Week Seven Lowe Down: Auburn, Texas get big wins

Matt Lowe

October 14, 2017 at 1:20 am.

Oct 7, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams (49) chases Ole Miss Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) during the second quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Photo Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 7, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams (49) chases Ole Miss Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) during the second quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Photo Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Seven of The Lowe Down.

Sure, Clemson and Alabama currently look like the top two teams, but after a trip to Syracuse Friday night, the Tigers play Georgia Tech, NC State (in Raleigh) and Florida State in consecutive weeks, so they will be tested.

As for Alabama, it hosts Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU before traveling to Mississippi State. After the road trip to Starkville, the Crimson Tide returns home to play Mercer before concluding the regular season at rival Auburn. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure Nick Saban’s team really gets challenged until the Iron Bowl and possibly the SEC Championship Game — if Georgia continues its roll and wins the SEC East.

Speaking of Georgia, Kirby Smart’s bunch has the look of a championship contender. The Bulldogs are relying on a smothering defense and powerful run game to win games, but the schedule gets a lot tougher down the stretch and it will be interesting to see how quarterback Jake Fromm improves with each game. It’s not often that a true freshman signal-caller leads a team to a national title, but I really think Fromm has the moxie and skill to do just that.

Last week’s record was 21-4, bringing the yearly record to 74-33. To the games we go…

Friday, October 13

No. 2 Clemson (6-0) at Syracuse (3-3) 6:00 p.m. CT
The big question surrounding this game is the health of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant. Bryant injured his ankle in a win over Wake Forest last week and is expected to be a game-time decision, but look for him to play. If he doesn’t, the start would go to freshman Hunter Johnson, who went 5 of 5 passing for 42 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers 28-14 win over Wake Forest last week. Syracuse is an up-tempo team on offense and possesses a really good quarterback in Eric Dungey. But the Orange have struggled stopping formidable running teams all year long and that will likely show up here regardless of who Clemson plays at QB.
The Lowe Down: Clemson 45, Syracuse 22

No. 8 Washington State (6-0) at California (3-3) 9:30 p.m. CT
I’ve gotten a good look at Washington State and I think they are the best team in the Pac-12. Now we may not know this for a fact until the Cougars meet Washington in the Apple Cup at regular season’s end, but Wazzu has everything you look for in a championship team: a good quarterback, powerful run game and fast, hard-hitting defense. Cougars roll on.
The Lowe Down: Washington State 38, California 17

Saturday, October 14

No. 6 TCU (6-0) at Kansas State (3-2) 11:00 a.m. CT
It’s still uncertain who will line up behind center for Kansas State after incumbent Jesse Ertz left the Texas game last week with an undisclosed injury. Backup Alex Delton, who ran for two scores against the Longhorns after Ertz exited, will get the nod if Ertz can’t go. TCU is clicking on offense behind the play of quarterback Kenny Hill. But the big matchup to watch here might be the Horned Frogs run D against whichever QB starts for the Wildcats. If K-State can get the run game going, then it might have a shot at the upset.
The Lowe Down: TCU 27, Kansas State 20

Georgia Tech (3-1) at No. 11 Miami (4-0) 2:30 p.m. CT
The loss of dynamic tailback Mark Walton (season-ending ankle surgery) is a blow to Miami’s offense. Walton was the team’s leading rusher and a threat out of the backfield, but he was also a player that provided on-field leadership. Travis Homer will attempt to fill Walton’s big shoes, but don’t be surprised to see quarterback Malik Rosier run a little more with Walton out. Dynamic wideouts Braxton Berrios and Ahmmon Richards may also be in line for a few more touches as well. A big matchup to watch in this ACC showdown will be the Georgia Tech ground game against Miami’s front seven. Last week, FSU ran for 203 yards against the Hurricanes. If that happens again this week, the ‘Canes may not be so lucky at the end of the game this time around.
The Lowe Down: Miami 26, Georgia Tech 24

No. 10 Auburn (5-1) at LSU (4-2) 2:30 p.m. CT
Do I think Auburn has the players to compete for an SEC title? Yes. Do I think the defense is a championship-caliber defense? Yes. Does it have a championship-caliber quarterback? Yes. Does it have a championship-caliber offensive line? Think so, but want to see that unit continue to make strides. With that said, there’s a reason why Auburn hasn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1999. It’s a tough place to win. But in this matchup, I don’t think LSU has the quarterback — or the defense — to beat the visitors. However, defense end Arden Key could pose Auburn’s offensive line some problems if the Tigers (from Lee County) can’t get a consistent ground game going.
The Lowe Down: Auburn 24, LSU 13

No. 12 Oklahoma (4-1) vs. Texas (3-2) (Dallas) 2:30 p.m. CT
Lose to Iowa State? With a backup quarterback? C’mon Man. Ever since Oklahoma beat Ohio State on the road, it looks like it has gone backwards on defense. Now granted, the Sooners held mighty Tulane to 14 points, but in the last two games Mike Stoops’ unit has given up a combined 79 points. There’s no doubt OU, behind dynamic QB Baker Mayfield, has an offense that’s good enough to win a lot of games, but if the Sooners don’t get better on D they will lose a couple more times. In fact, it might happen here, especially with the way Texas freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been playing.
The Lowe Down: Oklahoma 35, Texas 38

Utah (4-1) at No. 13 USC (5-1) 7:00 p.m. CT
Sam Darnold entered the season as the sexy pick to win the Heisman Trophy, but interceptions and a lack of pass protection have derailed that trajectory so far. But all is not lost. USC is still a talented team. And Darnold and his teammates have time to right the ship after losing a heartbreaker to Washington State two weeks ago. But the offensive line will need to play better if the Trojans want to win the Pac-12. A good test for that unit will come against Utah, which always seems to have a good defensive front wall.
The Lowe Down: USC 34, Utah 20

In other Saturday games:

South Carolina 31 at Tennessee 28 Upset Special*****

Florida State 23 at Duke 17

No. 20 NC State 38 at Pitt 14

No. 17 Michigan 29 at Indiana 23

BYU 13 at Mississippi State 38

No. 24 Texas Tech 23 at West Virginia 30

Purdue 17 at No. 7 Wisconsin 35

No. 25 Navy 38 at Memphis 45

Middle Tennessee 17 at UAB 20 Upset Special*****

East Carolina 13 at No. 22 UCF 52

Texas A&M 27 at Florida 23 Upset Special*****

Arkansas 10 at No. 1 Alabama 56

Cincinnati 14 at No. 18 South Florida 58

Missouri 14 at No. 4 Georgia 55

No. 5 Washington 48 at Arizona State 20

Oregon 20 at No. 23 Stanford 34