Welcome to Week 6 of the college football season.
Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games.
It was a rough one in Week 5 but we're back at it for Week 6. Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.
Season record: 22-30-1
TCU Horned Frogs (-6.5, 68.5) at Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, noon ET
Tim Murray: “College Gameday” is headed to Lawrence for the first time ever. Kansas is 5-0 and ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since October 2009. TCU enters with a 4-0 record and is fresh off a dominating, 55-24 win over then-No.18 Oklahoma. Typically, I would consider this a letdown spot for the Horned Frogs, but with Kansas being undefeated and ESPN in town, I expect TCU to be ready.
In his first year as coach at TCU, Sonny Dykes has taken the Horned Frogs offense to another level. TCU racked up 668 yards against Oklahoma last week (479 in the first half). The Horned Frogs are tops in the nation in yards per play (8.33) and second in yards per game (549.5). Additionally, QB Max Duggan leads the nation in passing efficiency and is third in completion percentage (74.5%).
Both teams have exceeded the expectations of oddsmakers. TCU is 4-0 ATS and Kansas is 5-0 ATS. The Jayhawks have already won three games as underdogs. In those three wins, the Jayhawks were outgained but won the turnover battle in each with a combined + 5 in turnover margin (at West Virginia, at Houston, Iowa State). In last week’s 14-11 win over Iowa State, the Jayhawks were held to just 28 yards in the second half with -23 yards over their final four drives. Did Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock give the blueprint to slowing down the Kansas offense? The Jayhawks averaged over 470 yards per game over their first four games before being held to just 213 total yards and 10 first downs last week.
I went against the Jayhawks last week but Iowa State missed three field goals (including two off the upright), so the Cyclones -3 did not come home. I’m going back to the well this week and backing a TCU team with a dynamic offense and a defense that might have the answer key to slowing down the Jayhawks.
Pick: TCU -6.5
Missouri Tigers at Florida Gators (-10.5, 54)
Saturday, noon ET
Tim Murray: How does Missouri get up off the mat after another heartbreaking loss? Last week, Missouri led No. 1 Georgia by 10 points with 10 minutes to go. The Bulldogs converted a fourth down from the Missouri 4-yard line and scored on the following play to cut the deficit to 22-19. Ultimately, the Tigers fell to Georgia 26-22. Missouri was outgained 481-294 in the losing effort and, despite the close final score, the Tigers had just an 11.1% postgame win expectancy. Two weeks ago, Missouri RB Nathaniel Peat dropped the football as he was headed toward the end zone in overtime and Missouri lost 17-14 at Auburn. Missouri had a win expectancy of 91% against Auburn.
Florida has been a tricky team to figure out. The Gators opened the season with an upset win over Utah but fell the following week as 6-point favorites to Kentucky. Two weeks ago, the Gators lost at Tennessee 38-33 but covered the 11-point spread. Coming off a 52-17 win over FCS Eastern Washington on Sunday, I expect the Gators to be fully focused this week as they try for their first conference win. QB Anthony Richardson needs to play like he did against Tennessee (463 passing yards, four total touchdowns) as opposed to Kentucky (14-for-35, 143 passing yards, two interceptions).
Against FBS opponents, the Gators are 2-0 ATS as underdogs and 0-2 ATS as favorites. That is not an ideal record as we look to back Florida in this spot. Missouri is fifth in the nation in time of possession, which makes it more challenging to cover double digits. However, the Gators should be looking to exact some revenge against the Tigers after last year’s 24-23 loss at Missouri as 8-point favorites. Additionally, coming off back-to-back gut-wrenching losses, I don’t know what type of effort to expect from the Tigers with an early kick in Gainesville. Instead of laying the points with Florida, I'll pair them with TCU for a reasonably priced moneyline parlay.
Pick: Florida/TCU ML parlay (-130)
Louisville Cardinals (-3, 50.5) at Virginia Cavaliers
Saturday, noon ET
Adam Burke: With all of the talk about Tua Tagovailoa, football coaches at the pro and college levels will be feeling the pressure to err on the side of extreme caution with concussed players. Louisville QB Malik Cunningham is one of those players. College coaches don’t have to be nearly as forthcoming with injury info as NFL coaches and Scott Satterfield keeps talking as if Cunningham might play, but it seems unnecessary to put his health and future at risk.
This play is a little speculative that Cunningham won’t play. Either way, the main crux of this argument is about how far Virginia’s offense has fallen. Des Kitchings is ruining Brennan Armstrong and has ruined this Cavaliers offense. Virginia has averaged 5.22 yards per play this season after finishing fifth in the nation with 6.95 YPP last season. Armstrong has gone from a 65.2% completion rate with a 31-10 TD-INT ratio to a 52% completion rate with a 4-5 TD-INT ratio.
Armstrong only rushed 98 times last season but has been forced to run 54 times already this season. The offensive line play is worse, the scheme is worse, the play design is worse and Tony Elliott’s first season in Charlottesville looks like a rough one. The silver lining is the defense has greatly improved and has allowed just over five yards per play.
If Cunningham is out, Louisville has minimal experience at QB and will likely rely on a rushing attack led by Tiyon Evans (5.0 yards per carry on 53 rushes). Virginia’s low offensive profile and a whole lot of concern over Cunningham make the Under a bet worth taking.
Pick: Under 50.5
Akron Zips at Ohio Bobcats (-11, 59)
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Maybe this is the game where Tim Albin decides Ohio needs to establish the run, but I sure hope not. The Bobcats have thrown for 315.4 yards per game and have posted an 11-2 TD-INT ratio this season. They’ve needed all of the offensive production they can get because this is one of the worst defenses in FBS. Only Charlotte has allowed more yards per play.
That means this game features two teams in the bottom 10 in yards per play allowed. Ohio has allowed 7.5 YPP and Akron has allowed 6.64 (125th in the nation). The Zips allowed over six yards per play to FCS Saint Francis and have allowed 6.77 YPP in their FBS games. In four losses, the Zips have allowed over 1,900 yards.
Akron can’t run the ball at all and it’s laughable that Joe Moorhead’s team even tries. However, the passing game has gotten a ton of practice because the Zips are usually playing from behind. Despite being in the bottom 10 in yards per play on offense, Akron is 65th in total passing yards. This looks like it'll be a similar game to the ones the Zips have played throughout the season. They’ll likely be trailing and have to throw the ball a lot. That is something other teams have done against Ohio with great success. In fact, Fordham threw for 503 yards on just 27 completions two games ago.
Last time out, Ohio only allowed 31 points but gave up 736 yards to Kent State. Akron’s offense isn’t on that level, but two terrible defenses are getting together in Athens and that should mean points.
Pick: Over 59
Washington Huskies (-14, 57) at Arizona State Sun Devils
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: Washington was rolling along with a 4-0 start, then they had to leave Seattle. In their first road game of the season, the Huskies gave up nearly 500 yards in a 40-32 loss at UCLA, a game the Bruins led by 24 after three quarters.
The Huskies offense has clearly upgraded with the reunion of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and new coach Kalen DeBoer, who were first together as QB and offensive coordinator in 2019 at Indiana. However, the Huskies defense only returned five starters and had its two All-Pac-12 cornerbacks taken early in the 2022 NFL Draft. The secondary has really struggled and certainly did so last Friday night, allowing UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to throw for 9.3 yards per attempt. Washington has allowed 8.6 yards per attempt on the season (114th in FBS).
Meanwhile, Arizona State showed fight last week under interim coach Shaun Aguano, easily covering as a 24.5-point underdog in a 42-25 loss at USC. Florida transfer quarterback Emory Jones went 23-for-32 for 243 yards (7.4 yards per attempt) with a score and a pick.
Washington should get back on track with a victory here, but 14 is a big number to lay on the road against an ASU bunch that has not quit.
Pick: Arizona State + 14
Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini (-3.5, 35.5)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: It’s an Army-Navy type of total here with Iowa and Illinois, which makes a lot of sense because the Hawkeyes offense is awful. Only FIU, Colorado State and UMass have averaged fewer yards per play than what Iowa has managed this season. There really aren’t any signs of progress either.
Illinois has played stellar defense this season and ranks fourth in yards per play allowed. The Hawkeyes may be lucky to get two touchdowns in this game, which should position Illinois well for the cover. Bret Bielema is doing fine work in Champaign with a group that has run the ball effectively and has gotten pretty solid play out of Tommy DeVito.
I was on the Illini last week in a low-totaled game and they won outright over Wisconsin, sending Paul Chryst to the unemployment line. I don’t see them getting Kirk Ferentz fired this week, but I see a similar scenario in which the Illini control the line of scrimmage and showcase a better offense and a better defense.
Pick: Illinois -3.5
Kansas State Wildcats (-2, 45) at Iowa State Cyclones
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Consider me a full-fledged believer in the dynamic duo of offensive coordinator Collin Klein and quarterback Adrian Martinez. It sure looks like Kansas State has unlocked the potential of the Nebraska transfer and he is putting up ridiculous numbers this season, accounting for 12 touchdowns with zero interceptions. His improved decision-making skills have been a huge part of Kansas State’s start, and his 6.5 yards per carry make this offense very hard to defend.
I realize that this line smells fishy and everybody wants to think about it as a trap, but there’s still a lot of respect for Iowa State and coach Matt Campbell. However, Iowa State’s signature win is a three-point triumph over a team that ranks 128th in the nation in yards per play. The Cyclones are already 0-2 in conference play. They lost a ton from last season and it seems to be showing.
Deuce Vaughn may be undersized, but he’s proven to be one of the nation’s top running backs. Between him and Martinez, this is an elite ground game for the Wildcats capable of playing keep-away but also creating explosive plays. Meanwhile, Iowa State has mustered just 4.44 yards per play against Iowa, Baylor and Kansas. I’m not sure how the Cyclones keep up and a mobile quarterback is hard to contain.
My line has Kansas State -5.5 here. Anything under a field goal is a really good bet and anything under -4 is worth taking.
Pick: Kansas State -2
Oregon State Beavers (-7, 57) at Stanford Cardinal
Saturday, 11 p.m. ET
Wes Reynolds: After a near-miss against USC, Oregon State was out of gas at Utah in a 42-16 defeat last week. Quarterback Chance Nolan threw two early interceptions, including a pick-six, and left early in the second quarter with a neck strain. Ben Gulbranson came on in relief and threw for 177 yards but also threw two interceptions. Nolan is still listed as questionable for Saturday.
Meanwhile, Stanford is in the midst of an 0-11 ATS run and has not covered in over a year. Stanford is one of four FBS teams (Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State) that have yet to cover a game in 2022. The Cardinal’s last cover was the upset of then-No. 3 Oregon on Oct. 2, 2021. Last week, the Ducks got some revenge on Stanford by rolling up 515 yards of offense in a 45-27 win that was not as close as the final score indicated.
Stanford has tried to change from a power-run, play-action offense to a slow mesh that is similar to Wake Forest’s offense. The results have not been good because the offensive line has not been able to protect quarterback Tanner McKee, who some believe could be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. McKee has been sacked 16 times in the last three games. The good news for McKee and the Stanford offensive line is that Oregon State has only generated five sacks in five games.
At first glance, this seems to be a sandwich situation for Stanford as they have a trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame next week, but the Cardinal can’t afford to look ahead of anyone, even a reeling Oregon State team.
Pick: Stanford + 7