Tuesday, December 5, 2023

College football picks, schedule: Predictions against the spread, odds, top 25 games in Week 7

The midway point of the 2023 college football season approaches, and the one Power Five conference that may not make it into 2024 remains in focus. Yes, the Pac-12 has been the sport’s best league this season, and it has a trio of top-10 teams in prominent games along with three Heisman Trophy caliber quarterbacks who will all be competing Saturday.

The game of the day — and one of what might be the top games of the regular season — sees No. 7 Washington host No. 8 Oregon. Michael Penix Jr. of the Huskies has been outstanding this season, more so than Bo Nix of the Ducks, who was the focus of a concerted preseason Heisman campaign. However, the duo will do their talking on the field Saturday. While the focus entering the game will be Penix vs. Nix, Oregon in particular has proven to be extremely deep on both sides of the ball, while Washington’s playmakers have done a great job blowing opponents away.

In the nightcap, reigning Hesiman winner Caleb Williams of No. 10 USC visits a No. 21 Notre Dame team badly in need of a victory having already suffered two losses on the season. The Trojans were on the verge of taking their first L last week against Arizona (eventually a 43-41 win in three overtimes), this after struggling more than most expected at Colorado the week prior. This is a prime opportunity for Notre Dame to change the tone of their season, while USC can erase a couple tough weeks and get back on track ahead of an extremely difficult final half of its schedule.

Not to be overlooked in all of this is a tremendous SEC on CBS doubleheader. No. 1 Georgia visits Vanderbilt for its final test before taking a week off ahead of the Florida-Georgia game; the Gators just took down the Commodores 38-14 last week. Then Texas A&M visits No. 19 Tennessee, which has cruised against every opponent other than Florida this season and has won 13 straight home games dating back to 2021.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports all day Saturday for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for the best games in Week 7.

Odds via SportsLine consensus | All times Eastern

No. 1 Georgia at Vanderbilt

Noon | CBS, Paramount+ with ShowtimeCBSSports.comCBS Sports App — Georgia has covered once against an FBS opponent, and that was Kentucky. Is that the start of a new trend or the exception to the rule? It’ll be the latter. Georgia will pump the brakes early in the third quarter after building a lead, and the Commodores will do enough to at least keep it within four touchdowns. Simply put, there is no reason for Georgia to even try to cover. Considering Kirby Smart likes to pull his starters when he’s up three touchdowns, the possibility for a backdoor cover is significant. Pick: Vanderbilt +31.5 — Barrett Sallee 

No. 3 Ohio State at Purdue

Noon | Peacock — Ohio State’s rushing attack has not yet hit its stride, and those struggles have prevented the Buckeyes offense from finding any kind of consistency against power conference opponents. Playing on the road in a lookahead spot with Penn State on deck, I would not be surprised if Ryan Day does whatever is needed to simply win the game, which gives some value to taking the upset-minded Boilermakers and nearly 20 points on the spread. Pick: Purdue +19.5 — Chip Patterson

Texas A&M at No. 19 Tennessee

3:30 p.m. | CBS, Paramount+ with ShowtimeCBSSports.comCBS Sports App — The matchups in the cross-division showdown are fascinating. For example: Texas A&M’s run defense is elite, but Tennessee’s running game is statistically among the best in the country. The Aggies secondary is exploitable, but the Volunteers have struggled to connect on deep passes. Both teams are among just three power-conference schools averaging more than nine tackles for loss per game, and they are great at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. In such an evenly matched game, the edge goes to the team with home-field advantage. Pick: Tennessee ML (-175) — David Cobb

No. 8 Oregon at No. 7 Washington

3:30 p.m. | ABC, fubo (Try for free) — Michael Penix Jr. has been better and far more explosive than Bo Nix, but Oregon has looked like the more complete team. The Huskies are explosive, but the Ducks have more down-to-down consistency. This will be one of the top matchups of the season, and it could go either way. However, home-field advantage and a Heisman Trophy level day from Penix gets UW over the finish line. Pick: Washington -3 — Shehan Jeyarajah

No. 10 USC at No. 21 Notre Dame

7:30 p.m. | NBC, fubo (Try for free) — The weather forecast for this game is important. It’s expected to be cold, wet and windy when these two get going Saturday night. Those typically aren’t the kind of weather conditions that make for high-scoring affairs. It’ll be interesting to see if USC is forced to lean on its ground game more than usual — and whether that impacts its ability to move the ball. Combined with Notre Dame’s tendency to get conservative in big spots, that makes me think the smartest play for this one is the under. Pick: Under 60.5 — Tom Fornelli 

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 7, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons — and find out.

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