Week Seven Lowe Down: Bama, LSU, Michigan win

Matt Lowe

October 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm.

Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Seven of The Lowe Down.

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

– Mike Singletary, Hall of Fame middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears.

Ah, opportunity. Whether you are playing sports or working for a living, you never know when opportunity will come knocking. But when that opportunity arises, you either do or don’t know if you seized it.

This week, a number of teams around the country have the opportunity to prove to the nation that they are among the elite teams in college football. Michigan, Texas A&M and Florida are three contenders with the most to gain playing against Michigan State, Alabama and LSU, Top-10 teams, but Memphis and Penn State could really make a leap in the polls if they can beat Ole Miss and top-ranked Ohio State.

Last week’s record was 20-4, bringing the yearly record to 89-26. To the games we go…

Friday, October 16

Cincinnati (3-2) at BYU (4-2) 7:00 p.m. CT

If you like offense, then you will like this game. The Bearcats haven’t played a lick of defense all season long, and BYU, behind the play of QB Tanner Mangum, has the ability to put up points in a hurry. Gunner Kiel returns behind center for Cincinnati, but the Cougars will be too much at home.

The Lowe Down: Cincinnati 31, BYU 45

In other Friday games:

No. 21 Boise State 23, Utah State 17

No. 24 Houston 51, Tulane 27

Saturday, October 17

No. 13 Ole Miss (5-1) at Memphis (5-0) 11:00 a.m. CT Weather Forecast: Clear, windy

If you haven’t watched Memphis QB Paxton Lynch play, then you should tune in to this interesting matchup mid-morning Saturday. Lynch is a terrific athlete for his size (6-6, 225) and he’s got a big-time arm, but he’s also an underrated runner who doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s the point man for a Tigers’ offense that could give the Rebel defense a lot of problems.

The Lowe Down: Ole Miss 38, Memphis 34

No. 7 Michigan State (6-0) at No. 12 Michigan (5-1) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Cloudy, cool, breezy

(Game analysis by Anthony Giminio; my pick)

If you can play shut-down defense, you have a chance, and that’s what’s happening at Michigan.

The Wolverines allowed 24 points in their opener at still-undefeated Utah — so, that loss doesn’t look bad at all — but have given up just 14 points since, including a 38-0 dismantling of Northwestern last Saturday. The Wildcats, who entered leading the Big Ten with 248.8 rushing yards per game, managed just 38. Harbaugh graded the whole effort on defense an “A-plus-plus.”

It starts with the terrors on the defensive line, such as Ryan Glasgow, Mo Hurst, Willie Henry and Chris Wormley. And cornerback Jourdan Lewis is having an All-American season.

Michigan’s defensive dominance is no fluke. And Sparty hasn’t played to its potential all season. We’ll figure on MSU playing its best game, and QB Connor Cook to make some plays that keeps this one close, but the bottom line is to believe what you’ve seen from both teams.

The Lowe Down: Michigan 23, Michigan State 14

No. 10 Alabama (5-1) at No. 9 Texas A&M (5-0) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny, slight breeze, hot

Rest assured the Texas A&M players that were apart of last year’s 59-0 whipping at the hands of Alabama haven’t forgotten it. Nor do they want it to happen again.

“It’s in the back of our minds,” said Aggies’ stud defensive end Myles Garrett, who has seven sacks on the year. “It gives us a little bit of motivation.”

Now whether that extra motivation will be enough to stop the surging Crimson Tide in College Station is left to be determined, but Texas A&M has the ingredients (a spread system with talented skill players (Christian Kirk, Speedy Noil Ricky Seals-Jones), a potent passing attack led by a good QB (Kyle Allen) and an opportunistic defense that possesses two outstanding pass rushers) to upset Nick Saban’s team.

One big key to the game will be Texas A&M’s ability to run the ball against Alabama’s outstanding front seven with senior tailback Tra Carson (4.5 yards per carry). The Aggies don’t have to post eye-popping numbers on the ground by any stretch due to their lethal passing attack, but offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will have to keep Bama’s front seven honest by sticking with the ground game for four quarters. Going up-tempo should also help the Aggies’ offensive line open up running lanes as the game wears on.

Despite the improvement Texas A&M’s made on defense, the Aggies front seven will be challenged by Alabama’s physical offense, especially when the Tide hands the rock off to bruiser Derrick Henry. If Henry is allowed to run wild, Alabama will be able to avoid what it must avoid in this game: second-and-long, third-and-long.

Make no mistake about it, Saban and his staff know the talents of Garrett, arguably the nation’s best player, and Daeshon Hall (five sacks), and they don’t want those guys turned loose on quarterback Jake Coker all game long. That’s a recipe for disaster playing on the road. So are missed field goals, which Alabama is currently having issues with.

The Lowe Down: Alabama 30, Texas A&M 28

No. 8 Florida (6-0) at No. 6 LSU (5-0) 6:00 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Clear, slight breeze, mild

This is a tough spot for Florida. Not only did the Gators lose starting quarterback Will Grier this week, but this is the second consecutive week Jim McElwain’s team is on the road … and it’s on the road in Baton Rouge. Ouch!

Treon Harris will get the start in place of Grier, but he’s more of a dual-threat who can hurt teams with his legs — and that skill set doesn’t necessarily jive with what McElwain and OC Doug Nussmeier want to do on offense.

Will that hurt the Gators here?

Yeah, I think so. It’s hard enough to enter Death Valley and win, but it’s even tougher to win at night. Throw in the fact that LSU’s offense, powered by the ridiculously talented Leonard Fournette, seems to be clicking on all cylinders, and all signs point to Les Miles’ Tigers remaining undefeated.

The Lowe Down: Florida 23, LSU 34

USC (3-2) at No. 14 Notre Dame (5-1) 6:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Cloudy, cold, windy

After suffering an embarrassing loss to Washington last week and then losing its head coach, you would think USC would be licking its wounds. But watch out for the Trojans in South Bend. The Men of Troy destroyed the Irish 49-14 in Los Angeles a year ago and have the athletes to give Brian Kelly’s team a run for its money.

The Lowe Down: USC 24, Notre Dame 28

Penn State (5-1) at No. 1 Ohio State (6-0) 7:00 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Cool, windy

I keep wondering when the Ohio State breakout will be but it just hasn’t happened yet. Are the Buckeyes the best team in the country? Uh, right now it doesn’t appear so. But until they go down, they’ll likely remain atop the polls.

Not many folks are giving Penn State a chance here. And that’s to be expected. But if the Nittany Lions’ O-line can hang tough against the rugged Ohio State defensive front and give quarterback Christian Hackenberg time to throw, then James Franklin’s team could keep it close due to its sound defensive play.

The Lowe Down: Penn State 20,Ohio State 26

In other Saturday games:

Eastern Michigan 17 at No. 22 Toledo 48

Purdue 13 at Wisconsin 27

No. 17 Iowa 23 at No. 20 Northwestern 25

La. Tech 23, Mississippi State 30

West Virginia 21 at No. 2 Baylor 58

Louisville 23 at No. 11 FSU 26

Nebraska 22 at Minnesota 26

No. 19 Oklahoma 28 at Kansas State 31

Vanderbilt 23 at South Carolina 26

Missouri 13 at Georgia 34

Arizona State 23 at No. 4 Utah 34

Oregon 23 at Washington 36