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2016 College Football Picks: Week Seven

2016 College Football Picks: Week Seven
Current Record: 35-13
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 9 Tennessee Volunteers
After pulling off comeback after comeback, Tennessee's luck finally caught up with them this past week, as the Volunteers lost their first game of the season to Texas A&M in double overtime. While obviously a loss hurts, the Vols can get right back into the Playoff mix by taking down Alabama. Although they aren't completely blowing the doors off everybody they face, Alabama has looked like the real deal this season despite the youth they have at many key areas. That youth includes true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has been rock-solid. Hurts' ability to run and extend plays adds a whole new dimension to the powerful Tide offense, and other weapons like Calvin Ridley and O.J. Howard make it even more lethal. Hurts played on the road against both Arkansas and Ole Miss, so he knows how to win even in raucous SEC environments. While Knoxville will be energetic and eager to see a Vols victory (Tennessee hasn't been 'Bama in ten years), Hurts' composure will be important. Not surprisingly, Alabama has been dominant on the defensive side of the ball this season, not seeming to miss departed defensive coordinator Kirby Smart whatsoever. The ball-hawking secondary, led by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, should give an already-mediocre Vols' aerial attack issues, and the front seven is powerful and aggressive. The key for Tennessee will not be turning the ball over, as 'Bama capitalizes on turnovers as well as anybody in the country. That is worrying, considering how much the Vols turned it over in the A&M loss. Senior QB Josh Dobbs will have to be smart and make some big throws, and it helps that Tennessee should get feature back Jalen Hurd back in this one after he missed last week. Paired with former Alabama back Alvin Kamara, Hurd should give the Volunteers some way to move the ball consistently. The Tide are rolling, off to a 6-0 start where they have looked pretty flawless, with the exception of the first half against Ole Miss. Talent-wise, Tennessee is probably the best competition they have in the conference, and they should be able to give them a run for their money. Even so, until 'Bama shows they aren't the top team in the nation in some way, they're my pick.
Alabama, 34 Tennessee, 28

2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 8 Wisconsin Badgers
So far this season, Ohio State has rolled past nearly everybody they've faced en route to 5-0 start. However, OSU didn't look quite as great this past week against a solid Indiana team, which should gave eighth-ranked Wisconsin plenty of hope as they prepare for a battle with the Buckeyes. The Badgers have been a pleasant surprise this year. Many expected second-year head coach Paul Chryst to have a solid season in Madison but even die-hard fans had to accept they were facing a brutal schedule with an inexperienced quarterback. Wisconsin has survived LSU and Michigan State, and gave Michigan quite a battle before losing 14-7. A win over Ohio State would not only reinvigorate their Playoff hopes, but make them the favorite in the conference, most likely. The Badgers will hope for a good performance from young QB Alex Hornibrook and quality senior back Corey Clement. Jazz Peavy, an athletic playmaker on the outside, should also give Wisconsin plenty to work with on offense but don't be fooled, this is a defense-first team. And boy, has that defense been good this season. Linebackers Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt (J.J.'s younger brother) have played terrific, but Biegel has been nursing an injury. In the secondary, the Badgers are led by corner Sojourn Shelton and plenty of other veterans that should make like difficult for Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. Making life difficult for Barrett will certainly be important, considering what the junior has done this year. Barrett has 981 yards through the air, 342 on the ground and has accounted for 19 total touchdowns, making him a serious Heisman candidate. Barrett didn't look great passing the football last weekend, but his ability to make plays no matter what is extremely impressive. Backs Mike Weber and versatile Curtis Samuel will also have to be contained by the Badgers. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State has also been shutdown. A vaunted defensive line that includes Sam Hubbard and true freshman Nick Bosa has been beastly, and the secondary includes stars Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore. This game should really put different ideologies to the test in a cross-division battle. Wisconsin has long been a pound-it-out, run the ball team and that formula has worked, while the Buckeyes spread the ball out and attack. The last time Wisconsin played Ohio State they were blown out 59-0 in the 2014-2015 Big Ten Championship Game and that test for revenge will be helped by the fact they are well-rested after a bye. Even so, stopping the vast array of playmakers Ohio State has on both sides of the ball could prove to be too tall an order.
Ohio State, 30 Wisconsin, 20

12 Ole Miss Rebels vs. 22 Arkansas Razorbacks
Texas A&M and Alabama currently lead the division, but that doesn't mean they have the SEC West in a stranglehold. Both Ole Miss and Arkansas will hope for a big win to put themselves right back in the mix inside the division. Ole Miss has really found itself after an 1-2 start, thanks in large part to the play of senior QB Chad Kelly. Kelly who called himself the best quarterback in the nation prior to the season has started to look the part, with 1,596 passing yards and 13 scores. He will be aided by dynamic tight end Evan Engram, the Rebels' leading receiver, and plenty of other help on the perimeter. That could be enough to give an inconsistent Arkansas defense plenty of issues. In order to stay in the game, the Razorbacks will have to match Ole Miss' offensive attack and their up-tempo scheme. Quarterback Austin Allen has looked good this season, but he had some issues controlling the ball against Alabama. Ole Miss' secondary is not the ball-hawking, feared unit it has been the past few years, but he could still have troubles. That could lead Arkansas to rely even more on their ground game, led by Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley. However, the Razorbacks, long known for their ability to control the line of scrimmage, have watched as their O-Line has struggled mightily. Against pass rushers like Marquis Haynes and more, they can't continue to see that type of struggles or else they will have real troubles moving the football. A major key for Ole Miss in this game will actually be finishing it. In their two losses, the Rebels jumped out to big leads and looked like they were going to roll to a victory. But, both times the offense fell apart and the defense crumbled in much the same way, and they lost. Arkansas is a team that plays hard-nosed football for 60 minutes, so the Rebels can't allow that to happen. Assuming they don't, Kelly and the rest of the offense should be enough to get Ole Miss over the top.
Ole Miss, 35 Arkansas, 23

Other Picks
3 Clemson, 34 NC State, 24
20 West Virginia, 27 Texas Tech, 26
13 Houston, 42 Tulsa, 21
17 Virginia Tech, 38 Syracuse, 30
24 Western Michigan, 37 Akron, 20

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