Breaking down Week 7 of the 2020 college football schedule

By Amy Daughters -

Week 7 of the soap opera that is the 2020 college football season is the final episode without the Big Ten written into the storyline. That blessed event, slated for Friday, Oct. 23rd, will take the active Power 3 (the ACC, Big 12 and SEC) to Power 4 status (the Pac-12 is set to return on Nov. 7).

The week kicks off with the first Wednesday night game of the season – Coastal Carolina at (21) Louisiana at 7:30pm EST on ESPN. Though it doesn’t have “headliner” written all over it, it’s a battle between two 3-0 squads – the Chanticleers flying high with the No. 4 scoring offense in the FBS and the Ragin’ Cajuns as owners and operators of the No. 17 nationally ranked scoring D.

Thursday night also features a single Sun Belt game – Georgia State at Arkansas State at 7:30pm EST on ESPN. On Friday two ranked – and undefeated – programs are in action in back-to-back contests on ESPN. First up, (17) SMU (a perfect 4-0) visits Tulane at 6pm EST and then (14) BYU (also 4-0) calls on Houston at 9:30pm EST.

Saturday gets rolling with two Top 15 squads on the road – (1) Clemson at Georgia Tech (Noon EST, ABC) and (15) Auburn at South Carolina (Noon EST, ESPN). Alternatives at the same time include (13) Miami Fla. hosting a Pitt defense that is ranked No. 12 nationally in scoring and No. 2 vs. the run on the ACC Network.

The midafternoon timeslot kicks off early with Louisville at (4) Notre Dame (2:30pm EST, NBC). One hour and a half after that – at 4pm EST – dial up (11) Texas A&M at Mississippi State on ESPN. If you’re looking for something less obvious, it’s UCF – which after three games is ranked No. 2 in the FBS in passing offense – at Memphis – which after two outings is ranked dead last in the nation in passing yards allowed, it airs on ABC at 3:30pm EST.

Primetime is all about (3) Georgia at (2) Alabama (8pm EST, CBS). Not only is it the sole ranked vs. ranked affair in Week 7, it features the Tide’s No. 1 nationally ranked scoring offense vs. the Bulldogs No. 5 ranked scoring D. Also of note are (5) North Carolina at Florida State at 7:30pm EST on ABC (the Tar Heels are No. 3 in the ACC in rushing yards per game while the Seminoles are No. 13 – or third to last in the league – in rushing D) and Boston College at (23) Virginia Tech at 8pm EST on the ACC Network (the Eagles are No. 16 nationally in scoring defense while the Hokies are No. 7 in the FBS in scoring offense).

RANKED vs. RANKED (1)

  • (3) Georgia at (2) Alabama – Saturday, 8pm EST, CBS

TOP 25 TEAMS OFF THIS WEEK (11)

  • American: (8) Cincinnati
  • Big Ten: (6) Ohio State, (9) Penn State, (16) Wisconsin, (19) Michigan, (24) Minnesota
  • Big 12: (20) Iowa State, (22) Kansas State
  • Pac-12: (12) Oregon, (25) USC
  • SEC: (10) Florida

STREAKERS

8: (15) Auburn has won 8-straight over South Carolina (only loss in 1933)

13: UCF has won 13-straight over Memphis (only loss in 1990)

17: (18) Tennessee has won 17-straight home games vs. Kentucky (last loss there in 1984)

NEVER-LAND

  • East Carolina has NEVER beaten Navy at home (0-3)
  • Charlotte has NEVER beaten Florida International (0-5)
  • Georgia State has NEVER won AT Arkansas State (0-3)
  • Houston has NEVER beaten (14) BYU (0-2)
  • Kansas has NEVER won AT West Virginia (0-5)
  • Memphis has NEVER beaten UCF in conference play (0-13)
  • South Carolina has NEVER beaten (15) Auburn in SEC play (0-8)
  • South Florida has NEVER won AT Temple (0-3)

PERFECT STORMS

Liberty at Syracuse (Saturday, Noon EST, ESPN3)

After giving up an average of 143 rushing yards to its first two opponents this season (160 at North Carolina and 127 at Pitt), Syracuse has allowed an average of 319 ground yards in its last two outings. First, it coughed up 275 rushing yards and two scores in its narrow 37-20 win vs. Georgia Tech on Sept. 26 and last Saturday it allowed a whopping 363 ground yards and two scores in a 38-24 loss to Duke (a squad that is averaging 153.4 rushing yards per game thus far this season). It makes for an intriguing matchup vs. 4-0 Liberty, which has managed to earn a No. 7 national rank in rushing offense, averaging a cool 251 yards per game. Can the Flames – which are nine-point underdogs and 0-8 all-time vs. the ACC – exploit the Orange’s diminishing D and pull an upset? Keep an eye on Liberty junior QB Malik Willis (#7), a transfer from Auburn who is the top rushing QB in the FBS and senior RB Joshua Mack (#8), No. 32 in the FBS in yards per game.

UMass at Georgia Southern (Saturday, 4pm EST, ESPNU)

No defense in FBS history has allowed more points per game than UMass did in 2019, coughing up a record 52.7. Though the Minutemen finished ranked No. 109 (out of 130 FBS clubs) nationally vs. the pass last season, the unit that suffered the most was the rush defense, which gave up an average of 299 ground yards per game – the most in the entire nation. Cue up Georgia Southern, which runs the option and is currently ranked No. 4 – in the FBS – in rushing yards per game and things could get ugly. Players to watch include Eagles’ senior RB J.D. King (#15), an Oklahoma State transfer who is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation in rushing yards per game (123) and senior QB Shai Werts (#1), his 73.7 rushing yards per game is No. 2 among FBS QBs who have participated in more than one game. Keep in mind that this is the season opener for UMass, though it returns seven starters on each side of the ball it’s to a squad that went 1-11 in 2019.

MIND-BLOWER

Ole Miss’s road trip to Arkansas this Saturday (3:30pm EST, ESPN2) marks the 29th time the two have met as SEC members, a run that began in 1992 when the Razorbacks left the old Southwest Conference. Prior to that, the Rebels and Hogs met 38 times as non-conference opponents including clashing in both the 1962/63 and 1969/70 Sugar Bowls.

Ole Miss was triumphant in both bowl games, also the only time the two have played in the postseason. In the 1970 game, the No. 13 Rebels (7-3) upset the (3) Razorbacks (9-1) 27-22. In the 63’ contest, No. 3 Ole Miss (9-0) edged (6) Arkansas (9-1) 17-13 and captured the third – and most recent – of its three national championships.

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Returning starter data courtesy of Phil Steele. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com

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