College Football Predictions Week 6: Forecasting Saturday's Most Pivotal Battles

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinal rushes against defensive end Andrew Hudson #93 of the Washington Huskies on September 27, 2012 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After an enthralling Week 5, college football is back in full force with more great matchups on tap this weekend.

You're always going to have that bad in-between period right before conference play starts. The top teams aren't going to schedule tough opponents right before they begin their most difficult stretch of the season.

Last week saw the start of conference play for many teams. Fans were treated to the likes of LSU at Georgia and Wisconsin at Ohio State.

It will be hard for Week 6 to top that, but looking at these three games there's a good chance it could happen.


No. 16 Northwestern vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Maybe the Buckeyes needed last week. Ohio State had a tough time at home against Wisconsin, winning 31-24. It was the Bucks' first real test of the season. They barely passed it.

Now they travel to Evanston, Ill. to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are unbeaten and have one of their best teams in recent memory.

History is certainly on Ohio State's side. The Buckeyes are 28-1 against the Wildcats in the last 29 matchups. And Northwestern hasn't beaten a Top 5 team since 1959, via ESPN's Chris Hassel.

You'd think Pat Fitzgerald might have an advantage coming off the bye week. He's had more time to prepare and devise a game plan to best OSU. The only problem is that Fitzgerald is 1-8 in games immediately following a bye.

It's hard seeing this as anything but an Ohio State win. Even with the injury to Christian Bryant, the Buckeyes' secondary will be good enough to limit the Northwestern passing attack. The front seven should be able to handle Treyvon Green and Venric Mark.

Ohio State 38, Northwestern 27


No. 8 Florida State vs. No. 25 Maryland

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 28: Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles talks to his teammatesin the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Get
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Who would've thought Bethune-Cookman wasn't the best of tests before starting conference play? Florida State got into a 17-3 hole against Boston College, before storming back to win, 48-34. It wasn't a pretty win for the Seminoles, but it counts all the same.

Maryland is coming off a 37-0 demolition of West Virginia. The Terrapins held the Mountaineers to just 175 yards of total offense. Through four games, the Terps have the third-best scoring defense (10.3 PPG) in the country.

The Noles should be able to come away with the victory. Their offense is looking great so far. Jameis Winston has come as advertised, and he gets to stay at home for his toughest test of the season.

More importantly, the Florida State defense should be motivated after it was humbled by the Golden Eagles last week. With Stefon Diggs out wide, the Terps have the potential to break open the big play that acts as the equalizer.

However, the Seminoles will be more than prepared to keep Maryland out of the end zone.

Florida State 41, Maryland 24


No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 15 Washington

Remember that guy who said Steve Sarkisian should be fired? Man, that guy's an idiot.

In all seriousness, after four seasons of inconsistent football, Sarkisian has the Washington Huskies firing on all cylinders. They are no longer the team that gets a big win and then shoots itself in the foot with a bad loss a week later. The Huskies are for real.

On the other side, you've got a Stanford side that just keeps humming along. It's impressive the way David Shaw has been able to continue the success Jim Harbaugh brought to the school. Some thought the Cardinal might be tested against Washington State. Instead, it was an easy 55-17 win over the Cougars.

This looks to be a Pac-12 eliminator in terms of which team will be the contenders to knock off the Oregon Ducks and should more than live up to the hype.

In Washington's upset last year, Kevin Hogan was not under center most of the game. Having him for 60 minutes will make a big difference for Stanford.

The Cardinal have such a balanced offense that the Huskies won't get stops consistently. If they move up to stop the run, Hogan will beat them over the top. If they drop deep to stop the pass, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson can eat up yards on the ground.

Plus, Stanford has a great front seven that should get pressure on Keith Price early and often.

While neither team will have a massive advantage, the Cardinal will just prove too much.

Stanford 24, Washington 20