10 quick things to know ahead of Saturday’s college football slate

There’s plenty to keep an eye on as Week 6 of the 2023 college football season kicks off. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the first weekend of October.

First real test for Oklahoma’s defense

No. 12 Oklahoma enters its annual rivalry game with No. 3 Texas allowing fewer than 11 points per game. The Sooners haven’t given up more than 20 points in a single game so far this season as opposing quarterbacks are completing less than 55% of their passes.

But Texas QB Quinn Ewers is miles better than any quarterback Oklahoma has faced so far this season. The Longhorns’ offense is averaging nearly seven yards a play and Ewers is completing 66% of his passes with just one interception. Texas blew out Oklahoma a season ago as Oklahoma’s offense had an absolutely dreadful game — but the defense was also incredibly poor. Texas had nearly 600 yards of offense. If the Longhorns come close to approaching that number on Saturday, Oklahoma’s undefeated season is likely over.

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables runs onto the field with his team before the start of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma is undefeated ahead of its matchup with Texas on Saturday. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Can Max Johnson lead Texas A&M to a win over Alabama?

In 2021, Texas A&M stunned No. 1 Alabama 41-38 as Zach Calzada threw three touchdowns and led the Aggies to 10 points in the final five minutes. Calzada began that season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Haynes King and took over after King suffered a season-ending injury.

Fast-forward to 2023, where Max Johnson is set to start at home against the No. 12 Crimson Tide after taking over for Conner Weigman after Weigman’s season-ending injury. Johnson has thrown for 436 yards on 59 attempts so far and has tossed just one interception. If he can capture the magic that Calzada flashed two seasons ago, Jimbo Fisher could get his second win over Nick Saban.

Mizzou’s red-hot passing game hosts LSU

No. 21 Missouri quarterback Brady Cook is quietly having a stellar season. Cook is completing 75% of his passes for 1,468 yards and has thrown 11 TDs. He also set the SEC record for pass attempts without an interception in the Tigers’ win over Vanderbilt. Cook has thrown 345 passes dating back to 2022 without getting picked off.

No. 23 LSU’s secondary has struggled mightily in 2023 and it’s not a stretch to say that Missouri may be its biggest test so far. WR Luther Burden III has 43 catches for 644 yards and five scores while Oklahoma transfer Theo Wease had 10 catches for 118 yards and a TD against the Commodores.

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 30: Missouri Tigers wide receiver Luther Burden III (3) is congratulated by Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) after scoring a touchdown during a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and Missouri Tigers, September 30, 2023 at FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Missouri’s Brady Cook and Luther Burden III have been a dangerous combination in 2023. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Is this the week Georgia gets a big win?

No. 1 Georgia enters its game against No. 20 Kentucky at 5-0 but winless against the spread. The Bulldogs are 14.5-point favorites and just one of four teams — along with Illinois, Vanderbilt and UTSA — to not win against the spread all season.

Georgia’s struggles covering are because the Bulldogs have had a few inflated lines against non-conference opponents and because they haven’t thrashed their two SEC foes so far this year. The Bulldogs beat South Carolina by 10 and got a late seven-point win at Auburn in Week 5.

As weird as it sounds, Georgia could use a statement win. And Kentucky is a great opportunity. The Wildcats are coming off a huge win over an overmatched Florida team and have played Georgia close recently … but only in Lexington. Georgia beat Kentucky by 17 in 2021 and by 21 in 2019. Another three-score win may be what the Bulldogs need.

Louisville can make a statement against Notre Dame

No. 25 Louisville snuck into the top 25 after a 13-10 win over NC State in Week 5. Saturday night presents a much bigger test with No. 10 Notre Dame in town for the Cardinals’ biggest one game of the year.

Louisville is outscoring its opponents by 20 points a game so far this season, but NC State is probably the best team its played to date — and the Wolfpack just made a quarterback change after dropping to 3-2. Former Purdue and Cal QB Jack Plummer has thrown for 1,406 yards so far but he’s also thrown six interceptions. Running back Jawhar Jordan has been outstanding, he’s averaging 7.7 yards a carry.

Jordan could be a real weapon against a Notre Dame defense that’s much better against the pass than it is against the run. Jeff Brohm always had some tricks up his sleeve against bigger opponents when he was at Purdue, and we expect a few fun plays against the Irish. If Louisville gets the win, the Cardinals could be real threats in the ACC.

Undefeated Washington State heads to UCLA

Just four teams are averaging more points than Washington State through the first five weeks of the season. The Cougars have scored 46 points per game in their four wins so far and head to UCLA on Saturday to take on a Bruins team that’s allowing just 11 points per game.

No one has scored more than 13 offensive points against the Bruins all season as opposing teams are averaging just 3.8 yards a play. Washington State, meanwhile, is averaging 7.2 yards every snap. A win for the Cougars could put them on the precipice of the top 10.

Colorado’s visit to Arizona State will be hard to watch

Colorado has been college football’s biggest television draw through the first five weeks of the season. And a lot of viewers are going to be left desperately channel-searching to find the Buffaloes on Saturday. Colorado’s visit to Arizona State is only available on the Pac-12 Network. It’s safe to say this game will be (legally) watched by a fraction of those who saw the Buffaloes attempt a late comeback against USC.

Colorado isn’t the only intriguing game on the Pac-12 Network either. Washington State’s game at UCLA precedes Colorado and Arizona State and the nightcap is Oregon State’s trip to Cal.

BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on from the sideline in the third quarter against the USC Trojans at Folsom Field on September 30, 2023 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Colorado’s game at Arizona State is only available on the Pac-12 Network. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) (Dustin Bradford via Getty Images)

Arkansas heads to Ole Miss on a three-game losing streak

Things could get desperate in a hurry for Arkansas. After losses to LSU and Texas A&M to start the SEC schedule, the Razorbacks are 11.5-point underdogs at Ole Miss on Saturday. A loss to the Rebels would be a fourth consecutive defeat for Arkansas ahead of a road trip to Alabama in Week 7.

If Arkansas drops to 2-5, it will need to go 4-1 to qualify for a bowl game. The good news is that four of those last five games are at home and Missouri is the only ranked team remaining on Arkansas’ schedule after the Crimson Tide.

Fox gives the Mountain West a primetime slot

The Mountain West gets prime billing on Fox this week as Fresno State’s trip to Wyoming kicks off at 7 p.m. ET. The No. 24 Bulldogs are 5-0 and have wins over Purdue and Arizona State while Wyoming started the season with a home win against Texas Tech.

The game is the first in a huge three-game stretch for the Cowboys. After hosting Fresno State, Wyoming heads to Air Force and Boise State. Two road wins would put Wyoming in the driver’s seat for the Mountain division title.

Is the loser of Texas Tech vs. Baylor in danger of missing a bowl game?

It’s a little too early to say that Texas Tech’s trip to Baylor is a must-win game for either team, but whoever loses will need a strong second half to make a bowl game. Both teams enter at 2-3 and Baylor is a miracle comeback away from being 1-4 after somehow getting a win at UCF in Week 5.

Texas Tech was a preseason darling for the Big 12 title but the Red Raiders are without starting QB Tyler Slough and still have games against Kansas State and Texas remaining on the schedule along with a trip to BYU. Baylor’s schedule is a bit more manageable, but it would still be an uphill climb to get to six wins with a loss on Saturday.

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