Top teams survive, Michigan surpasses Clemson

Image By: Thomas Valtin-Erwin through Tableau Public

College Football Week 7 did not offer much in terms of upsets, but, despite the majority of favorites winning, there was still plenty of entertainment, including two significant overtime thrillers. Ohio State and Clemson both notably made things interesting, barely squeaking out wins in games where they were favored by at least 10 points.

No. 1 Alabama’s 49-10 win over then-No. 9 Tennessee signals how dominant Saban’s team is over the rest of college football. The Crimson Tide won their 19th consecutive game overall and 10th in a row against the Volunteers, whom Alabama dominated from the opening snap. Tennessee never even had the chance to mount any sort of comeback.

Alabama compiled a season-high 594 yards and its best rushing performance in recent history, as the Tide had 438 yards with five touchdowns on the ground. All Smokey, Tennessee’s mascot, could do throughout the game was put his tail between his legs and hope the game would end as quickly as possible.

Unlike Alabama’s dominating performance, No. 2 Ohio State’s game against Wisconsin turned out to be an overtime classic. Instead of jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter like the Crimson Tide, the Buckeyes were pushed to their limit and didn’t hold a lead until the fourth quarter before finally escaping with a 30-23 overtime win over the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.

Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett recorded 226 passing yards, but it was his 92 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns that punished the Badgers late in the game. OSU’s defense woke up after halftime and allowed the Badger offense to reach the end zone only once in the second half and overtime. The strong performance from Wisconsin highlights that Ohio State is an elite, but flawed team, as Barrett struggled in the passing game for the majority of the night.

The No. 3 Michigan Wolverines had the week off, but remain in the Top Five of the AP poll. With arguably the easiest road schedule of any unbeaten team thus far, Harbaugh's Wolverines have had minimal trouble against most of their opponent this year. Michigan averages 50 points per game and entered the weekend tied for second in the FBS in sacks with 24. Both its offense and defense control many of its opposing foes, so one can expect this team to continue to post big wins against Illinois and Maryland in the next two weeks.

A narrow win in overtime against North Carolina State dropped the Clemson Tigers to No. 4 this week. The Tigers needed North Carolina State to miss a potential game-winning 33-yard field goal as the play clock winded down, but ultimately remained undefeated thanks to some luck and some clutch throws from Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson. Still, the ACC is up for grabs and the Tigers have not capitalized on the opportunity to solidify themselves as the complete dominant force that they can be. Despite all that quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 413 yards and three touchdowns in Week 7, his leadership and talent will certainly help Clemson in their push for the playoffs.

Resting with a comfortable record of 6-0 and a 3-0 record in the Pac-12, the Washington Huskies appear to be the only team in its conference that will have an opportunity to get into the College Football Playoffs. The No. 5 Huskies had a bye last week, but their consecutive wins over the Pac-12 North Division’s toughest teams, in Arizona, Stanford and Oregon, have them in a position to make a huge push in the second half of the season.

Off to its best start since 1994, No. 6 Texas A&M has overcome their usual cursed mid-season stretch and performed well against five strong conference opponents so far. Similar to other Top Ten teams this week, their Week 7 bye gives the Aggies a chance to reflect, rest, and prepare for their upcoming matchup against top-ranked Alabama in potentially their biggest game of the season.

Alabama has emerged as the best team in college football so far this season, but a loss to Texas A&M this week could open the door for other teams to leapfrog the Crimson Tide as the nation’s top dog.

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