Bleacher Report's Expert College Football Predictions for Week 6

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2016

Bleacher Report's Expert College Football Predictions for Week 6

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    Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
    Tennessee QB Joshua DobbsScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The first weekend of October provided the college football world with a dramatic Tennessee Hail Mary (or "Dobbs-nail boot," if you will), a hectic walk-off win for North Carolina at Florida State, and heavyweight quarterbacks Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Louisville's Lamar Jackson going toe-to-toe in Death Valley.

    What will the sport do for an encore?

    The second weekend of October features a Top 10 showdown in College Station, Texas, between Tennessee and Texas A&M, the Red River Showdown up the road in Dallas between Oklahoma and Texas, and the rivalry game between Miami and Florida State.

    How will the landscape of the sport shift in Week 6? Bleacher Report experts Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee, Chris Walsh, Greg Couch and Michael Felder answer the week's burning questions in this edition of expert picks.

Who Will Emerge as Alabama's Primary SEC Threat: Texas A&M or Tennessee?

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    Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight
    Texas A&M QB Trevor KnightTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Adam Kramer

    Tennessee looks poised to beat Alabama in some spectacular, unanticipated, weird way. Like, a football will bounce off a blimp or off some rogue seagull and result in a game-winning score. That’s the way things are going.

    But right now, Texas A&M feels like the more dangerous team. Clearly, it starts up front with Myles Garrett, and his leg injury is something to watch. I also like how the running game has come along. It's the perfect balance to that exceptional stable of wide receivers. It just feels like A&M is the more explosive, complete team, which will be necessary. Love the balance it's had thus far.

         

    Barrett Sallee

    Let me get this out of the way—both teams are legitimate College Football Playoff contenders, regardless of who wins. That said, Tennessee will spring the road upset against the Aggies and head into its showdown with Alabama next weekend as the clear-cut No. 2 team in the SEC.

    The Vols have found that fight, have played better over the last two weeks along the offensive and defensive fronts, have found a bit of a rhythm in the passing game, and find ways to get it done. While College Station's Kyle Field is big, it is not intimidating. Texas A&M's biggest home win under Kevin Sumlin was this season's opener over an average UCLA team, followed closely by wins over Mississippi State last year and Vanderbilt in 2013. Vols win a close one. 

        

    Chris Walsh

    Texas A&M. Aggies fans will be wondering if it’s the biggest game ever played at Kyle Field, and you have to think that Tennessee is more than overdue for a letdown after pulling off dramatic wins against Florida and Georgia. The Texas heat can also be a factor, even in October. Combined with a charged-up crowd, the outstanding atmosphere should significantly aid the home team.

         

    Greg Couch

    I’ve been a non-believer in Tennessee (and Washington) all season. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I still think A&M will win this game, because it’s at home. But when they go head-to-head against Alabama, I like Tennessee’s chances—home for the Volunteers—more than A&M’s. 

        

    Michael Felder

    Going to go with Texas A&M, but just barely. Both teams are playing quality football, but A&M gets a bit of a nod given its more steady defensive performance—something I could not imagine saying in prior seasons. Both offenses flow through their running game (another thing I didn't expect to say about A&M) and quarterbacks who can get on the move. I'm expecting a great ballgame out of these two as they try to prove they belong in the mix with teams that can unseat the Tide. 

Can Charlie Strong Beat Oklahoma and Cool His Hot Seat for 2nd Year in a Row?

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    Texas head coach Charlie Strong
    Texas head coach Charlie StrongKevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Kramer

    Even if Texas wins this game, does that cool the seat? We’ve been down this road before. A victory in one game won’t change what is moving toward inevitability. I like Charlie Strong. He’s a great coach. Texas can win this game, although Oklahoma will probably outscore the Longhorns. A loss here will do plenty more damage, but the sense is that much damage has already been done. Sure, it could cool for another week. But what happens after that? Tough, tough stretch for a coach fighting for his job.

        

    Sallee

    I'll admit it: I bought into the Texas hype. I was wrong, because man, Strong neglected his defense while (properly) fixing the offense. When your side of the ball is the one that's the issue and you're on the hot seat, that's a recipe for disaster. Oklahoma's offense is lethal, and since Strong took over the defense this week to address the simple things like lining up properly and tackling, the Longhorns won't have time to address what the Sooners will bring to the table. Oklahoma will win big, and Texas will fire Strong on Sunday morning.

         

    Walsh

    Things may have turned south for good for Strong at Texas, and you know Oklahoma will remind its players of the way the Longhorns coach proudly wore the gold cowboy hat after pulling off last year’s 24-17 upset. The Sooners survived last week’s shootout at TCU and will finally get some momentum going.

         

    Couch

    Nope. Strong was already going to be fired from the day he was hired. Texas' money boys didn’t want him in the first place, and now that the Longhorns aren’t No. 1 already, goodbye, Charlie. He is still digging out the mess he inherited, and the defense is bad. Oklahoma wins.

         

    Felder

    I'm not sure if a win matters much at all to the people who matter at Texas. That said, he can get a win and help the team and staff at least feel a little better. The most important thing to watch in this game is not whether Strong's team can get a W—it is whether the Longhorns can make tackles and get lined up the right way after Strong took over the defensive side of the ball.

Can Ed Orgeron Become a Serious Candidate for the LSU Job?

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    LSU interim head coach Ed Orgeron
    LSU interim head coach Ed OrgeronDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Kramer

    A win over Florida, which LSU will get, will help push the narrative further. The problem isn’t necessarily this week, though; it’s the grueling slate of games still to come. But yes, Ed Orgeron can become a serious contender. It will take a lot—likely a win over Alabama and others—although it’s a real possibility. I’d still side with the likely scenario of LSU going hard after Houston's Tom Herman and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, but I would love to see Coach O put an administration in a difficult spot once again.

         

    Sallee

    Yes, he absolutely can elevate himself to the top option on the Plan B list, with the Plan A list likely comprised of Herman and Fisher. With the Texas job possibly opening (perhaps specifically for Herman) and the Fisher situation murky after last season's shenanigans with LSU, Coach O could be one of LSU's top options if, say, he finishes this season with a 6-2 record.

    One of those losses will be this weekend at Florida, though. The Gator defense will get after Tiger quarterback Danny Etling, force critical mistakes and piece together a sloppy win over Coach O's Tigers.

        

    Walsh

    Yes, but not by just beating a down Florida team, even if the game is at The Swamp. LSU has a pair of huge home games coming up with Ole Miss on Oct. 22 and Alabama on Nov. 5. If somehow the Tigers can notch a couple of wins, the school has to take a serious look at lifting the interim title for Orgeron. Granted, it’s a tall order, but he’s off to a good start.

        

    Couch

    Nope. But it is possible that he’ll go down as the greatest career interim coach in college football history. I just don’t think LSU will go with him no matter what—or at least until Bobby Petrino tells it "No thank you."

         

    Felder

    Nope. Florida is not good. Obviously, the offense has been a work in progress since Tim Tebow graduated in 2009, but more importantly, it showed defensive warts against Tennessee that not many people expected. There are a lot of candidates with track records people believe in who can be made interested in the LSU gig. Outside of beating Alabama, I'm not sure Orgeron will sway the decision-makers. Especially not by beating an uninspiring Florida team.

Will Mark Richt and Miami Cruise Past FSU?

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    Miami head coach Mark Richt
    Miami head coach Mark RichtJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Kramer

    It won't cruise, but Miami will win a game that will feature a lot of points. Florida State has to stomach a tough loss to North Carolina and take on a team that suddenly has a ton of life. Here’s what is most interesting about this game: The expectations for both have drastically evolved. Miami is suddenly in a position of strength as Florida State scrambles. 

    Behind quarterback Brad Kaaya, a dangerous running game and a defense that has been better than advertised, The U gets a W.

        

    Sallee

    I'll take The U, and I'll take it big. Florida State—my preseason pick to win the national title—has been horrific defensively. Meanwhile, Miami's defense has been rock solid, and the running game is the second-best in the ACC at 6.99 yards per carry, behind only Louisville. Give me the 'Canes as they continue to roll to their first ACC Coastal title.

        

    Walsh

    Miami has defeated Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State and Georgia Tech—four teams that it should have beaten. So Richt is obviously off to a good start, but I’m not sold on the Hurricanes yet. Florida State has already played in big games and will look to rebound against its in-state rival.

        

    Couch

    This has been an amazing resurrection, and I’m not talking about Miami. I’m talking about Richt. Florida State is loaded with talent, but it's not going to recover mentally from the beating Louisville put on it. College football is a game of momentum, and Miami has it. Miami wins.

        

    Felder

    To "cruise" is tough. Lamar Jackson cruised against FSU, and while I like Kaaya, Jackson he is not. I do expect the running game to work wonders against a Florida State defense that is still trying to figure out what happened to it in Kentucky. North Carolina proved the 'Noles can be had through the air, and we will see Miami, including tight end David Njoku, find great success against Jimbo Fisher's squad. Very nice!

How Dangerous Is Arkansas Against Alabama?

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    Arkansas QB Austin Allen
    Arkansas QB Austin AllenNelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    Kramer

    Let’s do this on a scale from 1 to 10, shall we? I’ll go with a 6.5. That feels about right. Quarterback Austin Allen has been one of the most underdiscussed breakout performers of the young season. Obviously, the level of difficulty will be raised, although he has the ability to push one of the best defenses that Alabama's Nick Saban has coached. Playing at home doesn’t hurt, either.

    The question I have is about the defenses. Does Arkansas have what it takes to slow down a group still trying to figure it out, albeit successfully? If so, maybe this is closer than we think. Alabama will win, although it won't be easy.

        

    Sallee

    Arkansas won't present a challenge to Alabama. Not even a little bit. The one time Arkansas faced a decent defensive front this season—Texas A&M—it got lit up like a Christmas tree and poor Austin Allen took enough hits to get to Cooperstown. Alabama will not only replicate that performance this weekend, but pretty much every SEC team left on Arkansas' schedule also has the personnel to do so. Alabama will win big and expose Arkansas as a fraud.

        

    Walsh

    Very. Two years ago, the Razorbacks came close to beating the visiting Crimson Tide. Alabama was outgained 335-227 and fumbled four times on special teams before pulling out a 14-13 victory. The Tide defense will probably be the difference, but it won’t be easy.

        

    Couch

    This will be a really good game. Arkansas tends to play to its potential against Alabama, and it's at a level above where it has been. The past two years, Arkansas hung with the Tide until late. This time, it'll hang a little longer before buckling. Alabama will pound on Arkansas long enough that eventually the Razorbacks defense will give in, late again.

       

    Felder

    This is not the type of team that beats Alabama. It might get close, but it just won't finish the drill. There are two main boxes to check against the Tide: quarterback who can create some run-pass conflict and wide receivers who can win 50-50 balls consistently. Arkansas checks neither of those. It is a good team set to win some big games, just not this big game.

Does Colorado Prove It's for Real and Beat USC?

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    Colorado QB Steven Montez
    Colorado QB Steven MontezDustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Kramer

    I cannot tell you how excited I am for this game. I mean that. To see Colorado endure the lows and climb out from the hole has been incredible. Now, a game against USC has meaning. And yet, USC looks like it’s figuring this thing out. Quarterback Sam Darnold looks excellent. The playmakers are getting the ball. The defense looks better. Colorado has the offense to win this game—there is no doubt about that. But USC is finally hitting its stride and will likely clip the Buffaloes as a result.

        

    Sallee

    I like what Colorado has done and how Mike MacIntyre has slowly built it back to being a competitive team. But it seemed like USC figured itself out last week when it dominated Arizona State. Darnold should have been the Trojans quarterback all along, the offense has come together over the last couple of games and the Trojans will win a fun, close contest over the upstart Buffs.

        

    Walsh

    I’m already convinced Colorado is good after it played Michigan tough, won at Oregon and crushed Oregon State, but the next four weeks will tell the story with this team. After USC, it hosts Arizona State and visits Stanford before playing UCLA. This one has game-winning field goal written all over it, but I kind of like the Trojans.

       

    Couch

    There is probably a good joke in there somewhere—something about having to beat up a living being in order to prove you’re tough. But in this case, USC, while it can’t play football, does have the marquee name still. And Colorado, once one of the top programs in the nation—believe it or not—has been a disaster for years. So this game would mean a lot to the Buffs. And yes, they are a good, not great, team. Give this one to Colorado and its credibility.

       

    Felder

    I've been on the Buffs for a good minute, and they proved their legitimacy by jumping on Michigan and holding their own until Sefo Liufau was injured. Since then, backup QB Steven Montez has grown into a legit threat, and yes, this team will get a win against the Trojans.

    The difference between Montez being thrust into the game and having a week to prepare as a starter is immense, and the young man will continue his growth. Regardless if it's Sefo or Montez, both guys will be tossing to beast wide receivers, and they'll find a way to win.

Which Big Favorite Should Be Scared of 'Team Chaos' This Week?

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    Washington State QB Luke Falk
    Washington State QB Luke FalkWilliam Mancebo/Getty Images

    Kramer

    The full upset won't be realized, but it would not shock me to see Clemson struggle at Boston College whatsoever. It’s a short week, with the game taking place Friday night. Clemson is coming off a grueling, emotional win over Louisville. It now has to travel to a place that has been a meat grinder in the past. 

    After a slow start, Boston College has looked better. Granted, the improvement has come against teams it should look better against. With that defense, however, there is always a chance. The question is an obvious one: Where will the points come from? This will likely be this upset’s undoing. But don’t be shocked if it’s at least close for a while.

        

    Sallee

    I'll go out west and say Stanford—which has gone from 12.5-point favorites to just 7.5-point favorites at home over Washington State, according to Odds Shark—better be careful with the Cougars. Head coach Mike Leach's crew can sling it, Washington's Jake Browning picked apart the Cardinal last week and Luke Falk might do the same this week. Give me the Cougs in an upset. 

        

    Walsh

    I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Boston College make things difficult for a visiting Clemson, but I’m going to go with a team that will be a bit of a surprise here: Oregon. Its opponent, Washington, is coming off a huge win against Stanford, and it now goes on the road to face a team that’s lost three straight. The Ducks will wake up and try to salvage their season. 

        

    Couch

    This doesn’t look like the week for any big upsets, but college football can be unpredictable. If it happens, I could see Washington losing to Oregon. I haven’t bought into Washington all year, and now I do. That was an incredible bullying job against Stanford, the Pac-12's bully.

    But maybe that leads to a letdown, possibly because the game is in Eugene and could be because Oregon has slipped—but not as much as everyone thinks. I’m not predicting this, but if I have to pick one favorite in danger, it’s Washington.

        

    Felder

    I guess if I am looking at possible upsets or struggles, I'll go with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Indiana is flying high off an overtime victory over Michigan State, so it'll come into this game with a bit of 'tude, ready to work hard. Unfortunately, quarterback Richard Lagow and the rest of the bunch aren't ready for this Buckeyes defense. 

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