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Friday, 11 October 2019

College Football Week 7 Picks 2019 (October 11-12)

After a very strong Week 5 of the College Football season, Week 6 was a step back on the season and the worst results of 2019.

That also means the season totals are back in a negative position and Week 7 looks a difficult one to get through. However I have found some selections that fit the bill for me and you can read those below.

I have also updated the totals for 2019 which you can see below too. Any additional Picks from Week 7 of the College Football season will be added to the 'MY PICKS' section below.

Colorado Buffaloes @ Oregon Ducks Pick: It is going to take something special for the Pac-12 to have a representative in the College Football PlayOffs in the post-season, but the best placed of the teams may be the Oregon Ducks. The one defeat to the Auburn Tigers lost some of its power in Week 6 when the Tigers were beaten by the Florida Gators as a favourite, but the Ducks won't be concerned about other results and will give themselves every chance of being invited into the final four if they can run the table and pick up the Pac-12 Championship.

Mario Cristobal will consider this a successful season with or without the College Football PlayOffs spot if he can guide the Oregon Ducks to their first Pac-12 Championship since 2014. The Ducks have not even made the Championship Game since then and they had won a combined eleven games in two seasons prior to Cristobal coming in as Head Coach.

In 2018 Oregon finished with a 9-4 record and a good looking Bowl win over the Michigan State Spartans, but they will be looking for more in 2019 having opened the season at 4-1 which includes a 2-0 Conference record. Last week they were not at their very best in the ten point win over the California Golden Bears, but Oregon will know they are going to be very hard to beat if they can clean up the turnovers and penalties which proved so hard to overcome in that win over California.

Steven Montez will lead the Colorado Buffaloes into Eugene having won his first career start with the team in a road game against the Oregon Ducks. It is something of a surprise to see Colorado at 3-2 for the season, 1-1 in Conference games, but Mel Tucker has had an immediate impact as Head Coach as the Buffaloes look to return to Bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016.

That season Montez and the Buffaloes won in Eugene in a season where Colorado finished 10-4 and Oregon were an awful 4-8. Things have changed since and the Ducks are now one of the favourites in the Pac-12 while the Buffaloes are going to have to upset a few opponents to get in amongst the elite in the Conference.

Steven Montez has been a key to the successes Colorado have had this season and is helping the team average almost 300 passing yards per game. Some of that is down to the fact the Offensive Line has not been able to open any kind of holes for the team to establish the run and I don't think Colorado can expect to have a lot of success in this one against an Oregon Defensive Line that is giving up just 2.9 yards per carry through the season and who have improved that further to 2.2 yards per carry in their last three games.

So it will be up to the Quarter Back to try and move the chains for the Buffaloes and even that might be a challenge for Montez despite the performances he has had so far this season. Laviska Shenault could be missing again which is going to take away a big Receiving threat for Colorado and the Ducks Secondary have been strong with the returning starters from last season stepping up their play, while the pass rush up front has been crashing home more often than not.

Moving the ball should be a lot more comfortable for Oregon this week having faced an under-rated California Defense in Week 6. It is very important that CJ Verdell looks like he will be ready to go at Running Back for the Ducks because he helps provide a real balance to the Offensive unit which makes them very difficult to stop.

This Buffaloes Defensive unit is a work in progress and I really don't like their chances much in this one. Verdell should help establish the run for the Ducks against a Colorado Defensive Line giving up 160 yards per game at 4.5 yards per carry in their last three games and that is going to make life a little more comfortable for Justin Herbert to showcase his talent.

Herbert has 15 Touchdown passes with a single Interception for the season and he should have his own way with the Colorado Secondary that will be dealing with third and short situations for the Ducks. The Buffaloes have not been able to clamp down on the run and that has led to some big mistakes in the Secondary which has allowed over 300 passing yards per games in their last three.

It should mean Justin Herbert has another big game and even the Week 8 clash with the Washington Huskies should not be a distraction as Oregon look to pull clear in the Pac-12 North. The Colorado Buffaloes did win here on their last visit in 2016, but Oregon won't need much reminding of that as I expect the Ducks to just be a little too productive Offensively which can help produce a statement win on Friday night in Week 7.

Texas Longhorns v Oklahoma Sooners Pick: These two teams look to be the best in the Big 12 so it would not be a massive surprise if the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns are playing for the first of two times in 2019 like they did in 2018. Last year the Longhorns won the Red River Rivalry game in the regular season for the first time since 2015, but the Sooners got their ultimate revenge by winning the Big 12 Championship Game in the rematch and also earning a berth in the College Football PlayOff.

This year the Sooners head to Dallas with a 5-0 record, while the Texas Longhorns are 4-1. However the Longhorns were only narrowly beaten by the LSU Tigers, a defeat that gets better in each passing week the Tigers are unbeaten in the SEC, and so the winner of this game will believe they can go on and win the Big 12 Championship as well as getting into the College Football PlayOffs final four.

Neither Tom Herman nor Lincoln Riley will be looking beyond this big game though which is going to be given the early slot coverage on Saturday. For most this is going to be the biggest game of Week 7 of the 2019 College Football season and there is plenty to like about the chances of both teams.

Recent games between the Longhorns and Sooners have been very tight, competitive affairs and this has the makings of being another, although it might follow on from their regular season game from 2018 which produced a record number of points for this rivalry.

Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma Offensive unit have been something of a juggernaut early in the season, although they have not exactly been faced with the toughest of Defensive units in wins over Houston, South Dakota, UCLA, Texas Tech and Kansas. This might feel a lot different for the most part, but an inexperienced Texas Defense is not playing at the kind of level that Tom Herman would have been hoping despite a 4-1 start to the season.

The Texas Defensive Line is playing well enough to believe they can at least limit the impact the Sooners can have when they run the ball. To completely clamp down on the run against a team creating holes up front for an average of 7.3 yards per carry is going to be very difficult though and I do think the Sooners will have enough success on the ground to really keep things very open for Jalen Hurts and the pass.

Jalen Hurts has been very good since coming in from the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Sooners are averaging over 350 passing yards per game. The Quarter Back is well protected by the Oklahoma Offensive Line and it has to be said that Texas have struggled for a consistent pass rush which has left the Secondary more exposed than I would have imagined at the start of the season.

There have been a few signs of improvement in the Secondary play, but Texas are allowing over 300 passing yards per game on the season and I am struggling to see how they are going to slow down the Sooners.

Instead of that the Longhorns best bet might be to make sure they are scoring Touchdowns whenever they have the ball and avoid the turnovers which are likely going to be key in turning this game one way or the other. Keaontay Ingram had to come out injured in the win over West Virginia in Week 6, but the Texas Longhorns should have their best Running Back available as they look to sustain drives on the ground.

Texas should have some success doing that but the Sooners have a strong Defensive Line which is really beginning to show their teeth up front. Oklahoma have given up 4.3 yards per carry on the season, but they have improved that number to 4.1 yards per carry in their last three as the competition is beginning to ramp up and I do think the Sooners Defensive Line can force Sam Ehlinger to have to rely on his arm to make sure the Longhorns are not being forced off the field.

In recent years Sam Ehlinger has saved some of his biggest performances for the Red River Rivalry, but this looks the best Oklahoma Defensive unit he has faced. The Sooners are giving up less than 200 passing yards per game through the air despite forcing teams into throwing positions by building big leads and they are on course for their best Defensive season in a long time.

I do think Ehlinger will have his moments as he is very comfortable in the system and has saved his best Quarter Back performances for this game. However it will be difficult to find balance against the Sooners Defense and I think that is going to see Oklahoma win the Red River Rivalry by the biggest margin in the regular season since Texas beat the Sooners by 16 points in 2013. The year before that the Sooners blew out the Longhorns by 42 points and I do think Oklahoma look the better all around team this time.

Last year the Big 12 Championship Game was decided by 12 points in favour of the Sooners and I would not be surprised if they can cover this line in this one having been a 9 point favourite that day. The underdog had a very strong trend in this series before that defeat in the Championship Game and Oklahoma look capable of keeping it going for the favourites.

I have a real respect for the job Tom Herman is doing with Texas as they chase double digit wins in a single season for a second year in a row. He has made them a very competitive team on neutral fields and the Longhorns are 4-2 against the spread as the underdog under his watch.

However this Oklahoma team look capable of surpassing the 12 wins Lincoln Riley has overseen in each of the two seasons as Head Coach in Norman and I think they can make a statement in this one.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Duke Blue Devils Pick: After spending ten years as the Head Coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Paul Johnson retired at the end of the 2018 season having guided his team to a fifth winning season in eight years. The Yellow Jackets missed out on a Bowl Game at the en of the 2017 season, but were back in the post-season in 2018 as Johnson called time on his career with a 7-6 season under his belt.

The moment Georgia Tech decided they would change direction with the Football program and hire Geoff Collins as the Head Coach it was always expected that 2019 would be a massive learning curve. The team were now going to play in a pro-style Offense rather than the triple-option favoured by Johnson and it has been as difficult as advertised with the Yellow Jackets at 1-4.

That run includes a surprising defeat to The Citadel and the Yellow Jackets have been blown out in back to back games as they have dropped to 0-2 in Conference play. Now they travel to the Duke Blue Devils who were dropped by the Pittsburgh Panthers in Week 6 to fall to 1-1 within the Conference, but who are 3-2 on the season and playing with a lot more confidence in the system being run by David Cutcliffe.

Duke will know the defeat to Pittsburgh should have been avoided having taken the lead only to lose the game with 38 seconds left in the Fourth Quarter. David Cutcliffe and the players will be looking for an immediate bounce back ahead of back to back road games in Virginia and North Carolina and I do think the Blue Devils have all the tools to do that.

Quentin Harris struggled at Quarter Back for Duke last week having been responsible for five turnovers and Cutcliffe will have spent a week with his starter to get him refocused. Harris is a dual-threat Quarter Back and it is his legs which may be most effective against the Yellow Jackets Defensive Line that has given up chunk plays on the ground.

Harris along with Deon Jackson should have strong runs on the ground which will in turn open up the passing lanes for the Quarter Back. He has thrown 11 Touchdown passes in the last four games since the blow out at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide and playing in third and short situations should be music to the ears of Quentin Harris as he looks for a much better performance in Week 7 compared with Week 6.

I do have to credit Georgia Tech for showing a little more when defending the pass and they have been able to turn the ball over. However some of that has to do with the fact that the Yellow Jackets have not been able to contain the run and it may be difficult to put the clamps on Duke on Saturday.

As I have mentioned the move to the pro Offense has been a difficult transition for a group of players who were signed to turn the triple option. Georgia Tech have been pretty effective at establishing the run, but this week they are facing a Duke Defensive Line that has restricted teams to 3.5 yards per carry on the season and just 3.1 yards per carry over their last three games.

This has followed on from the early performances in 2018 before injuries affected the Defensive Line and so the Blue Devils will believe they can put the clamps on Jordan Mason and company and force Georgia Tech into playing from the unfamiliar position of throwing the ball.

In 2019 that has been a real problem for Georgia Tech as they average less than 140 passing yards per game through the air despite the shift in culture. The second half against North Carolina will be encouraging to Head Coach Collins, although young Quarter Back James Graham is facing a tough Duke Defensive unit which can find Interceptions from a strong pass rush that should be able to rattle the Georgia Tech Quarter Back.

Geoff Collins accepts this is what it is going to take to make sure the Yellow Jackets are prepared in years to come, but it also makes it very difficult for them to be competitive at this moment in time. They have not covered in their last eight games going back to last season and three of their four losses in 2019 have come by at least 16 points.

They are also 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games as a double digit underdog and have failed to cover in their last five against Duke.

Duke don't have that many appealing trends, but they are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven off a loss and I will look for the home team to pull away for the win in Week 7.

Penn State Nittany Lions @ Iowa Hawkeyes Pick: Ten yards was all the Michigan Wolverines had more than the Iowa Hawkeyes in Week 6, but that was enough to knock the Hawkeyes from the ranks of the unbeaten. They will be looking to get back on track in the Big Ten West in Week 7, but the Iowa Hawkeyes could have asked for a better opponent than this one.

This week another of the top teams from the Big Ten East are in front of the Hawkeyes when the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions arrive in town. Penn State have dominated their last couple of opponents in Conference play and a win on Saturday will mean they move alongside the Ohio State Buckeyes at 3-0 within the Division.

In another season the Hawkeyes would also be unbeaten as they did come very close to edging out the Michigan Wolverines last week. However Iowa rode their luck in a win over rivals Iowa State Cyclones and they are going to need to find some Offensive answers if they are going to get the better of the Nittany Lions.

The first port of call for the Hawkeyes is to ease some of the pressure that is on the shoulders of Nate Stanley who struggled badly in the defeat to Michigan. The Quarter Back is well respected, but Iowa are built to run the ball effectively first of all and that eases the pressure on Stanley to have to drop back in third and long situations.

Last week the Hawkeyes had a total of ONE rushing yard in the loss to the Wolverines which is a real disappointment when you think at least three players have 200 rushing yards for the season. I would have expected them to have some success up front against the Michigan Defensive Line, but those struggles have to be a real concern when you see how strong the Penn State Defensive Line has been all season.

With that in mind it is hard to imagine Iowa getting on track on the ground and that means Nate Stanley has to find a way to get going. The Offensive Line didn't just struggle to open rushing holes last week, but they did not protect the Quarter Back and that is going to be a real issue with the pass rush that the Nittany Lions have generated.

Nate Stanley had an awful day in the office against the Nittany Lions last year and I think it might be another difficult day for him on Saturday. That will leave the Iowa Defensive unit having to step up as they did for the majority of the game with Michigan, but I think the Nittany Lions have a more consistent Offensive presence which can make the difference for them on the day.

As the competition has ramped up, the Iowa Hawkeyes Defensive unit has remained largely untroubled, but one that will be tested by the Nittany Lions. They might not have the stand out Running Back like recent seasons, but Penn State have found some consistency behind this Offensive Line no matter who gets the rock and I do think they can rip off a couple of big runs.

The difference between the last two games might be the fact that Iowa will have to respect the ability of Sean Clifford at Quarter Back. Clifford has been well protected and used his time effectively to help the Nittany Lions average more than 300 passing yards per game over the course of 2019 and he has not stepped off as the competition has increased moving into Conference play.

This is the biggest test Sean Clifford will have faced in the 2019 season, but there are one or two holes in the Iowa Secondary and the balance of the Offense should also aid the Quarter Back here. Sean Clifford has looked after the ball very well and I think that is going to be key to helping Penn State secure a big road win and put themselves in a strong position to challenge for a Big Ten Championship Game.

Penn State don't have a great recent history here, but they have won their last two here outright. They are also 8-4 against the spread as a road favourite and I will back the Nittany Lions to show enough in the trenches on both sides of the ball which allows them to win this game.

USC Trojans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: A sole loss to the Georgia Bulldogs won't be too bad for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish when it comes to the final College Football PlayOff Rankings, especially if they can run the table. However they will still need some help from the Bulldogs and other teams in the Power 5 Conferences to be invited back into the PlayOffs especially without a Championship Game to be played.

If the Bulldogs went on and won the SEC Championship and the Fighting Irish win every other game I do think they will have an argument to get back into the PlayOffs having made it in 2018. It would likely need a couple of teams dropping games rather than being unbeaten Conference Champions, but there would be a real case for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

They are not really helped by a manageable schedule, especially now the Michigan Wolverines have already been beaten this season. That means the Fighting Irish can't afford to overlook any opponent and give themselves the best chance of finishing with an 11-1 record in the regular season at the very least.

In Week 7 Notre Dame take on the USC Trojans before entering their second and final Bye Week of the 2019 season. Clay Helton came into the regular season on the hot seat for the Trojans having guided them to their first losing season since 2000 and the pressure is back on the Head Coach whose team are 3-2 and with a Conference loss to the Washington Huskies two weeks ago.

USC are coming off a Bye Week which has given them the chance to get Kedon Slovis back to full health and he is set to start at Quarter Back. Losing JT Daniels was a blow to the Trojans, but Slovis has shown his quality in his appearances this season.

This is a different kind of challenge for him though and even the top performance in the win over the Utah Utes may not be enough for Kedon Slovis and the Trojans as they look for an upset in South Bend. The first point of call for the Trojans has to be to try and pick up from where they left on the defeat to the Huskies two weeks ago when they did run the ball very well and much better than they have managed in the 2019 season so far.

The leading rusher is expected to miss out which is a problem and the Notre Dame Defensive Line has been stout up front. It is a key component of how this side of the ball will go as the Fighting Irish look to clamp down on the run and see if they can keep the Trojans in third and long spots throughout the game.

In that position you would have to give the Notre Dame Secondary a lot higher chance of winning the turnover battle with Interceptions something of an issue for the Trojans whoever they have started at Quarter Back. The Fighting Irish have played the pass well for much of the season too and so it could be tough for Kedon Slovis to have a big game and certainly gives the home team the chance of winning this one with a comfortable margin in hand.

Moving the ball could be something of an issue for the Trojans, but it doesn't feel like being the case for Notre Dame. Tony Jones has been effective at helping Notre Dame establish the run, but the boost could come from the return of Jafar Armstrong who was pegged as the starting Running Back for Notre Dame before the season started.

Both Jones and Armstrong should have a good day running the ball against the USC Defensive Line which has given up 4.5 yards per carry on the season and 175 yards per game on the ground. Those numbers have worsened as the Trojans have taken a step up in terms of competition and being able to run the ball just eases the pressure on Quarter Back Ian Book who is having a good season.

Ian Book has 13 Touchdown passes with just 2 Interceptions and he has yet to throw a pick in a game against any team other than the Georgia Bulldogs. The Quarter Back had over 2600 passing yards last season and it does feel like Book can surpass those numbers.

He might not need a massive game statistically to make sure Notre Dame can put themselves in a position to win this one. If the Fighting Irish are running the ball as they can, Book might just be able to manage the game from third and short spots, although there are holes in the USC Secondary that can be attacked from play-action as the Fighting Irish look to make a statement in this game.

Notre Dame have won three of the last four against the USC Trojans and they have scored at least 41 points in their last two home wins against them. The home team has now covered in six in a row in this series and the favourite is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven in the series too.

The Fighting Irish have some impressive trends behind them, while the USC Trojans are 1-9 against the spread in their last ten non-Conference games. After losing to the Washington Huskies, USC are 1-7 against the spread in their road games as the underdog with Clay Helton as Head Coach.

This is a big number, but I think the Fighting Irish have the superior balance on the Offensive side of the ball and that can see them pull clear in this game.

Louisville Cardinals @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick: Three straight winning seasons under Dave Clawson have come thanks to three straight Bowl wins and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons are very happy with their Head Coach. They have opened this season in stunning fashion with five wins to remain unbeaten, although they are 1-0 within the Conference as they entered their Bye Week at the end of Week 5.

That start has helped the Demon Deacons win seven games in a row, which is a school record, and they are hoping to start 6-0 for the first time since 1944 which would be a remarkable achievement for them. Wake Forest have two big home Conference games in Week 7 and Week 8 before entering their second Bye Week of the 2019 season.

Playing off a Bye Week has not been ideal for Wake Forest who have lost six in a row in that spot which is one annoying factor that Head Coach Clawson will want to erase. They should be focused to take on an opponent with a winning record after the Louisville Cardinals improved to 3-2 in Week 6 thanks to a win over the Boston College Eagles.

It was a big win for Scott Satterfield who is the Head Coach for Louisville in his first season in the job. The victory over Boston College means the Cardinals have started 1-0 within the Conference having lost all eight Conference games last season, although the Head Coach has to make sure his team is focused on this game rather than upcoming one against the National Champions Clemson.

The Cardinals will have to continue with a committee at Quarter Back as Jawon Pass Jr is still expected to miss out, but it did not worry them in the win over the Eagles last week. Evan Conley may get more of the snaps in Week 7 as Micale Cunningham was banged up last week, but the Cardinals will be confident with the performance of the inexperienced Quarter Backs and feel they will give them a chance of the road upset.

It will be a positive for Louisville if they can run the ball too and at least make sure the Quarter Backs are playing from manageable down and distance throughout this game. That might not be very easy against the Wake Forest Defensive Line who have been pretty stout up front throughout the season and that could cause problems despite the heady numbers the Louisville Offense is putting up through the air.

This week they will be facing a Demon Deacons Defensive unit that have managed to find a good enough pass rush to rattle Quarter Backs and over their last three games the Secondary have allowed less than 200 passing yards per game. I do think the Cardinals have shown enough to think they can move the chains in this one, but we could see Wake Forest's Defense step up and make some big plays which can stall drives and force Field Goals rather than giving up Touchdowns.

There are some similarities with the way these two teams will approach this game as Wake Forest will also try and establish the run and then expect Quarter Back Jamie Newman to make some big plays through the air. Newman is 8-1 as a starter for the Demon Deacons and he has helped the team produce over 300 passing yards per game.

Now Newman will be throwing into a Louisville Secondary which has shown there are a few more holes to exploit as they have stepped up their level of competition. Jamie Newman is well protected too so I do think he can have a very good game and help the Demon Deacons get into a position to win this game and cover the number.

In 2018 the Demon Deacons destroyed the Louisville Cardinals on the ground in a dominant road win, but that might not come so easy this time around. The Cardinals Defensive Line has allowed just 4.1 yards per carry on the season, but Wake Forest will feel they can keep Newman in third and manageable spots which is where he should be able to produce a big game.

Wake Forest are 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games as the home favourite and they have covered in each of the last five in this series. You do have to be concerned by the lack of success Wake Forest have had coming out of their Bye Weeks in the last few seasons, but Louisville have not covered in their last eight Conference games and I am going to back the home team to win and clear the number. 

MY PICKS: Oregon Ducks - 21.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Duke Blue Devils - 17 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 3 Points @ 1.85 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons - 7 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Week 6: 2-5, - 3.18 Units (7 Units Staked, - 45.42% Yield)
Week 5: 6-1, + 4.40 Units (7 Units Staked, + 62.86% Yield)
Week 4: 3-2, + 0.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 14.60% Yield)
Week 3: 3-5, - 2.18 Units (8 Units Staked, - 27.25% Yield)
Week 2: 5-7, - 2.57 Units (12 Units Staked, - 21.42% Yield)
Week 1: 3-2, + 0.67 Units (5 Units Staked, + 13.40% Yield)

Season 2019: 22-22, - 2.13 Units (44 Units Staked, - 4.84% Yield)

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