College News & Analysis

College Football Week 7 Takeaways: Notable grades, advanced stats and more

Fans storm the field after Tennessee's 52-49 win over Alabama. Syndication The Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee’s magical season continues: The Volunteers took down then-No. 3 Alabama. After starting the year outside the AP top 25, they are now the new No. 3 team in the country.

USC’s Playoff hopes take a hit: The then-No. 7 Trojans fell to then-No. 20 Utah. If the program has any hope of making the College Football Playoff, Caleb Williams and company can’t afford to lose the rest of the season.

TCU is the last remaining unbeaten team in the Big 12: The Horned Frogs outlasted then-No. 8 Oklahoma State in double overtime and are now the new favorites in the Big 12.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

CFB Week 7 had all-time potential, with six games between ranked teams — the most for a regular-season slate in five years. It lived up to that hype and then some, with most of those games going down to the wire.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the best weekend of college football so far. 

Rocky Top Magic

In the early favorite for the game of the year, then-No. 6 Tennessee outdueled then-No. 3 Alabama, 52-49.

With just 15 seconds remaining in a tied game, the Crimson Tide missed a 51-yard field goal. Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker then took over, completing two passes for 45 yards to set up a game-winning 40-yard kick from Chase McGrath.

The ball sailed through the uprights, and absolute pandemonium descended on Knoxville.

The brilliance of the Tennessee offense can not be understated. Heading into the game, Alabama had allowed just 3.8 yards and -0.298 expected points added (EPA) per play, first and fourth in FBS, respectively.

Despite that, the Volunteers still generated 0.195 EPA per play on offense, the first time Alabama had allowed a positive EPA all season. Hooker averaged 12.8 yards per pass attempt, while his backs put up 5.0 yards per carry on the ground.

Highest offensive success rates allowed by an Alabama defense (since 2014)
Season Week Opposition Offensive success rate
2022 7 @ Tennessee 57.89%
2019 11 vs LSU 56.10%
2019 3 @ South Carolina 47.25%
2020 6 @ Ole Miss 47.19%
2021 6 @ Texas A&M 46.77%

Hooker established himself as a legitimate Heisman favorite, earning an 86.5 passing grade to go along with 441 total yards and five passing touchdowns. However, the real star was wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who hauled in six catches for 207 yards and a school-record five touchdowns, averaging 5.12 yards per route run in the process.

The Volunteers started the season unranked. Two months later, they are a top-five team.

USC had been playing with fire and finally got burned

While Tennessee’s College Football Playoff dreams seem within reach, USC’s are slipping away.

In what was an absolute shootout, the then-No. 7 Trojans lost 43-42 to then-No. 20 Utah. This was the second time in 2022 that things came down to the wire for USC on the road against a Pac-12 opponent. Three weeks ago, the Trojans barely squeaked by Oregon State, 17-14.

While USC’s defense led the team to victory in that game, that was the reason they lost Saturday. The Trojans allowed 0.332 EPA per play, the sixth-most by a Power Five squad this week. 

Now at 6-1, USC likely can’t afford another loss if it wants to make the school’s first-ever Playoff appearance.

Michigan proved its toughness

Many questioned Michigan’s legitimacy, since the Wolverines had yet to play a top-25 opponent.

The Wolverines put those doubts to rest in Week 7, with a dominant 41-17 victory over then-No. 10 Penn State. And the score could’ve been even more lopsided had it not been for a few fluky plays going the Nittany Lions’ way.

Michigan’s offensive line absolutely bullied Penn State in the ground game. The Wolverines rushed for a combined 422 yards against the Nittany Lions, averaging 4.1 yards before contact. Both Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum rushed for over 160 yards and a couple of scores. Corum, in particular, is now the highest-graded running back in the country (92.6) and looks like a legit Heisman candidate.

TCU has the inside track at a Big 12 title

In a battle between the Big 12’s last undefeated teams, TCU outlasted Oklahoma State, 43-40, in double overtime. 

The Horned Frogs proved their mettle against the Cowboys. With fewer than 10 minutes left, TCU trailed by two touchdowns. They stormed back and forced overtime before winning on a two-yard run from Kendre Miller. Wide receiver Quentin Johnston has looked every bit like the top-15 pick he was mocked as by PFF lead draft analyst Mike Renner. Over the past two weeks, he has 22 catches for 386 yards and two touchdowns. 

Like Tennessee, TCU started the season unranked and now owns an unbeaten record through six games. The Horned Frogs now look like the favorite to win their first Big 12 title in eight years. 

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