Week 6 college football viewing guide, picks against the spread

Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.

We’ve got another fun weekend of college football ahead.

There are four ranked vs. ranked matchups on deck, headlined by the Red River Rivalry between No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 3 Texas. Additionally, there are some really intriguing SEC matchups on the schedule, including No. 11 Alabama’s trip to College Station to face Texas A&M and top-ranked Georgia hosting undefeated Kentucky.

Not to mention, there are teams like No. 4 Ohio State (vs. undefeated Maryland), No. 9 USC (vs. Arizona), No. 10 Notre Dame (at No. 25 Louisville) and No. 13 Washington State (at UCLA) in potentially tricky spots.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

No. 12 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas

Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: UT -6.5 | Total: 60.5

It’s the last time the Red River Rivalry will be played with Texas and Oklahoma as members of the Big 12. The two will move on to the SEC next year, but for now they are at the top of the Big 12 and mid-season contenders for the College Football Playoff.

Texas entered the year with major expectations and has mostly been dominant to this point in the season, including an impressive road win over Alabama. In the Longhorns’ most recent outing, they put up 661 yards of offense in a 40-14 blowout over Kansas to improve to 5-0.

Oklahoma is also 5-0 and looks much-improved after going 6-7 in 2022, its first season under Brent Venables. Included in that ugly season was a 49-0 blowout at the hands of Texas. The Sooners are out for revenge this time around with QB Dillon Gabriel fully healthy after missing last year’s meeting with a concussion. Gabriel has been playing at a high level and the OU defense has taken significant strides. But can the Sooners upset Texas?

Nick Bromberg: Oklahoma +6.5, Sam Cooper: Texas -6.5

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) celebrates as he runs for a touchdown against Kansas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: LSU -5.5 | Total: 64.5

LSU is among the most disappointing teams in college football so far. LSU entered the season with national championship aspirations but has been doomed by a porous defense amid a 3-2 start. LSU was blown off the field in the second half of the season-opening loss to Florida State and the defense was even worse in last week’s 55-49 loss to Ole Miss. LSU allowed 706 yards of offense, spoiling what was another stellar effort from QB Jayden Daniels.

After such an ugly defensive effort, LSU now has to go on the road to face undefeated Missouri. Mizzou had a combined 17-19 record through three seasons under Eli Drinkwitz, but is off to a strong 5-0 start this year. Missouri was led by its defense last year, and now the offense has taken some major strides led by QB Brady Cook, WR Luther Burden and RB Cody Schrader. Cook hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 22 of last year and is completing 74.5% of his attempts this season. Burden, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the nation’s top wideouts as he leads the FBS with 644 receiving yards.

Nick: LSU -5.5, Sam: Missouri +5.5

No. 11 Alabama at Texas A&M

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -1.5 | Total: 46.5

Is this Alabama team starting to establish an identity? Since the loss to Texas and the eye-opening performance at USF, Alabama has really started to heavily lean on its running game and defense to win games. In last week’s 40-17 road win over Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide ran the ball 43 times and attempted only 12 passes with Jalen Milroe. The defense forced three MSU turnovers and scored a touchdown of its own while kicker Will Reichard booted four field goals. Will that translate to a road game in College Station?

Texas A&M endured a miserable 5-7 record in 2022 and then had an ugly loss at Miami in Week 2 of this season. Since then, Jimbo Fisher’s team has responded nicely with three consecutive wins, including conference victories over Auburn and Arkansas. The Aggies lost starting QB Conner Weigman in the Auburn win, and backup Max Johnson has played well when he’s not turning the ball over. He tossed a pick-six and fumbled twice in the Arkansas game but was picked up by the A&M defense, which allowed just 174 yards and had 15 tackles for loss in the win. If the defense plays at that level and Johnson takes care of the ball, there’s a chance for A&M to pull off the upset.

Nick: Alabama -1.5, Sam: Alabama -1.5

Alabama head coach Nick Saban urges his team after a Mississippi State touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Starkville, Miss. Alabama won 40-17.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban urges his team after a Mississippi State touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Starkville, Miss. Alabama won 40-17.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

No. 20 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: UGA -14.5 | Total: 48.5

Georgia, the two-time defending national champion, has won 22 consecutive games overall and 32 straight regular season games. However, the Bulldogs have not been quite so dominant in the early going of the 2023 season. In its two SEC games, UGA had to overcome a 14-3 halftime deficit to beat South Carolina and then needed a late fourth quarter touchdown from Brock Bowers to beat Auburn last week. With undefeated Kentucky visiting Athens, will Georgia turn up the intensity this week?

Kentucky is 5-0 and now ranked No. 20 in the country. Through four weeks, the Wildcats looked shaky at times playing lower-level competition, including an FCS team and two teams from the MAC. Even the SEC-opening win at Vanderbilt featured some uneven moments, particularly on offense. Last week, though, Kentucky played its best game of the year by blasting Florida behind a monster performance from Ray Davis, who ran for 280 yards. Will that strong effort carry over enough to put an upset scare into top-ranked Georgia?

Nick: Kentucky +14.5, Sam: Georgia -14.5

No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 25 Louisville

Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: ND -6 | Total: 54.5

Notre Dame cruised to a 4-0 start, but its last two games have come down to the wire. Two weeks ago, the Irish lost a heartbreaker at home to Ohio State when OSU scored the winning touchdown with just one second remaining. Last week in Durham, the Irish trailed Duke 14-13 in the final minutes but marched 95 yards and scored the winning touchdown with 31 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to keep their national title hopes alive. Now 5-1, Notre Dame has another difficult road test against another undefeated team from the ACC.

Louisville is off to a 5-0 start in its first season under Jeff Brohm, but Notre Dame represents a major step up in competition. The Cardinals have had some close wins over some mediocre teams. The wins over Georgia Tech, Indiana and NC State all came by a touchdown or fewer. Last Friday night’s win over NC State was the Cardinals’ first true road game of the season and it required a late field goal to escape Raleigh with a win. UL was sloppy, turning it over three times and committing 10 penalties. The Cardinals will need to play a much cleaner game to upset Notre Dame at home.

Nick: Notre Dame -6.5, Sam: Louisville +6.5

Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 8-18-1, Sam: 16-10-1

Notre Dame's Sam Hartman (10) scrambles during an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

Week 6 best bets

Nick Bromberg (Last week: 0-3, Overall: 5-10)

Colorado (-4.5) at Arizona State: The Buffaloes’ late comeback against USC might have said more about USC’s defense than Colorado, but it was a great sign that Colorado didn’t quit in the midst of what could have been a second consecutive blowout loss. ASU’s lack of a run game will help Colorado and this could end up being a shootout. Pick: Over 59.5

No. 20 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia (-14.5): Georgia has been just good enough to get the job done throughout 2023 and still hasn’t covered a spread. While it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bulldogs put the pedal to the metal and make a statement against UK, the two teams haven’t combined for more than 50 total points in any of their last four contests. Even if it’s a Georgia blowout, this should be relatively low-scoring. Pick: Under 48.5

No. 2 Michigan (-19.5) at Minnesota: Michigan is one of the best teams in the country while Minnesota appears to be a far worse team trying to imitate the Wolverines’ style of play. Minnesota’s Athan Kaliakmanis has thrown for just 745 yards in five games so far. If Michigan gets up by two scores early, Minnesota isn’t built to play from behind. Pick: Michigan -19.5

Sam Cooper (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 7-8)

Purdue at Iowa (-2.5): Cade McNamara being out for the season doesn’t change too much for Iowa. Kirk Ferentz still wants to win by taking care of the ball, winning on special teams and being the better team in the trenches. Purdue is a team that can fall into all of Iowa’s traps. Pick: Iowa -2.5

No. 10 Notre Dame (-6.5) at No. 25 Louisville: This is a rough spot for Notre Dame playing a third consecutive primetime game and second straight on the road. Louisville’s Jeff Brohm is going to scheme up some successful plays, but Jack Plummer is not a trustworthy QB whatsoever. These two teams play at a slow tempo, so let’s play another ND under. Pick: Under 54.5

San Jose State at Boise State (-9.5): I just don’t think Boise State is a very good team and San Jose State is not as bad as its 1-4 record makes it seem. Chevan Cordeiro is one of the best QBs in the Mountain West. And coming off a bye, this is a spot where SJSU can give the Broncos a scare. Pick: San Jose State +9.5

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