Gerry Broome/Associated Press
The two-touchdown spread in favor of the North Carolina Tar Heels suggests they will have an easy time against the Florida State Seminoles Saturday.
However, Florida State is coming off its best performance of the season, albeit in a losing effort, and could be inspired to perform even better at home in a prime-time game.
The Seminoles may not be able to pull off the outright upset, but they have the potential to keep the ACC clash at Doak Campbell Stadium close enough to cover.
Before most of the Top 25 teams hit the gridiron Saturday, the No. 17 SMU Mustangs and No. 15 BYU Cougars will be in action Friday night in potentially tricky matchups.
SMU suffered brutal injury news regarding two of its star offensive players and could be particularly susceptible to an upset at the hands of the Tulane Green Wave.
Week 7 CFB Schedule and Odds
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Friday, October 16
No. 17 SMU (-6.5) at Tulane (6 p.m., ESPN)
No. 15 BYU (-5) at Houston (9 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday, October 17
No. 1 Clemson (-27.5) at Georgia Tech (Noon, ABC)
No. 8 Cincinnati (-3.5) at Tulsa (Noon, ESPN2)
Pittsburgh at No. 13 Miami (-13.5) (Noon, ACC Network)
No. 14 Auburn (-3.5) at South Carolina (Noon, ESPN)
Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame (-17) (2:30 p.m., NBC)
No. 11 Texas A&M (-6.5) at Mississippi State (4 p.m., ESPN)
No. 5 North Carolina (-14) at Florida State (7 p.m., ESPN)
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama (-4) (8 p.m., CBS)
Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech (-12) (8 p.m., ACC Network)
Picks against the spread in bold.
North Carolina 35, Florida State 27
Steve Cannon/Associated Press
North Carolina is in the middle of one of its best stretches in recent program history.
The Tar Heels put up 56 points on the Virginia Tech Hokies defense in Week 6 and boosted up to No. 5 in the AP Top 25 thanks to losses by the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes and the inactivity of the Big Ten programs.
Although North Carolina proved it has the offensive firepower capable of competing with any team, it still needs to be more consistent on the road.
Just two weeks ago, the Tar Heels eked out a four-point win over the Boston College Eagles in their first road game of 2020.
In 2019, Mack Brown’s program outright lost in three road games to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Pittsburgh Panthers and Virginia Tech. That could leave some room for concern about whether North Carolina can cover the 14-point spread.
Florida State displayed some fight in Week 6 by producing 20 first-half points on the road against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who are one spot ahead of North Carolina in the AP Top 25.
If Mike Norvell’s team can stay within 16 points of Notre Dame on the road, it has a chance to be within 14 points at home against a program that has not been great on its travels.
Jordan Travis is the key to the Seminoles remaining in the contest. In Week 6, he threw for 204 yards and led the team in rushing with 96 yards.
North Carolina allowed 495 total yards in Week 6 and let Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert run for 138 yards and two scores.
If the Tar Heels fail to contain Travis, the FSU quarterback could cause trouble in both aspects of the offense and keep the Seminoles close late into the second half.
Tulane 38, SMU 34
Dan Anderson/Associated Press
SMU comes into Yulman Stadium without two of its top playmakers: wide receiver Reggie Roberson and running back TJ McDaniel.
The two players have suffered season-ending injuries, per ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg, and now SMU has to replace its leading wideout and second-best rusher.
Roberson accounted for 22 receptions, 474 yards and five touchdowns, while McDaniel was handed 60 carries and earned 297 yards.
Tulane’s defense could focus on stopping Ulysses Bentley IV, who has 412 rushing yards and seven scores, since Shane Buechele is working with a depleted group of targets.
The SMU quarterback can be a bit inaccurate at times, as he completed 68.6 percent of his passes. He also has two interceptions and has been sacked six times.
Tulane intercepted Houston’s Clayton Tune twice and recovered three fumbles in its Week 6 loss. If the Green Wave put pressure on Buechele and forces a turnover or two, it could be position to spring an upset.
Head coach Willie Fritz’s team just needs to be more consistent, instead of showing up for a half, as it did against Houston and the Navy Midshipmen.
If Tulane learns from its struggles against Houston and Navy, who scored 55 second-half points, and forces Buechele into some tough situations, it may spring the first upset of Week 7.
Other Score Predictions
BYU 37, Houston 21
Clemson 56, Georgia Tech 10
Cincinnati 21, Tulsa 14
Miami 35, Pittsburgh 20
Auburn 24, South Carolina 20
Notre Dame 42, Louisville 31
Texas A&M 26, Mississippi State 23
Alabama 31, Georgia 24
Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 13
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.