Projecting the biggest CFB games of 2023: Week 7

This is Part 7 of a series where I go week by week ranking what I expect to be the biggest games in college football. For a longer description of what this series is, start with part 1 here!

Three more rivalry games are highlighted here in week 7. When a pair of rivals are good at the same time, it makes for some of the best storylines of the season. The loser of these games will likely carry a chip on their shoulder all the way till next year when they will be gearing up for a revenge game. 

3rd – Iowa at Wisconsin

Every year this game determines who wins the B1G West, except when Northwestern wins, or when Purdue wins, or it’s Minnesota vs Wisconsin that decides the division. Am I being clear enough? Iowa vs Wisconsin for the West crown is a lazy take that pundits spin because they can’t remember who’s in the West.

The Dairy Air Raid will probably give Badgers fans a heart attack every time the ball travels more than 20 air yards. They aren’t used to that sort of risk-taking (and Mertz could throw a pick on a 10-yard out route with no problem). We are far enough into the season with this one that Luke Fickell’s new systems should be fully in place and we can see what Wisconsin is really capable of. 

I’ve talked about Iowa previously in this series – see the whiteout in week 4. The TL;DR for Iowa:

Top 5 Defense + Bottom 5 Offense = crazy stuff happens. Oh, and if Brian Ferentz doesn’t have the team scoring 24 points per game, his contract doesn’t renew. So that will be fun to count going into this one. 

So yeah, this game will decide the West, unless it doesn’t.

2nd – Oregon at Washington

A transfer QB border war. Both are top 10 Heisman candidates. Both come from mediocre teams out east. Bo Nix is doing well enough at Oregon to prove he wasn’t the problem in Auburn (it’s the boosters). Michael Penix Jr. led Indiana to a win over Michigan for the first time in 33 years in 2020. If you can win at Indiana, you can win anywhere. Personally, I’d take Penix Jr. in this QB battle, but it does help that he’s at home and has the better receiving core. 

Both of these teams expect to be in the Pac-12 Championship game, but the loser of this game could easily lose the tiebreaker necessary to get there. This will be the last year the LA schools are in the Pac-12, and this rivalry game will instantly become the highlight game of the year for however many years the Pac-whatever services. Or, the tape from this match will be so impressive that both teams get the B1G invites they so desperately want after the clock reads zero. The Pac-12 has more must-watch games with NFL QB’s than casual fans realize, this being one of the better ones. 

1st – USC at Notre Dame

This future Big Ten matchup will be a night game of titanic proportions. Wait, I’m being told only one of these teams is joining the Big Ten, and it’s not the one that makes sense. 

This will be an epic night game, likely a top 10 matchup, and rivalry showdown all wrapped into one. Oregon and Washington are top 3 in the odds market to win the Pac-12, but USC is the consensus favorite. They have the returning Heisman QB, a stellar offensive coach, and a top-10 WR unit. Do you see the problem? I said: a stellar offensive coach. 

USC led the country in turnover differential last year at +1.5 per game. Despite constantly winning the turnover battle, their Defense was tissue paper soft. They were 106th in total Defense last year, giving up 424 yards per game. This team could have won the National title last year with an avg P5 Defense. What’s crazy is that their offense is so good, they can win nearly every game if they just get the ball last.

Notre Dame is nowhere near as explosive as USC, but they are a much more well-rounded team. Getting to play at home is a huge advantage between the crowd and a long road trip for the LA team. The Golden Domes won’t need to do anything special to win, just be physical. A physical run game behind their OL will walk right through USC’s front 7. Just like Utah did last year… twice.

Honorable Mention: Miami at UNC

These are 2 teams that think they are competing to win the ACC. In reality, they are just trying to get to a quality bowl game. 

Want more Walk On Fan? 

Check out part 6 of this series here.

Check out part 5 of this series here.

Check out part 4 of this series here.

Check out part 3 of this series here.

Check out part 2 of this series here.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

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