College football TV schedule for Week 7

On Oct. 16, 1993, there were three games featuring teams that were all 5-0 or better: No. 1 Florida State beat No. 15 Virginia, 40-14; No. 6 Nebraska beat Kansas State, 45-28; and No. 19 Auburn defeated No. 4 Florida, 38-35. It was the first time in college football history that six teams with such records played one another on the same day, according to ESPN’s Chris Fallica.

It took almost exactly 29 years, but we’re finally getting a repeat of that happy combination of success and scheduling. On paper, Saturday’s slate is a knockout, with Penn State-Michigan, Alabama-Tennessee and Oklahoma State-TCU all matchups of teams that are 5-0 or better, plus three other ranked-vs.-ranked games as an added bonus. Everything is spread out nicely across all the TV windows, too. A pretty nice little Saturday, indeed.

Penn State visits Michigan, giving Nittany Lions Coach James Franklin a chance to finally score a road win against an esteemed opponent. In eight road games against top-five foes over his career as the coach at Penn State and Vanderbilt, Franklin has gone 0-8, losing those games by an average score of 37-11. The Nittany Lions are unbeaten on the road this season, escaping Purdue with a last-second win in their opener and walloping Auburn in Week 3, but neither of those teams are close to the same league as the Wolverines, a top-10 team in terms of the SP+ efficiency metric in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams (Georgia is the only other team that can boast that). Michigan has looked at least a little dicey in each of its past three games but has turned it on when needed, and Penn State might not have the offensive firepower to keep up (its offense ranks 114th nationally in rushing success rate, while the Wolverines’ defense ranks seventh in that category). …

College football best bets: Uncertainty points to under in Alabama-Tennessee

Tennessee hasn’t finished a season ranked in the AP top 10 since 2001, but the unbeaten Volunteers can continue their long climb to relevance by beating Alabama. Tennessee’s offense has been ruthlessly effective this season: It has had 17 goal-to-go situations and has scored a touchdown on all of them (the next closest team at 100 percent success is just 10 for 10), according to FiveThirtyEight. But the Crimson Tide’s defense will be the best Tennessee has seen this season, and Nick Saban is 15-0 against the Vols as Alabama’s coach, with his teams winning by an average of 25.9 points. It remains to be seen whether defending Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young will play after missing last week’s close shave against Texas A&M with a shoulder injury. Backup Jalen Milroe didn’t look all that confident against the Aggies. … Oklahoma State’s defense might be a little winded against TCU, given that the Cowboys’ defense was on the field for 104 plays in last week’s win over Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs only average 66 plays per game, but when you’re averaging a national-best 8.1 yards per play, you tend to get things done in a minimal amount of time. … Syracuse hosts North Carolina State in only its second home game as a ranked team since 2001. The Wolfpack will probably be without quarterback Devin Leary, who suffered a shoulder injury in last weekend’s win over Florida State. …

Mississippi State has won two straight SEC contests, over Texas A&M and Arkansas, but both the Aggies and Razorbacks had to rely on backup quarterbacks for some or all of those games. The Bulldogs will not be so lucky against Kentucky. It appears Wildcats quarterback (and NFL prospect) Will Levis will play after missing last weekend’s loss to South Carolina with an injured foot. Kentucky averaged about a yard per play less than its season average against the Gamecocks. … Utah is somewhere around a three-point favorite over USC. Ace noted by Fallica, this will be only the 16th time since 2015 that a team that’s 6-0 or better (the Trojans) will be an underdog to a team with at least two losses (the Utes). The favored team in those games has gone 12-3 straight-up. Of course, the Utes’ two losses this season both came in games in which they were the favorites (at Florida to open the season and at UCLA last weekend). The Trojans’ 6-0 record is at least partially the result of an easy schedule: USC has played no team ranked higher than 45th in the SP+ overall efficiency rankings. Utah is No. 10 in that metric.

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