Week 7 Preview: Red River Rivalry and Penny’s Heisman push
This weekend in college football could go a few ways.
With no games pitting ranked teams, it is possible this could be a ho-hum couple of days. Or maybe it could be littered with upsets that reshape the College Football Playoff race.
Plus, some games have intrigue no matter the records or the rankings, like Texas-Oklahoma.
Things to know about Week 7 of the college football season.
No. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas.
The last four seasons of Texas football have been mostly forgettable, but still the Longhorns have won half their games against the Sooners. The last three have all been settled by one possession.
There are plenty of subplots in this one. Each side has a first-year coach, Tom Herman for Texas and Lincoln Riley for Oklahoma. That hasn’t happened since 1947. The Sooners are coming off a stunning upset loss, falling at home to Iowa State. Meanwhile, Texas comes in on a two-game winning streak. The Longhorns haven’t won three straight games since 2014 and have not started 3-0 in the Big 12 since 2009.
On one side is senior quarterback Baker Mayfield for Oklahoma, one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy. On the other side will likely be freshman Sam Ehlinger, who has yet to be handed the title of starting quarterback but is beginning to look the guy for Texas.
Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Playing outside the Power Five, Penny is a long shot at best to win the Heisman Trophy. Still, he is worthy of consideration. The senior is third in the nation at 165 yards rushing per game and tops in all-purpose yards at 220.8 per game.
This is probably the last game of the regular season in which the Aztecs won’t be a heavy favorite, and Boise State still counts as a formidable opponent. Penny could use a strong statement here because he is likely to slip off the radar some during the back half of the season.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2.94 — The enormous difference in yards per carry allowed by Oregon this season compared to last. The Ducks ranked 122nd in the nation in 2016 in run defense, allowing 5.67 yards per carry. This season, under new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, the Ducks rank sixth in the nation at 2.73 yards allowed per carry. Oregon gets tested Saturday by No. 23 Stanford and the nation’s leading rusher, Bryce Love.
19 — Florida State has won all 19 meetings against Duke. The Seminoles try to get back on track after a 1-3 start at the Blue Devils on Saturday.
5-0 — Central Florida looks to improve to 5-0 for the first time since the Knights started playing Division I football in 1996. The chances are good for UCF, which hosts East Carolina (1-5).
10 minutes, 31 seconds — The difference in average time of possession per game between Georgia Tech, which leads the nation in the category, and Miami, which is 127th. The Yellow Jackets option offense holds the ball 36:39 per game on average. The Hurricanes are at 25:08. Georgia Tech visits No. 11 Miami in a key ACC Coastal game Saturday.
UNDER THE RADAR
Virginia at North Carolina
The Cavaliers are looking like one of the top turnaround teams of the season. Under second-year coach Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia (4-1) has already doubled its victory output from last season and is looking like a good bet to cruise to bowl eligibility. Especially if the Cavaliers can take advantage of this very winnable road game. Their next two games are against Boston College and Pitt.
The Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) are tanking this season under the weight of roster turnover and a mountain of injuries.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Butch Jones, Tennessee
Jones could have been the pick here almost every week this season, but this one seems especially crucial. The last time the Vols played, they got embarrassed at home by Georgia. It was fair to at least wonder if Jones would be fired the next day.
Instead, the administration showed restraint. Tennessee (3-2) had last week off and now gets a solid but unspectacular South Carolina team at home to show there is hope for salvaging this season. Because next week is a trip to Alabama.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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