2016 Week 6 NCAAF Weekend Preview

October 7, 2016

Thanks to some help from games outside of the three big ones last weekend, Week 5 lived up to its billing as one of the college football season thus far.

In the head-to-head prediction game, Nate’s undeniably humorous analysis wasn’t enough to overcome another strong weekend on my end. Nate and Week 4 prognosticator Trent are roommates now, so between the two I managed a six game swing in the overall standings. Here is how they look after the first third of the season:

K. Becks: 18-7

Guests: 12-13

This week one of my old roommates, Matt, will join as the guest. If the first line of his email with the predictions enclosed is any indication, Matt is pretty confident that he will close the gap for the guests this week. “Prepare to be beaten, sir…” is the entirety of email text.

We’ll see about that…sir. This weekend doesn’t have quite the aesthetic appeal of last weekend, but there are potentially more difficult games in this weekend’s five to watch. Let’s take a look.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#25 Virginia Tech at #17 North Carolina (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

North Carolina has been living on the edge all season, putting together back-t0-back last second victories en route to a Top 25 ranking for the first time all season. In order for the Tar Heels to keep the momentum going, the offense is going to need to continue to score points. This week, however, may be more difficult to do that than the last several. Virginia Tech is another surprising Top 25 member and tends to get things done on the other side of the ball.

Mitch Trubisky has been as good as anyone in the ACC not named Lamar Jackson this season and is a big part of why the Tar Heels are 4-1 instead of 1-4. But the fact is, the Tar Heels are no more likely to win this game than the two which required last minute drives orchestrated by the junior quarterback. North Carolina’s defense let Pitt hang around all game and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hokies are right in the thick of things come fourth quarter. That is, if the Virginia Tech defense comes to play. The Hokies were gashed by East Carolina through the air last weekend and will be facing a similarly powerful passing attack in this one.

Unless the Hokies find a way to force Trubisky into his first interception of the season, the Tar Heels won’t have an issue scoring in this one. Virginia Tech is capable of hanging around thanks to a decent offense, but I don’t think they have quite the firepower to actually take down North Carolina on the road. Expect another high scoring affair for the Tar Heels, which is usually to their advantage.

My Pick: 35-28 North Carolina

Matt’s Take: Coming off of a big win against Florida State, UNC has more confidence than Trent after Harambe spoke to him and will be tomahawking their way to another victory this week.

VT-28 UNC-31

#9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

If you thought that Tennessee had already used up their “Get Out of Jail Free” card against Appalachian State (overtime win) and Florida (furious second half comeback), you were grossly mistaken. The Volunteers had the highlight of the week last Saturday with an incredible heave to the end zone that ended up in the hands of Jauan Jennings for the win as time expired. Tennessee, of course, moved up to No. 9 and set up what is the only Top 10 battle this weekend.

What Texas A&M does better than any other team that the Volunteers have faced this season is score. The Aggies allow more yards than Tennessee’s previous five opponents, but none of them can move the ball as quickly and easily as Texas A&M. Although the Aggies are No. 14 in the country in average yards per game, they are No. 112 in average time of possession. Oddly enough, it has been the presence of a potent rushing attack that has made Texas A&M so dangerous. Although Trevor Knight hasn’t been the most accurate as a passer, his ability to run with the ball has made up for it thus far (six rushing touchdowns to go along with seven touchdowns through the air). Tennessee has dealt with a couple of dual-threat options already this season and both times struggled.

The Volunteers remind me a lot of the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes – a team with talent that hung on for dear life more than a couple of times throughout the season. But unlike the Buckeyes that season, Tennessee can’t expect to keep getting so lucky in a conference like the SEC. Texas A&M has the firepower to challenge Tennessee and the Aggies will have the home crowd behind them. Butch Jones got his program to 5-0 for the first time since 1998, but the party ends this weekend.

My Pick: 41-36 Texas A&M

Matt’s Take: Against my better judgement I finally believe in Tennessee. The hairless wonder at QB has found ways to produce comeback wins and the combination of luck and skill will continue.

Butch-21 Texas A&M-20

#1 Alabama at #16 Arkansas (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

No one has questioned Alabama’s seat at the throne, and for good reason. Other than a close one against Ole Miss on the road in which it never really appeared that the Crimson Tide were in trouble, Nick Saban’s squad has dispatched of all comers without breaking a sweat. This weekend is when the honeymoon ends, however. Arkansas doesn’t back down for anyone and will be Alabama’s toughest game to date.

Like Alabama, the Razorbacks believe that they can play whatever brand of football the opponent would like to throw at them. While not spectacular at any one thing, Arkansas is sufficient at nearly everything. The offense will be capable of moving the ball on the Crimson Tide defense thanks to Austin Allen, who has been a fine replacement for his now graduated brother. Austin plays smart and similarly to Brandon, is very accurate in the passing game. The Razorbacks’ line has done a nice job of keeping Allen off the ground and will play an important role in this one against an aggressive Alabama defense that already has amassed 17 sacks this season. Avoiding third and long situations against Alabama is absolutely a must in the recipe for victory.

Unlike Ole Miss, which has a defense resembling Swiss cheese and doesn’t utilize the run game nearly as effectively as the majority of SEC teams, there are no gaping weaknesses in Arkansas’s portfolio. It will be difficult for Nick Saban’s team to destroy the Razorbacks in a particular area, something that Alabama has become known to do. I think that there is definitely room for the Crimson Tide to grow and this game will prove it. Expect a field rush in Bret Bielema’s biggest win as coach at Arkansas.

My Pick: 31-28 Arkansas

Matt’s Take: No jokes needed here, I’ve never lost a game picking Bama and that won’t change here.

Bama-45 Fat Bielema-32

#5 Washington at Oregon (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The Huskies introduced themselves to the country last Friday night by handing down a good old fashioned butt whooping to Stanford and Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffery, but there was little time to celebrate what had already been accomplished. One thing is for sure about the Pac-12: there is a lot of depth in the league and you can be beaten on any given weekend and it wouldn’t be a complete shock. Washington needs to stay focused to avoid becoming the next in line this Saturday.

The Huskies had a plan against Stanford and it worked to perfection. The plan was clearly to stuff the box to stop McCaffery and make Ryan Burns beat you through the air. Washington stuffed McCaffery, holding him to under 50 yards for the first time in two seasons, and Burns was unable to make up the difference. This has been the recipe to beat the Cardinal all season; Washington was just the first defense capable of pulling it off. And although the Huskies are good defensively, Oregon is an entirely different animal. The Ducks may be under .500 currently, but they still have a dynamic offense that averages over 500 yards per game. Royce Freeman is just as dangerous as McCaffery as a runner and more dangerous in the passing game. And unlike Burns, Dakota Prukop can light up a defense if it tries to stack the box against him. If it weren’t for an awful defense, the Ducks would likely be undefeated right now.

I’m a big fan of what Chris Petersen has been able to do at Washington, but this game does not set up well for his team. The Huskies struggled to beat Arizona on the road the weekend before last and Oregon is essentially Arizona on steroids. Unless Washington can control the clock and keep the ball away from Oregon’s offense, I see the Ducks finishing what the Wildcats started. The Huskies are really a year away from being a true Playoff contender, but this could destroy any chance that a Pac-12 team gets in this season.

My Pick: 34-28 Oregon

Matt’s Take: Is Washington for real? Oregon is about to find out and they are not going to like what they see. Oregon is down this year and frankly I don’t trust them in anything considered a big game anyway. The Ducks will have the better jerseys in this one, but unfortunately for them that won’t result in anything meaningful on the field.

Washington-38 Oregon-31

#23 Florida State at #10 Miami (FL) (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Coming into the season, not many people would have predicted that Miami would be the team in the Top 10 when these two squads met for their classic rivalry game. But the Hurricanes seemed to have found their man in head coach Mark Richt, who has settled in nicely after being ousted (unfairly, in my opinion) at Georgia. This is the kind of game that can solidify fans’ opinion that Richt was the right choice for a once proud program.

The difference between 2015 and 2016 for these two teams has been the play of the defense. Florida State was one of the best in the country the last few years under Jimbo Fisher but has been particularly weak on that side of the ball this season, resulting in two losses and nearly a third already. Miami, on the other hand, has the ACC’s second ranked defensive unit which is now a complement rather than a burden to a potent offense led by Brad Kaaya. In fact, the Hurricanes have allowed just five total touchdowns all season, which puts them at No. 2 in the country behind Ohio State. The Seminoles will absolutely be the toughest test Miami has faced offensively, however.

Fisher could lose control of his team with another loss, so expect the Seminoles to have been ridden quite hard in practice leading up to this one. Additionally, Richt has turned around a team defensively, but at the end of his tenure at Georgia the Bulldogs struggled mightily with stopping the run. I’m not 100 percent on board with Miami’s revival yet. Dalvin Cook will be a handful for the Hurricanes unlike anything they have faced this season and along with the rest of the Seminoles offense will be too much for Miami.

My Pick: 31-30 Florida State

Matt’s Take: Bet against the Hurricanes? No thanks. With Hurricane Matthew coming this week I have a good feeling Miami will channel my powers and destroy Florida State, and the rest of Florida.

FSU-0 Hurricane Matthew-45

5 Games to Flip To

Texas vs. #20 Oklahoma (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

With a loss in this game, Charlie Strong’s seat becomes just as hot as it was before the season began.

Brigham Young at Michigan State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

This is a really interesting game, despite the records of each team.

#21 Colorado at Southern Cal (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

In the meat grinder that is the Pac-12 Conference, games like this are the norm. If Colorado is for real, it will have to prove itself on the road.

Arizona at #24 Utah (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

Another Pac-12 game, another toss-up contest.

UCLA at Arizona State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Quite literally, Hurricane Matthew dictated the number of Pac-12 games that ended up on this list.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Matt did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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