Fresh off a week in which Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray tied Baker Mayfield’s school record for most touchdowns in a game, we get rivalry week. One of the best weeks of the season in college football is finally upon us. The Red River showdown between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners, the South Florida meeting between Florida State and the Miami Hurricanes, the North Florida matchup between the LSU Tigers and the Florida Gators, and many more. What makes this week even more special than the past couple years is that all of the marquee programs are pretty good at football right now minus the Seminoles. After week 5, our Heisman race looks as if it’s a 4-man toss up between quarterbacks Will Grier, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and Tua Tagovailoa. All four of which are currently leading undefeated teams. If these four standouts continue to produce at the rate that they are, then the trophy might be given to the player whose team has the best record at the end of the season. So without further ado, here are the big matches and our Week 6 College Football picks!
#5 LSU at #22 Florida – 3:30pm ET
Line: LSU -2.5
Folks, you don’t want to miss this matchup! One of college football’s best rivalries will be set for showdown bright and early on Saturday. The LSU Tigers led by head coach Ed Orgeron will travel to one of the toughest venues in all of college football to take on the Florida Gators in the swamp. Two teams generally known for their defense, and self-proclaimed as “DBU” will struggle to find offense, but hey, welcome to SEC football. While LSU has won the last two meetings, the Florida Gators covered the spread in both matchups. This LSU defense is loaded with stars and future NFL talent with players such as Greedy Williams, Devin White, and Grant Delpit. Expect the Gators offense to struggle to find points, but if they can control the possession and move the ball, the game should open up for the Gators offense the longer the Tigers defense is on the field. The Gators are led by Sophomore QB Feleipe Franks who through the first five games this season already has 12 touchdowns. Last season, Franks had only 9 for the entire year. Franks looks far more comfortable under new head coach Dan Mullen then he did a season ago, and he should continue to improve. LSU has a new starting quarterback this season in Joe Burrow. Burrow is an Ohio State transfer, who’s been terrific for the Tigers. His comeback on the road victory against the Auburn Tigers was impressive. However, this is no doubt his toughest test yet. The Gators defense leads the nation with 14 takeaways. The Tigers O-line has been hobbled as of late. If they can’t get healthy by Saturday, then it could be a long afternoon for the Burrow and the offense. This matchup will come down to execution and protecting the football. With the Gators having their home crowd behind them, advantage Gators.
Prediction: LSU 13-17 UF
#19 Texas vs #7 Oklahoma – 12:00pm ET
Line: Oklahoma -7.5
Saturday’s matchup between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners will mark the 113th time these two will play at the Cotton Bowl in the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma has won the last five matchups, but Texas has covered the spread in all five of those games. With Texas being 4-1 this season and currently ranked #19 in the polls, the Sooners are only favored by 7.5 points, the lowest amount of points they are giving the Longhorns since 2011. Head Coaches Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman are each in their second season at the helms of each program. Last year matchup had the Sooners storm out to an early 20-0 lead, only to give it up in the second half, needing a game-winning touchdown from Heisman quarterback Baker Mayfield. While Herman failed to beat OU last season, he has done it before. In 2016 when Herman was still the head coach at the University of Houston, his Cougars took down the all-mighty Sooners. The evolution of sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been huge for the Longhorns success. After a brutal opening day loss to the Maryland Terrapins, the Longhorns have won 4 in a row. Two of which came against ranked opponents at the time in USC and TCU. The Longhorns will need Ehlinger’s best game of his young career if they expect to keep pace with the Sooners high-powered offense led by Kyler Murray. Last year Baker Mayfield put up the highest passer rating since the 1950s and led the Sooners to the CFP. This season, Kyler Murray is 30 points higher than Baker thus far in terms of passer rating, and also is completing over 70% of his passes. The kid has been flat out unstoppable. While he’s been otherworldly accurate throwing the ball, Murray is just as big of a threat with his legs. Murray isn’t the scrambling type of QB you’d expect from someone with his speed and quickness, but as a defense, if you take away the downfield plays and don’t keep a quarterback spy on him, he’ll make you pay every time. The Texas Longhorns rank 122nd in the nation with a dismal sack rate of just 3%. If Texas can’t find a way to get pressure on Murray and the OU offense, it could be an extremely long afternoon for the Longhorns defense.
Prediction: Texas 27-38 Oklahoma
Florida State at #17 Miami 3:30pm ET
Line: Miami -13.5
The start to this season has Florida State fans furious, many of which have called for the firing of Head Coach Willie Taggart. Anytime you take over a top-tier program, expectations are going to be sky high. A 3-2 start is not what Seminole fans have had in mind. Taggart has been noted throughout his coaching career for his ability to produce high scoring offensive teams and spread the defense out. So far this season the FSU offense has looked terrible. If it weren’t for a late interception on a play that Louisville should have been running the ball anyways, the Seminoles would be 2-3. They traveled to Syracuse earlier this year and got beat down by a program that had never before beaten the Seminoles. A win this week on the road against their biggest rival could change the trajectory of FSU’s season. The Canes are trying to overcome some offensive woes themselves. Head coach Mark Richt has benched senior quarterback Malik Rosier for the freshman N’Koshi Perry in hopes of finding some offensive sparks. The Hurricanes have too many weapons around the quarterback positions to be playing this poorly offensively. However, the backbone of this Miami Hurricanes team has been their defense. The Hurricanes defense already has 60 tackles for a loss through the first five games of the season, and they know how to force turnovers. The FSU offense has been putrid outside of quarterback DeAndre Francois. The Seminoles rank dead last in the ACC in giving up tackles for a loss and 122nd nationally. In other words, their offensive line has been awful. Not a good statistic to see if you’re Willie Taggart, knowing you’re playing one of the better defenses in the country at creating pressure and plays that net a loss. FSU also boasts the worst rushing attack in the conference. This game is going to rest solely on standout quarterback DeAndre Francois’s arm. But, if the Noles can’t find him some protection, it might not matter much. Canes win big at home.
Prediction: FSU 20-37 Miami
#13 Kentucky at Texas A&M – 7:00 pm ET
Line: Texas A&M -5.5
It’s hard to tell how good Texas A&M is. Their record shows 3-2, which generally you would immediately think a team with that kind of record is very mediocre at best. But, A&M’s two losses happen to come against two of the top-3 teams in the country in Alabama and Clemson. One thing you can say about them is head coach Jimbo Fisher is bringing the passion back to College Station, and you can see it immediately when you watch them play. The Aggies have a very balanced attack, ranking 32nd nationally through the air and 24th nationally on the ground. They’re led by star quarterback Kellen Monds and star running back Trayveon Williams. Williams is second in the SEC in rushing yards and touchdowns to none other than, Benny Snell. The Kentucky running back has been dominant thus far and has his Wildcats sitting at 5-0 and ranked #13 nationally. Their highest ranking in over 30 years. Going into College Station and coming out with a victory is extremely difficult, that crowd is rowdy and loud. Kentucky however, has a tremendous chance at countering that. The way Kentucky can run the ball, keeps their offense on the field for the long stretches at a time and could quiet the crowd. Kentucky has an underrated defense that’s led by All-SEC linebacker Josh Allen. The Wildcats defense has been the best in the SEC thus far, and they’ll need another lockdown performance to get the upset on the road. Jimbo Fisher is still looking for his first signature win as the head coach of the Aggies, and this weekend could be it. If Fisher can find a way to contain Benny Snell just enough, and forces Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson to beat them through the air, then they should be in a good position to win the game. The Wildcats are undefeated thus far, and are looking to keep things rolling. They’ve already gone to the Swamp and beaten the Gators on the road. They’ve proven they can win in a harsh environment. Can they do it again? We don’t bet on it.
#6 Notre Dame at #24 Virginia Tech 8:00pm ET
Line: ND -6.5
The return of Dexter Williams for the Fighting Irish rushing attack last week was beyond significant. In his first action of the season, Williams went for 161 yards on 21 carries against a phenomenal Stanford defense. With the emergence of quarterback Ian Book and now star running back Williams back, this Notre Dame offense looks exceptionally potent. To beat the Irish, the Hokies can’t beat themselves. With starting superstar quarterback Josh Jackson out with a broken leg, the Hokies will have to rely on Kansas transfer Ryan Willis to get the job done. The positive for the Hokies coming into this game is that they hold the nation’s 4th best rushing defense. If that defense can rally behind their home crowd and contain Williams and other ND running backs, then they give themselves a shot. However, defeating Notre Dame is no easy task. They’ve already beaten some premiere programs this season in Michigan and Stanford. Forcing a turnover and finding easy scores early will be essential for the Hokies to give themselves a shot. Don’t bet on it happening though, however; they will cover the spread.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27-23 Virginia Tech