Florida, Arkansas and Missouri are on their way up this week. Auburn, Florida State and Michigan's Mario Manningham may see their stock decline.
After six weeks of the college football season, the national championship and conference races are starting to become clearer.
An unconventional quarterback plan at Florida has caught the SEC a bit off guard.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., the Wolverines hope Manningham will be able play this week against Penn State.
Meanwhile, Auburn is taking a long look at itself after a loss to Arkansas. Thanks to the win over the Tigers, the Razorbacks are in the driver's seat in the SEC West.
Surprises Missouri and Rutgers find themselves with unblemished records. And in the ACC, the divisional races are up for grabs after several surprising outcomes in the season's first half.
Check out our top questions and top games for Week 7.
Questions for Week 7
1. How will Florida's quarterback platoon play out the rest of
the way? Chris Leak is a four-year starter who completes nearly 65 percent of his
passes. He is on pace to set several school records. True freshman
Tim Tebow is the talk of The Swamp after accounting for all of
Florida's touchdowns against LSU. Tebow's production came in 18 fewer
snaps than Leak. The combination has led Florida to an undefeated start
and No. 2 ranking in the AP poll. So far, Florida has changed
quarterbacks like teams normally sub an extra receiver or a nickelback,
pulling Leak to use Tebow as a situational runner. Florida capitalized
on that tendency by faking the run on both of his pass attempts against
LSU – went for touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how Florida
continues to use its quarterback duo – whether adding more passing
plays for Tebow or more running plays for Leak (he ran one carry for 45
yards against Alabama). Perhaps the Gators will put them on the field
at the same time. Expect Florida to continue the quarterback shuffle
until someone stops the Gators.
2. How will Mario Manningham's status affect Michigan
at Penn State? Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr was tight-lipped Monday about the status of
star wide receiver Mario Manningham. Carr offered little
insight when asked about a possible injury Manningham sustained in
Saturday's game against Michigan State. Without Manningham, Michigan
would be without its most explosive threat in the passing game.
Manningham's nine touchdown catches have averaged 34.3 yards and none
has been shorter than 20 yards. Michigan remains a run-first team, but
the injury would play right into the Nittany Lions' strengths – Penn
State is 75th in the country in pass defense and 14th in rush defense.
Michigan will need more out of Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington - the only other Wolverines with more than two catches -
to keep Penn State from ganging up on running back Mike Hart.
3. How can Auburn recover? With
the return of redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon from
suspension, Auburn will get a boost on defense. The unit struggled
against South Carolina quarterback and fell apart against Arkansas
running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
Blackmon returns to weakside linebacker, where he will compete for
playing time with Merrill Johnson. Karibi Dede moves
from the weakside to the middle. The Tigers offense is another story. A
second consecutive year of quarterback Brandon Cox and running
back Kenny Irons gave Auburn cause for optimism, but the
Tigers are averaging one fewer touchdown per game than they did last
year. At the same time, Auburn has allowed 18 sacks in six games after
allowing 21 last season. Auburn faces a tough schedule, one that
includes home games against Florida and Georgia and a road test at
Alabama. For the Tigers to get back in the hunt for the division title,
they may need to run the table. At the same times, Arkansas would need
to lose two of its last five SEC games. It's not unthinkable that
Auburn could play in Atlanta, but the road just got much more
4. How will the ACC sort itself out in the second half? If
the ACC Championship Game were today, N.C. State would play Georgia
Tech. Through six weeks, only Duke and North Carolina can be dismissed
from the ACC race. Of the Atlantic Division teams, Florida State (1-2
ACC) has the easiest remaining league schedule. The Seminoles have no
remaining games against ranked teams and their only road trips are to
Duke and Maryland. FSU, who won the title game with three conference
losses last year, could pull of another late push. Clemson has
established itself as the best team in the Atlantic. The Tigers'
toughest tests are a road trip to Virginia Tech and a home game against
Georgia Tech. N.C. State's 2-0 start could be spoiled by four road
games - including one at Clemson - and a home date with Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets control their destiny in the Coastal, but they have
a road trip to Clemson and a home game against Virginia Tech remaining.
5. Which surprise teams will have the most staying power? Sunday's
AP poll contained surprises in Arkansas, Rutgers and Missouri. They all
have reasons for optimism - and reasons to think they could fall out of
the polls. Arkansas will be your best bet to stay in the top 25. The
Razorbacks are in position for a spot in the SEC title game, but they
must play host to Tennessee and LSU and visit South Carolina. Rutgers,
5-0 for the first time since 1976, has had Ray Rice and its
defense to mask the troubles of quarterback Mike Teel. The
Scarlet Knights have yet to face West Virginia, Louisville or
Pittsburgh in the Big East. Missouri, 6-0 for the first time since
1973, has a troubling trend of falling flat after good starts. The
Tigers dropped five consecutive games in 2005 after starting 4-1.
Missouri also went 4-5 after a 4-0 start in 2003.
Top Five Games of Week 7
1. No. 2 Florida
(6-0, 4-0 SEC) at No. 11 Auburn
(5-1, 3-1 SEC), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Even with Auburn's loss to Arkansas, this is still the country's top
game. Can Auburn avoid dropping two in a row at home?
2. No. 4 Michigan
(6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Penn State
(4-2, 2-1 Big Ten), 8 p.m., ABC
The Nittany Lions will face the only team to beat them last season
while Michigan could be without Manningham - the receiver that caught
the last-second, game-winning touchdown in 2005.
3. No. 22 Virginia
Tech (4-1, 2-1 ACC) at Boston
College (4-1, 1-1 ACC), 7:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPN
With the ACC as wide open as it is, one game could mean the difference
between going to the conference title game and playing in a lower-tier
4. No. 10 Cal (5-1, 3-0
Pac-10) at Washington State
(4-2, 2-1 Pac-10), 5 p.m.
USC had trouble with the Cougars. Will Cal?
5. No. 19 Missouri
(6-0, 2-0 Big 12) at Texas A&M
(5-1, 1-1 Big 12), 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Tigers will try to keep the hot streak going against another Texas
team on the road.