Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
This week, college football featured undefeated matchups and undefeated slip-ups. Let’s take a look at the landscape after Week 7.
Calling Baton Rouge
LSU’s potent offense was at it again Saturday, as the Bayou Bengals outscored the Gators 42-28 to stay undefeated. Both squads were without a loss coming into this week, and many speculated Florida’s defense would put up a test for the new Tigers’ offense. They were wrong.
Joe Burrow completed all but three passes, finishing with 293 yards passing and three touchdowns. LSU also featured two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher.
The Gators, meanwhile, rotated through quarterbacks as they attempted to keep up, and for the first half, they were successful — the score was tied at 21.
Florida then scored on its first drive out of the half, but that was its last sign of life. LSU answered with three touchdowns in the final two frames, while the defense pitched a shutout after that one Gator drive.
Florida did not look like a bad team. It looked rather competitive, honestly. But something about this Tiger team is above anything else it’s featured in the past decade.
LSU poached away an offensive assistant from the Saints, Joe Brady, and named him passing-game coordinator. The new offense has shifted the culture on the Bayou, changing from the conservative, run-heavy schemes of Les Miles to the progressive, play-action-heavy offense seen down the river in New Orleans.
That change has given LSU the chance to compete in a new kind of SEC. Alabama has reinvented itself with Tua Tagovailoa, one of the most prolific passers in the country, and a trio of wide receivers who all have the potential to be first-round picks. Auburn and Georgia each have quality quarterbacks at the helm of high-octane quarterbacks as well.
Now, the Tigers can keep up with those offenses, as well as put enough NFL defenders on the other end of the field to stay competitive. And for the first time since 2011, Alabama and LSU share the top two spots in the AP poll; and 2011 saw the rivals face off in the national championship game.
Red River Rough-up
Texas still isn’t back. The Longhorns have been practically eliminated from playoff contention after losses to Oklahoma and LSU in the first half of the season.
Oklahoma, even without Heisman-winners Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray at quarterback, looks to have College Football Playoff potential once again. Finally, for those in Norman, Okla., the defense looks capable.
The Sooners held Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger to just 210 yards and no scores through the air on 38 attempts. Their run defense did give up three touchdowns, but the pass defense was at least encouraging.
Opposing quarterback Jalen Hurts, this year’s Lincoln Riley transfer project, did enough on offense to pull out a win, racking up 366 total yards and four touchdowns. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma’s No.1 receiver, posted a career day as well with 10 receptions for 171 yards and three scores.
Oklahoma and Baylor remain the only two undefeated squads in the Big 12, and they are set up for a matchup where both may still be without a loss on Nov. 16.
Georgia takes a hit
The surprise of the week comes from Athens, Ga., as the No. 3 Bulldogs fell to unranked South Carolina. Coming into this year, Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp sat on the hotseat, but this game may give boosters the reason they need to keep him around a bit longer.
Georgia just played a sloppy game. Jake Fromm had four turnovers. The Gamecocks sacked him three times. The hardest thing to look at for the Bulldogs has to be out-gaining their opponent by 171 yards.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Georgia still has a 15% chance to reach the playoff, mostly due to their rough schedule over the next two months. The Bulldogs still have No. 9 Florida and No. 22 Missouri at home, along with a trip to No. 11 Auburn. If they win out, they’ll get a chance against the SEC West champ for a trip to the CFP.
Top of the Big 10
Once again, the top of the old school Big 10 is loaded. The conference features four undefeated squads, two more than any other conference. Ohio State is the top-ranked squad at No. 5, closely followed by No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State. Rounding out the group is the surprise team, No. 20 Minnesota.
Wisconsin shut down an overmatched and retooling Michigan State squad this past week. Minnesota ran all over 4-2 Nebraska. Ohio State had the week off. So it was Penn State who had the big week, showing off on the road against No. 17 Iowa.
The Nittany Lions beat the Hawkeyes 17-12, not giving up a touchdown to their conference foes. Penn State has continued its ground-and-pound success under head coach James Franklin, as Noah Cain racked up 102 yards and a score on 22 touches. Also, even though Iowa outperformed them in the yardage department, Penn State played error-free football, hammering home another important road win.
The big game next week once again involves Penn State, as they get No. 16 Michigan at home. The Wolverines’ only loss was a trouncing on the road by Wisconsin, but they’ll get the chance to redeem themselves against another undefeated squad Saturday.
Rounding out the rest
Elsewhere in undefeated football, Baylor stays tied atop the Big 12 after a tight overtime win against the Red Raiders on homecoming weekend. The road gets tougher from here for the Bears as Clay Johnston went down with a season-ending knee injury during Saturday’s matchup. Baylor will travel to Oklahoma State this week for another tough matchup, sitting at third place in the conference.
Alabama polished off a road win 47-28 against Texas A&M Saturday. That moves it to 6-0, with only LSU at home and Auburn on the road left on the schedule for tough matchups.
Clemson took on unranked and previously prestigious Florida State. They sent the Seminoles packing after a 45-14 stomping. The Tigers’ hardest game remaining is a home matchup with Wake Forest on Nov. 16.
That Wake Forest squad lost its first game of the year this past weekend, falling to Louisville at home 62-59. Their road to the playoff practically dries up with that loss, especially with Clemson left to play.
Boise State continued its UCF-like run, chasing Hawaii out of town with a 59-37 win. The Broncos don’t face another ranked or receiving votes squad most likely until their bowl game.
SMU was on bye for the week, so it avoided a loss once again. The Mustangs also don’t face another ranked squad, but they do have a few matchups with teams receiving votes, including Memphis and Tulane.
Appalachian State, the former Wolverine killer, is 5-0 after a Wednesday matchup with Louisiana-Lafayette. The Mountaineers have one win over a Power 5 school after a tough road game against UNC, and they still have the opportunity for another as they face South Carolina on Nov. 9.