The midway point of the 2022 college football season is upon us with Separation Saturday ahead in Week 7. With six games between top-25 opponents on deck, there is no doubt that College Football Playoff dreams will be crushed a couple weeks ahead of the first CFP Rankings being released.
The Big Ten East will begin to sort out early as No. 10 Penn State visits No. 5 Michigan with the Nittany Lions hoping to continue their strong season, while the Wolverines look to prove 2021 was not an aberration.
The featured game of the day, though, is No. 3 Alabama entering Rocky Top to take on No. 6 Tennessee with the Volunteers as confident as ever welcoming the rival Crimson Tide to town. Is this the year the Vols get over the schneid and become legitimate CFP contenders, or will quarterback Bryce Young return to set the Crimson Tide right entering the second half of the season?
No. 8 Oklahoma State also visits No. 13 TCU in another meeting of Big 12 unbeatens that should clear the field in the league, while No. 7 USC travels to No. 20 Utah in a key Pac-12 game. Will the Utes reclaim their dominance of the conference and make a case for winning back-to-back league titles, or will the Trojans continue thriving under first-year coach Lincoln Riley with Caleb Williams under center?
By the time Saturday’s action concludes, numerous conference title pictures will clarify and there may even be notable changes to Jerry Palm’s bowl projections (look for those on Sunday). Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day 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.
Noon | Fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — While I can’t be sure what I know about either of these teams just yet, my inkling is that the defenses remain stronger than the offenses. The Michigan offense has been too reliant on Blake Corum for big plays in recent weeks, and Penn State’s improved offensive line hasn’t been tested the same way it will be this week. We’re much more likely to see a lower-scoring game than a high-scoring affair (none of the last four meetings crossed the 50-point mark). Prediction: Under 51.5 — Tom Fornelli
3:30 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App — Take Tennessee and the points, but you might want to consider a moneyline sprinkle on this one. Even if Bryce Young plays for Alabama, it’s unlikely that he will be 100%. If Bama’s offense bogs down, or even if it has just a few empty possessions, the Volunteers will have a chance to win this one outright. That is exactly what I think will happen. Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker will make a massive Heisman Trophy statement in what will be the biggest win for the Vols in a generation. Prediction: Tennessee +7.5 — Barrett Sallee
3:30 p.m. | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — TCU has been one of the best stories this season, but Oklahoma State is a different kind of challenge. The Cowboys are deep, physical and equally as well-coached. Oklahoma State’s defensive line is good enough to cause problems for a shaky TCU offensive line, especially against the tackles. It will be a close game, but Oklahoma State will pull off the betting upset. Prediction: Oklahoma State +3.5 — Shehan Jeyarajah
7 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — While technically not a top-25 game, this SEC rivalry showdown is always one of the most anticipated of the year. Florida and LSU bear similarities as both teams are 4-2 in their first seasons under new coaches. Both are reliant on mobile quarterbacks who have been inconsistent throwing the football, and both endured some intense highs and lows over the season’s first half. LSU’s defense looks better on paper, ranking 29th nationally in total defense as opposed to Florida’s 99th ranking, but that’s misleading as the Tigers surrendered 438 yards against lowly Auburn two weeks ago before giving up 502 yards at home against Tennessee last week. With such a narrow spread in this game and little seeming to differentiate the teams, Florida gets the nod due to home field advantage. The Swamp should be rocking for a night game against a SEC rival. Prediction: Florida -2.5 — David Cobb
8 p.m. | Fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — There should be some real concern with Utah’s inability to get pressure on Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the loss to UCLA. There is going to be plenty for Lincoln Riley and his staff to work with in terms of looking to exploit Utah’s defense in a similar manner, and the recent success of the Trojans defense is a welcome sign when that side fo the ball was thought to be a weakness coming into the season. Utah will play better than it did against UCLA, but things aren’t quite clicking at the championship level we expected coming into the season. I give USC a decent chance to win, so I think taking the points is the right play. Prediction: USC +3.5 — Chip Patterson