NCAA Football Predictions: Week 6 Opening Line Report and Picks
I enjoy watching Big 12 football these days. It used to be all wishbone offenses and excellent defenses. Now, it's arguably the most offensive, pass-happy conference in college football. If you see a total in the 40s, it's probably Kansas playing someone because the Jayhawks stink and are likely to be held to single digits.
What I don't like about the Big 12 is that Oklahoma is so clearly head and shoulders above everyone else that it's boring. You might argue that Alabama is the same in the SEC, but remember that the Tide didn't even win their own division last year and have failed to make two of the past five conference title games (both times it was Auburn from the West).
The only team from the Big 12 thus far to make the College Football Playoff is OU. In the playoff era, no Big 12 school has beaten Oklahoma more than once. The Sooners are an obscene 27-2 against conference competition since 2015.
I have been to Norman, Okla. Meh. I've also been to Austin, Texas. Now that's a place to go to college! And it's why Texas should be able to return to Oklahoma's level soon - the Big 12 just isn't the same when the Horns aren't national powers and able to counterbalance the Sooners. Again, no one can match Texas' finances and recruiting base. It should compete for national titles every year.
This is mentioned because the annual Red River Whatever They Are Calling It Now (Showdown, I guess) is this Saturday from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It's a really cool setting held during the State Fair of Texas because it literally is half Sooners fans in crimson and Texas fans in burnt orange.
What the conference needs is for UT to start winning these games. Oklahoma has won six of the past eight, and in the two Longhorns wins they were unranked so it actually hurt the Big 12 in a way because OU was ranked 12 th and 10th in those two. The Sooners still reached the CFP following their 2015 loss in the Red River Showdown (lost in semifinals to Clemson).
Tom Herman has Texas on the right track - No. 3 recruiting class nationally in 2018 and on track for a similar result in 2019 - but a Horns win here would definitely hurt the conference because no other school is playoff worthy than Oklahoma. OK, maybe West Virginia, and the Mountaineers host OU to close the regular season.
The No. 7 Sooners are -7 on Saturday vs. the No. 19 Horns. ESPN GameDay will be on hand in Dallas. Here are a few other Week 6 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
Vanderbilt at No. 2 Georgia (-27.5): If this isn't a trap game for the Dawgs, I don't know what one is. They come off a rivalry game against Tennessee - granted, the Vols aren't very good and were rolled 38-12 - and then travel to No. 5 LSU next week. Entering the season, one of the Doc's-affiliated sportsbooks had a prop on which SEC coach would be the first fired this year. This writer chose Vandy's Derek Mason. I'm definitely liking that call with guys like Ed Orgeron and Mark Stoops, presumably on the hottest seats, having great years at LSU and Kentucky, respectively. The Commodores are 3-2, sure, but their wins are over Middle Tennessee, Nevada and Tennessee State. The almost lost to crosstown TSU of the FCS on Saturday. I didn't even know there was a Tennessee State. Frankly, the only SEC game I give Mason a chance to win is the season finale vs. the Vols. That said, I like a cover here. For what it's worth, Vandy did win 17-16 at Georgia two years ago. Granted, that Dawgs team was not close to this one. The pick: Vandy.
San Diego State at Boise State (-15): Important one in the Mountain West and it wouldn't surprise me if these two played again in the conference title game, although obviously the loser here will have it tougher getting there. The Aztecs were on the bye last week and they needed it in a way because their key offensive player, running back Juwan Washington, was hurt in SDSU's overtime win over Eastern Michigan on Sept. 22. The junior has a broken collarbone and likely to miss six weeks. Washington, who had rushed for 560 yards and five scores on 99 carries, was next in line at a school that has produced some stellar running backs of late - their past two, Rashaad Penny and D.J. Pumphrey, both had 2,000-yard seasons. Boise State won Saturday at Wyoming, 34-14. Brett Rypien threw for 342 yards and two scores. The nephew of former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien has had multiple TDs and at least 305 yards in every game this year. The pick: Boise State.
Florida State at No. 17 Miami (-12.5): The Hurricanes have officially turned the page on inconsistent quarterback Malik Rosier as redshirt freshman N'Kosi Perry started Thursday's 47-10 rout of North Carolina. You see 47 points and probably think Perry had a huge night but he was just 8-for-12 for 125 yards with a TD and a pick. That game was a laugher because the Turnover Chain was out all night - Miami forced six of them and tied a school record with three defensive touchdowns. It was UM's 12th straight home regular-season win, tying the school's longest in 15 years. One piece of potentially bad news for Miami was an ankle injury suffered by star linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, a future NFL player. X-rays were negative, but it's too early to know if he can play vs. the Noles. FSU has won two straight since an embarrassing loss at Syracuse. It rallied for 28-24 win over Louisville on Saturday. Deondre Francois hit Nyqwan Murray on a 58-yard touchdown pass with 1:13 left. Francois had a career-high four TD passes. Miami ended a seven-game losing streak in this series with a 24-20 win in Tallahassee last year. Rosier threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Langham with 6 seconds left. Francois was out for the season then. The pick: FSU.
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