Week 6 college football picks recap with Jason McIntyre | WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
Dear West Virginia,
Why. Why? WHY?!
We were so close to a 4-2 winning record in college football this week, but West Virginia came up just a point short against Texas, because the oddsmakers are very, very good at their jobs.
Also good at their jobs? Defenses in Week 6! Between Michigan and Florida, the ability to stop opposing offenses came up huge, both for the schools in the win column and for us making picks against the spread. As for Texas, well…
So what did we learn in Week 6? Let’s go to the lessons!
1. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good
In the biggest yawn-inducing cover of the weekend, Jim Harbaugh kept everyone calm with a 10-3 win over Iowa. And yes, Michigan covered the 3.5, but it was a result that did nothing to inspire confidence. Iowa beat themselves.
Iowa had one turnover in their first four games; they turned the ball over four times in Ann Arbor, with QB Nate Stanley — who came into the game with eight TDs and zero picks — throwing three interceptions. Despite the offensive ineptitude, Iowa still had two chances in the 4th quarter to drive for the tying score. This Michigan victory — in which they only had 13 first downs and QB Shea Patterson only had 147 yards passing — did nothing to dissuade me from betting against Harbaugh’s squad against Penn State and Notre Dame later this month.
2. Ohio State might be the best team in college football — and they’re definitely a bet-on team
Ohio State got us to the window again with a 34-10 cover against rival Michigan State, largely on the strength of one of the most dominating quarters in college football this season.
Ohio State’s offense was held in check by Sparty in the first quarter (16 yards, three points) before exploding for 296 yards in the second quarter and grabbing a 27-10 half-time lead; Michigan State had been allowing opponents just 253 yards per game. Ryan Day’s squad finished with 529 yards, and if not for two turnovers, they would have hit 600 easily.
Justin Fields is doing a terrific Cam Newton-at-Auburn impression: He’s the only Big Ten player in the last 20 years with a passing TD and rushing TD in six straight games.
3. Florida’s defense is good enough to slow anybody. Yes, even LSU.
Casual gamblers love to bet offense and favorites; do this long enough, though, and you’ll begin to gravitate toward defense and underdogs.
That was part of my logic in selecting Florida getting 3 points at home against Auburn, and the defense delivered, holding Auburn to 2-for-14 on 3rd down, intercepting freshman QB Bo Nix three times (once in the end zone) and, for the fifth straight game, not allowing a fourth-quarter point. Florida won and covered, 24-13, capped off by an 88-yard TD run by Lamichal Perine.
A word of caution before automatically backing Florida in Death Valley against undefeated LSU next week: UF QB Kyle Trask fumbled three times behind an offensive line that has had issues in the last three weeks (nine sacks allowed). This will be Trask’s first road start (he replaced injured starter Feleipe Franks in the second half at Kentucky), and night games in the Bayou are among the rowdiest in college football.
4. The Texas defense, on the other hand, still can’t stop a nosebleed.
West Virginia had more total yards than Texas (463-427) and had more yards per play (6.7 to 5.4) … and they still lost 42-31. Worse yet (for us, anyway), West Virginia narrowly missed out on covering 10.5.
I like the saying, “right side, wrong result,” and I would argue the WVU was the right side. QB Austin Kendall threw four interceptions. Texas, a team beset by injuries, has moved a highly-recruited QB, Roschon Johnson, to running back because four running backs have gone down this season, and the freshman had his best game of the season vs. WVU with 121 yards on 21 carries. Naturally.
Sam Ehlinger, the great Texas QB who reminds me of Tim Tebow, covers up a lot of warts on defense, but given that LSU put up 573 yards vs Texas and WVU shredded the Longhorns, what will Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma do next week in the Red River Rivalry? The Sooners are No. 1 in yards per play in the country at 10.3, in the top 10 on 3rd down conversions (52%), and they’re scoring TDs 95 percent of the time in the red zone (21 of 22). You’re going to hear all week about how good Texas coach Tom Herman is as an underdog, but you’ve been warned about the Longhorns’ lack of defense.