What To Watch: Title chances at stake throughout Power Five
Halfway through the season, it might be time for some College Football Playoff elimination games.
Ranked showdowns between undefeated teams in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences all have huge CFP implications this weekend.
No. 5 Michigan heads to No. 10 Penn State with the winner hoping to keep pace with third-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten.
No. 8 Oklahoma State visits No. 13 TCU with the winner remaining among the top Big 12 teams in line for the league’s title game.
The biggest game of all might be in the SEC where No. 3 Alabama travels to No. 6 Tennessee. Neither wants to stumble with plenty of ranked opponents left on the schedule.
The Pac 12 has undefeated No. 6 Southern Cal at No. 20 Utah, the conference’s best bet for a CFP berth when the season began.
In all, there are six ranked-vs.-ranked matchups in Week 7, including No. 15 North Carolina State at No. 18 Syracuse and No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 22 Kentucky.
The What to Watch rundown for Week 7 of the college football season, presented by Regions Bank:
No. 3 Alabama at No. 6 Tennessee. Nick Saban’s defense vs. Josh Heupel’s offense. QBs Bryce Young and Hendon Hooker in a showcase. This one seems to have it all
Alabama and No. 1 Georgia have swapped spots at the top of the SEC the past few years. But Heupel and the Vols are making a run at both. They could take a huge step by beating Saban and the Crimson Tide, who’ve won 15 straight in the series.
The game should feature two leading Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterbacks in Alabama’s Young and Tennessee’s Hooker. Saban is optimistic that Young, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, will be back this week. Hooker is completing 70% of his throws to lead the SEC’s top scoring offense.
On defense, Will Anderson Jr. is tearing up Alabama’s opponents while Byron Young is doing the same for Tennessee. Anderson has five sacks this season and Young is close behind with 3.5.
Caleb Williams, QB, Southern Cal, The sophomore’s decision to follow coach Lincoln Riley out West is looking better and better each week.
Williams has thrown for 1,590 yards and 14 touchdowns against only one interception. The Trojans closest call was a 17-14 win at Oregon State two weeks ago, where Williams’ late TD pass to Jordan Addison was the difference.
If Williams can get by Utah, he could close the gap on Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, widely considered the leading Heisman contender.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
8.0 — Points per game No. 24 Illinois has allowed this season to lead the nation. The Ilini defense has given up just three touchdowns in six games, which also leads the country.
12 — Consecutive victories by No. 4 Clemson since the end of the season, the longest win streak in Division I. The Tigers head to Florida State on Saturday night.
14 — Years since No. 19 Kansas has been bowl eligible, something it can accomplish for the first time since 2008 as early as this weekend with a trip to Oklahoma.
44 — Seasons since a team in its first year transitioning from FCS to FBS was ranked in the AP Top 25. No. 25 James Madison of the Sun Belt Conference is 5-0.
.958 — The percentage of trips inside the 20 yard line that No. 18 Syracuse has scored on this season. The Orange have gotten points on 23 of 24 times in the red zone this season. The lone time they didn’t was when they kneeled three times there to close out a 59-0 win over Wagner.
UNDER THE RADAR
Arkansas (3-3) at BYU (4-2).
What a difference a month makes. After three weeks of the season, the Razorbacks were ranked 10th and the Cougars 19th. Three weeks later, both teams are out of the poll with with Arkansas having lost three straight and BYU dropping two of its last four.
It looks like Arkansas will have quarterback KJ Jefferson back after he missed last week’s loss at Mississippi State.
Bryan Harsin, Auburn
It seems like Harsin has held the next ticket at the deli counter for the past few weeks as Auburn’s season has devolved.
The Tigers are 3-3 after a 42-10 blowout by No. 1 Georgia. They face another juggernaut in No. 9 Ole Miss this week as they try to avoid a third straight SEC loss.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.