College football Week 7 picks against the spread for every top-25 game
Week 7 of the 2018 college football season features three matchups between teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
No. 2 Georgia travels to Tiger Stadium to face No. 13 LSU at 3:30 p.m. In the same window, No. 7 Washington travels to Autzen Stadium to face No. 17 Oregon in a Pac-12 North showdown. In the primetime 7:30 p.m. spot, No. 15 Wisconsin faces No. 12 Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Sporting News will have picks against the spread for all those teams, and the rest of the top-25 slate (several of which can be streamed online at fuboTV).
Here is a look at our record so far:
Straight up: 104-20, .839 (14-6 last week)
Against the spread: 66-44, .600 (12-8 last week)
Upset picks: 5-5, .500 (1-1 last week)
And now, Sporting News’ picks against the spread for Week 7 (lines reflect Consensus picks according to VegasInsiders.com as of Tuesday):
No. 23 USF (-7.5) at Tulsa
It’s a curious line, given the Bulls have only beaten one FBS opponent by more than 14 points and the Golden Hurricane have only lost to one FBS opponent by more than 14 points. Tulsa keeps it close at home with the primetime spotlight, but it’s not enough against Blake Barnett and Co. USF wins 42-31 and COVERS the spread.
No. 14 Florida (-7) at Vanderbilt
It’s a potential emotional letdown spot for the Gators, who are coming off a big win against LSU. Florida, however, has covered the last four against the spread, including two as an underdog. The Commodores are trending in the other direction. Florida wins 30-20 and COVERS the spread.
Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State (-29.5)
The Gophers gave up an average of 45 points per game in Big Ten losses to Maryland and Iowa, and the Buckeyes’ defense will play its best game of the year against Minnesota’s inconsistent passing game. Dwayne Haskins could potentially throw for seven touchdowns against the Gophers. Ohio State wins 56-24 and COVERS the spread.
Tennessee at No. 21 Auburn (-16.5)
It really depends on the Tigers’ state of mind. Auburn has been favored in every game this season but is 2-4 against the spread. Tennessee is coming off blowout losses to Florida and Georgia, but had an idle week to learn from those defeats. We could see Auburn taking out its frustration here, but we need to see the Tigers do that first to believe it. Auburn wins 30-16 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Pitt at No. 5 Notre Dame (-21)
The Irish are in prime position to snag a College Football Playoff berth, and they’ll have to absorb upset bids the rest of the way to get there. The Panthers have been good for an upset a year the last two seasons — ask Clemson and Miami last year. Pitt also lost to Penn State and UCF by an average of 38 points this season. We like the Panthers to get the back-door cover. Notre Dame wins 42-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 10 UCF (-4.5) at Memphis
It’s a rematch of last year’s AAC championship game thriller, and the Tigers are capable of knocking the Knights off at home. Memphis’ Brady White (15 touchdowns, one interception) has a better TD:INT ratio than UCF’s McKenzie Milton (15 touchdowns, four interceptions) and has scored 52 points or more in every home game. We’re close to pulling the upset here, but we just can’t. UCF wins 48-42 and COVERS the spread.
No. 2 Georgia (-7) at No. 13 LSU
The stakes haven’t changed despite the Tigers’ loss to Florida. The loser is in trouble, considering both teams still have to go through Alabama (Georgia, presumably, in the SEC championship). The Bulldogs haven’t been to Death Valley since 2008, and the Tigers will sell out here. We’re counting on the Bulldogs’ balance to be the difference in the second half. Georgia wins 30-21 and COVERS the spread.
No. 7 Washington (-3) at No. 17 Oregon
Washington has beat Oregon by an average of 42 points the last two years, including a 70-21 in the last meeting at Autzen Stadium. It’s a good bet Oregon hasn’t forgotten that. This is an opportunity for the Ducks to throw a wrench in the Pac-12 race and atone for the mistakes made against Stanford. They will take advantage of it. Oregon wins 35-31 in an UPSET.
No. 22 Texas A&M (-2) at South Carolina
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said Jake Bentley could have played against Missouri, and we’re kind of waiting on his status. Texas A&M is coming off an emotional victory against Kentucky, and it won’t be any easier on the road. Texas A&M wins 24-21 and COVERS the spread.
Baylor at No. 9 Texas (-14.5)
Texas is back! OK, we’ve said that too many times, but now we’ll figure out how the Longhorns handle prosperity against an improved Baylor team. The Bears average 32 points per game in Big 12 play, and that will test Texas’ defense, which gave up 45 points to an admittedly explosive Oklahoma offense. We still like Sam Ehlinger to lead the Horns to yet another Big 12 victory. Texas wins 38-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State (-13.5)
The Nittany Lions will have had two weeks to stew about the loss to Ohio State by the time Michigan State limps in after its loss to Northwestern. The loser is out of the Big Ten race, and that should add to the desperation on both sides. The difference? The Spartan defense allows 305.2 passing yards per game. Trace McSorley will exploit that, and the Nittany Lions will roll in the second half. We hate picking against the Spartans with double-digit points, but we have no other choice here. Penn State wins 38-23 and COVERS the spread.
No. 6 West Virginia (-6.5) at Iowa State
Surviving the upset bid in Ames is a rite of passage for Big 12 contenders, and it’s the Mountaineers’ turn to take on that task. West Virginia has managed to handle that in three previous visits, and Will Grier will lead yet another road victory if he can shake off last week’s three interceptions. He will. West Virginia wins 38-27 and COVERS the spread.
No. 16 Miami (-6) at Virginia
Virginia is an improved team that hung with the Hurricanes last season. The Cavaliers have played much better at home, and this is N’Kosi Perry’s first road start. We still think the Canes will carry the momentum from last week’s comeback victory and put that into action on the road. Miami wins 34-24 and COVERS the spread.
Missouri at No. 1 Alabama (-28.5)
The Crimson Tide have failed to cover the last three weeks, and Vegas knows exactly what they are doing here. Alabama is so good on offense — with an FBS-best 56.0 points per game — that the natural instinct is to take the cover every time. Missouri, however, averages 39 points per game. That make this is a difficult game to predict, but we’re going to assume the Crimson Tide defense heard Nick Saban’s message about the defense this week. Alabama wins 59-28 and COVERS the spread.
No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan (-7.5)
It’s a Big Ten elimination game for two teams that had national championship aspirations coming into the season. For Wisconsin, the path to forgiveness for the loss to BYU lies in winning games like this on the road. For Michigan, it’s about winning a big game. Paul Chryst is 7-6 against ranked opponents since coming to Wisconsin. Jim Harbaugh is 5-8 in the same stretch. You’d think that gap would be much bigger. The Wolverines win a big game, but it will be tight. Michigan wins 26-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 19 Colorado at USC (-7)
We picked against Colorado last week and lost, and now the Buffaloes are a touchdown underdog on the road against USC. The Trojans might have more talent, but they haven’t exactly blown out Pac-12 opponents. We’ll give Colorado the cover on the road. USC wins 34-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.