Games to Watch: Week 7

Steve Helwick

No. 24 Texas Tech at West Virginia

Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPNU

Although it appeared life after former quarterback Patrick Mahomes II would be tough for the Red Raiders, Texas Tech earned its first ranking since the 2013 season. Texas Tech’s lone defeat occurred in Week 5, falling to Oklahoma State by a touchdown in the contest’s final minutes. But head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team looked strong in victories over Arizona State and Houston before annihilating Kansas, 65-19, last weekend. The Red Raiders’ next challenge transpires in Morgantown, West Virginia. West Virginia lost its opener, 31-24, to Virginia Tech and lost last week at TCU by the same score. Sandwiched between those close defeats are three victories where the Mountaineers put on offensive clinics, scoring at least 56 points in each win. The quarterback matchup between West Virginia’s Will Grier and Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek is a can’t miss in this Big 12 showdown.

Georgia Tech at No. 11 Miami (FL)

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC

In Week 1, Georgia Tech failed to convert a two-point conversion in double overtime and lost a 42-41 heartbreaker to the Tennessee Volunteers. Since, the Yellow Jackets have responded in an authoritative manner, dominating the rest of their ACC competition by a combined score of 68-24. The triple option is working efficiently again in Paul Johnson’s unique brand of offense, earning 396 rushing yards per game (second in FBS). Georgia Tech will try to catapult into the rankings by knocking off an undefeated Miami program on the road. Miami worked hard to secure its undefeated record in Tallahassee, Florida last weekend, scoring a game-winning touchdown to beat Florida State with just six seconds remaining to win, 24-20. The Hurricanes’ star running back Mark Walton is out for the season, and Miami must turn to the arm of junior quarterback Malik Rosier to continue succeeding offensively.

No. 25 Navy at Memphis

Saturday, 2:45 p.m., ESPNU

These American Conference foes possess two of the best offenses in college football, but they attack in differing ways. The Midshipmen, who shot into the rankings after a 5–0 start, almost exclusively keep the ball on the ground. Navy’s triple option has been effective for years, and many opposing defenses are baffled on how to stop it. Seven different ball carriers have scored a touchdown this year for Navy, and Memphis must prepare to limit Navy’s numerous weapons. The Tigers’ offense runs primarily through senior quarterback Riley Ferguson. Ferguson, after beating UCLA this season, showed his full potential at Connecticut last Friday, throwing for 431 yards and a program-high seven touchdowns. Plenty is at stake in this matchup for the top-heavy American Conference race.

Utah at No. 13 USC

Saturday, 7 p.m., ABC

USC was a frequent preseason pick for this year’s College Football Playoff, but a second loss could eliminate the Trojans from the event. After losing to Washington State on the road, USC followed up with a 38-10 win over Oregon State where redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold shined with 316 passing yards and three touchdowns. The game against the Beavers was USC’s easiest test yet, but the Trojans can’t continue to relax against the 4–1 Utes. Kyle Whittingham has a knack for winning big games at Utah. The long-standing head coach sports a 10–1 bowl record, winning two BCS bowls with the Utes. Utah narrowly lost to Stanford last Saturday, but Whittingham’s team can stay on track for a Pac-12 South title by beating USC for the third time in four seasons.