College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game
The last time No. 8 TCU played a game of football, it went on the road and shocked a Top 10 team (Oklahoma State). Now that the Horned Frogs are the Top 10 team hosting a lower-ranked foe (No. 23 West Virginia), can they avoid a similar fate?
And what of that other Week 6 ranked-against-ranked showdown: No. 17 Louisville at No. 24 North Carolina State?
We have score predictions for each of those two marquee matchups, as well as the other 56 games taking place this weekend. (Only in college football can a Wednesday night game in the Sun Belt count as part of the weekend, and we wouldn't have it any other way.)
The games are ordered based on kickoff time and broken into buckets to better highlight the ones you're not going to want to miss.
Top Saturday Early Games
No. 4 Penn State (5-0) at Northwestern (2-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Northwestern beat Penn State 23-21 in November 2015.
Northwestern's rush defense this season has been just plain average, which are not three words anyone has ever used to describe Saquon Barkley. Penn State's lightning-in-a-bottle, do-it-all running back had 170 all-purpose yards against Northwestern two years ago, and his legend has only been growing since then. And fresh off a disappointing game against Indiana in which his longest carry went for eight yards, you better believe this Heisman candidate (favorite?) has something to prove.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Northwestern 21
No. 5 Georgia (5-0) at Vanderbilt (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Vanderbilt beat Georgia 17-16 last October.
These two programs could not be headed in more opposite directions over the last two weeks. Georgia was already regarded as a strong team, but it has become one of the top candidates for the 2018 College Football Playoff after smashing Mississippi State and Tennessee by a combined margin of 72-3. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt was starting to look like a good team with a seriously good defense, only to give up 97 combined points against Alabama and Florida. Will those trends continue for a third week?
Prediction: Georgia 31, Vanderbilt 10
Ole Miss (2-2) at No. 12 Auburn (4-1), noon ET
Last Meeting: Auburn beat Ole Miss 40-29 last October.
Speaking of teams headed in opposite directions, Auburn has clearly become one of the three best teams in the SEC, while Ole Miss has been outscored 86-3 points over the course of its last 103 minutes played. Auburn has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 14 points in a game this season, and the Tigers will push that streak to six games.
Prediction: Auburn 35, Ole Miss 9
Wake Forest (4-1) at No. 2 Clemson (5-0), noon ET
Last Meeting: Clemson beat Wake Forest 35-13 last November.
Wake Forest lost last week's game, but by holding a fourth-quarter lead over the Florida State Seminoles, the Demon Deacons showed their 4-0 start was no fluke. However, almost beating a team that was supposed to be good at home in North Carolina is a far cry from winning three games (two on the road) against AP Top 15 teams. Once upon a time, this would be the exact spot for Clemson to do some Clemsoning and suffer an inexplicable loss. But that hasn't been the case in the past few years.
Prediction: Clemson 42, Wake Forest 17
Iowa State (2-2) at No. 3 Oklahoma (4-0), noon ET
Last Meeting: Oklahoma beat Iowa State 34-24 last November.
This is one of the marquee games of the week because it involves a title contender and a top Heisman candidate potentially tearing a team to shreds. If you want to watch Baker Mayfield this week, though, you may want to tune in early. Chances are the quarterback won't be on the field for much of the second half.
Prediction: Oklahoma 54, Iowa State 10
Duke (4-1) at Virginia (3-1), 12:20 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Virginia beat Duke 34-20 last October.
The sneaky-good game of the week, this is one of just two contests in which both teams are unranked and have fewer than two losses. (The other is SMU at Houston.) This will be Virginia's first game since a big road win over Boise State two weeks ago, and Duke is looking to bounce back from a deflating 31-6 home loss to the Miami Hurricanes last Friday. Save for the first couple of possessions against the 'Canes, the Blue Devils have been solid on defense, and they have rushed for at least 183 yards in all five games. And Virginia gave up 207 rushing yards to Connecticut. That could be the difference.
Prediction: Duke 28, Virginia 26
Other Saturday Early Games
Temple (2-3) at East Carolina (1-4), noon ET
Last Meeting: Temple beat East Carolina 37-10 last November.
With all due respect, it's a minor miracle that either of these teams has won a game. East Carolina has given up more than 50 points per game on defense, but Temple has yet to reach 400 yards of total offense in a contest this season. Surely it's a coincidence that the Ben Folds Five song "Battle of Who Could Care Less" popped up on shuffle when I hit this point in the predictions, right?
Prediction: East Carolina 34, Temple 27
Eastern Michigan (2-2) at Toledo (3-1), noon ET
Last Meeting: Toledo beat Eastern Michigan 35-20 last October.
Eastern Michigan almost messed around and won a road game against Kentucky last week, but should that be read as a vote of confidence in the Eagles or a lack of one in the Wildcats? Meanwhile, the Toledo Rockets were looking great through their first 3.5 games, beating Elon, Nevada and Tulsa before holding a halftime lead over Miami—that eventually turned into a 22-point loss. The Rockets can score in bunches, and they should win this one.
Prediction: Toledo 41, Eastern Michigan 24
Illinois (2-2) at Iowa (3-2), noon ET
Last Meeting: Iowa beat Illinois 28-0 last November.
Here's hoping at least one of these teams has a better showing than it did last week. Illinois had 199 yards of total offense and just six points in an ugly home loss to Nebraska. Iowa wasn't much better at 231 and 10, respectively, with just 19 rushing yards in a loss to Michigan State. That was probably just an off night for the Hawkeyes, though. It might be par for the course for the Illini.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Illinois 6
Texas Tech (3-1) at Kansas (1-3), noon ET
Last Meeting: Texas Tech beat Kansas 55-19 in September 2016.
Kansas discovered a fun new toy in its last game, as Khalil Herbert ran for 291 yards and two touchdowns against West Virginia. But the Jayhawks still lost by at least a two-score margin for the third straight week, allowing an average of 47.7 points and 287.7 passing yards against FBS opponents. And when you can't stop anyone from throwing the ball, Texas Tech is just about the last team you want to run into.
Prediction: Texas Tech 59, Kansas 21
Pittsburgh (2-3) at Syracuse (2-3), 12:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Pittsburgh beat Syracuse 76-61 last November.
A basketball game broke out the last time these teams got together, but Syracuse is significantly less putrid on defense now than it was then. Pittsburgh is drastically less potent on offense too. Or, at least the Panthers were until facing the Rice Owls last week. Was that offensive explosion the start of something more, or is that just what happens when an offense that can walk and chew gum at the same time gets to face the Owls?
Prediction: Syracuse 38, Pittsburgh 27
Central Michigan (2-3) at Ohio (4-1), 2 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Central Michigan beat Ohio 27-20 last November.
Central Michigan scored 75 points in its first two wins, but opponents have held the Chippewas to 39 over the course of their last three losses. Ohio's points-per-game average this season is 41.4, as the Bobcats are rushing over everyone. They aren't exactly Navy or Georgia Tech, but they do already have four players with at least 125 rushing yards and three touchdowns. And the Chippewas have given up 701 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in their last three games.
Prediction: Ohio 41, Central Michigan 22
Bowling Green (0-5) at Miami-Ohio (2-3), 2:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Miami-Ohio beat Bowling Green 40-26 last October.
The Bowling Green Falcons aren't terrible on offense, but they have allowed 511.4 yards per game on defense. They rank in the bottom 20 nationally in both rushing and passing yards allowed per game, so they don't discriminate in how they get shredded. The Miami RedHawks aren't great on offense, but neither are Akron and Middle Tennessee. And those teams moved the ball at will against Bowling Green. Look for the RedHawks to do the same.
Prediction: Miami 37, Bowling Green 27
Cream of the Saturday Midafternoon Crop
No. 13 Miami-Florida (3-0) at Florida State (1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Florida State beat Miami 20-19 last October.
It's not the week this game was supposed to happen, nor is it nearly as intriguing as it would have been if Florida State hadn't started the season 0-2. But this is still a big-time rivalry battle in the ACC. A Miami win would cement the Hurricanes as the front-runners in the ACC Coastal Division, while a Florida State victory could be a sign that this team still means business in the race for the Atlantic Division crown. Expect a low-scoring affair in what was supposed to be a contest between two of the best defenses in the nation.
Prediction: Miami 20, Florida State 17
LSU (3-2) at No. 21 Florida (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Florida beat LSU 16-10 last November.
Here's another rivalry game that isn't anywhere near as noteworthy as it should have been based on preseason rankings. The LSU Tigers feel like a dumpster fire after the past three weeks, and the Florida Gators seem to be lucking their way into victories on a weekly basis. If the winner of this game is one of the six best teams in the SEC, that's a testament to how far the conference has fallen. Florida is expected to be without its only legitimate receiving threat (Tyrie Cleveland), and it lost recently named starting QB Luke Del Rio for the season to an injury he suffered against Vanderbilt on Saturday. If LSU can't win this one, firings will be nigh.
Prediction: LSU 23, Florida 14
No. 23 West Virginia (3-1) at No. 8 TCU (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: West Virginia beat TCU 34-10 last October.
After knocking off Oklahoma State two weeks ago, TCU has jumped to join Oklahoma as the Big 12's primary candidates for the College Football Playoff. But is this Horned Frogs defense prepared to shut down a second consecutive high-powered offense? West Virginia has scored at least 56 points in three straight games, with Will Grier quietly tied with Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph for the conference lead in passing TDs (13) through four games. TCU should win, but a two-touchdown spread seems a bit excessive for a team we just started buying as a contender.
Prediction: TCU 45, West Virginia 40
Maryland (3-1) at No. 10 Ohio State (4-1), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Ohio State beat Maryland 62-3 last November.
It kind of feels like we've forgotten about Ohio State, right? The Buckeyes lost to Oklahoma in Week 2, but they have beaten their last three opponents (Army, UNLV and Rutgers) by a combined margin of 40.0 points per game (148-28). They won't blow out the Terrapins quite like they did last season, but there's also no chance quarterback Max Bortenschlager waltzes into the Horseshoe and leaves with a W.
Prediction: Ohio State 48, Maryland 13
Solid Saturday Midafternoon Matchups
Minnesota (3-1) at Purdue (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Minnesota beat Purdue 44-31 last November.
Could this be the game that determines who finishes second in the Big Ten West? Both Minnesota and Purdue are 0-1 in conference play, but they have been better than expected in their first season under new head coaches (P.J. Fleck and Jeff Brohm, respectively). Prior to giving up 31 points to Maryland, Minnesota had held its first three opponents to a combined total of 24 points. Purdue put up a solid fight against both Louisville and Michigan. This one could go either way.
Prediction: Purdue 28, Minnesota 24
No. 21 Notre Dame (4-1) at North Carolina (1-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Notre Dame beat North Carolina 50-43 in November 2014.
Notre Dame's offense is on fire, averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game—this despite being held to 55 yards in a 20-19 loss to Georgia at home. Take out that one game against possibly the best defense in the country, and the Fighting Irish are averaging 363 rushing yards and 4.8 rushing touchdowns per game. And North Carolina just gave up 403 rushing yards in a 33-7 loss to Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. Don't be surprised if this game gets out of hand.
Prediction: Notre Dame 42, North Carolina 17
Air Force (1-3) at Navy (4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Air Force beat Navy 28-14 last October.
If you hate watching teams throw the ball 50 times a game, this is the one for you. Neither Air Force nor Navy has attempted 50 passing attempts in this entire season. But the Midshipmen have done a much better job of rushing the ball, averaging a nation-best 400 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry compared to 274.8 and 4.6, respectively for the Falcons. Then again, Air Force has faced a much tougher schedule than Navy, so this might be a fair fight.
Prediction: Navy 31, Air Force 27
Arkansas (2-2) at South Carolina (3-2), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: South Carolina beat Arkansas 52-7 in October 2013.
Not surprisingly, South Carolina has not been the same team since losing wide receiver Deebo Samuel to a broken leg midway through the third game of the season, scoring just 41 points in the past 2.5 games. That's going to be a major problem against an Arkansas offense that has finally found its way, scoring 85 points in its last two contests.
Prediction: Arkansas 34, South Carolina 20
Oregon State (1-4) at No. 14 USC (4-1), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: USC beat Oregon State 35-10 in September 2014.
Considering the Oregon State Beavers have lost three consecutive games by a margin of at least 29 points, this shouldn't even be remotely interesting from a "Who will win?" standpoint. But it will be interesting to see how the Trojans and Sam Darnold respond to their first loss in more than a year. This could be the game where they finally find that higher gear and start looking like the dominant team everyone was anticipating all offseason.
Prediction: USC 62, Oregon State 7
Colorado State (3-2) at Utah State (3-2), 4:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Colorado State beat Utah State 31-24 last October.
Maybe this game doesn't belong on this slide, but it's good enough to avoid an "Others Playing" designation. Both of these teams can score in bunches. The Colorado State Rams are averaging 49.0 points in their three wins, while the Utah State Aggies are putting up 50.7 points per game when they're victorious. Look for CSU's Nick Stevens to put on a show, building on his 351 passing yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii last week.
Prediction: Colorado State 45, Utah State 37
Other Saturday Midafternoon Games
Louisiana-Monroe (2-2) at Texas State (1-4), 3 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Louisiana-Monroe beat Texas State 40-34 last October.
The Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks have scored at least 51 points in each of their last two games, and the Texas State Bobcats have allowed at least 44 points in each of their last two games. Meanwhile, Texas State has yet to score more than 14 points against a FBS opponent and has only eclipsed 290 yards of total offense once this season. The Warhawks should have this one well in hand by halftime.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 59, Texas State 17
Florida International (3-1) at Middle Tennessee (2-3), 3 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Middle Tennessee beat Florida International 42-35 last October.
Injuries have ravaged the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders since their Week 2 road win over Syracuse. QB Brent Stockstill has missed the last three games because of a shoulder injury, and star WR Richie James made just one catch for negative-two yards in Week 3 against Minnesota before suffering an ankle injury that has kept him out ever since. But the FIU Panthers might be the most fraudulent 3-1 team ever, winning by one-possession margins against Alcorn State, Rice and Charlotte. Even at less than full strength, the Blue Raiders should win.
Prediction: MTSU 35, FIU 18
New Mexico State (2-3) at Appalachian State (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Appalachian State beat New Mexico State 37-7 last November.
This is a sneaky-good game that was almost deemed worthy for the "Solid Saturday Midafternoon" bucket. The New Mexico State Aggies have averaged at least 6.0 yards per play in all five games this season, and the Appalachian State Mountaineers have a strong defense, per usual. The battle between the NMSU passing attack (351.4 YPG) and App State's secondary (155.0 yards allowed per game) should be a great one.
Prediction: Appalachian State 24, New Mexico State 21
Ball State (2-3) at Akron (2-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Akron beat Ball State 35-25 last October.
Ball State almost won at Illinois in Week 1. Akron almost won at Troy in Week 4. But this is a matchup between two teams going nowhere fast. Here's a bold prediction, though: Ball State's Anthony Winbush gets a late strip-sack that seals the win for the Cardinals.
Prediction: Ball State 29, Akron 21
Kent State (1-4) at Northern Illinois (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Northern Illinois beat Kent State 31-21 last November.
Northern Illinois won at Nebraska and came within one possession of wins over Boston College and San Diego State. Kent State has a grand total of one touchdown in four games against FBS opponents. Don't overthink it: Huskies roll.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 45, Kent State 9
Western Michigan (3-2) at Buffalo (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Western Michigan beat Buffalo 38-0 last November.
It won't be anywhere near as ugly as last year's blowout, but the Western Michigan Broncos should win with room to spare. The Buffalo Bulls only really have one threat in the passing game (Anthony Johnson), and the Broncos have a stud defensive back (Darius Phillips) who should be able to neutralize him. The Bulls might be able to do some damage against Western Michigan's rushing defense, but it won't be enough.
Prediction: Western Michigan 41, Buffalo 23
Charleston Southern (2-2) at Indiana (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: This is the first meeting between the programs.
When Hurricane Irma forced Florida International to cancel its game against Indiana, the Hoosiers moved swiftly to get a new opponent on the calendar. Though Charleston Southern usually has a solid FCS record, its recent history against FBS foes is laughable. The Buccaneers have been outscored 256-39 in their last five attempts, including a 49-0 loss to Mississippi State earlier this season.
Prediction: Indiana 38, Charleston Southern 14
Tulsa (1-4) at Tulane (2-2), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Tulsa beat Tulane 50-27 last October.
We previously mentioned FIU as the most fraudulent 3-1 team, and Tulsa might be the best 1-4 team in the country. Led by running back D'Angelo Brewer, the Golden Hurricane are averaging 295 rushing yards per game. Their last three losses have come by a combined margin of 16 points, and that's only because they're giving up a nation-worst 8.23 yards per play on defense. But Tulane does not have a quick-strike offense, so Tulsa should pick up its second win.
Prediction: Tulsa 37, Tulane 27
Louisiana Tech (3-2) at UAB (2-2), 4 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Louisiana Tech beat UAB 40-24 in November 2014.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's return to college football has gone about as well as anyone could have expected. The Blazers already have two wins, and they darn near picked up a third this past week against North Texas. But the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are a considerable step up in competition over what they have faced thus far.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 52, UAB 31
Louisiana (1-3) at Idaho (2-2), 5 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Idaho beat Louisiana 23-13 last November.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette ranks dead last in points allowed per game at 53.8, but the Ragin' Cajuns have been relatively competitive thanks to scoring 41.0 points of their own. Idaho isn't particularly great on offense or defense, but it does have a solid quarterback in Matt Linehan who has thrown for at least 300 yards a dozen times in his career. Oftentimes an elite defense will beat an elite offense, but a decent offense should beat a horrendous defense, especially at home.
Prediction: Idaho 40, Louisiana 35
Cream of the Saturday Evening Crop
No. 1 Alabama (5-0) at Texas A&M (4-1), 7:15 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Alabama beat Texas A&M 33-14 last October.
For all that talk about Kevin Sumlin's imminent termination as head coach of Texas A&M, the Aggies are 4-1 with a historic collapse against UCLA serving as the only blemish in the loss column. Maybe he'll survive the year after all. But if this game goes anything like Alabama's last two have—59-0 at Vanderbilt, 66-3 vs. Ole Miss—the vultures will be circling once again. The Crimson Tide have scored at least 41 points in four straight games, and this defense isn't equipped to stop that streak.
Prediction: Alabama 44, Texas A&M 20
No. 16 Virginia Tech (4-1) at Boston College (2-3), 7:15 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech beat Boston College 49-0 in September 2016.
How will the Virginia Tech Hokies respond to a 31-17 loss to Clemson that never felt as close as the score suggests? Presumably, they'll rebound by destroying an opponent that has not had much luck slowing down teams with dual-threat quarterbacks. Notre Dame ran all over the Boston College (515 yards), and after a slow start, Clemson rushed for 342 yards against the Eagles.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, Boston College 17
Michigan State (3-1) at No. 7 Michigan (4-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Michigan beat Michigan State 32-23 last October.
Michigan State has bounced back nicely from a dreadful 2016 season, but this is where we find out if it's for real. This is the Spartans' first road game of the 2017 campaign, and it comes against their loathed in-state rivals. Both teams rank in the top five nationally in yards allowed per game, and neither one is crisp on offense. This one might be a rock fight on par with Michigan's 12-10 win in 2012.
Prediction: Michigan 20, Michigan State 16
No. 9 Wisconsin (4-0) at Nebraska (3-2), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Wisconsin beat Nebraska 23-17 last October.
Wins over Rutgers and Illinois don't exactly move the needle, but, hey, for Nebraska, it's better than a home loss to Northern Illinois or giving up 42 points in a half to Oregon. This game could get interesting, though, if the wrong Alex Hornibrook shows up. One game removed from tossing four touchdowns with only one incompletion against BYU, Wisconsin's left-handed QB had trouble connecting with any receivers in a win over Northwestern.
Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 16
No. 11 Washington State (5-0) at Oregon (4-1), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Washington State beat Oregon 51-33 last October.
Following a three-point win over the USC Trojans, Washington State is the new hottest team in the country. But the 5-0 Cougars haven't been that great on defense, and they have yet to play a game outside of Pullman. They caught a break, though, with Oregon QB Justin Herbert suffering a broken collarbone against California, per Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated.
If the Ducks were healthy, it'd be hard not to pick the home team averaging 260.8 rushing yards and 5.0 rushing touchdowns per game. Now that Oregon will be more one-dimensional, perhaps the Cougars can keep this train rolling for at least one more week.
Prediction: Washington State 41, Oregon 29
Solid Saturday Evening Matchups
SMU (4-1) at Houston (3-1), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: SMU beat Houston 38-16 last October.
The SMU Mustangs rank third in the nation in points scored per game, which is hard to believe when you note that Courtland Sutton—the Mustangs' best player from last season and a possible first-round draft pick—has only made 20 receptions this season. But Houston ranks 14th in points allowed per game (14.8), setting up an interesting stylistic mismatch. Will the Cougars be able to get revenge for last year's embarrassment?
Prediction: Houston 35, SMU 31
Kansas State (3-1) at Texas (2-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Kansas State beat Texas 24-21 last October.
After giving up 51 points to Maryland in Week 1, Texas has been surprisingly stout on defense—particularly in the running game, where the Longhorns have allowed 123 yards on 75 carries over the last three games. If Texas can do anything close to that against a Kansas State rushing attack that has at least 186 yards in each game this season, it could win by a landslide.
Prediction: Texas 30, Kansas State 24
No. 25 UCF (3-0) at Cincinnati (2-3), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: UCF beat Cincinnati 24-3 last November.
Two years removed from an 0-12 season, Central Florida is back in the AP Top 25 and vying for a conference title. The Knights have won each of their three games by at least a 28-point margin, including a big road win over Maryland and a 40-13 spanking of previously well-regarded Memphis. And the Cincinnati Bearcats haven't shown much of anything this season to suggest they're going to be the team to stop this freight train.
Prediction: UCF 45, Cincinnati 20
Arizona (2-2) at Colorado (3-2), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Colorado beat Arizona 49-24 last November.
Flip a coin in this one. Two middle-of-the-pack defenses each facing a dual-threat quarterback. But this is a home game for the Colorado Buffaloes, and its QB (Steven Montez) has been more reliable than Arizona's (Brandon Dawkins). That's enough to give the Buffaloes the nod.
Prediction: Colorado 32, Arizona 28
Other Saturday Evening Games
Marshall (3-1) at Charlotte (0-5), 6 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Charlotte beat Marshall 27-24 last October.
Marshall has secretly been good. The Thundering Herd shut out Kent State three weeks ago and comfortably won at Cincinnati this past Saturday. The Charlotte 49ers, on the other hand, are not-so-secretly awful, and last week, they even went so far as to blow a 26-7 lead against FIU to remain winless.
Prediction: Marshall 35, Charlotte 10
Florida Atlantic (2-3) at Old Dominion (2-2), 6 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Old Dominion beat Florida Atlantic 42-24 last November.
After jumping out to a 2-0 start with wins over Albany and Massachusetts, the Old Dominion Monarchs were slaughtered in back-to-back weeks by North Carolina and Virginia Tech. This is a far cry from the team that went 10-3 last season. Meanwhile, head coach Lane Kiffin has something rolling with Florida Atlantic. The Owls were respectable in early losses to Navy and Wisconsin, and their offense has looked great the past three weeks with Devin Singletary leading the way at running back.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 41, Old Dominion 30
Georgia State (1-2) at Coastal Carolina (1-3), 6:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: This is the first meeting between the programs.
Both of these teams rank in the bottom 25 nationally in yards allowed per play. But at least Georgia State has the excuse of Penn State representing 33.3 percent of opponents faced. Coastal Carolina hasn't faced anyone better than Louisiana-Monroe, and it still can't do anything on defense. Look for the Panthers to beat the Chanticleers in a sloppy affair.
Prediction: Georgia State 28, Coastal Carolina 23
Army (3-2) at Rice (1-4), 6:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Army beat Rice 31-14 in September 2016.
No sense in sugarcoating it: Rice is terrible. It has scored 10 or fewer points in four of five games and has allowed at least 38 points in each game against a respectable foe (Stanford Cardinal, Houston Cougars). The Owls gave up 287 rushing yards to Stanford in the season opener, and it would be nothing short of a miracle if they were to limit the Army Black Knights to that total in this game.
Prediction: Army 51, Rice 3
Southern Mississippi (2-2) at UT San Antonio (3-0), 7 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: UTSA beat Southern Miss 55-32 last October.
Since upsetting Baylor in their season opener, the UTSA Roadrunners have blown out Southern and Texas State to become that one undefeated team nobody realizes is undefeated. Fun fact: Only Michigan has allowed fewer total yards per game than UTSA. But the Roadrunners could get a stiff test from a Southern Mississippi team that can move the ball and defend the pass.
Prediction: UT San Antonio 31, Southern Mississippi 27
Missouri (1-3) at Kentucky (4-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Kentucky beat Missouri 35-21 last October.
It's not often that you find an SEC game in between Conference USA and the Mountain West in the "Others Playing" category, but that's what happens when a team that cannot score against FBS opponents (Missouri) goes against a team that has exclusively played in ugly games this season (Kentucky). Even if the Wildcats win this game to improve to 5-1, they still might not get a single vote in the AP poll.
Prediction: Kentucky 24, Missouri 13
Fresno State (2-2) at San Jose State (1-5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: San Jose State beat Fresno State 16-14 last November.
It's tough to get a gauge on Fresno State, considering the Bulldogs have yet to play in a game decided by fewer than 20 points. They were blown out at Alabama and Washington and crushed Incarnate Word and Nevada at home. They might be the biggest threat to San Diego State in the MWC, but it's too soon to tell. What we do know, though, is that the San Jose State Spartans are not any good, allowing at least 41 points in all five of their games against FBS opponents and losing each of those by at least a 20-point margin.
Prediction: Fresno State 54, San Jose State 19
Western Kentucky (2-2) at UTEP (0-5), 8 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Western Kentucky beat UTEP 35-27 in November 2014.
Speaking of teams that are just plain bad, enter UTEP. The Miners have lost all five of their games by at least two touchdowns, including a home game against Rice. They finally showed some signs of life on offense in a 35-21 loss to Army in Week 5, but they're still averaging at least 36 fewer yards per game than every other team in the country. Western Kentucky is far from elite on offense, but the Hilltoppers can at least move the ball through the air on a regular basis.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 38, UTEP 13
Saturday Night Games
Stanford (3-2) at No. 20 Utah (4-0), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Utah beat Stanford 20-17 in November 2014.
It's the unstoppable force against the impenetrable wall. Bryce Love has rushed for at least 160 yards in every game, averaging 217.6 per contest, but Utah has held three of its first four opponents below 65 rushing yards. This game will be a wake-up call for the undefeated Utes, though, as they have yet to face a team likely to qualify for a bowl game.
Prediction: Stanford 42, Utah 24
Hawaii (2-3) at Nevada (0-5), 10:30 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Hawaii beat Nevada 38-17 last October.
Nevada has given up at least 30 points in all five games and has yet to reach that mark on offense. Hawaii isn't a juggernaut on either side of the ball, though, so this could be the game where the Wolf Pack finally break into the win column.
Prediction: Nevada 27, Hawaii 24
No. 19 San Diego State (5-0) at UNLV (2-2), 10:45 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: San Diego State beat UNLV 26-7 last October.
Rashaad Penny has rushed for at least 107 yards in all five games, and the UNLV Rebels have allowed at least 123 rushing yards in each of their games. The Rebels might keep things close with an offense that has scored at least 40 points in three of four games, but an inability to stop Penny and the Aztecs from marching down the field on repeat will be their downfall.
Prediction: San Diego State 49, UNLV 38
California (3-2) at No. 6 Washington (5-0), 10:45 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Washington beat California 66-27 last November.
The Washington Huskies have won their last four games by a combined margin of 150 points, quietly destroying everything in their path while the national media tries to convince you that it's Alabama and Clemson and nobody else matters. Jake Browning has been even more efficient than last season, and that will continue against a California Golden Bears defense that—while much improved compared to 2016—ranks 111th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game.
Prediction: Washington 40, California 21
No. 17 Louisville (4-1) at No. 24 North Carolina State (4-1), 8 p.m. ET Thursday
Last Meeting: Louisville beat North Carolina State 54-13 last October.
The Heisman Trophy hype isn't quite the same, but Lamar Jackson is still doing his thing, averaging 414.6 total yards and 3.6 touchdowns per game. NC State is a much better team on offense than it was a season ago, though, and Louisville's defense has yet to show up against a Power Five opponent. This could be a shootout that hinges on one turnover, and the Wolfpack have done a much better job of protecting the ball (two turnovers) than Louisville has (10).
Prediction: North Carolina State 38, Louisville 35
Memphis (3-1) at Connecticut (1-3), 7 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Memphis beat Connecticut 41-10 in November 2014.
Neither of these teams plays a lick of defense, giving up a combined average of 81.3 points in their last three games. The Memphis connection of quarterback Riley Ferguson and wide receiver Anthony Miller should have a field day for a quick recovery from a disappointing 40-13 Week 5 loss to the UCF Knights.
Prediction: Memphis 51, Connecticut 27
Boise State (2-2) at BYU (1-4), 10:15 p.m. ET Friday
Last Meeting: Boise State beat BYU 28-27 last October.
By the time this game begins, the Boise State Broncos will have had 14 days to stew over the 42-23 home beating they took from the Virginia Cavaliers at Albertsons Stadium. Maybe this isn't the same team that averaged 11 wins over the previous 17 seasons, but the Broncos aren't nearly that bad. BYU might be, though, and its inability to accomplish anything on offense could enable us to head to bed at halftime without fear of missing anything.
Prediction: Boise State 45, BYU 13
Author's Note: This did not run in time to include the Wednesday night #FunBelt game in which Arkansas State defeated Georgia Southern 43-25. However, I was not originally aware of the planned publish time and had made a prediction of Arkansas State winning by a 37-10 margin. Though it never made it to print, I'm claiming that as a victory! 1-0!