The college football season is entering a pivotal point. On Halloween, the very first College Football Playoff rankings will be revealed. So, those will come after Week 9 of the season. But in Week 7, there were plenty of games with CFP implications.
First, Washington completed an incredible comeback against Oregon to continue their undefeated season. USC lost their first game of the season in a blowout to Notre Dame. Oregon State's undefeated season also ended with a loss to UCLA. It was a big week, but the importance is only set to grow.
Week 7 also saw most of the top quarterback prospects play. Let's take a look at each of their performances. NOTE: Quinn Ewers was on a bye this past week.
Previous editions of "In the Market" can be viewed below:
Taking Stock: How top 2024 NFL Draft QBs fared in Week 7
Caleb Williams, USC
Caleb Williams carried the USC Trojans to a triple overtime win over the Arizona Wildcats last week, and it was far from his greatest performance. This week, Williams and the Trojans had the chance to stay afloat in the College Football Playoff race with Oregon and Washington facing off in a huge game.
Instead, Williams and USC laid an egg in primetime against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Williams got off to a rough start, throwing an interception on an overthrown pass to tight end Lake McRee. Notre Dame would score a touchdown three plays later. That was Williams' first of three interceptions thrown. Not to mention, Williams was under attack by Notre Dame's vicious defense throughout the night, resulting in the team's first loss of the season by the score of 48-20.
In the game, Williams completed 23-of-37 pass attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown, with the three aforementioned interceptions to boot.
When targeting the middle of the field between 10-19 yards, Williams completed four passes for 52 yards on seven attempts, with two of those incompletions being interceptions, per Pro Football Focus. Additionally, Williams completed just 3-of-12 pass attempts for 22 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions when under pressure.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for Williams, as he has to face off against Utah this Saturday.
Next Game: vs. No. 14 Utah, Saturday, Oct. 21, 8:00 p.m. ET
Drake Maye, UNC
Drake Maye has increased his Heisman odds in recent weeks, as North Carolina continues their undefeated season. With that, they are bound to clinch a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Last week, Maye and the Tar Heels were on a roll with a huge performance against the Syracuse Orange, throwing for 442 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.
In Week 7, North Carolina took on the No. 25 Miami Hurricanes. Miami would have been ranked higher had they not botched the end of the game against Georgia Tech. At first, Miami had the upperhand, leading 17-14 at halftime. But once the second half began, it was all Tar Heels, with Maye throwing three touchdown passes to pull away from the Hurricanes.
Maye threw 17 completions for 273 yards and four touchdowns on 33 attempts. He was on target between the numbers beyond 20 yards, completing both his attempts for 74 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus. When the pocket was kept clean, Maye completed 28-of-31 pass attempts for 273 yards and four touchdowns.
Next Game: vs. Virginia, Saturday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
The headlining game for Week 7 was a battle between two powerhouses in the Pac-12 with Washington hosting Oregon. This was the chance to not only lead the team to CFP contention, but to see who between Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix would increase their Heisman odds. After this game, Penix is now the favorite to take home the award.
Penix had his Heisman moment in the second half, as he battled cramping. But with Oregon failing to convert their third fourth down attempt of the game, Penix capitalized with a 35-yard completion to wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk, culminating with an 18-yard touchdown pass to wideout Rome Odunze. Washington took a 36-33 lead and eventually took the victory after a failed game-tying, 43-yard field goal by Oregon's Camden Lewis.
With this, Penix should be viewed as the favorite, especially with the bad performance by Williams at South Bend. Penix completed 22 passes for 302 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception on 37 attempts. Penix was great on passes from 20 yards deep, as he completed four-of-seven throws for 130 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus. Penix was also extremely effective when blitzed, as he completed 10-of-15 pass attempts for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Next Game: vs. Arizona State, Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Bo Nix, Oregon
While Oregon may have lost to Washington, that doesn't mean that Bo Nix played poorly. In fact, he played well and nearly brought the Ducks to overtime against the Huskies.
Down 29-18, Nix helped Oregon take a late lead with a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Troy Franklin and a 49-yard pass to the wideout again to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Jordan James. Unfortunately for Oregon, their hopes of a win were dashed by a failed fourth-down conversion and a missed field goal at the buzzer, handing them their first loss of the year.
Nix recorded 33 completions for 337 yards and two touchdowns on 44 attempts. Nix was perfect on all three pass attempts from 20 yards deep, completing all of them for 104 yards and a touchdown, per Pro Football Focus.
Again, Nix was great. He has the chance to get revenge if the two teams are to meet again in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Next Game: vs. Washington State, Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
The story of Colorado's Week 7 game will be that they blew a 29-0 lead at halftime and lost 46-43 in double overtime to fall to 4-3 on the season. It was an improbable loss for the Buffaloes, considering ESPN had their probability to lose at less than one percent. Now, after dropping a winnable game, the Buffaloes' path to a bowl game got that much more difficult.
Even with the loss, quarterback Shedeur Sanders had a great game. Sanders completed 33-of-47 pass attempts for 400 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. The junior quarterback did struggle when under pressure on 20-of-58 dropbacks, completing 6-of-13 throws for 59 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while getting sacked three times, per Pro Football Focus
The majority of Sanders' passes came less than 10 yards downfield, and he was effective on those throws, completing 20-of-24 for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
After this week's bye, Colorado's tough stretch after the Stanford loss continues against UCLA.
Next Game: at UCLA, Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET
One 2024 NFL Draft QB sleeper who turned heads in Week 7
Graham Mertz, Florida
One sleeper quarterback who turned heads this past week was Florida's Graham Mertz. After being at Wisconsin for his first four years in college, Mertz entered the transfer portal and opted to join the Gators, who needed a quarterback after Anthony Richardson was drafted fourth overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
In Week 7, Mertz and Florida took on Spencer Rattler and South Carolina. Mertz had led the team from a 37-27 deficit to an eventual 41-39 victory. That was due in part to Mertz leading back-to-back touchdown drives, which culminated in a four-yard scoring pass to Arlis Boardingham and a 21-yard game-winner to Rickey Pearsall.
In the game, Mertz completed 30-of-48 pass attempts for 423 yards and three touchdowns. Mertz attempted the majority of his passes between the numbers, completing 18-of-24 throws for 225 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.
For his performance, Mertz won the SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
On the year, Mertz recorded 1,897 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, and two interceptions on a 76.2 completion percentage.
One 2024 NFL Draft QB who needs to show teams more after Week 7
Caleb Williams, USC
Yes, Williams is the presumptive top overall pick in the 2024 class, but Notre Dame was eye-opening. Given that Williams has never lost a game like that or played that poorly, it would be worth watching to see how he rebounds, especially in a top team in the Pac-12, the Utah Utes.
Updated NFL Draft order: Who's buying in the NFL?
- Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers (0-6))
- Chicago Bears (1-5)
- Denver Broncos (1-5)
- Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
- New York Giants (1-5)
- New England Patriots (1-5)
- Minnesota Twins (2-4)
- Tennessee Titans (2-4)
- Green Bay Packers (2-3)
- Los Angeles Charges (2-3)
- New Orleans Saints (3-3)
- Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
- Arizona Cardinals (via Houston Texans (3-3))
- Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-3)
- Washington Commanders (3-3)
- New York Jets (3-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
- Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns (3-2))
- Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
- Buffalo Bills (4-2)
- Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
- Detroit Lions (5-1)
- MiamI Dolphins (5-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-1)
- Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
The Chicago Bears are once again in the driver's seat at the top of the NFL Draft board. With their loss to the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers defeat by the Miami Dolphins, they hold the first two picks in the first round. If this trend continues, they will have to decide whether or not Justin Fields is the answer at quarterback, or if they should select Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.
A team that could be in contention for the top pick is the Denver Broncos, who lost 19-8 to the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for under 100 yards and the offense as a whole picked up 197 yards. With the trade deadline approaching, they are obvious sellers, and it could help put them in better position to draft one of the top prospects.
The Arizona Cardinals are in the top four, but it's unknown if they would consider a quarterback. Kyler Murray is still under contract and he is set to debut in the coming weeks. How the team plays with him under center could determine whether or not the new regime considers a new quarterback.
For the New York Giants, they are in disaster mode. Quarterback Daniel Jones is dealing with a neck injury, the offense is lackluster, and the team is 1-5 on the season. Quarterback could be an option in the first round, but the offense line needs some serious fixing, as nearly all of their starters are injured.