College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2018

College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game

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    Rivalries will take center stage in Week 6 of the college football season, and two Top 10 teams will highlight the slate when they take on ranked opponents.

    The annual neutral-site clash between Oklahoma and Texas is up first, followed by LSU-Florida and Miami-Florida State. Plus, the featured prime-time game pits Notre Dame against a Virginia Tech squad that recently re-entered the Top 25.

    Otherwise, every ranked school battles a conference foe. While those contests might not include as much emotional investment, the rewarda league victoryis often just as important.

    Organized by kickoff time, we've offered a prediction for every game involving a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

                       

    Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.

Thursday and Friday Games

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    Georgia State (2-3) at Troy (4-1), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Georgia State enjoyed an out-of-nowhere offensive surge in a 46-14 Week 5 win over UL Monroe, but the Panthers should come crashing back to earth on the road. Troy has limited three of its last four opponents to less than five yards per snap.

    Prediction: Troy 34, Georgia State 17

           

    Tulsa (1-3) at Houston (3-1), Thursday, 8 p.m. ET

    At some point, Tulsa should pull off an unexpected victory thanks to its respectable defense. But that's most likely to happen during a home game, and it's even less probable when the opponent is a Houston team that's leading the FBS in yards per game.

    Prediction: Houston 42, Tulsa 24

              

    Georgia Tech (2-3) at Louisville (2-3), Friday, 7 p.m. ET

    Louisville coughed up a terrific chance to take out Florida State and fell to 2-3 after the 28-24 loss. Will the Cardinals build off their most promising offensive performance? Opposite a decent Georgia Tech secondary that's allowing only 6.6 yards per pass, it seems likely they won't.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Louisville 23

                   

    Middle Tennessee (2-2) at Marshall (3-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    It wasn't pretty, but Middle Tennessee beat Florida Atlantic 25-24. Still, the 5.2 yards per play and 28.6 third-down conversion rate isn't a sustainable way to win. Marshall might let the Blue Raiders hang around before the aerial attack overwhelms a below-average pass defense.

    Prediction: Marshall 38, Middle Tennessee 27

                

    Utah State (3-1) at BYU (3-2), Friday, 9 p.m. ET

    As suspected, a mediocre BYU offense couldn't handle Washington in a 35-7 Week 5 loss. The unit better recover in a hurry, since Utah State's scoring attack is capable of shredding the Cougars, too. BYU is at home, but the visitors own a clear advantage.

    Prediction: Utah State 30, BYU 24

Top Saturday Early Games

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    No. 1 Alabama (5-0) at Arkansas (1-4), Noon ET

    Arkansas has dropped four straight games and ranks 103rd in scoring offense. Alabama is the No. 1 team in the country. Let's not kid ourselves.

    Prediction: Alabama 56, Arkansas 10

                 

    No. 19 Texas (4-1) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (5-0), Noon ET

    For the first time since 2012, this rivalry features a pair of Top 25 teams. Oklahoma still dropped two of those five matchups as the only ranked program involved, and a feisty Texas defense will be tough to overcome Saturday. But we're still leaning on OU quarterback Kyler Murray, especially after his career-best showing in Week 5 (432 yards passing, six TDs; 45 yards rushing, one TD).

    Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Texas 31

              

    Kansas (2-3) at No. 9 West Virginia (4-0), Noon ET

    Over the last two weekends, Kansas has surrendered 569 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier is averaging 10.9 yards per pass attempt. West Virginia should have no issues improving to 3-0 in Big 12 action.

    Prediction: West Virginia 48, Kansas 17

               

    Maryland (3-1) at No. 15 Michigan (4-1), Noon ET

    Michigan hasn't consistently started strong in the first quarter, so nothing is guaranteed with Jim Harbaugh's team. However, the Wolverines are nearly impossible to run successfully against, and the Terrapins' No. 122 passing game doesn't pose much of a threat.

    Prediction: Michigan 38, Maryland 13

            

    Northwestern (1-3) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-1), Noon ET

    Through one month, neither offense is performing well. On the bright side for Michigan State, its No. 1 run defense has continued to play at an elite level. The Spartans should pull out a low-scoring slugfest at home, barring an explosive game from NU quarterback Clayton Thorson.

    Prediction: Michigan State 27, Northwestern 20

                     

    Syracuse (4-1) at Pitt (2-3), 12:20 p.m. ET

    Pitt used home-field advantage and shocked Miami last season, so the Panthers' chances shouldn't be discounted immediately. However, their defense ranks 108th in yards per play allowed and probably can't contain a fast-paced, productive Syracuse attack.

    Prediction: Syracuse 41, Pitt 24

              

    Boston College (4-1) at No. 23 NC State (4-0), 12:30 p.m. ET

    This is the prove-it game for Boston College, which bounced back from a beatdown at Purdue yet still surrendered 35 points in a win over Temple. Pulling off the upset will require thriving against a stout NC State run defense, but star running back AJ Dillon has a leg injury and his status is unclear. Without him at full speed, BC will fall short.

    Prediction: NC State 33, Boston College 23 

Other Saturday Early Games

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    Missouri (3-1) at South Carolina (2-2), Noon ET

    South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley has struggled against top competition, so the Gamecocks will hope he gets on track opposite a mediocre Missouri secondary. But if those issues continue as expected, Tigers quarterback Drew Lock will eventually pick apart a tough Gamecocks defense.

    Prediction: Missouri 29, South Carolina 24

               

    Tulane (2-3) at Cincinnati (5-0), Noon ET

    Cincinnati has surrendered less than four yards per rushing attempt this season. The Bearcats will improve to a surprise 6-0 if that trend keeps up, since Tulane's offensive success is predicated on the running game. Otherwise, the Bearcats are in trouble.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Tulane 20

                 

    Buffalo (4-1) at Central Michigan (1-4), Noon ET

    Central Michigan is competitive whenever its offense isn't a wreck. Unfortunately for the Chippewas, that's an all-too-familiar game summary in 2018. Buffalo's explosive attack disappeared in a 42-13 Week 5 loss to Army but should recover this weekend.

    Prediction: Buffalo 35, Central Michigan 20

                 

    Eastern Michigan (2-3) at Western Michigan (3-2), Noon ET

    After two straight overtime losses, Eastern Michigan must navigate a date with Western Michigan's explosive attack. Excluding the anticipated loss to Michigan, the Broncos have amassed 7.8 yards per play. They'll move to 2-0 in the MAC with a win.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 41, Eastern Michigan 27

               

    East Carolina (2-2) at Temple (2-3), Noon ET

    Temple's four multi-turnover games are a concern, especially because East Carolina has played well since its season-opening loss to North Carolina A&T. Temple's 11th-ranked defense can, but also needs to, carry the Owls in this AAC tilt.

    Prediction: Temple 28, East Carolina 23

                

    Illinois (2-2) at Rutgers (1-4), Noon ET

    Even in a 24-17 loss to Indiana, Rutgers trailed by 17 points before an ill-fated fourth-quarter comeback attempt. Illinois isn't a heavy favorite, per OddsShark, but an inability to stop the run should doom the Scarlet Knights at home.

    Prediction: Illinois 27, Rutgers 21

          

    Northern Illinois (2-3) at Ball State (2-3), 3 p.m. ET

    Ball State is one of those "what exactly are you" teams. The Cardinals barely lost at Notre Dame, had no chance at Indiana, lost to Western Kentucky and crushed Kent State. There's no consistency, so after an explosive game, it's reasonable to expect a letdown against a stingy NIU defense.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 24, Ball State 16

Top Saturday Afternoon Games

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    No. 4 Clemson (5-0) at Wake Forest (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Although quarterback Trevor Lawrence's head/neck injury is cause for concern, Clemson should dispatch Wake Forest without much trouble if he's available as expected. The Demon Deacons have surrendered at least five yards per carry in three straight games.

    Prediction: Clemson 42, Wake Forest 27

                  

    No. 5 LSU (5-0) at No. 22 Florida (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    That dismal defensive showing at Kentucky lingers, but Florida has dominated since that Week 2 loss with only 2.6 yards allowed per carry. Should that continueand at home, it shouldLSU must escape The Swamp on the arm of Joe Burrow. Consider us skeptical despite LSU's undeniable defensive strength.

    Prediction: Florida 20, LSU 16

                        

    Florida State (3-2) at No. 17 Miami (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Rivalry games are never easy. Given the dismal play of Florida State's offensive line, though, it would be a disaster if Miami didn't win at home. The Hurricanes lead the nation in tackles for loss and should overpower the 'Noles. But if Miami can't break off a couple of explosive runs, things will get interesting.

    Prediction: Miami 27, Florida State 20

             

    Iowa State (1-3) at No. 25 Oklahoma State (4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Though we've written it before, this bears repeating: Iowa State is not the average sub-.500 team. Oklahoma State must be prepared for a major challenge. Poor third-down defense has been the Cyclones' downfall, but OSU isn't headed for a blowout.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 30, Iowa State 24

                 

    San Diego State (3-1) at Boise State (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Could the Aztecs take this clash without injured quarterback Christian Chapman (leg) and now-NFL running back Rashaad Penny? Probably not. Boise State's passing game holds an obvious advantage, rating 17th in yards per pass compared to 113th for SDSU's defense.

    Prediction: Boise State 38, San Diego State 20

             

    Indiana (4-1) at No. 3 Ohio State (5-0), 4 p.m. ET

    If an upset of this magnitude is to happen, the underdog either needs to have an explosive offense or a dominant defense. Indiana has neither. Ohio State could start slowly after its massive 27-26 win at Penn State, but the Buckeyes are the easy choice.

    Prediction: Ohio State 45, Indiana 21

             

    Arizona State (3-2) at No. 21 Colorado (4-0), 4 p.m. ET

    The Sun Devils lost to both San Diego State and Washington by seven points on the road. They're headed to face a Colorado defense that, while terrific through four games, hasn't been tested. Arizona State can swing the game in its favor if it immediately slows an offense averaging 12.3 first-quarter points.

    Prediction: Arizona State 31, Colorado 28

Other Saturday Afternoon Games

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    Navy (2-2) at Air Force (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    The first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy isn't as glamorous as in previous years because neither rushing attack has been consistent. Although Navy has dropped three of its last four trips to Colorado Springs, Air Force's offense has been mediocre at best.

    Prediction: Navy 35, Air Force 28

             

    Ohio (2-2) at Kent State (1-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    After a slow start to the campaign, Ohio unleashed its offensive potential in Week 5. The Bobcats shredded UMass for 58 points and 664 yards, and Kent State's 118th-ranked defense won't be able to handle that firepower.

    Prediction: Ohio 45, Kent State 27

                     

    Iowa (3-1) at Minnesota (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Defense carried Minnesota to three early wins, overshadowing a young offense. Things changed in a 42-13 loss at Maryland and probably won't improve against Iowa. The Hawkeyes have only surrendered 4.3 yards per snap.

    Prediction: Iowa 31, Minnesota 16

                 

    Miami, Ohio (1-4) at Akron (2-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Despite what the records may suggest, OddsShark doesn't have Akron as an overwhelming favorite. Still, the Zips ceded only a 29.8 third-down conversion rate while taking on Northwestern and Iowa State. That should quiet a slowly improving Miami offense.

    Prediction: Akron 28, Miami 23

             

    Bowling Green (1-4) at Toledo (2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    The status of quarterback Mitchell Guadagni (concussion) provides a little uncertainty, but Toledo should thrive either way. Bowling Green's defense, which has allowed 7.4 yards per play, is a wreck.

    Prediction: Toledo 41, Bowling Green 20

                    

    South Alabama (1-4) at Georgia Southern (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    In three road games, South Alabama has surrendered at least seven yards per snap. Georgia Southern, meanwhile, has scampered for 300-plus yards in every game, excluding a trip to Clemson. The Eagles should cruise.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 42, South Alabama 16

             

    Kansas State (2-3) at Baylor (3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    This isn't a typical Kansas State team. The Wildcats have never thrived on pace, but their offensive efficiency often atoned for a slow tempo. Since that's not happening in 2018, Kansas State probably can't control the clock to hold off Baylor, which is averaging 35.6 points per game.

    Prediction: Baylor 34, Kansas State 20

                    

    South Florida (4-0) at UMass (2-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    This is a challenging matchup to forecast because UMass has put together its best two showings at home, with 63- and 49-point efforts. However, the visitors have allowed only 5.8 yards per pass attempt. South Florida has the edge, yet the opposite result is easily foreseeable.

    Prediction: South Florida 34, UMass 29

             

    UL Monroe (2-3) at Ole Miss (3-2), 4 p.m. ET

    Through five weeks, there's a simple summary of Ole Miss: overwhelmed against top competition, overbearing against inferior teams. Given that Louisiana-Monroe ranks 116th defensively, an inconsistent Ole Miss passing game should put up huge numbers.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 52, UL Monroe 24

                   

    New Mexico (2-2) at UNLV (2-2), 4 p.m. ET

    Whichever run defense breaks first will likely shape this Mountain West clash. Last year, UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers posted a season-high 404 yards of total offense in this matchup, and his mobility will put high stress on a New Mexico defense ceding 6.7 yards per play.

    Prediction: UNLV 42, New Mexico 35

                 

    Old Dominion (1-4) at Florida Atlantic (2-3), 5 p.m. ET

    Put simply, Florida Atlantic's offense hasn't progressed as anticipated under quarterback Chris Robison. The Owls should be able to lean on running back Devin Singletary to dispatch Old Dominion, but any struggles on the ground will swing this contest in the Monarchs' favor because FAU's defense is a disaster.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 38, Old Dominion 31

Top Saturday Evening Games

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    SMU (2-3) at No. 12 Central Florida (4-0), 7 p.m. ET

    SMU's defense has been decent at home and below average on the road. Most notably, the Mustangs have surrendered 10.1 yards per pass attempt with six touchdowns compared to one interception away from home. Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton should pick apart the SMU secondary.

    Prediction: UCF 45, SMU 28

             

    No. 13 Kentucky (5-0) at Texas A&M (3-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Texas A&M played its worst game of the season in Week 5, needing a fourth-quarter touchdown to seal a 24-17 victory over Arkansas. Still, the Aggies only allowed 2.1 yards per rush. If they can contain Kentucky star Benny Snell Jr., it'll be a good night in College Station.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Kentucky 20

            

    Vanderbilt (3-2) at No. 2 Georgia (5-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Two straight weeks of mediocre defense is a huge concern for Vanderbilt as it enters its showdown with Georgia. The Bulldogs have meticulously broken down opponents with a diverse running game and efficient passing attack. Limit one, and Georgia can still win while riding the other.

    Prediction: Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 16

                            

    No. 8 Auburn (4-1) at Mississippi State (3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET

    A quarterback controversy could be brewing in Starkville, Mississippi, especially if starter Nick Fitzgerald can't propel the Bulldogs past Auburn. Dropped passes haven't helped the senior, but he's searching for efficiency while preparing for the nation's No. 15 defense. That's not an encouraging sign.

    Prediction: Auburn 27, Mississippi State 17

                    

    No. 10 Washington (4-1) at UCLA (0-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

    UCLA ranks 119th in yards per play. Washington is sixth in yards allowed per snap. UCLA hasn't scored more than 21 points in a game. Washington hasn't given up more than 21. Got it? Good.

    Prediction: Washington 41, UCLA 14

                 

    Nebraska (0-4) at No. 16 Wisconsin (3-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    The Cornhuskers' scoring attack showed life in a 42-28 Week 5 loss to Purdue, but only seven defenses have surrendered more runs of 40-plus yards. Jonathan Taylor will break off a couple of big scampers and help Wisconsin ease past Nebraska.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 21

Other Saturday Evening Games

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    UConn (1-4) at Memphis (3-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last week, UConn ceded a season-low 8.04 yards per snap. This defense remains mind-numbingly terrible, and the Memphis offense still ranks third nationally despite a poor showing in a recent loss to Tulane.

    Prediction: Memphis 56, UConn 21

             

    UAB (3-1) at Louisiana Tech (3-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Louisiana Tech, which pulled off an upset against North Texas in Week 5, has the fortunate outlook of hosting UAB. The Blazers are 9-0 at home since 2017 but only 2-6 on the road. Tech will continue the trend if UAB doesn't win the turnover battle.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 34, UAB 24

                 

    UTSA (2-3) at Rice (1-4), 7 p.m. ET

    In four contests against FBS competition, Rice really hasn't encountered a team with a below-average offense. Nevertheless, the Owls have posted between 22 and 29 points in those games. As long as a UTSA attack mustering 3.9 yards per snap falls short of a breakout showing, Rice could pull out a tight victory.

    Prediction: Rice 27, UTSA 24

             

    Louisiana (1-3) at Texas State (1-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Similar to Rice, Louisiana has a tolerable offense that needs to overcome a disaster of a defense. Texas State should be able to take advantage a few times, but its upside is limited compared to the Ragin' Cajuns and a potentially dynamic running game.

    Prediction: Louisiana 37, Texas State 28

             

    North Texas (4-1) at UTEP (0-5), 7:30 p.m. ET

    So much for North Texas being an under-the-radar New Year's Six contender. The high-powered Mean Green offense disappeared after the first quarter in a loss to Louisiana Tech. But there aren't many programs that provide a better bounce-back opportunity than UTEP, which is searching for an identity on offense.

    Prediction: North Texas 42, UTEP 17

Saturday Night Games

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    No. 6 Notre Dame (5-0) at No. 24 Virginia Tech (3-1), 8 p.m. ET

    Kansas transfer quarterback Ryan Willis put together a sensational first start, but Notre Dame will provide a much bigger test. Unless the Hokies play a flawless defensive game, Willis needs to successfully push the ball downfield to beat the Irish like he did against Duke. While we're not expecting it, that's the blueprint to handling a tough front seven.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Virginia Tech 20

             

    Liberty (2-2) at New Mexico State (1-4), 8 p.m. ET

    The first of two matchups between the Independent schools in 2018 will show whether New Mexico State's offense has actually improved. The Aggies tallied a season-high six yards per snap last week, and Liberty is generally allergic to defense. However, keeping up with Liberty's 10th-ranked passing attack is no easy task.

    Prediction: Liberty 43, New Mexico State 27

            

    Washington State (4-1) at Oregon State (1-4), 9 p.m. ET

    While the Beavers have a decent rushing attack on occasion, they're reliant on that success to be competitive. Washington State has allowed just 3.4 yards per carry this season, so Mike Leach's crew should record a painless win.

    Prediction: Washington State 41, Oregon State 20

             

    Cal (3-1) at Arizona (2-3), 10 p.m. ET

    Arizona is a tough opponent when its running game is thriving. Khalil Tate is apparently no longer a part of that threat, but Calwhich only has 19 tackles for lossmay struggle to keep J.J. Taylor from changing the game with a couple of long runs while Tate is risk-averse behind center.

    Prediction: Arizona 27, Cal 24

             

    Utah (2-2) at No. 14 Stanford (4-1), 10:30 p.m. ET

    This contest would be an upset special if Stanford had to travel. However, the Cardinal are at home for the Pac-12 clash. Although they'll likely be relatively quiet on the ground because Bryce Love is ailing and they are up against an elite run defense, the Cardinal should hold up against an unspectacular Utah passing attack.

    Prediction: Stanford 23, Utah 17

             

    Colorado State (1-4) at San Jose State (0-4), 10:30 p.m. ET

    If the Rams had an obvious choice at quarterback, they'd be in prime position to overwhelm a defense that has allowed 7.4 yards per attempt and 13 total touchdowns. However, the uncertainty at the position should offer a quietly improving San Jose State offense a real chance to propel the team.

    Prediction: San Jose State 29, Colorado State 24

             

    Fresno State (3-1) at Nevada (3-2), 10:30 p.m. ET

    The transitive property is not a perfect indicator of results, but Fresno State had a 22-point winning margin against Toledo, which hung 63 points on Nevada. The Wolf Pack would need a perfect day on offense to outlast Fresno State, and 10 turnovers in five games suggest that's not going to happen.

    Prediction: Fresno State 45, Nevada 31

             

    Wyoming (2-3) at Hawaii (5-1), 11:59 p.m. ET

    Some teams simply aren't built to handle shootouts. Wyoming fits that category, ranking 116th or worse in yards per play and scoring offense. Hawaii, on the other hand, boasts top-25 marks in both categories. This meeting won't be competitive for long.

    Prediction: Hawaii 49, Wyoming 17