the first time since 1950, and why they could keep winning.
Only 17.5 points per game and 4.6 yards per play have been allowed by a seasoned defense headed by end Josh Paschal, linebackers DeAndre Square and Jacquez Jones, and free safety Yusuf Corker. Kentucky has given a transitional offense plenty of time to adjust. Kentucky was lowest in the country in turnover margin for a time, and it still is (minus-8), but the Wildcats keep winning because to an experienced and dependable defense.
Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White told ESPN, “There’s simply a calm.” “They are not anxious when they are on the field. It’s a lot of fun to be around. There’s no need to be concerned. They simply play hard, man. It isn’t always flawless, but it is consistent.”
UCF is ranked third. Cincinnati (ABC, 12 p.m. ET): Coach Luke Fickell was asked whether the No. 3 Bearcats were one of the top teams in the nation during his Tuesday media availability. It’s a question that only coaches and players who can fairly respond “yes” are asked, and it’s a one that only generates a surprise response if the coach or player says “no.” As a result, Fickell said emphatically that he thinks Cincinnati is just that.
It’s not unusual for a Group of 5 squad to exude such confidence. However, it’s come from Cincinnati’s opponent this weekend, UCF, in recent years. Since his time at Cincinnati, Fickell has said that UCF has been the most talented and consistent team in the American Athletic Conference. It’s why the Bearcats have treated the games between the two teams as a rivalry, playing against the team they need to defeat to be the best in the league.
The Knights, on the other hand, are having a bad season. They’re 3-2, with defeats to Louisville and Navy, and aren’t even close to reaching the heights that past UCF teams have. Despite the fact that Cincinnati is favored by three touchdowns, Fickell isn’t letting the narrative transform this into a potential trap game.
Fickell remarked, “They still have a lot of talent.” “They still have that skill and big-play potential, and they’re playing better defense than they have in the past.”
On Tuesday, Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder echoed his coach’s views.
“‘It’s not going to be the best-ranked squad that wins,’ Coach Fick says brilliantly. It’ll be the greatest squad that plays together on Saturday,’ says the coach “Ridder remarked.
Cincinnati is shouldering the burden of the Group of 5 clubs in the postseason race this season, and they’ve done a good job so far. The Bearcats finally “played four quarters” against Temple last week, according to Fickell, and blasted away the Owls 52-3. Given the remainder of the schedule (apart from potentially playing an unbeaten SMU team in late November), the Bearcats’ victory against then-No. 9 Notre Dame will be the season’s crown gem. The issue is whether or not it will maintain its glossy appearance. If Cincinnati can’t control that, it’s better for them to look inside for things that may throw them off track.
“I think it’s really about how we’re going to manage this attention and the things that are going on for us as a team and as a program,” Fickell said. “We’ve done a fantastic job with the publicity.”
Fickell’s judgment that the Bearcats are one of the top teams in the nation is difficult to dispute. Despite this, Cincinnati’s whole postseason case seems as delicate as a chandelier: one misstep and the entire construct will be shattered. Of course, the Bearcats’ ultimate problem is that even if they win out, they may not be assured a postseason berth at all. Paolo Uggetti —-
Michigan State vs. Indiana (12 p.m. ET, FS1): Michigan State’s remarkable turnaround from 2020 to 2021 may be attributed to a restructured squad and the ability to produce more explosive offensive plays. The Spartans averaged 5.09 yards per play from 2016 to 2020, which was 121st in the US at the time. MSU is tied for 14th in average yards per play (7.45) and plays of 20 yards or longer this season (36).
The greatest impact has been running back Kenneth Walker III, a Wake Forest transfer who leads the country in rushing (913 yards), but so have the guys making gains in the passing game.
MSU offensive coordinator Jay Johnson told ESPN, “Ken is a very good athlete, but you have to give credit to the wide receiver corps as far as their blocking.” “They’ve done an excellent job blocking downfield. It has aided some of those runs that may have been ordinary in the past to become better. In the pass game, this has paid off for them.”
Top wideouts Jayden Reed (21.4 yards per reception), Jalen Nailor (21.1 yards per catch), and Tre Mosley (15.5 yards per catch) also thrive at blocking, according to Johnson. MSU routinely rotates up to nine offensive linemen, keeping the unit fresh. Veterans like center Matt Allen and left tackle Luke Campbell, who missed the most of 2020 due to injury, have helped strengthen the front line, according to Johnson.
They’ve shielded quarterback Payton Thorne, a first-year starter who beat off Temple transfer Anthony Russo in a preseason battle. Thorne has thrown for 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns on 62.4 percent of his throws, with just two interceptions.
“I’ve always loved Payton, but we had a great tussle in fall camp, and you just never know how he’ll react in the games since he hadn’t played much,” Johnson said. “‘Get your eyes in the correct place and get your feet right,’ we’ve tried to simplify things in general with what we do, and even in the quarterback room, ‘Get your eyes in the right location and get your feet right.’ He’s just attempted to return to the fundamentals.”
Thorne and the Spartans are up against an Indiana squad that is 2-3 but has a solid defense that has limited three opponents to less than 200 passing yards.
“They’re extremely diligent in their work, and they’re just where they should be,” Johnson added. “It’ll be a terrific test for us. We’ll have to work hard for it.” — Richard Rittenberg
Can Texas bounce back from a heartbreaker against No. 12 Oklahoma State (noon ET, FOX)?
With Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State coming to town, the Longhorns will have to bounce back fast after a devastating 55-48 defeat to Oklahoma.
On Monday, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian remarked, “Nobody feels sorry for us.” “There isn’t a lot of time for us to be sorry for ourselves.”
A home game, on the other hand, does not provide much in the way of comfort. Until the Cowboys’ most recent encounter with the Longhorns, a 36-30 Longhorns victory in 2019, the Cowboys had won five consecutive in Austin. Last year in Stillwater, Texas defeated Oklahoma State 41-34. Over the last four years, it’s been a close-fought series, with the series knotted 2-2 with just seven points separating the two teams (122-115 in Texas’ favor).
LSU vs. No. 20 Florida (noon ET, ESPN/ESPN app): After taking a hit in the mouth in the first quarter against Alabama in a 31-29 defeat on Sept. 18, Florida’s defense has steadied the ship heading into Saturday’s matchup against LSU. Last year, the Gators lost the rivalry game when defender Marco Wilson was penalized for tossing an LSU player shoe, which allowed the Tigers to score the game-winning field goal.
Florida’s poor defensive season a year ago was characterized by that shoe game, but the Gators have made a good return on that side of the ball through the first half of this season. Florida’s defense has let up 38 points in the last 15 quarters, going back to the second quarter of the Alabama game (2.5 points per quarter). And the Gators’ defense has only allowed two touchdowns in the last ten quarters, dating back to halftime of the 38-14 victory against Tennessee; just one of those scores came on a drive of 30 yards or more.
“We may have been anxious in the first quarter against Alabama, and we didn’t manage the situation properly, allowing them to score quickly. But after that, we were able to relax, and it’s a testament to our players for how hard they’ve worked, as well as the way they’ve bought in and grown “Todd Grantham, the defensive coordinator for the University of Florida, said ESPN.
Florida has benefited greatly from the additions of defensive line transfers Daquan Newkirk, Tyrone Truesdell, and Antonio Valentino, and Grantham noted 6-foot-6, 303-pound sophomore Gervon Dexter has improved significantly since the Alabama game.
Grantham described Dexter as a “strong guy” who “has grown up and really become a factor for us inside.”
Last year’s decision to play so many true freshmen and inexperienced guys (safety Rashad Torrence II and Dexter, for example) paid off this season, according to Grantham.
“They didn’t have a spring practice last year and now have had a whole year to grow, and you can see the difference,” said the D-coordinator.
The return of All-SEC cornerback Kaiir Elam against LSU after missing the previous three games due to a knee injury is some of the greatest news for the Gators.
Kayshon Boutte, the Tigers’ top wide receiver, will miss the rest of the season due to a lower leg injury. Boutte has caught nine of the Tigers’ 17 touchdown passes, so this is a significant loss for the offense.
But even before Boutte’s departure, particularly after LSU’s 42-21 defeat to Kentucky last week, there was a sense around the league that LSU was returning to the running game that former offensive coordinator and current analyst Steve Ensminger had implemented. Tyrion Davis-Price, a junior running back, had a season-high 22 carries for 147 yards against a Kentucky defense that was rated 28th in the country against the run. In the 24-19 defeat to Auburn the week before, no LSU running back had more than five rushing attempts, and Davis-13 Price’s carries were the highest for any LSU running back in each of the Mississippi State and UCLA games earlier in the season.
“You can see [Ensminger’s] impact and that they were more dedicated to the run in the previous game, and that’s something we have to be ready for,” Grantham said of his defense, which limited Kentucky to 137 running yards and Alabama to 91. Chris Low (c)
Pittsburgh against Virginia Tech (ESPN2/ESPN app, 3:30 p.m. ET): Pat Narduzzi has been telling everyone who would listen for years that he had an NFL-caliber quarterback at Pitt, but Kenny Pickett’s yearly stat line — 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions over the previous two seasons — has meant that few people were paying attention.
During last year’s assessment process, NFL evaluators projected Pickett as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Pickett and Narduzzi both believed the ceiling was much higher.
Pickett said, “I simply felt I was a better player than that.”
So Pickett returned for a fifth season — he has been Pitt’s starting quarterback since late 2017 — and he has sent a strong message to the doubters so far.
Pickett leads all Power 5 quarterbacks in passer rating (234.28) and is second only to Alabama’s Bryce Young in throwing touchdowns (19), while his completion percentage (72.0 percent) is sixth in the country. It’s been enough to propel Pickett into the discussion for the Heisman Trophy.
While the rest of the college football world may be taken aback, Pickett isn’t.
“When I got back, that was the plan,” Pickett added. “I didn’t come back for the Heisman, but I came back to have a great season and win a title, and when you have a championship-level team, a lot of individual objectives are fulfilled.”
On Saturday, Pickett will face his toughest test of the season when Pitt visits Virginia Tech, where the Hokies have limited opposition quarterbacks to just 59 percent completions and seven throwing touchdowns. After throwing two interceptions last week, Justin Hamilton’s defense has already upset North Carolina’s Sam Howell and pushed Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner to the bench. Nickelback Chamarri Conner and cornerback Jermaine Waller, who have combined for five interceptions and two forced fumbles, lead Virginia Tech’s secondary.
The Hokies’ defense, according to Pickett, is “a seasoned bunch that creates plays and has speed at every level.” “This will be our most difficult test. They’ve got a little of everything. That is what distinguishes them. They exhibit a wide range of facial expressions. We must ensure that our communication is on track and that we execute to the best of our abilities.”
Syracuse vs. Clemson (ESPN/ESPN app, Friday, 7 p.m. ET): To say Clemson has struggled to score points would be an understatement. The Tigers are averaging only 12.5 points per game in regulation through four games against FBS competition, which is worse than every school in the nation save Colorado, Rice, and Southern Miss. Coach Dabo Swinney attributes the team’s difficulties to a variety of factors, including quarterback footwork, sustained blocks, and sharper routes. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Clemson has one major flaw: big plays.
The Tigers have only had an explosive play on 8.6 percent of their offensive plays in four games against FBS opponents, which is the fifth lowest in the nation. What difference does it make? When it comes to scoring, chunk plays make all the difference. Points are scored 64 percent of the time on drives that include at least one explosive play (a 12-yard rush or a 16-yard completion). The percentage of drives that don’t work is less than 10%. Sustaining drives with small gains down the field, for Clemson or anybody else, is just not a winning formula.
Syracuse’s defense is fully aware of this as well. Only six other defenses in the country have allowed less explosive plays than the Orange (7.8 percent ).
Syracuse defensive lineman Josh Black stated, “We stress it a lot in practice.” “So what if a team can defeat us by gaining four or five yards on every play? We can’t, though, give up such massive plays. This is bad for us; it’s bad for our offensive. Everyone is placed in a terrible situation as a result of it.”
The Syracuse defense, on the other hand, has had to make a compromise. The Orange were much more vulnerable to huge plays last year, but they also had a lot of takeaways. It was a risky strategy that resulted in a number of boom-or-bust situations. This year, according to Black, Syracuse is still aiming for more turnover chances, but that goal has been set aside in favor of denying opponents easy gains.
Syracuse, which is anchored by a seasoned defensive line and backed up by a back eight made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores, has executed a solid plan. Making opponents struggle for yards relieves some of the burden on Syracuse’s inexperienced secondary while also placing pressure on opponents to avoid making errors.
So far, a lot has gone wrong for Clemson. The team’s emphasis, according to offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, is on “taking what they offer us” and “making the layups,” which seems to align with Syracuse’s mentality.
“It’s not going to go good for them if we have them run the whole field,” Orange linebacker Mikel Jones said. “Something will go wrong for them at some point.” -Hales
No. 4 Oklahoma hosts TCU (7:30 p.m., ABC)
Caleb Williams, a freshman quarterback who took over for Spencer Rattler versus Texas, put on a show. Williams threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 16 of 25 passing attempts, as well as 88 yards on the ground and one running score.
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley will not designate a starter for Saturday’s game against visiting TCU, so the future fight between Rattler and Williams is still unknown.
Williams did get more playing time, however, as he helped the Sooners win a shootout over the Longhorns, 55-48. So, where did Williams come from, and how did he get to the point where he’s challenging Rattler, who was a Heisman contender at the start of the season?
Part of it has to do with Rattler’s performance thus far, as he has thrown 10 touchdowns and five picks in six games. Part of it, though, is due to Williams’ ability to push one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Williams was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2021 and the 16th-best overall recruit out of Washington, D.C. Oklahoma, LSU, Maryland, Penn State, and Clemson were among his top choices.
Williams was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Washington, D.C. after passing for 2,624 yards and 26 touchdowns while also rushing for 394 yards and 10 touchdowns on 102 attempts in his sophomore season.
Williams stated when he committed to Oklahoma that he knew Rattler was the man, but that he wasn’t afraid of the competition and that he wanted to compete as soon as possible. Williams is receiving that chance right now, and if he keeps playing like he did against Texas, Riley will have a hard time keeping him off the field. Tom VanHaaren (Tom VanHaaren)
No. 18 Arizona State vs. Utah (10 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN app): The last undefeated team.
The Sun Devils-Utes matchup was expected to have high stakes in the Pac-12 South competition coming into the season. But, given how early in the program it was, it would have been difficult to anticipate how significant this one would turn out to be.
Only ASU (3-0) and Utah (2-0) remain unbeaten in Pac-12 conference play, and whomever wins will be the division’s unquestioned favorite. This is particularly true for ASU, which has previously defeated UCLA and would therefore hold a head-to-head edge over both the Bruins and the Utes with just one loss. USC, Colorado, and Arizona, the other three teams in the division, all have at least two conference defeats. ASU, which will play for the eighth time this season at 7 p.m. or later local time, has the highest scoring (16.2 points per game) and overall defense (298.0 yards per game), due to a veteran secondary that has combined for 147 career starts. This is the second-highest total among FBS institutions. Behind quarterback Jayden Daniels, the Sun Devils are averaging 7.1 yards per play, which ranks 11th in the FBS.
The Utes have had a difficult couple of weeks after the loss of cornerback Aaron Lowe. After defeating USC on Saturday, the squad traveled from Utah to Texas on Monday for Lowe’s service, only to return to Utah to resume preparations for the game against ASU. The team’s 42-26 victory against USC was arguably their finest performance of the season, and they’ll want to build on it in front of their home fans. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
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