Week 6 NCAA Predictions

Aaaaaand we are back at it again, bringing you our analysis and detailed predictions for this week in the wild world of college football! John Kaufman and Alex Scheer team up to deliver the numbers and give you an inside look at who should win this weekend. Are you ready? as Mario says "Letsa Go!"

Tulsa (2-2) at #24 SMU (5-0) (-13, O/U 64) – 7:30 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on ESPNU

First up in our Top 25 NCAA week six preview is an American Athletic Association matchup between Tulsa and Southern Methodist University. The SMU Mustangs are nearly two touchdown favorites in this game, but perhaps the line should be bigger than that because SMU will have revenge first and foremost on their minds as they lost to the Golden Hurricane, 27-24, in their final game of the 2018 season on November 24, 2018. That loss knocked SMU out of bowl contention, which continued their streak of six straight seasons without a bowl win. It’s safe to say that SMU has had this game circled on their calendars for nearly a full calendar year.

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Tulsa will not willingly play the role of pushover as they are ranked 43rd in the nation in pass defense. This is a defensive unit that prides itself in toughness, a fact with which the national-darling Wyoming Cowboys are all too familiar. Last weekend those Cowboys traveled to Tulsa and were stunned by the Golden Hurricane, 24-21. Most people who began reading this NCAA preview had no idea what Tulsa’s nickname even was. But the Golden Hurricane aim to change that perception, and right quick.

However, SMU is going to be too much handle in this game. The Mustangs are undefeated thus far in the 2019 season, and I expect that to continue. The Mustangs not only win this game, but they’ll cover this near two touchdown spread as well.

#21 Oklahoma State (4-1) (-10, O/U 63) at Texas Tech (2-2) – 12:00 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on FS1

Things are heating up in the Big 12 as the Oklahoma State Cowboys travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. The spread in this contest is only ten points with the Cowboys being the favorite.

But I, for one, simply cannot figure out how Oklahoma State is only favored by 10 points in this contest. The Cowboys feature one of the nation’s best running backs in Chuba Hubbard, a man who leads the entire nation in rushing yards with 938 so far this year. (By the way, Hubbard has gained those 938 yards on only 128 carries, good for 7.3 yards per carry. It’s okay if you are impressed by that. I know I am.)

But if you were all goo-goo eyed with Hubbard, you should probably sit down while you read this next part.

Oklahoma State’s incredible wide receiver, Tylan Wallace, is only leading all Power 5 conference WRs with 618 receiving yards on 28 receptions. He has also scored six touchdowns in their five games so far this year. On offense, the Cowboys can line up with anyone in the country.

Texas Tech limps into this game off back to back road losses at Arizona and #6 Oklahoma. The Red Raiders were handled by Arizona, and their contest with Oklahoma was over by halftime. Last week against the Sooners they fell behind by a count of 34-10 at the break, and the six points they scored in the second half didn’t help matters. It was ugly.

Expect more of the same for the Red Raiders against the Cowboys on Saturday. Oklahoma State is simply too powerful on offense for Tech to hang around in this game. The Cowboys should win big in this game.

#18 UCF (4-1) (-3.5, O/U 60.5) at Cincinnati (3-1) – 8:00 PM Eastern (Fri. 10-04) on ESPN

Oh boy, this game is going to be one of the highlights of the weekend. And it’s on Friday night so we get to kick off our weekend in style.

Both Central Florida and Cincinnati only have one loss on the season. The Knights lost at Pitt two weeks ago, 35-34. It was their first loss since they fell to LSU, 40-32, in the Fiesta Bowl this past January 1, and their first regular season loss since November 26, 2016, when South Florida beat them by a count of 48-31. The Knights hadn’t lost a regular season game in nearly two and a half years. In today’s college football game, that is truly astonishing.

Cincinnati’s lone blemish came at the hands of Ohio State back on September 7. The Bearcats got blanked that day, 42-0. There’s no shame in that, as the Buckeyes are clearly one of the top three teams in the nation. Heading into that game vs Ohio State, Cincinnati was coming off a home win against UCLA. So, we know that the Bearcats are battle tested. That should help them as they begin conference play tonight against Central Florida.

This game should come down to the wire. These two teams are pretty much the best that the non-Power 5 conferences have to offer. It’s hard to pick against Central Florida considering how explosive they are, but I’m thinking that the home field advantage will matter in this game. Look for Cincinnati to win a tight one tonight.

#16 Boise State (4-0) (-22, O/U 57) at UNLV (1-3) – 10:30 PM Eastern on CBS Sports Network

A tale of two teams heading in complete opposite directions, starring the Boise State Broncos and the UNLV Rebels.

These two schools could not be more diametrically opposed. Boise State is undefeated in 2019, including a tough win over Air Force.

UNLV’s only win of the season came in week one against FCS Southern Utah, who apparently are nicknamed the Thunderbirds. (I’m not going to lie – I had to look that one up. But yes, they are a real school and they do have a football team. Who knew?)

Not only have the Rebels lost three in a row, but none of those games have been close. The slimmest margin of defeat has been by 16 points. That’s not very promising, especially with a very talented Boise State team coming to town.

Boise State should roll in this one and crush UNLV. The Rebels’ defense is surrendering 37.2 points per game, which is 119th in the country. There are only 130 FBS programs, just in case you thought that maybe they were 119th out of like 2,000 or something. They’re not. They are, however, very bad, a fact that the Broncos will exploit repeatedly this Saturday night.

#15 Washington (4-1) (-16.5, O/U 52.5) at Stanford (2-3) – 10:30 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on ESPN

Stanford opened the 2019 season with a home win against Northwestern, 17-7. They also won last week at Oregon State, 31-28. But the meat of that sandwich is three losses in a row to USC, UCF and Oregon. The Cardinal just do not look right this year at all. They are in serious danger of missing a bowl game this season, which considering their recent success, would’ve seemed impossible before this season began. But here we are four days into October and that might be the truest sentence I type all day.

The Washington Huskies, on the other hand, have been very good this season. Their only loss came in week two, a one-point home loss to Cal, 20-19. If they can take care of business at Stanford this week and at Arizona next week, they’d be 6-1 walking into back to back home contests against #13 Oregon and #17 Utah. Those two games will most likely decide the PAC-12 conference. But they are two and three weeks away, respectively. The Huskies first need to take care of business up in Palo Alto this weekend. And take care of business they will.

This game is late on Saturday night, so you can tune in and check out Stanford running back, Cameron Scarlett, who is off to a nice start this year. He has rushed for 413 yards and has added 106 receiving yards on 10 receptions. Other than Scarlett, there isn’t much to see here. Washington should handle the Cardinal quite soundly in this contest.

#14 Iowa (4-0) at #19 Michigan (3-1) (-3.5, O/U 47.5) – 12:00 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on FOX

What is going on in Ann Arbor? That is the million-dollar question. The answer, however, is probably worth well over a billion dollars to Michigan fans and alumni. I bet they’d start a GoFundMe and fill it up in record time if that would fix their program for them.

Look, playing a game in Camp Randall stadium is not easy whatsoever. The home field advantage that the Wisconsin Badgers experience there is palpable for sure. But Michigan looked like it was playing a different sport in that contest vs the Badgers two weeks ago. They got run off the field in a way that we just aren’t used to seeing at all. Last week’s drubbing of Rutgers probably takes some of the sting out of the Wisconsin shellacking, but let’s be honest here: if you’re a Wolverine fan, you’re not forgetting that loss to the Badgers no matter how many times you play Rutgers.

Iowa survived their yearly matchup with in-state rival, Iowa State. Two weeks ago, they won that game by the slimmest of margins, 18-17. And they do have a conference win under their belts already, a week two 30-0 victory over Rutgers. Regardless of how awful Michigan looked against Wisconsin, this will easily be Iowa’s biggest test of the season.

This seems like a good spot for Michigan to get right. They are favored in the game and it is at home. And Iowa isn’t exactly an explosive team or anything, although they are scoring 33.5 points per game which is 47th in the nation. But listen, I just cannot get on board with backing Shea Patterson and Michigan. I need to see it first before I will believe that they can beat a good team regardless of whether they’re at home or on the road. I expect Michigan’s woes to continue as Iowa leaves Ann Arbor with the victory.

California (4-1) at #13 Oregon (3-1) (-18.5, O/U 46.5) – 8:00 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on FOX

One last second touchdown by Auburn is all that separates the Oregon Ducks from being undefeated in 2019. The Ducks know they should have won that game. Perhaps the disappointing feeling has worn off for them, and what they’re left with is a razor-sharp focus knowing they cannot lose another game if they want to be considered in the College Football Playoff discussion. The Ducks haven’t really been tested since the Auburn game back in week one. They crushed Nevada in week two, 77-6, and then took apart FCS Montana in week three, 35-3. Last week’s road win over Stanford was a lower scoring affair than most predicted, but a 21-6 road conference victory is always a positive thing.

Meanwhile, Cal was undefeated until last weekend when they lost a home game to Arizona State, 24-17. The Golden Bears surprised everyone with their week two road win at Washington, 20-19. But now it seems that that win was more of a fluke than it was a solid performance from a great team. Cal is a bit overrated, or at least they were last week heading into that game against the Sun Devils. They did lose their starting quarterback, Chase Garbers, to a shoulder injury against Arizona State, which obviously didn’t help matters. Garbers’ backup, Devon Modster, had a rough game in relief of Garbers; he completed just 35.7% of his passes and threw an interception. To say it was ugly is kind of an insult to ugly.

Oregon is going to get up big in this game very early and never look back. Cal just doesn’t have the horses to run in this one, not against a Ducks team that is scoring 38.5 points per game, the 19th-best rate in the nation. Oregon wins this one by a lot.

#12 Penn State (4-0) at Purdue (1-3) (+28.5 O/U 56/5) - 12:00 PM Eastern (Sat. 10-05) on ESPN The Nittany Lions have had several things go their way this season, which definitely contributes to their 4-0 start. But the Lions want more. Blowing out Maryland last week wasn't good enough. Sean Clifford leads this high octane offense with 1,179 passing yards, while boasting a 9/1 touchdown to interception ratio. The ground game, lead by running back Journey Brown, is fairly balanced as well with a combined 774 rushing yards and 15 scores. Penn State has a defense that has combined for 15 sacks, 4 INT's and 4 forced fumbles. They fly to the ball and are completely relentless.

Purdue on the other hand... that is a completely different story. After losing starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar to a broken collarbone, the Boilermakers turn to back up Jack Plummer, who stared Sept 14th against TCU. Fortunately for Purdue, this isn't his first outing. Jared Sparks, the star receiver for Purdue, is expected to miss this week due to injury, as is Rondale Moore.The backfield is going to be thin as well as running backs Tario Fuller and Richie Worship will sit out again. The tale of the week? Survive. The Purdue offense can put up a decent amount of points, averaging 29.25 ppg, but that doesn't help when the defense is surrendering 33 ppg. Close loses to Nevada and Minnesota look better when you consider the injuries, but that won't be enough despite getting Penn State at home. Penn State takes this one and puts Purdue away early. Unfortunately, the Boilermakers will have to wait another week to get their second win of the season.

#11 Texas (3-1) at West Virginia (3-1) (+10 O/U 60.5) - 3:30 PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on ABC

How good is this Texas team? Well, West Virginia doesn't want to find out. Texas is averaging 41.8 ppg good for 13th in the nation, all thanks to the arm of Sam Ehlinger. Star receiver Devin Duvernay has 39 catches for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. This offense can score early and often, and that is exactly what they want to do this weekend against the Mountaineers. The West Virginia faithful certainly remember what Sam Ehlinger did to their defense just a year ago, airing it out for 354 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another score on the ground.

West Virginia QB Austin Kendall has been pretty good with his short throws and clock consuming drives, but his 6/3 touchdown to interception ratio leaves something to be desired. Averaging 25 PPG, this offense isn't the most potent, but the defense is playing well enough to help them to to a 3-1 record. Allowing 25.5 PPG, the defense is making big play after big play, with 11 sacks, 2 picks and linebacker Josh Chandler, who is leading the defense with 32 total tackles and one fumble recovery. There are a lot of fireworks to be put on display in this one if the WVU offense can get going. At home? Well, let's just say that the Longhorns have had this game on the board all year, and with their greater expectations for the season, they won't end this game with a loss. It will be a close one, but Texas takes the W, leaving the stadium singing "Country roads, take me home".

#9 Notre Dame (3-1) vs Bowling Green (1-3) (+45.5 O/U 62.5) - 3:30 PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on NBC

The Irish get the chance to host this game against the lower ranked MAC foe. The Falcons on defense have been absolutely gashed, allowing 38 points per game and nearly 450 yards a game. On offense, they are only gaining 352 yards a game, and a measly 18.3 points a contest... not a recipe for success. The Falcon's offense is lead by Darius Wade, and he isn't having the greatest season, only 664 passing yards and three touchdowns to three interceptions and four sacks. The receiving corps is headlined by Quintin Morris, who on 16 catches has 218 yards and two scores. Defensively, Bowling Green is lead by Brandon Perce, who leads the team in tackles at 38, and the teams lone interception.

The Irish look like the exact opposite of this Bowling Green program, at least on paper. Boasting a 3-1 record, they are averaging 38.3 points a contest, while yielding a mere 18.5. Ian Book is absolutely tearing it up, with 993 yards in the air, and 8 scores to only 2 interceptions. Tony Jones is leading the charge on the ground with 280 yards and four touchdowns. Amazingly, Brian Kelly thinks this offense could be doing more. Given just how poorly the BG defense has looked, I'd venture to guess that Notre Dame will get the identity they are looking for. Notre Dame rolls, and it's not even close.

#8 Wisconsin (4-0) vs Kent State (2-2) (+35 O/U 58.5) 12:00 PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on ESPNU

7.3. That's how many points the Wisconsin defense is allowing per game. Seven. Point. Three. Talk about stifling. Combine that with 192.3 yards allowed per game, and Wisconsin has one of the most elite defenses in the entire country. The defense has been the talk of the season for the Badgers, with nine forced fumbles, six interceptions and 12 sacks, its no wonder teams have a hard time scoring. On he other side of the ball, the offense is spearheaded by Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor, who has 559 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 4 games.

Kent State is averaging 27.8 a game, with some big wins and some really big losses. While the yardage total per game is pretty solid (402.0), the yards they've allowed (471.3) is why they are sitting at 2-2. Dustin Crum leads the offense with 697 yards, five scores and zero interceptions. His favorite target is Isaiah McKoy, who has 18 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns. The defense isn't really much to write home about, and that's going to be the case on Saturday. Wisconsin will get some nice practice reps for their second string players as they move to 5-0.

#7 Auburn (5-0) at #10 Florida (5-0) (-2.5 O/U 48.5) 3:30 PM (Sat 10-05) on CBS

This will more than likely be the game of the week between two SEC heavyweights as Auburn travels to Florida, in a match up that has a lot on the line. An inside track to an SEC championship, a boost in national rankings, playoff implications, and dominance in a very crowded conference. Bo Nix is sure to be the talk of the game, and what things he can do against a stingy Gator defense that is allowing 8.8 points and 281.2 yards a contest, including a minuscule 194.4 yards in the air. Nix has 980 yards and seven scores, and his lead back Jatarious Whitlow has 463 yards with another seven scores. Just how tough is the Gator defense? The Tiger offense can't wait to test it.

What about Florida you say? Look no further than the QB Felipe Franks, who touts 698 passing years and five scores, and Kyle Trask, who boasts 647 yards and five touchdowns as well. This team kind of reminds me of the 2006 national champion Florida Gators team, with the dual quarterback set, however, its left to Trask as Felipe is sidelined due to injury. But, let’s talk about this stellar defense.317 tackles, 24 sacks for -136 yards, and nine interceptions and we are only halfway through the season. Talk about lights out. Shawn Davis is one of the stars of the defense with 2 picks, and David Reese Is absolutely lights out with 36 tackles on the year. This one is close, but for the first top 10 matchup between these two squads since 1997, I give the edge to the home team. Florida takes this one in a hotly contested conference battle.

#6 Oklahoma (4-0) at Kansas (2-3) (-32 O/U 67.5) 12:00PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on ABC

Oh man. Do the Jayhawks have their hands full with this one. Oklahoma comes to Memorial Stadium with the second highest scoring offense in the nation, and at the helm of the offense? Heisman Trophy contender Jalen Hurts. It’s not just his arm that can hurt you, but this season he has also accumulated 443 yards on the ground. This dynamic dual threat quarterback has the ability to completely change the game by himself. Last week against Texas Tech, he threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, and the rest of the offense ran for 200 more and four more scores. This offense shows little to no weakness. THe biggest thing Kansas can hope to do is to find a way to slow Hurts down... and even that is a tall order for a defense who lost to Coastal Carolina. They showed signs of life two weeks ago against West Virginia, but TCU all but squashed those hopes are they bounced them off the field 51-14. The Jayhawks offense is mustering a mere 353 yards per game, and thats just not enough to win in the Big XII. Kansas gets rolled this weekend, and honestly it’s not enough against a Sooner defense that only allowing 343 yards and 18.8 points per contest.

#5 LSU (4-0) vs Utah State (3-1) (-27 O/U 74) 12:00PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on SECN

LSU comes into this match up as a relatively heavy favorite over the much weaker Aggies. Coming in to this game, the LSU offense is averaging a blistering 57.8 points per game, and a defense that is only surrendering 23.3. Talk about doubling up on your opponent. Look no further than Joe Burrow for the Tigers offense, who in 4 games has compiled 1520 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target is Ja’Marr Chase, who already has 397 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns on the year. Defensively, the Tigers are giving up a mere 96.5 rushing yards per game, and only 223.5 passing yards. If Utah State wants to have a chance, they better look to air it out against this defense. Jordan Love for the Aggies is having a pretty decent season passing wise, tossing up 1207 yards and six scores, but its the five pesky interceptions that could spell doom this weekend. Whole this offense is averaging 38 points a game, and the defense is holding opponents to 21 points a game, the level of competition is vastly different for both schools. LSU cruises in a closer than you might think game, blowing it wide open in the second half.

#4 Ohio State (5-0) vs #25 Michigan State (4-1) (-21 O/U 49) 7:30 PM Eastern (Sat 10-05) on ABC

Michigan State has been here before. Playing a highly ranked Ohio State team they have no reason beating, yet somehow pulling off the upset. Since 2011, Michigan State has been that underdog and won when they had no business doing so three times, twice in Columbus. But how good is this Ohio State team? Justin Fields has accounted for 23 touchdowns this season (16 passing and seven rushing) while combining for 1314 offensive yards. He has a zero in one category, and that‘s a category all Buckeye faithful are perfectly content with: Zero interceptions. Defensively, the Buckeyes are just as tough, allowing less than 250 yards per game, and surrendering just 8.6 points an outing. Not bad for first year head coach Ryan Day. When the Spartans are on the field, they account for 413 yards a game, while giving up just 253.8 yards and only 15 points to opposing teams. The question is: can the Michigan State defense do enough to give Brian Lewerke and the Spartan offense time to generate points before Justin Fields or JK Dobbins break loose? Lewerke is boasting 1325 passing yards and a 10/1 touchdown to interception ratio on the year, so he can definitely move the ball. It’s gonna be a great match up in Columbus, but my gut tells me the Buckeyes won‘t let history repeat itself again. Ohio State wins a nail-biter in the waning minutes of the game.