Picks for the biggest Week 6 games
Wes Huber previews and offers up picks for Saturday's biggest matchups.
Picks for the biggest Week 6 games
No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah
Line: Utah -7.5
It’s been a magical season thus far for the Utes after defeating the recently-revealed powerhouse of Michigan and embarrassing Oregon in Eugene 62-20 in Week 4. The Golden Bears, while lacking their opponents statement victories, have seen matching success with three straight victories decided by less than one touchdown.
Prediction: While likely to upset the Salt Lake City-faithful, Utah’s defense has simply not faced an offense with scoring capability of the Bear Raid attack. Cal QB Jared Goff has been the most dominant player at his position and the margin is significant. Look for the California to score the days biggest upset to earn a fitting place within the top-15 and Utah to fall to a more appropriate rank outside the top-10 … California 30, Utah 29.
No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan
Line: Michigan -7.5
Slotting comfortably into the nations big three defensive units with Ohio State and Alabama, Michigan has quickly established an intimidating defensive identity. The Wolverines possess NFL-caliber defenders at all three levels and a counterbalancing ground game typical of Jim Harbough-assembled offenses. Even with a perfect 5-0 record including wins over Wisconsin and Stanford, Northwestern will enter the matchup as the “dog” but with a great opportunity to make a statement.
Prediction: It should be noted that the spread and over/under should not be approached concerning this matchup. That said, the value lies straight up, and the deciding factor will hinge on a weakness exposed by Utah in Week 1. Look back at the combined totals from the Michigan’s matchup with Utah and you’ll find that the Wolverines bested the Utes in each-and-every category, sans turnover margin. Northwestern ranks within the top 20 in the turnover exchange and, despite facing stout run defenses, no one has been able to stop Wildcat RB Justin Jackson … Northwestern 12, Michigan 9.
No. 2 TCU at Kansas State
Line: TCU -9.0
Bill Snyder’s Wildcats have played inspired football to begin the season despite significant high-end player turnover from 2014. Both sides of the line have been the catalysts to their 3-1 start, DT Travis Britz leading the defense with an unrelenting pass rush, and C Dalton Risner’s balanced repertoire anchoring the offensive line.
The Horned Frogs have experienced a few early scares after edging out a Week 1 victory over Minnesota and surviving a torrential onslaught of offense in Lubbock. The offense has produced greater than 50 points over the last four games and the defense, led by SS Denzel Johnson, held the Longhorns to 3.9 yards per pass, and 3.7 yards per rush in Week 5.
Prediction: The problem faced by Kansas State is a lackluster rushing attack averaging only 3.9 yards per attempt. Their inability to exploit a TCU run defense that ranks 79th in the country will lead the passing game into the strength of the Horned Frogs. With zero doubts the TCU offense will score seemingly at will, covering both the over/under and spread … TCU 45, Kansas State 29.
No. 11 Florida at Missouri
Line: Florida -5.5
Florida HC Jim McElwin’s team emerged victorious over Ole Miss last week with a decisive 38-10 win and jumped 14 spots in the ranks. Missouri followed up a loss in Lexington with a victory over a reeling South Carolina program in Week 5. Despite true freshman QB Drew Lock producing superior metrics to the indefinitely suspended Maty Mauk, the level of competition will significantly increase in his second start.
Prediction: On paper, the Tigers defense tells of defensive dominance after only allowing 2.85 yards per rushing attempt and only five passing TDs to seven interceptions. Similar to the Utah, Missouri has not faced the caliber of opponent as they’ll see on Saturday, and the Gators run defense, headlined by run-stuffing RE Jonathan Bullard, will feast on the mistakes by Lock to single-handedly topping the over/under and obliterating the spread … Florida 42, Missouri 9.
Miami at No. 12 Florida State
Line: Florida State -9.0
Miami was picked apart by the Bearcats in every phase of the game in Week 5. The offense stalled when needed and the defense was simply unimpressive. Florida State’s defense has only allowed a single rushing score and less than 150 passing yards per game on the season.
Prediction: This prediction has two parts (both leading to a Seminole victory): option A is predicated on FSU RB Dalvin Cook sitting out and finds Miami beating the spread in a 20-13 loss. If Cook should find the field, look for the ground game to control the clock, and Florida State taking an easy home victory … Florida State 30, Miami 17.
No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee
Line: Georgia -3.0
While Bulldog RB Nick Chubb was able to fully display his game-changing abilities, the inadequacies of QB Grayson Lambert were highlighted against Alabama. While the Crimson Tide defense is more than a handful, its passing defense entered the game ranked 60th in the country. Tennessee has seen the 2015 season hand the program a continuous flow of heartbreaking defeats to Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas. The offense has failed to even approach the efficiency from 2014 and fully depends on the ground game to move the chains.
Prediction: Regardless of whether Georgia HC Mark Richt decides upon Lambert or Brice Ramsey at quarterback, the outcome of this game will be decided by Chubb and Sony Michel exploiting the Volunteers 78th ranked rushing defense in securing the win … Georgia 34, Tennessee 28.
Washington State at Oregon
Line: Oregon -17.0
The Oregon Ducks have taken an emotional roller coaster of extremes in 2015 and will likely still be without the services of QB Vernon Adams Jr. The team has focused their efforts on the running game with the emergence of true freshman Taj Griffin to complement Royce Freeman. Washington State lost to California on a late drive in Berkeley last week and
Prediction: Unfortunately for the Ducks, they have the 105h-ranked passing defense in the nation and Mike Leach’s prolific passing offense can never be discounted. Considering that the3 Cougars have only allowed four rushing TDs to date, Oregon may find victory based on locale, but Washington State will keep this close enough to beat the spread … Oregon 37, Washington State 34.
Wisconsin at Nebraska
Line: Nebraska -1.5
The Badgers suffered a tough defeat to Iowa last week 10-6 in a prototypical defensive grind. They will face a Nebraska passing defense ranked 97th in the country, but could likely be without top wide receiver Alex Erickson. Nebraska also fell in Week 5, but the deficiencies of QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. proved to be the defining factor.
Prediction: Armstrong’s completion percentage plummeted down to 22.2 percent after 2.6 seconds in the pocket last week against an Illinois pass rush that pales in comparison to that of Wisconsin’s. After five games, Armstrong completion percentage under pressure sits at a dismal 38.6 percent and will prove the Cornhuskers undoing for a second consecutive week … Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 17.
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Line: Texas Tech -13.0
There is no denying that Texas Tech is on a two game losing streak and will host an Iowa State program that competitively challenged the formidable defenses of Iowa and Toledo. In addition, the Red Raiders will likely play without several of the teams best wide receivers due to injury.
Prediction: If the above facts have convinced you that Texas Tech is a matchup to avoid, reconsider that opinion. Red Raiders QB Patrick Mahomes II has had another week for his knee to heal and the team, seemingly, has an endless supply of receiving threats stocking the depth chart. The Cyclones are facing Texas Tech at the wrong time and on their home soil and provide great opportunities to cover the spread and exceed the over/under … Texas Tech 49, Iowa State 31.
Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky
Line: Western Kentucky -8.5
In what could be the most underrated meeting of offensive juggernauts, as the 3rd-ranked passing offense of the Hilltoppers will host Middle Tennessee’s own attack ranking in at 19th.
Prediction: While the Blue Raiders offensive output was halted against Illinois and Vanderbilt the last two weeks, Western Kentucky has allowed the 19th-most passing yards to opposing teams on the season. Look for a prime opportunity to take advantage of the 69.0 over/under … Western Kentucky 41, Middle Tennessee 36.
San Jose State at UNLV
Line: San Jose State -2.5
This matchup is included for extremely simple reasons: Spartans RB Tyler Ervin tops everyone in the nation in rushing yards without Fournette as his surname and UNLV ranks as the 31st-worst in the country.
Prediction: If more convincing is required, consider that the Rebels will not have the services of starting QB Blake Decker and will, instead, field sophomore Kurt Palandech who has posted 3.13 yards per passing attempt on the season. The spread is under a field goal and that is simply not enough of a cushion for UNLV to compete … San Jose State 29, UNLV 10.
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Wes Huber | Analyst
Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.