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Saturday, 17 October 2020

College Football Week 7 Picks 2020 (October 17th)

The current situation is far from normal for anyone and that does mean we are working our way through multiple factors we may not have usually considered when it comes down to the Picks being made from any of the sports taking place.

The same can be said of College Football as outbreaks of Covid-19 are causing postponements and changes in the schedule with more games called off this week. Even then we get into Week 7 and the games that are set to go and some selections from them which can be seen below.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Miami Hurricanes Pick: There are going to be a lot of teams that run into the Clemson Tigers in 2020 who find the favourites to win the National Championship too hot to handle. That was the case for the Miami Hurricanes in Week 6 of the 2020 College Football season, but they can't allow themselves to take too long to get over things and return their focus to upcoming games.

Those are situations they can control and an unbeaten run between now and mid-December may offer Miami the chance for redemption in the ACC Championship Game. A lot can happen between now and then so the key for the Hurricanes is to focus on themselves and make sure they return to winning ways in Week 7.

The Hurricanes have played one fewer game than the Pittsburgh Panthers this season, but they are strong favourites to beat a team who are just 2-2 in ACC Conference play. In back to back weeks the Panthers have been beaten by a single point by the NC State Wolfpack and the Boston College Eagles and that will have some wondering why they are such a big underdog in this game.

The reason is fairly simple and that is veteran signal caller Kenny Pickett is trending towards sitting out for Pittsburgh. There is still hope for Pickett who made his first College start for the Panthers against the Miami Hurricanes three years ago and actually beat a then unbeaten opponent, although he has not led the Panthers to wins over this rivals since then.

Kenny Pickett is hurt and he is going to be limited at best in this game which is going to be causing problems for the Pittsburgh Panthers no matter what. They have been decent at throwing the ball down the field, and Miami's Secondary can be exposed, but the problem for the Panthers will be if Pickett is not very mobile behind his Offensive Line and can't escape from the Miami pass rush.

What will make things difficult for Pittsburgh if their Quarter Back is limited or if they have to call on someone much more inexperienced than Kenny Pickett is that they have been struggling to run the ball with any consistency. That does mean any signal caller is operating from third and long spots when facing the Hurricanes pass rush and it could make it very difficult for Pittsburgh to move the ball with some consistency through this meeting.

Running the ball is not going to be easy for the Hurricanes either as they face a Pittsburgh Defensive Line which has restricted teams to 1.7 yards per carry for the season and even to 2.1 yards per carry in their last three games despite the improved level of opponent. Miami have been able to establish the run with their dual-threat Quarter Back D'Eriq King able to rip off yards on the ground himself, but it might be more on him to show his arm can make the plays to loosen things out for the running game.

King will have to be aware of the threat the Panthers have when it comes to the pass rush, but there are holes in the Secondary which can be exposed. He will have to scramble away from pressure before targeting his options down the field, but the transfer has shown he is capable of doing that while an improved Miami Offensive Line can at least give D'Eriq King the time he may need to hit his Receivers.

Miami have blown out Pittsburgh the last two times they have hosted them and this time may be facing an inexperienced Quarter Back.

The Hurricanes have also bounced back effectively from straight up losses of more than 20 points like they had in Week 6. While the Panthers have also been a solid team to back when they have suffered a defeat, I think the Miami Hurricanes will have a bit too much experience for them in this one, especially without Kenny Pickett at 100% in the Quarter Back spot.

Kansas Jayhawks @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: Most are expecting the Oklahoma State Cowboys to be the team to beat in the Big 12 Conference and both of these teams meeting each other in Week 7 have already been beaten by the favourites. The West Virginia Mountaineers will believe they have enough to at least fight back and potentially earn a Championship Game, but the Kansas Jayhawks are having another difficult season.

The Jayhawks have lost all three games played in 2020 and they are 0-2 within the Conference, while things have been hard this week with Les Miles not being able to help the team as he quarantines after Covid-19 concerns. There is still a chance that Miles will be on the sideline in Week 7, but not having the Head Coach around all week is not ideal for the players.

Two blowout losses to Conference rivals is arguably more acceptable than losing to Coastal Carolina, but that is where the Jayhawks are. They have been struggling on both sides of the ball and I do think it is going to be a big challenge for Kansas to keep this one competitive.

Miles Kendrick will get the call at Quarter Back for the Jayhawks, but he is going up against a West Virginia Defensive unit that have played well and deserve respect. The young, inexperienced signal caller won't be able to call on much of a running game to put himself in a strong position to at least try and make plays as Kansas have struggled to establish the ground game.

The Jayhawks have only averaged 149 yards per game on the ground at 3.7 yards per carry, but now they have to try and knock the West Virginia Defensive Line around which has given up less than 3 yards per carry. Teams have not been deterred in trying to run against the Mountaineers, but they are holding teams to barely 102 yards per game on the ground and I do think Miles Kendrick is going to be the one under pressure to try and keep the chains moving.

That itself will be a huge difficulty for Kansas considering the West Virginia Secondary have only allowed 166 passing yards per game so far in 2020. They have not been completely happy with their performances, but the Mountaineers can't really expect to play much better than they have up to this point, although this does feel like another game against an overmatched Conference rival.

Holding teams in check on the ground has also given the Mountaineers a chance to rush the passer and I expect them to get after Kendrick in this one. The Kansas Offensive Line has been just as poor in pass protection as they have in opening holes for the ground attack and I think that means we are going to see the Mountaineers control the tempo of this game.

West Virginia might have remained unbeaten if they had more consistency Offensively, but they should have enough to keep the chains moving throughout this one. The key will be getting a little more out of the Offensive Line when it comes to running the ball and I think the Mountaineers should be aided by the season long struggles Kansas have had on the Defensive Line.

This is a team that has given up over 225 yards per game on the ground and I do think it will be difficult for them to contain West Virginia who have Leddie Brown rolling from the Running Back position.

The inability to stop the run means Kansas have simply not been able to get much of a pass rush going while the Secondary might have stronger looking numbers because teams have not needed to make multiple big plays against them down the field. Jarret Doege might be comfortable handing the ball off in this one and see his team drive the ball up and down the field, but I also think the Quarter Back will be asked to take some chances throwing the ball to build confidence for bigger tests in the remaining weeks of the 2020 season.

I like West Virginia here and I do think they are capable of covering a big number.

The Mountaineers have usually been well prepared off a Bye Week and the same cannot be said for the Kansas Jayhawks. Add in an inexperienced Quarter Back and the fact the Head Coach has not been able to be around during the week and the home team might end up with a comfortable win when all is said and done.

Louisville Cardinals @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: No one can honestly say they have enjoyed 2020 in the way they would have wanted and for sporting institutions there is always the worry that games will have to be postponed when Covid-19 outbreaks occur. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish know all about that having had back to back games postponed, but it has not stopped their momentum as they comfortably dismissed the Florida State Seminoles in Week 6.

Even then Brian Kelly has admitted he feels much happier with what has been a 'normal' week in preparing for the latest ACC Conference game. The Fighting Irish are 3-0 for the season and 2-0 within the Conference after results last week and they look like being the biggest threat to the Clemson Tigers in the ACC.

They go in Week 7 as a big favourite to beat the Louisville Cardinals who have a 1-3 record overall, but who have lost all three ACC games played so far. The Cardinals have lost three in a row, but they have had slightly longer preparing for this test having played during the week in Week 6 while Notre Dame were in the traditional Saturday scheduling plan.

Any team who can turn to Malik Cunningham has to be respected, but the Cardinals have still not been able to really get on track Offensively as they would have liked. The big concern for this team is the struggle to establish the run game and now they have to face a Fighting Irish Defensive Line which has simply not been giving up a lot of big plays.

Last week Notre Dame were not happy with their own Defensive performance, but they should be a lot better playing in back to back weeks rather than having three weeks between games. The Defensive Line will believe they can win on the line of scrimmage which would then put all the pressure on Cunningham at Quarter Back to make the plays needed to keep the chains moving.

You can't dismiss Cunningham's chances of doing that, but this is not an easy team to throw the ball against. Any time he is in third and long spots, keeping the Fighting Irish pass rush at bay will be a huge challenge, while the Cardinals have simply not thrown the ball as efficiently as they would have liked in their three Conference games. Malik Cunningham is a very good Quarter Back, but he doesn't really have the talent around him to compete with this Notre Dame Defense for sixty minutes and it could be a difficult day for Louisville to bounce back.

A lot was expected of Cunningham and a lot was expected of Ian Book at Quarter Back for Notre Dame, although the support the latter is getting means he doesn't have to do as much as he potentially can. At the moment the Fighting Irish Offensive Line have been dominating teams on the ground and that means Book is in a position to make quick throws to keep the chains moving and keep his team in a position to score points on every drive.

The Fighting Irish have put up 6.3 yards per carry so far this season and Louisville's Defensive Line have been giving up 4.9 yards per carry in Conference play which is a major concern for them. It should mean Notre Dame are simply keeping the ball on the ground and picking up some huge chunks of yardage which will put them in a position to do whatever they like with Quarter Back Ian Book.

Louisville can't sell out to stop the run because the Secondary have largely struggled in Conference play too and Book is capable of exposing any one-on-one schemes the Cardinals cook up. Like many teams who are not able to stop the run, the Cardinals have not been able to get anything like a pass rush going and that should mean Ian Book has all the time in the world to make his plays if the Fighting Irish wish him to showcase some of his arm talent.

Last week the Fighting Irish let me down, but I do think they can cover this time around. There isn't a long break between games this week so I expect the Defensive unit to be better all around, while the Notre Dame Offense should keep rolling against this Cardinals Defense.

The Fighting Irish won by 18 on the road last season and I do think they can match that margin here. They are 8-3 against the spread in their last eleven as the home favourite, while Louisville are 1-8-1 against the spread in their last ten as the road underdog. It is a big spread, but I think Notre Dame can cover this week.

MY PICKS: Miami Hurricanes - 12.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
West Virginia Mountaineers - 21.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
East Carolina Pirates + 3 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs + 5.5 Points @ 1.83 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
UCF Knights - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet365 (1 Unit)
North Carolina Tar Heels - 13.5 Points @ 1.90 Bet365 (1 Unit)

Week 6: 3-3, - 0.44 Units (6 Units Staked, - 7.33% Yield)

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