Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
We’re at the midway point of the regular season and we’re still trying to get a true feel for who the legitimate College Football Playoff contenders are.
Alabama and Georgia have separated themselves atop the rankings, but there are many undefeated and one-loss teams also jockeying for position.
In Week 6, there are four ranked vs. ranked matchups and six ranked teams going on the road to face unranked opponents. Based on the way the season has gone so far, we are bound to get an unexpected upset or two. Or maybe even more.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: OU -3.5 | Total: 63.5
Just because Oklahoma isn’t putting up 500-plus yards per game doesn’t mean its offense isn’t working. The 5-0 Sooners, ranked 44th in total offense and 40th in yards per play, have just been winning differently. OU’s defense is much-improved and the passing attack has been efficient despite the drop-off in explosive plays. But will that recipe work against Texas?
In Year 1 under Steve Sarkisian, Texas is off to a 4-1 start. The Longhorns got blown out by Arkansas in Week 2 but have rebounded with three straight wins, scoring 160 combined points in the process. Along the way, Bijan Robinson has emerged as one of the best players in the country. Robinson has rushed for 652 yards and seven TDs, including a 216-yard effort last week vs. TCU. Keeping Robinson in check will be top priority for OU.
Sam: Oklahoma -3.5, Nick: Oklahoma -3.5
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: Ole Miss -6 | Total: 66
This game will be a good measuring stick for two programs that were brought back down to Earth with blowout losses last week. Arkansas (4-1), fresh off upset wins over Texas and Texas A&M, got shut out 37-0 by Georgia. Ole Miss (3-1), meanwhile, went into Tuscaloosa and got smacked around 42-21 by Alabama.
Despite those losses, these are still good teams. How good? That’s to be determined. Arkansas has relied heavily on its run game. That unit still ranks in the top 20 nationally after gaining only 75 yards against UGA. Ole Miss has one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Matt Corral, but Arkansas has only allowed 129.8 passing yards per game. This will be an interesting chess match between coaching staffs.
Sam: Arkansas +6, Nick: Arkansas +6
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: UGA -15 | Total: 46
Georgia (5-0) was able to dismantle Arkansas last week with quarterback JT Daniels sidelined. Daniels’ status is still unclear entering Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. Without Daniels, the Bulldogs relied on their top-ranked defense — which has allowed just one TD through five games — and a steady ground attack. If Daniels can’t go, don’t expect UGA to stray much from that formula.
Auburn (4-1) has been all over the place in recent weeks. The Tigers lost a tough one at Penn State, needed a late comeback to beat Georgia State and then went into Baton Rouge and upset LSU last week. Auburn fell behind LSU 13-0, but got a big performance from much-maligned QB Bo Nix. Nix threw for 255 yards, rushed for 74 yards and had two total TDs in the 24-19 win. He’ll need to be even better to beat Georgia.
Sam: UGA -15, Nick: UGA -15
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Iowa -2.5 | Total: 41.5
Penn State has won its last three trips to Kinnick Stadium, but none of those matchups featured two undefeated top-five teams. The Nittany Lions have looked like a complete team during this 5-0 start. While the running game has had struggles, Sean Clifford is a much-improved quarterback with a strong collection of receivers and the defense doesn't have a weakness.
Clifford was plagued by turnovers in 2020, but has protected the ball well so far in 2021. To emerge from Iowa City with a win — a win that could have major CFP implications — he’ll need to keep that trend going. Iowa’s defense has forced 16 turnovers, including a nation-leading 12 interceptions. That defense has consistently provided good field position, but the offense hasn’t always taken advantage of it. The offense is, however, coming off its best performance in last week’s 51-14 win over Maryland.
Sam: PSU +2.5, Nick: PSU +2.5
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UM -3.5 | Total: 51
Michigan has to be feeling good. The Wolverines won as an underdog for the first time in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure last week when they knocked off Wisconsin — a team that had blown out Michigan the previous two seasons. Now 5-0 and ranked in the top 10, the Wolverines have to go back on the road, this time to face Nebraska.
Nebraska played Oklahoma tough and then nearly upset Michigan State two weeks ago. It was a game the Huskers should have won, and they took out some frustration on Northwestern last week in a 56-7 blowout. Nebraska is 0-9 against ranked opponents under Scott Frost and just 2-15 overall as an underdog. Frost has been on the hot seat, but this is a huge opportunity to get a signature win.
Sam: Nebraska +3.5, Nick: Michigan -3.5
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 11-14, Nick: 12-13
Week 6 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 9-6)
Georgia Tech (-3.5) at Duke: I can’t figure out either of these teams. Georgia Tech played an underwhelming Clemson tough but has a couple of head-scratching losses. Duke has only scored more than 30 points twice so far this season and those games were against North Carolina A&T and Kansas. This total is too high. Pick: Under 61
West Virginia at Baylor (-3): Both of these teams are coming off losses. WVU lost at home to Texas Tech while Baylor lost on the road to Oklahoma State. The OSU defense has been pretty good so far this season — and Baylor is averaging over 31 points per game. This total feels way too low. Hopefully it’s not a trap. Pick: Over 44.5
Arkansas at Ole Miss (-6): This is another game where I’m going with the total. Arkansas was mauled by Georgia’s offensive line. I don’t think they’ll be as overmatched against Ole Miss, and Barry Odom has proven to be a very good defensive coordinator against high-powered passing attacks. Couple that with an Ole Miss defense that can keep Arkansas in check and I think this game hits the under. Pick: Under 66
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 7-8)
Boise State at No. 10 BYU (-5.5): Boise State struggles to both run the ball and stop the run. BYU is banged up at the quarterback position but should be able to run the ball well with Tyler Allgeier. In games where BYU is a home favorite during the Kalani Sitake era, the under is 15-7. Pick: Under 57
Oregon State (-3.5) at Washington State: If Oregon State hadn’t lost seven straight to WSU, I’d be worried about a letdown from OSU here after big wins over USC and Washington. But I’m willing to lay the points with the Beavs as a road favorite, believing that their rushing attack will travel. OSU is averaging 229 rushing yards per game, best in the Pac-12 and No. 16 in the nation. Pick: Oregon State -3.5
LSU at No. 16 Kentucky (-3.5): This game features two offenses that are not very good. LSU is 128th in rushing offense. Kentucky is coming off a huge upset over Florida, but UK QB Will Levis was just 7-of-17 for 87 as the Wildcats had just 224 yards altogether in that win. I’m not expecting many points: Pick: Under 51
For other Week 6 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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